25. WAKE

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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



RALPH WAKE was the son and heir of Andrew and Joan Wake, of Dowlish Wake, near Ilminster in Somerset.[1] He was born in the middle of the 13th century, when England was on a wave of prosperity.

He had at least one sister, Joan, and a possible half-sister Gunnora.

The ancestral seat of the Wakes in the South-West was Dowlish Wake, otherwise known as East Dowlish. The Wakes also held the neighbouring manor of West Dowlish. It is likely that Ralph grew up in Dowlish Wake.


Andrew Wake died before 1280, leaving Ralph as his heir.

Ralph inherited substantial estates in Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Hampshire.


ALICE.  All that we know about Alice’s background before she married Ralph is that she held the manor of Compton Martin in her demesne as of fee, of William de Martin, knt.[2]

She may have been from the Martin family, but we have no confirmation of this.

Compton Martin lies in the Chew Valley in Somerset, north of the Mendip Hills. Landed gentry often owned estates in several counties, so Alice’s rights in the manor need not mean that she lived there, but it is possible that her childhood home was in this area.

The village duckpond is fed by a natural spring.

Compton Martin[3]

The marriage must have taken place before 1280, since Ralph held the manor of Compton Martin then.

The couple had a son, John.


John Collinson says of Dowlish Wake:

“It appears that in the time of Edw I [1272-1307] it was the property of Sir Ralph Wake, a person of great account in these parts, and this Ralph, beside the manors of East and West-Dowlish, had that of Compton Martin in this county, as also the manors of Stour-Cosin, Eastover and Westover, Stoke in Blakemore, Gorewell, Candel-Wake, and Hull, in the county of Dorset, and the manor of Tangle in the county of Southampton. By Alice his wife he left issue John, sometimes called de Wake, and sometimes le Wake, his son and heir, who succeeded to these estates.”[4]

In an undated charter the bishop of Bath confirmed a gift by Ralph Wac (Wake) of the mill at Duvelicium (Dowlish) to the monks of Ferleia in Wiltshire.[5]

1290/? In 18 Edw I [1279-80], Ralph Wake had a charter for free-warren in his land at East and West Dovelish [Dowlish], and Compton Martin, in the county of Somerset; and at Stoke in Blackmore, Gorwell, Caundel, Baymin, Hull, and Stureweston, in Dorsetshire.

This gave him permission to kill game of certain species within a stipulated area, usually a wood or small forest.

This grant was probably secured through the influence of Alan Plugenet, Ralph’s brother-in-law, husband of his sister Joan, and a member of the royal household. Such grants of free warren, a privilege more usually accorded to men of higher social standing, signified the obligation felt by the Crown to loyal servants and military captains such as Alan Plugenet. Men in close contact with the source of royal patronage were expected to secure favours for their dependants.[6]

 In 16 Edw  [1287-8] Ralph and his mother were on the receiving end of a plea by William Cosin, concerning land in Stoke Cosin (later Stoke Wake) and Westwode, both in Dorset.[7]

“At Shireburn, in the octaves of Holy Trinity, between William son of Thomas Cosin, plaintiff, and Ralph Wake, whom Joan who was the wife of Andrew Wake called to warrant and who warranted to her a messuage and land in Stoke Cosin and Westwode. And between the same plaintiff, and the same Ralph whom the same Joan called to warrant and who warranted to her a mill in the said vill, which mill Joan previously in the same Court warranted to Walter le Jouene and Margaret his wife. Assize of mort ancestor was summoned. Ralph acknowledged the whole tenement to be the right of William. To have and to hold to William and his heirs of Ralph and his heirs for ever, rendering therefor yearly eight shillings at the terms of St John the Baptist, Michaelmas, Nativity of our Lord and Easter, for all service, etc. And Ralph and his heirs will warrant the whole tenement to William and his heirs by the said service against all men, for ever. For this William gave to Ralph one sore sparrow hawk.”

A sore sparrowhawk was under one year old.

Around 1289 Ralph was involved in a dispute between his sister, or half-sister, Gunnora, and her in-laws.


Date: [c. 1289]
Petitioners: Gunnora de Bingham, widow of Robert son of Robert de Bingham.
Nature of request: Bingham requests remedy of 3 matters:1) She requests an attaint to convict a jury in an assize of Mort de Ancestor which was taken before Walter de Wymburn and his associates in the year after the king last crossed the sea for her land in Nether Melcombe which Richard son of Robert de Bingham recovered on the same day by the assize in the petitioner’s absence.2) Bingham requests that she might be able to have the record and process of the plea of the aforesaid assize coram Rege.3) Bingham requests that she might be able to have delivery of a certain charter for her land in Nether Melcombe which is in the custody of Ralph Wake.
Nature of endorsement: 1) In Chancery.2) The lord king has granted that she should have it.[8]

The Cosin name and the reference to Stoke Cosin are interesting. It is believed that Stoke Cosin changed its name to Stoke Wake following the marriage of Ralph’s grandmother Hawise to an older Ralph Wake and that her maiden name may have been Cosin/Cosyn.

