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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



SIR HENRY DE GREY was a younger son of John de Grey and Hawise de Clare. He was born in 1155, at the beginning of the reign of Henry II.

The ancestral home of the English Greys is Rotherfield Greys, near Henley in Oxfordshire, but Henry is particularly associated with what became known as Grays Thurrock in Essex, on the Thames estuary near Tilbury.

Family trees that say Henry was born there are probably mistaken. Henry was 40 when he acquired the manor. It is much more likely that he grew up in Rotherfield Greys. Since he was a younger son, he did not inherit this ancestral manor, which went to his elder brother Robert.

In 1189 Henry II died and was succeeded by his son Richard I, who became known as the Lionheart.

In 1190 the demesne tenancy of Thurrock was held by Isaac son of Josce the Rabbi. Isaac had bought it from the lord of the manor William de Ferrers. From Isaac it passed to his son, a younger Josce. King Richard I seized it from Josce before 1194, probably at the time of Isaac’s death. This may have been a method of collecting death duties from those who were not the King’s subjects, with their lands being confiscated and then sold back to the heir at a substantial discount.

Isaac’s son sold the Thurrock manor to Henry de Grey in 1194. The following year, 1195, the king confirmed the ownership to Henry.

Joe Hillaby tells us:[1] “English Jewry flourished during the long reign of Henry II. William of Newborough refers to Henry II ‘favouring [the Jews] more than was right … because of the great advantages he saw were to be had from their usuries.’” Newborough describes this as a period when the Jews were ‘happy and respected’…

“The halcyon days of English Jewry came to an end with Henry II’s death in 1189.”

This change of feeling culminated in a massacre of Jews in York. They had taken refuge from an angry mob in York Castle. When they could hold out no longer, and were in imminent danger of being killed or forcibly baptised, fathers killed their families and then themselves.

In London, the affluent Jewish community remained much less affected. Josce the Rabbi, his son Isaac and grandson Josce, who sold Thurrock to Henry, were prominent members of this community.

All the same, after the shocking events in York, Isaac son of the rabbi moved to France and took up residence in the Rue des Juifs in Rouen.

“It was from here on 22 March 1190 that he negotiated a charter whereby Richard I confirmed to him, his sons and their people all the customs and liberties which King Henry our father had granted and by his charter confirmed to the Jews of England and Normandy, to reside in our [lands] freely and honourably and to receive from us those things which he and his sons had in the time of Henry our father in lands, rents, mortgages, gifts and purchases, that is to say ‘Hame’ which Henry our father gave him for services rendered and Thurrock which the said Isaac bought from Earl Ferrers and all the houses, tenures which the said Isaac and his sons had in our [lands] at the time of King Henry our father.’ The charter was granted ‘of the hand of William de Longchamp our chancellor.”

Richard I had many other lands besides England. He spent only a few months of his ten year reign in this country. He spoke little or no English. He once remarked that he would sell the whole country if he could find a buyer.

Richard set out for the Holy Land on the Third Crusade, with Henry de Grey among his knights, but he failed to take Jerusalem from the Muslim Saladin. On the way back in 1191 he was shipwrecked and then captured by the Duke of Austria. The ransom demanded equated to a quarter of every Englishman’s income for a year.

“The 1199 Memoranda Roll records that, at an unknown date, in all probability on Richard I’s return from crusade in 1194, Isaac was required to pay 1000 marks to Henry de Gray, keeper of the Norman Jewry.”

It was to be paid through the Norman Exchequer, not the English Pipe Roll.

“Shortly after, the manor of Thurrock in Essex, which Isaac had bought from Robert de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, was sold to the selfsame Henry de Gray – a transaction for which de Gray was quick to seek royal confirmation. This he obtained on two occasions, by a charter of Richard I in January 1195, and another of John immediately after his accession in 1199.”

The Grey family, from whom the manor of Grays Thurrock later took its prefix, retained possession until the early 16th century.

Map of Grays Thurrock [2]


On his death in 1199, Richard I was succeeded by his brother John. Henry de Grey became a favourite courtier of King John.

Sir Bernard Burke tells us:[3] “In the 6th year of King Richard I [1195], that monarch conferred the manor of Thurrock, co. Essex (afterwards called Thurrock Grey), upon Henry de Grey, which grant was confirmed by King John, who vouchsafed, by special charter, to permit the said Henry de Grey to hunt the hare and fox in any land belonging to the crown, save the king’s own demesne-parks. In the 1st Henry III [1216], he had also a grant of the manor of Grimston, co. Nottingham, and having afterwards m. Isolda, niece and heiress of Robert Bardolf, shared in the inheritance of his lands. By this lady Henry de Grey had issue, Richard, John, William, Robert, Walter, and Henry.”


Henry de Gray married Isolda Bardolf in 1199.


ISOLDA BARDOLF was the daughter of Hugh Bardolf of Codnor in Derbyshire and Isobel Aquillion.


