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 WOOLAVINGTON (26)
WILLIAM WOOLAVINGTON. Our knowledge of William comes from the Victoria County History of Somerset. In the article on Woolavington we read:
“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.”
In this sentence we have both William’s father, Ranulph de Woolavington, and his only known son, Henry.
The article is only concerned with the succession of the manor, so it does not give us the name of William’s mother, his wife, or any children other than Henry.
Woolavington lies on the northern slopes of the Polden Hills, overlooking the Somerset Levels. It is near the western end of the ridge.
There were three manors: Woolavington Throckmorton, Woolavington Pym, and Woolavington and Cossington. The Woolavington family held the last named.
In 1066 Woolavington was held by Glastonbury Abbey. The tenancy of the manor of Woolavington Throckmorton descended to Chandos family through Maud de Chandos. They were evidently the leading landowners, being able to grant land to the Woolavingtons. This is what the Victoria History means by “the main manor”.
Cossington is a village to the east of Woolavington. It had its own manor, but it appears that part of it was combined with land in Woolavington to form the manor of Woolavington and Cossington, whose lords were the Woolavington family.
William must have received his grant following the death of his father. We have only the date “in the later 12th century”. William was probably born in the second half of this century.
He was now a lord of the manor, but not one of the most powerful ones.
His grandson Henry held land, not only in Woolavington and Cossington, but in the nearby parishes of Huntspill and Edington. We do not know whether William also held these estates.
This Henry de Woolavington, was a noted judge whose name appears on many documents. There is no evidence that William held such a position.
William and his family would have worshipped in the church of St Mary. In 1113 it was part of the foundation gift of Robert de Chandos, lord of the manor of Woolavington , to Goldcliff Priory in Monmouthshire. The tower was not added until the 14th century.
Robert de Chandos was the ancestor of Maud de Chandos, who granted the estate in Woolavington to William.
St Mary’s, Woolavington
William must have died not later than 1216, the latest year in which his son Henry could have been granted the estate by Maud’s grandson Philip de Columbers.
He may have lived long enough to hear the news of the capture of Richard the Lionheart on his way back from a Crusade in 1192. The Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI demanded 150,000 marks for his release. This was two or three times the annual income of England. People were taxed a quarter of the value of their property and the gold and silver treasures of the churches confiscated.
Richard’s brother John, who had been left in charge of the kingdom, conspired with Philip of France to offer 80,000 marks for Henry to keep the Lionheart in prison. When the ransom was paid, and Richard released, he sent a message to his brother: “Look to yourself, the devil is loose.”
John succeeded Richard in 1199, the most unpopular king of England in history.
 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
 British History Online. Woolavington.
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