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Fay Sampson’s Family History

This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)

Sampson  Tree



REGINALD/ REYNOLD DE GREY was the eldest son and heir of John de Grey and Emma Cauz. He was born around 1240, probably at his parents’ principal residence of Shirland in Derbyshire.

He was made a knight in 1257.


In 1262 Lord Reginald de Grey married Maud, daughter and heir of William FitzHugh, by Hawise, daughter and heir of Henry de Longchamp, of Wilton Castle, co. Hereford, through whom he gained possession of a large estate in the county.


MAUD FITZHUGH was the daughter and heir of William Fitzhugh and Hawise de Longchamp. Born 1230-40. She brought Reynold the dowry of Wilton Castle, which passed to her as the heir of her mother’s family, the Longchamps.

She was aged around 22 when she married.

Wilton Castle [1]

Wilton Castle stands on the River Wye, near Ross-on-~Wye in Herefordshire. It is of 12th century Norman origin. It was originally a motte and bailey castle, but was rebuilt in stone by Reginald and Maud’s grandson Roger de Grey. It was probably built to defend a shallow crossing of the Wye.


The Longchamps of Wilton provided Bailiffs of Normandy, Chancellors of England and Sheriffs of Hereford and the Welsh Marches. The family took the side of the barons against King John (1199-1216).


18 March 1265/6, Reginald succeeded to the lands of his father, who died that month. On 28 March he had livery of his father’s lands, by special grace, his homage being respited.

It was the duty of a tenant-in-chief to swear homage to the king on inheriting. It was an impressive ceremony. The intention was to create a profound sense of obligation. It was an opportunity for the king to strike up a personal relationship with all his principal feudal tenants. Normally the taking of homage was postponed (respited) to a future date, normally a major church festival – Christmas, Easter, Michaelmas – in the not too distant future and a modest fine was exacted from the tenant for this privilege.

With the lands Reginald inherited from his father, and those brought to him by marriage to Maud, Reginald was lord of the manors of of Brogborough, Thurleigh and Wrest   in Bedfordshire; Great Brickhill, Snellson and Water Hall, Buckinghamshire; Hemingford, Yelling, Toseland in Huntingdonshire; Kempleigh, Gloucestershire; Purleigh, Essex; Rushton, Cheshire; Ruthin, Denbighshire; Shirland in Derbyshire, and Wilton in Monmouthshire.

He held a number of public offices. He was Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and the Royal Forests and Constable of Chester Castle, Constable of Nottingham Castle (March 1265/6) and Constable of Northampton Castle (June 1267–Jan 1267/8).


Their son John was born around 1268.

There seems also to have been a daughter Hawise.


Reginald was Justice of Chester in 1270 and Sheriff of Cheshire (1270–1274). In 1281 he was again Justice of Chester.

One of the four Inns of Court in London is Gray’s Inn. It was once Portpoole Manor. The Manor House was let by the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral to Sir Reginald de Grey, Chief Justice of Chester, Constable and Sheriff of Nottingham.

He was summoned for Military Service from 12 December 1274 to 8 July 1306.

In January 1276/7 he was about to go to Wales on the King’s service. He was with the King in Wales in 1277 and 1282.

1278 Jan. 6. Tower of London.
Pardon to Reginald de Grey of 300 marks, wherein he was fined for taking a stag in the forest of Essex, and acquittance thereof to him and his mainpernors.

Grant to John son of Reginald de Grey, Nicholas de Grey, Adam de Verdoun, William de Lalers, Hamo de Lalers, Jordan Finche and Geoffrey Fynche, who were at the taking of the said stag with Reginald de Grey (whose fine of 300 marks has been remitted), and who were indicted therefor before the justices for the forest last in eyre in the county of Essex, that they shall not be impleaded for this cause hereafter.

[An eyre was a circuit travelled by a justice holding courts at several places.]

Jan. 8. Tower of London.
Pardon to Reginald de Grey, John his son, and the other persons mentioned above for taking a stag and other deer in the forest of Essex, whereof they were indicted before the justice in eyre for pleas of the forest in that county.

1278 June 6. Westminster.
Grant to Reginald de Grey, for a fine of 15 marks, of the custody during the minority of the heir, of the lands late of John de la Mare, tenant in chief, with the marriage.

The right to dispose of the hand of an heir in marriage could be a valuable privilege, with families willing to pay for access to the fortune.

June 25. Westminster.
Mandate to Reginald de Grey to go to the priory of Neuport Paynel, and to take it into the king’s hands and to keep it in safe custody, and to cause to be taken and imprisoned all those who lately, under the leadership of a monk thereof named Reginald de Donynton, who was excommunicated for his excesses, attacked the said priory, and took and imprisoned the prior, Simon de Rede, and wasted the goods of the priory; the said prior, with the priory and all its possessions, having been taken into the king’s special protection. He is to bring the said monk to Windsor Castle, to remain there in custody until further order, and to reinstate the prior. The sheriff of Buckingham is commanded to assist him with a sufficient posse.

On November 1281 he was appointed Justice of Chester and Keeper of co. Chester, of all the demesne lands of the King in that county, of the castles of Chester and Flint, and the cantreds of Englefield and Ros, &c., for 8 years from Michaelmas 1281, at a rent of 1,000 marks a year: He was reappointed 30 June 1290, for 9 years from Michaelmas following, at a rent of 727 marks 8s.

