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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



STEPHEN DE HACCOMBE was the son of Jordan de Haccombe. He is thought to have been born around 1200, at the beginning of the reign of King John. His line dates back to the Norman Conquest.[1]


JOAN BOSON. Joan or Johanna Boson appears to have been the daughter of Robert Boson and Joan St George, of Ilton, Marlborough, and of Bozumzeal in Dittisham, both on the south Devon coast.

Frank Egerton Coope’s Thurleston Church and Parish confuses this Stephen with the 14th-century one, but says that the Bozun lands came to the Haccombe family through the marriage of Stephen de Haccombe to Joan Bozun. Joan and her sister were co-heiresses of the Bozun lands, including Thurlestone, with Middleton (Milton) and Sourebozon (Sewer). These were manors in the South Hams, close to Malborough.

Their great-great-great grandson Richard Lercedekne married another Joan Boson.


In 1241 Stephen was said to be “in possession of Haccombe, Clifford and Ringmor”. These are manors  the Haccombes had owned since the Domesday Book.

Sir William Pole says: “Stephen de Haccomb holds 1/3 fee in Haccumb of John de Curtenay of the Honour of Okemeton.” Courtenay was his feudal overlord, to whom he owed military service.

Risdon says: “Hereby (Coffinswell) is Daccombe (Haccombe), the inheritance of a family so named. In the time of King Henry the third (1216-1272) was land in this hamlet given by Jordan de Haccombe to Torr Abbey, which Thomas his son confirmed.’ This is a mistake. Torr Abbey Cartulary records: “ego Jordanus de Daccumbe et Cecilia uxoris”. The witnesses include Martino de Fishacre and Stephano de Hacumbe. The gift was made by Stephen’s son Jordan and his wife Cecilia.


Stephen and Joan had two sons, Jordan and William. William later became rector of Stoke Fleming. He obtained a licence of non-residence for three years from 11 Sept 1261 to study  law in Paris. “Parisius, Juro Canonico”. In 1281 he was still rector of Stoke Fleming.

There is also a reference to Geoffrey de Hecham, a priest in attendance at the deathbed of Isabella de Fortibus on Nov. 9, 1293. He may have been another son younger than William.

Jordan was born around 1228-9. Stephen may have been still at home when his first son was born, or he may have already departed for the Holy Land, leaving Joan pregnant

There is a strong tradition that Stephen was a crusader. He would have accompanied Bishop Briwere of Exeter when he and Peter de Rupibus, Bishop of Winchester, went on the Sixth Crusade in 1228.

After the defeat of the Fifth Crusade, earlier that century, the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, paid for and led the Sixth Crusade. He had been excommunicated by the pope, who feared his growing power, and the crusade did not have papal blessing.

He recruited an army and sailed to Syria in 1228, arriving at Acre. He realised he did not have a big enough army to engage the occupying Egyptian forces in battle. He marched towards the Sultan of Egypt, pretending to have a larger army than he did, in the hope of gaining Jerusalem through diplomacy. The Sultan was busy with a rebellion in Syria and ceded Jerusalem to the Christian Franks, together with Nazareth, Bethlehem, Sidon and Jaffa. The Muslims retained control of the Temple Mount, the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Frederick was not allowed to refortify the walls of Jerusalem.

The truce lasted for 15 years, before the Turks captured Jerusalem in 1244

There are conflicting reports of how long Bishop Briwere’s contingent was away. Some say it was five years.

A.W. Searley, in his lengthy paper on the Haccombe family, allows his imagination free rein over Stephen de Haccombe’s return. He pictures: “the massive figure of this brave knight in his war-worn splendour; the level Western sun glinting on his burnished chain mail; his powerful charger leaving red hoof-marks on the good Devon soil, as he slowly winds through the familiar oak woods. There is an uplifting of joy and gratitude on the stern face as he halts at the head of the valley and pours out a thanksgiving for a safe return in a solemn vow to build the church. Then on to the low grey walls of the ancient hall; the graceful wife in her stately flowing garments waiting quietly in the porch, her dog at her feet; the impatient welcoming rush of the sturdy sons, and Stephen is once more at home in Haccombe.”