Ralph was Sheriff of Dorset in 1294.

Ralph Wake was not only a civil administrator but a prominent knight.

In the latter years of the 13th century, King Edward mounted an unsuccessful raid on Gascony. Ralph appears to have taken part in this. On his return, he was the subject of a complaint.[9]

Petitioner:                    Richard de Loveny

Nature of request:       Richard de Loveny, the king’s tenant in Queen Camel, complains that Ralph and John, members of the household of the chancellor, had entered his lands, stole his corn and assaulted him, because he had informed the king and his council when they last returned from Gascony that Ralph ought to be in the wardship of the king for his manor of Tangley

Nature of endorsement:           In Chancery.It shall be done, and he shall have a writ of trespass to the sheriff of Somerset.

People mentioned:       Ralph Wake; John, parson of Cricket St Thomas; Chancellor of England.

Note:                            The petitioner states that the attack took place on the Friday next after the feast of the Nativity of our Lady in the king’s seventeenth year. The handwriting would appear to date the document to Edward I’s reign, and hence the attack would have taken place on 9 September 1289, with the petition presumably being submitted once the victim had sufficiently recovered.


In 23 Edw I  [1294-5] he was one of those “summoned to be at London with horse and arms the next Lords-day after the octaves of St John the Baptist, thence to attend the king beyond the seas.” [10]

The following year, 24 Edw I [1295-6]  he “had summons, with other eminent persons, to attend a great council, to be holden at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, well furnished with horse and arms, and to consult upon the expedition then contemplated to be made into Scotland.”[11]

Edward I was also known as Edward Longshanks, because of his height, and the Hammer of the Scots. He invaded Scotland in 1296 and seized the Stone of Scone, the Scottish coronation stone. He brought it to Westminster, where he set it into a specially commissioned coronation chair, still in use today. It was returned to Scotland in 1996.

It would appear that Ralph took part in this campaign.


In 1297 Ralph held 20 or more librates of land. A librate was a piece of land having a value of £1 per year.[12]

His mother Joan held more than 40.


Ralph’s patron and brother-in-law, Alan Plugenet, died in 1298-9. There are many references to Ralph’s parents in his Inquisition Post Mortem, and one to Ralph himself.[13]


SOUTHAMPTON. Inq. made at Winchester on Friday before the Conversion of St. Paul, 27 Edw. I.
Tangeleygh manor. 100s. rent (extent given with names of tenants) which Andrew Wake gave to the said Alan with Joan his daughter in free marriage, to hold of the said Ralph (sic) and his heirs by service of rendering a rose yearly.


Ralph’s shocking death took place in 1303-4.[14] Alice was accused of “unnaturally contriving the death of Ralph her husband, for which she was burnt, according to her sentence, after fair trial.”[15]

We would love to know details of how she contrived his death, and where her execution took place, but these bare facts are all that is repeated in various reports.

Women were burned at the stake for High Treason and Petty Treason. Petty Treason was the murder by a woman of her husband (or her mistress), since he was deemed to be her superior.


Her demesne of Compton Martin was transferred to her son John by seizin (lawful possession).

There is a local legend of the White Lady, a ghostly figure who is said to haunt the parish. It is thought that this may be Alice.


John also inherited his father’s copious estates.


At the time of  Ralph’s death, in 32 Edw I [1303-4], the abbess and nuns of Shaftesbury retained the manors of East Stour, West Stour and Stour Cosyn acquired of Ralph Wake, who retained the manors of Stoke Wake, Gorwell, Caundle Wake, and Hull (Dorset), Compton Martin and East and West Dowlish (Somerset) and Tangley (Hants). [16]

The Abbess of Shaftesbury was the hereditary overlord of Stoke Wake, and apparently the first three manors as well. The last eight manors passed to John.


[1] http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=56821
[2] http://www.1066.co.nz/library/battle_abbey_roll2/subchap114.htm.
[3] Comptonmartinparishcouncil.gov.uk
[4] John Collinson, The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset. 1791.
[5] http://wasfu-man-symondspedigree.blogspot.com
[6] A R J Junica, The Knights of Edward I. Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham, 1976.
[7] Edward Alex. Fry and George S. Fry, Dorset Records. 1896.
[8] National Archives SC 8/1/13
[9] National Archives. SC 8/123/6125
[10] Collinson
[11] Thomas Christopher Banks, The Dormant and Extict Baronage of England. 1826
[12] Junica
[13] Inquisitions Post Mortem, Edward I. File 91.
[14] De Banc. R. Trin. 47 Edw. III, m. 65; Inq. p.m. 32 Edw. I, no. 166;  ‘Parishes: Tangley’, A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4 (1911), pp. 326-328 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=56821
[15] http://www.1066.co.nz/library/battle_abbey_roll2/subchap114.htm
[16] National Archives. C 143/49/6




Sampson Tree