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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)



WILLIAM TOREL. We have traced our Torels back from Agnes Torrell, who married John Whitinge of Kentisbeare in Devon in the 1420s, to William Torel of Thurrock in Essex who died in 1289. But there were Torels in Thurrock before that, going back to 1130, who are almost certainly ancestors.

The Torels traditionally held their land by the service of Serjeant Naperer to the king. They were responsible for the king’s table linen on ceremonial occasions such as the coronation. The office was hereditary.

It is Torellus Naparius whom we meet in 1130. His baptismal name is not given.

A William Torel performs this service in 1207.

Of particular interest is a document of 1236 which refers to “Will filius Will’i Tarel”. It is likely that the father is the same as the Naperer of 1207. The younger man  could be the father of William Torel, husband of Alice de Basseville, who died in 1289, with the older one as his grandfather.

The land the Torels held by this service of Serjeant Naperer was West Thurrock, on the northern bank of the Thames estuary. They lived at Torrells Hall in the adjacent manor of Little Thurrock. A William Torel, probably this William’s father, held Torrells Hall at his death in 1266. A later generation moved 18 miles north to the village of Willingale Doe, where their home was also known as Torrells Hall.

We do not know the name of William’s mother, or anything about his siblings.

After the death of his father in 1266 William took on the hereditary office of Serjeant Naperer.



ALICE DE BASSEVILLE. Often it is the wife who appears as a footnote to her husband’s story. With this generation of the Torels it is the other way round. We hear of William in passing with this account of Alice, her brother and her sisters.

“Gilbert de Baseville, grandson of Alan de Dunstanville, left as coheirs five sisters: of these Alice married John de Teuelby, or Tylleby; Ladereyna William de Valoynes; Margaret John de Wykeford; and Joan William Payn of Angmering. All of these were sued in 1276 by the other sister Hawys de Baseville for 1/5 of the manor of Bepton. They maintained that she had no claim, as she was a nun at Rusper, but she said that she had never actually taken the vows. Alice had previously been married to William Torel, of Torrells Hall (Essex), and had a son John Torel, “[1]

Bepton is a village in the Chichester district of West Sussex.

Alice was thus the daughter of an older Gilbert de Baseville and Alice Dunstanville. She had four sisters and a brother.

The Bassevilles held the manor of Worplesdon, 3 miles from Guildford in Surrey. Their name comes from Basseville by the Lys river in Belgium. The Dunstanvilles held the manor of Bepton, south of Midhurst in Sussex. This passed to the Bassevilles through the marriage of Alice’s parents.

When her brother Gilbert died without progeny, Alice and her four sisters inherited the Basseville estates.

The document about the manor of Bepton could make it appear that Alice was married to John Tylleby by 1276. This was not the case. Her first husband William Torel was still alive then.


William and Alice had at least one son, John.


Much of their adult lives was spent in the reign of Edward I. One of his notable acts was to make Parliament a permanent institution, instead of being summoned occasionally at the king’s whim. It had a growing power over raising revenue and governing expenditure.


The couple’s son John, died before his parents, in 1282. He was married to Agnes, with a 4-year-old son, also John.

William died that same decade, probably around 1289. He was of Torrells Hall. His heir was his 11-year-old grandson, John Torel.


Inquests Post Mortem were held for all his properties. That for Essex is dated 20 Nov 18 Edw.I. [1290].

The estates in question were Little Thurrock, which the Torels traditionally held by their service of Serjeant Naperer, West Thurrock, where Torrells Hall was situated, and the adjacent Caldewelle,  or Chadwell St Mary.

Little Thurrok. A little capital messuage, 60a. arable, 32a. meadow, 60a. pasture, 50s. yearly rent &c. all held of the king in chief by serjeanty, rendering 10s. at the king’s exchequer.
West Thurrok. A capital messuage, dovecot, 120a. land, 5a. meadow, 120a. pasture, 20s. rent.
Bentleye. 24s. rent.
Caldewelle. 22s. rent, and 2s. pleas and perquisites.
All held of Sir Bartholomew de Breaunsoun by socage, rendering 27s. 7½d.
John, son of John Torel, son of the said William, aged 11 at the feast of …, 17 Edw. I., is his next heir.


Edward I’s beloved queen Eleanor died soon after, in 1291. Her tomb in Westminster Abbey is regarded as one of the finest medieval tombs. On it reclines an effigy of Eleanor in gilt bronze, cast by the goldsmith William Torel.

In the previous year Eleanor had made arrangements for her death, ordering the stone for her tomb and arranging for her heart to be buried at the Dominican priory in Blackfriars. In April of that year she visited Thurrock. This is surely not a coincidence. It is unlikely that the lord of the manor would be a goldsmith, but it seems a near certainty that the craftsman who made her effigies, both for her tomb in Westminster and for Lincoln Cathedral, was a member of the Thurrock family. It is even possible that he was a younger son of William and Alice.

Tomb of Queen Eleanor [2]


Eight days after William’s Inquest, on Nov 28, a grant was made “to Alice, late the wife of William Torel, tenant in chief, for Frampton, a fine of 40s whereof she will pay moieties at Easter next and Michaelmas following, that she may marry whomsoever she will in the king’s fealty”.

There is a Frampton Road in Basildon, suggesting that the manor of Frampton was in that area.

The marriage of wealthy widows and children was a valuable commodity, with potential suitors bidding for the privilege. Alice won the right to choose her second husband for herself.

She married again to John Tylleby. We have been unable to find more information about her second husband, or whether there were children from this marriage.


In its account of the manor of Bepton, to which Alice’s sister Hawys had laid a claim in 1276, the Victoria County History of Sussex cites an agreement of 1282, in which Alice’s son John and his wife Agnes agreed that John de Tylleby and Alice should hold the manor for their lives, with reversion after their deaths to John, Agnes and his heirs. [3]

There is, however, some discrepancy in the dates here. William is believed to have died around 1289, seven years after this agreement, in which case, Alice could not have been married to John Tylleby by then. We know that John Torel predeceased his father.


We do not know when Alice died.


[1] http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=41693
[2] https://www.westminste-abbey.org/media/9456/eleanor-castile-effigy-head-shoulders.jpg
[3] A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol4/pp41-43




Sampson Tree