The evidence suggests that William, and possibly Geoffrey, was born after Stephen’s return. There may, however, have been daughters we do not hear about.


There is general agreement that Stephen was the builder of the original church at Haccombe after his return from the Holy Land in 1233. It was dedicated to St Blaize, one of only five such dedications in England. St Blaize was the patron saint of woolcombers. Stephen’s ancestor, also Stephen, had kept 40 sheep at Haccombe at the time of Domesday in 1186. Perhaps the flocks had grown in importance.

The church has genuine Early English windows which fix the date to around 1250. The piers may be earlier. It is agreed that the construction is 13th-14th- century. The outer walls and lancet windows belong to the earlier period.

Stephen’s church consisted of a nave and chancel only. It may have been primarily a household chapel. It stands only a stone’s throw from the manor house. In the Taxation of Pope Nicholas it was valued at 20/-.


Stephen died around 1243.

Under the arch between the chancel and the aisle is a tomb described by Prince, in his Worthies of Devon: “Sir Stephen de Hacham cut in stone to full proportion, and all in armor, finely flourished with black, cross-legged, and spurred in token of his knighthood; and that he had actually been, or vow’d himself a soldier in the Holy Land; having on his breast his shield Argent, charged with 3 bendlets Sable.

The Exeter Diocesan Archives Society Transactions adds: “The material is hard, red sandstone on which is a coating of plaister, a quarter of an inch thick, beautifully moulded into the form of chain mail, once gilt, and having a black foliated pattern running over the whole of the armour; this pattern is not raised, and was therefore, most likely only painted on the gilding, and did not form any pattern worked in the mail itself. The only portions of the plate visible on the figure are the poleyns, or steel coverings for the knees, which first appear in the middle of the 13th century.”

Gilded chain mail is said to be a sign that the wearer was a Knight Banneret. In the Middle Ages a knight banneret was a commoner of rank who led a company of troops during time of war under his own square-shaped banner, unlike the tapering pennon flown by lower-ranking knights. He ranked higher than a knight bachelor, who fought under someone else’s banner. The rank of knight banneret could only be conferred by the sovereign on the field of battle.

The cross-legged position is traditionally supposed to indicate the tomb of a Crusader, but there is evidence that this was not always so. The probability is that Stephen was indeed a Crusader.

Joan survived him.

In the little church of St Blaise in Haccombe are a number of tombs. One of these under a low arch in north of the aisle is a plain slab of Purbeck marble. It is coffin-shaped and has a cross in low relief.  It is sometimes said to be the tomb of the Rev. Robert de Pyl, whose name is on the foundation deed of the church. But Searley quotes research which makes it more likely that tombs of this design marked the graves of the wives or widows of knight who died on Crusade. If he is right that Sir Jordan died on the fifth Crusade, then it would seem to be that of his widow. But Searley thinks it is the tomb of Joan, wife of Jordan’s son Stephen. Stephen must have distinguished himself, either on the Crusade, or nearer home.


After Stephen’s death, Joan married William de Cheverston. Others say he was her first husband.

They had at least one child, John.

Frank Egerton Coope adds:

‘Of this family I can glean nothing of interest except that Stephen seems to have become possessed of Thurlestone by marrying Joan Buzun, who subsequently married William de Cheverston. In ‘Devonshire Wills,’ by Charles Worthy, p. 387, I find : ‘ Ferrers of Bere married the other co-heiress of the Bozuns, sister to the wife of William de Cheverston.’

In 1346 Johannes (John) de Chevereston paid £\ for two knights’ fees in Soure (Sewer) and Thorleston which Stephanus de Haccomb formerly held. This Sir John Cheverston also held the manor of Ilton, which had come into his family by the marriage of William de Cheverston with Joan, daughter and coheiress of the Buzun family.’

Joan died in 1286.

In 1335 Edward III granted John Cheverstone a licence to crenellate (fortify) his dwelling house at Ilton. This was in the parish of Malborough, north of Salcombe. The original dwelling house was probably the ancient home of the Bosons.


[1] Information on Stephen Haccombe is from A. W. Searley, “Haccombe, Part I, (1086-1330)”,  Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 1918.






Sampson Tree