The Thurrock Local History Society tells us:[4]  The charter [granting Thurrock to Henry de Grey] describes Henry as a knight, suggesting he was not a baron, one who held land directly from the king in return for the promise of military service, but a military vassal (under-tenant) who, in his turn, had to perform ‘knight service’ for his lord, the tenant-in-chief, but this may be misleading. In a system where even a king could owe at least nominal service for some of his lands, Henry’s vassalage did not necessarily make him unimportant. He seems to have been highly esteemed both by Richard I and by John, who paid off a debt of Henry’s in 1203. Henry’s… marriage to an heiress, Iseude de Bardolf, required the king’s consent, which would have been given only if the bridegroom to be met with royal approval. Another indication of Henry’s importance is the marriage of his eldest son to Lucy, the only child of William de Humez, sometime constable of Normandy and hence one of the greatest men in the duchy. William would never have permitted his daughter to marry anyone he regarded as inadequate in terms of wealth and status, not least because her husband would eventually be lord of the Humez lands.

“Henry’s high status has been adequately established, but the signatures of the two charters confirm it and give an insight into who mattered in late twelfth-century England. By June 1195 Richard was long gone, after making a brief visit to his kingdom in the previous year, to prove the futility of John’s claim to the throne, and the charter confirming that Henry de Grey held the manor of Thurrock was signed by Eustace, dean of Salisbury and vice-chancellor of England. Witnesses to the signing included William Fitz-Radolf, William de Stagno and Gilbert Males Manis. Within four years, Richard was dead (died 6th April 1199) and his brother was king (crowned on 27th May). John was literate, but it was his chancellor, Hubert Walter, archbishop of Canterbury, who signed (on 26th July) a new charter confirming Henry’s ownership of his manor. The witnesses to this included William Fitz-Radolf (again), William Count Arundel, and Robert Fitz-Walter. Poole  says Magna Carta (1215) is all about the rights of Englishmen, not of Normans, but these names suggest that many influential Englishmen of the time were of Norman origin. This is certainly true of Henry himself, whose own high standing with the king could account for the speed with which the issuing of the new charter followed the coronation.

“Henry de Grey of Thurrock’s main holdings seem to have been in Derbyshire, as might be expected of a vassal of Lord Ferrers, earl of Derby, but his land in Essex is always used to identify him. In later documents he is referred to as baron by tenure of Codnor, and this means he did receive lands directly of the king at some time. Iseude brought him part of the estate left by Robert Bardolf, who was parson [patron?] of thirty churches and owner of lands in Kent and Lincolnshire, thus establishing a precedent for the many fortunate marriages which increased the family’s wealth and power.”

Before 1201 Henry de Grey was granted the manor of Codnor in Derbyshire, and in 1216 the regents of John’s successor, the boy king Henry III, granted him the manor of Grimston in Nottinghamshire.

“Codnor is first mentioned in the doomsday book of 1086 and the manor of Codnor at that time was the property of William Peveril of Peveril Castle at Castleton. This was a long time before the stone castle we see today was built. At the time when William Peveril was lord of the lands of Codnor there would have most likely been a Norman wooden motte and bailey fortification on the site.

“1200 the manor of Codnor then became the property of Henry De Grey through his marriage to Isolda Bardolf, and it was Henry who started the construction of a new and much stronger stone castle that would be the seat of the Grey’s of Codnor for around 300 years.

Codnor Castle [5]


“Henry De Grey was a distinguished Baron and had served King Richard I of England abroad on crusade. Henry was a very wealthy and powerful Baron holding lands in Thurrock Essex and lands in Derbyshire. Henry’s brother Walter De Grey was also very successful and very influential. Walter was Archbishop of York from 1215 to 1255, and he was present at the signing of Magna Charta with King John and all of the most powerful Barons in England in 1215. Walter De Grey was one of the longest ever standing Archbishops of York, today you can see his funeral effigy and tomb at York Minster.”

,Henry and Isolde were living at Codnor Castle at least as early as 1201when Henry was paying six knights fees for the privilege.[6]


Family trees give different numbers for Henry and Isolda’s sons. There is universal support for three:

Richard de Grey of Codnor. Thomas Stapleton records that in 1246 “Richard de Gray son and heir of Isolda de Gray” swore homage to King Henry III.[7] This would make him the eldest son. He married Lucy de Humez. The barons of Codnor descended from this line.

John de Grey of Shirland, Derbyshire (born before 18 Mar 1266). He married first Emma de Glanville, secondly Emma de Cauz, and thirdly Joan widow of Paul Pevre or Piper.

William de Grey of Sandiacre.

Other sons sometimes mentioned are: Robert, Henry, Hugh, Walter. Doubtless there were daughters as well.


Henry de Grey died in 1219, early in the reign of the young Henry III.


Isolde married again to Reynold de Meurdre.

She died at Codnor on 18 Junw 1246 aged 78.


[1] Joe Hillaby, “The London Jewry: William I to John.”. Jewish Historical Studies , 1992-1994, Vol. 33 (1992-1994), pp. 1-44. Jewish Historical Society of England. http://www.jstor.com/stable/29779910
[2] https://www.thurrock-history.org.uk/pictures/belmnt2.jpg
[3] Sir Bernard Burke, Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited and Extinct Peerages, Burke’s Peerage, Ltd., London, England, 1883, p. 247-248, Grey, Baron Grey, of Codnor, co. Derby
[4][4] Grays and Greys: A Chronology. http://www.thurrock-history.org.uk/grey2.htm
[5] https://dg31sz3gwrwan.cloudfront.net/screen/348297/1_iphone.jpg
[6] Codnor Castle. https://www.codnorcastle.co.uk/overview
[7] Thomas Stapleton, “Observations on the Great Rolls of the Exchequer of Normandy





Sampson Tree