In 1267, in the Treaty of Montgomery, Henry III had recognised Llywelyn ap Gruffudd  as Prince of Wales. Llywelyn, in turn, recognised the King of England as his suzerain.

Henry’s son, Edward I, was angered by Llywelyn’s intention to marry Elinor, daughter of Simon de Montfort, who had led the barons’ war against his father. He believed Llywelyn was about to stir up another barons’ war in England. In 1275 the king kidnapped Elinor and summoned Llywelyn to do homage to him. Llywelyn refused. The following year, Edward declared Llywelyn a rebel. He gathered the largest army seen in Britain since 1066 and by August the following year was in Anglesey, the heart of Gwynedd, depriving Llywelyn of its harvest. Llywelyn was forced to submit, and was deprived of his overlordship of most of the lesser Welsh rulers.

War broke out again in 1282, led by Llywelyn’s brother Dafydd. Reginald de Grey was one of the three commanders appointed by Edward I to  lead the English forces. Llywelyn was killed in Dec 1282. Dafydd was taken to Shrewsbury and executed.

Edward divided the territory of the Welsh principalities between himself and his supporters, who became the new Marcher Lords. The Marches were the borderland between England and Wales.

On 15 June 1282 the King granted Reginald seizen of the lands of Bromfield and Yale (co. Denbigh), during pleasure, and on 23 October following the castle of Ruthin, the cantred of Dyffryn Clwyd, and the lands that had belonged to Gwenllian de Lascy in the cantreds of Dyffryn Clwyd and Englefield, to hold in fee, by the service of three knights’ fees. He became one of the principal Marcher Lords.

Ruthin lies in Denbighshire in North Wales, in the Valley of Clwyd.

These Anglo-Norman lordships had special privileges which separated them from the usual English lordshipps. They ruled their lands by their own law, not by royal writ. Marcher lords could build castles, a jealously guarded Royal privilege in England. They waged war, established markets and maintained their own chancery courts. They had sheriffs as their deputies. They could confiscate the estates of traitors and felons. They presided over their own petty parliaments. They claimed feudal dues. Their one insecurity was that, if they died without a legitimate heir, the title reverted to the Crown.

There was fierce hostility between the Marcher lords and the Welsh, but also intermarriage between the barons and the princely Welsh families. This included later generations of the Greys of Ruthyn, who made politically advantageous marriages.

Reginald de Grey was summoned to attend the King at Shrewsbury on 28 June 1283.

In 1286,  John and his father were again in trouble for illegally taking deer.

  1. Feb 26.. Pardon to Reginald de Grey and John de Grey and their households, of Westminster, of their trespasses in taking deer in the forests or parks of the counties of Nottingham, Northampton, Huntingdon and Rutland during the late troubles in England. Mandate in pursuance to the justices of the forest in the next eyre in the said counties.

1294 received a command to be at Portsmouth to attend the king in Gascony.

On 16 October 1294 he was about to go to Wales.

Reginald was created a baron as 1st Lord Grey of Wilton on 24 June 1295.

He was called to Parliament from 24 June 1295 to 26 August 1307 and is recorded as being on the morrow of Trinity 29 May 1290, with other magnates. Parliament in those days was a meeting of the king with his barons, usually at Westminster. The king could only gain extra taxes by asking Parliament first.

He was again summoned to attend the King, this time at Salisbury, on 26 January 1696/7.


Edward I was known as “the Hammer of the Scots”. On the death of Alexander III, King of Scots, in 1287, Edward planned to marry his son Prince Edward to Alexander’s granddaughter and heir, the infant Margaret, daughter of the king of Norway. The plan failed when Margaret died on her way to Scotland. Edward was invited to mediate in the dispute between rival claimants to the throne. He manoeuvred them into swearing loyalty to him as his vassals. They rebelled against his demands for taxes and soldiers to fight his wars, and signed an alliance with France. This brought swift retaliation from Edward, who defeated the Scots heavily at Berwick and Dunbar. He stripped the Scottish king Balliol of his title and sent the crown jewels and Stone of Destiny to England.

Rebellion broke out. Edward led his army north. The king demanded Reginald de Grey’s presence at the Battle of Falkirk on 2 July 1298, where the English won a crushing victory over William Wallace.

On 26 May 1301 Reginald de Grey did homage and fealty for the castle of Ruthin to Edward, Prince of Wales, at Kenilworth.

The Barons’ Letter of 1301 was written by seven English earls and 96 English barons to Pope Boniface VIII as a repudiation of his claim of feudal overlordship of Scotland and as a defence of the rights of King Edward I of England as overlord of that country. One of the signatories was Reginaldus de Grey dominus de Ruthyn. The letter was, however, never sent.


Maud died in 1302, aged around 62.

Reginald died on 5 April 1308, probably in his seventies.

A small tomb in Bridstow church near Wilton Castle is traditionally known as the “heart tomb” and was removed from the chapel at Wilton Castle. Early historians believed that the monument “in all probability belonged to the first Lord Grey of Wilton” when internment of the heart had become a fashion originating from the time when the heart “was all that friends could bring home of the soldier who had perished in a foreign land.”[2] Given his age, it is unlikely that Reginald died abroad, but the custom may have persisted.




[1] Wilton Castle, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, print of remains by Ino Geo Wood, 1815
[2]Ross-on-Wye Civic Society, http://www.rosscivic.org.uk/index.php?page=civic_510-Wilton_castle





Sampson Tree