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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


ROGER FITZ ALAN. His name means ‘Roger son of Alan’. This is the way the earliest members of the Rous family were named. Roger’s father was Alan Fitz Mayn. But it became apparent that you needed a surname that could be passed down from father to son. Roger’s own son was Henry le Rous, and this remained the surname for future generations.

His father was Lord of Harescombe, a village south of Gloucester. Roger is thought to have been born there around 1147, in the reign of King Stephen. We do know his mother’s name.

He probably had siblings, but their names have not been passed down to us.

Around 1150, his father founded a chapel in Harescombe and gave money to it. Roger was also a notable benefactor of the church.

The present church of St John the Baptist in Harescombe dates from the 14th century, but the tower has two bells, one of which is dated to 1180, making it the oldest in Gloucestershire. It was almost certainly Roger’s money which helped to pay for it. There is also evidence of a priest in Harescombe at this time.

Oldest bell in Harescombe[1]

Although Harescombe is in Gloucestershire, Roger had links with the neighbouring county of Herefordshire. He was one of the knights of Ysabel, wife of Henry de Hereford, son of Earl Milo.

It was Henry de Hereford who granted the church at Harescombe to Llanthony Priory in 1161. Roger Fitz Alan also made a covenant with Roger, Prior of Llanthony.

This was not the original Llanthony Priory on the English-Welsh border. In 1135, after persistent attacks from the local Welsh population, the Augustinian canons of Llanthony Priory retreated to Gloucester, where the founded a new house called Llanthony Secunda. It was half a mile SW of Gloucester Castle.

The land was given by Miles of Gloucester, First Earl of Hereford, who was Roger’s father’s overlord.

The original Llanthony Priory was 26 miles away, but Llanthony Secunda was only 5 miles from Harescombe.

Monasteries flourished under Norman rule. Roger Fitz Alan’s name is found frequently in the Register of Llanthony Priory, either as a benefactor or as a witness to charters. He gave the prior and canons 2 acres of meadow in the South mead and one and a half acres, called Walewell, in the field of Queddesle.

South mead, or Sudmeadow, lay within a bend of the Severn south-west of Gloucester. In the mid-12th century, Miles of Gloucester gave four acres of what was then called the ‘knights’ meadow’ to Llanthony Priory. Roger owed knight’s service to Miles of Gloucester’s family and had presumably used the meadow to feed his mounts when attending the family at Gloucester Castle.

 There was some dissension, between Roger, Prior of Lanthony, and Roger Fitz Alan, concerning the chapel of Harsecombe, which belonged to the mother church in the nearby village of Harsefield. It was settled in the following manner: [2]

“The Church of Harsefeld is to receive in full everything which appertains to parochial rights in the Vill of Harsecumbe, i.e. all tithes as well of the Curia as of the Villeins, Oblations, Baptisms, Confessions, and Devises of the dying, and Burials, and in fact all things pertaining to parochial rights; so that of all these let the chaplain of the said chapel usurp nothing. The said Chaplain shall be sustained by those things which Alan Fitz Mayn granted him at the “constitution ” of the said chapel; that it is to say, the second tithing of the wheat of his Demesne of Harsecumbe; the first, together with all the lesser tithes pertaining to the mother church of Harsefeld. The said Alan also granted for the sustentation of the Chaplain Ten acres of land (saving the tithe of the same to the mother church). He also gave to the mother church of Harsefeld one acre of land for a cemetery, which things Roger his son confirmed and ratified. But the Prior and Canons, at the petition of Roger Fitz Alan, have granted to the said Chaplain the Tithes of Five Virgates of land, which the Villeins of Brockthrop hold (the tithe of which pertains to the church of St. Owen), and the small tithes of the said Villeins, with their burial, to be held of them (i.e. the Prior and Canons) by the yearly payment of Five Shillings at the Feast of St. Michael. All the Tithes of the Demesne of Brockthrop, as from the time of Walter the Constable, so also now, pertain to the Church of St. Owen.

“The Canons have also granted that if the wife of the said Roger, or any other free woman in his house, bring forth children, they may go whither they will for their Purification (churching); and that the said Roger and his wife, and the free men of his house at their departing (fine suo) may transfer their bodies to whatsoever church they will; but if they decease without devise, let them remain for their burial to their mother church. The Tithes of one mill the Canons have also granted for the sustentation of the Chaplain of the said chapel. They have also granted to the said Roger and his heirs that, on the decease of the Chaplain of the said Chapel, they themselves shall present a Chaplain to the said Canons, whom (if he shall appear to them to be meet for this ministry) they shall cause to be instituted to the said Chapel by the Bishop or by his Official, the usual chaplains’ oath being first taken for the faithful observance of all the ordinances [of the said chapel] in our Chapter House.

“All these things were settled in the year of Our Lord mclxxxi0., in the presence of the Noble Lady and Patroness of the Church of Lanthony, Margaret de Bohun, and of William Fitz Stephen, then Sheriff of Gloucester, whose seals are affixed to this present writing in two portions, for a perpetual testimony, so that either being possessed of a writing duly sealed with their seals, this agreement and concord may perpetually exist.”

 “This agreement, made between the prior of Lanthony and Roger Fitz Alan relative to the church of Harescombe, was, to all appearance, scrupulously observed. The prior and convent do not seem to have sought further gain, but to have looked upon the agreement made under such illustrious auspices as a solemn trust to be religiously and faithfully discharged. On a vacancy occurring in the church the nomination of the clerk was made by the lord of the manor, and the prior and convent presented him to the Bishop for institution down to the dissolution of the House. Afterwards the advowson became absolutely vested in the lord as appurtenant to the manor, until near the end of the 17th century, when the manor itself had become dismembered and sold in parcels.

 “An interesting fact may be recorded. The ” two acres in the South Meadow,” near Gloucester, granted, as we shall see hereafter, by Roger Fitz Alan, to the canons of Lanthony with his “body,” that is, as a burial fee for the privilege of interment in the priory church, can still be identified, because they were in the possession of the Priory at the dissolution, and tithe free, and they have remained tithe free to this day.”

The reference to “free” women and men is significant. Many of the people on Roger’s estates would have been serfs, who were not free. They were tied to the estate, and had to render service on their lord’s lands. They could not leave his manor without his permission.

 These were troubled times in the border lands. In 1175, Henry de Hereford was murdered by the Welsh and his nephew William de Braose slaughtered many of the Welsh in revenge.

Roger served the Marcher Lords, who ruled over the conquered English and held the frontier against the Welsh, often with considerable brutality.

He should not be confused with a contemporary Roger FitzAlan, who was the second Lord Mayor of London.

He had one known son, Henry le Rous. There were probably other children whose names are lost to us.

Roger died in 1208, at the age of 60-61.


[1] The Sound of Bells – Long-waisted Bells.
[2] Rev. John Melland Hall, “Harescombe: Fragments of Parochial History”, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 1885.




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