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)
HENRY WOOLAVINGTON and MILICENT DE BURCI (25)
HENRY DE WOOLAVINGTON. There are three men of this name listed in the Victoria County History of Somerset as lords of the manor of Woolavington and Cossington.
“In the later 12th century Maud de Chandos gave William son of Ranulph de Woolavington the land which his father had held in Woolavington and her son Philip (d. c. 1216) confirmed the grant to William’s son Henry. The estate, later known as the manor of Woolavington or Woolavington and Cossington, was held of the main manor until 1708 or later. Henry was succeeded by his son Henry of Woolavington (d. 1270-80).”
The third Henry is two generations later.
A Henry de Woolavington was a judge in the 13th century. His name appears in many documents. These are mostly dated in the 1270s. This seems too late to be the Henry who succeeded to the manor before 1216, but may be his son.
We know from the Victoria History that the first Henry was the son of William. We have no information about his mother.
We are told that Henry was granted the manor by Philip de Columbers, heir to the influential Chandos family, and that Philip died around1216. This puts Henry’s likely birth date in the later 12th century. He probably married early in the 13th century.
The History and Antiquities of Somerset gives us further information. 
“ In the time of Henry II. Maud de Candos granted to William son of Ranulph de Wollavington all the lands that his father held in this village; which grant her grandson Philip de Columbers confirmed to his son Henry. This Henry had also lands in Cossington, Huntspill, Edington, and other adjacent parishes ; and having married Milicent daughter of Alan de Burci, had issue three sons, Henry, Walter, and William.”
MILICENT DE BURCI. We know from this that Milicent’s father was Alan de Burci. We have no further information about him.
In the eleventh century Serlo de Burci was a major Norman landowner in the south-west. He was also a feudal baron. His principal seat was at Blagdon in Somerset, on the edge of the Mendip Hills. It is likely that Alan de Burci was a descendant.
The landscape of the Somerset Levels was changing in Henry and Milicent’s lifetime. Abbeys played a major part in the medieval economy. On the Somerset Levels there were three: Glastonbury, Athelney and Muchelney.
Glastonbury was one of the most famous abbeys in the country. It dates back to pre-Saxon times, at least as early as the 7th century. The abbey was the Woolavingtons’ overlord.
In 877, Athelney was an island in the Somerset marshes. King Alfred took refuge there when he was fleeing from the Danes. It was from there that he rallied his troops to win a decisive victory at the Battle of Edington in 878, ensuring a lengthy peace. In gratitude he founded the Abbey of Athelney.
Edington is 5 miles SE of Woolavington, and Henry de Woolavington held land there.
Muchelney lies south of Athelney. This abbey was founded in the 7th or 8th century. Its marshy position is testified to by the Domesday Book, which records that the abbey paid a tax of 6000 eels per annum.
Medieval abbeys relied heavily on farming for their income, and were often at the forefront of innovation. In the Middle Ages, these abbeys on the Somerset Levels were responsible for much of the drainage to provide more farmland. In 1234, 722 acres were reclaimed near Westonzoyland, 5 miles south of Woolavington. This rose to 972 acres by 1240. Henry and Milicent would have seen the landscape changing around them, as marshes gave way to fields.
Somerset levels drainage ditch (rhyne)
We know from the History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset that the family manor of Woolavington and Cossington was not the only estate Henry held. He also had land in Cossington, Huntspill, Edington “and other adjacent parishes”.
We also learn from this history that Henry and Milicent had three sons: Henry, Walter and William. Henry junior may well be the judge we read so much about. There is no sign that Henry senior followed this role.
We are also told that Waleis was an alternative surname to Woolavington and that their son Walter was known as Walter le Waleis.
We do not have death dates for Milicent and Henry, but Henry probably died in the latter half of the 13th century,
 Woolavington in A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 8, the Poldens and the Levels, ed. Robert Dunning (London, 2004), British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/som/vol8/pp210-223
 John Collinson. The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset: Cruttevell, 1791.
 Somerset Drainage Boards Consortium
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