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 TOREL (27)
WILLIAM TORRELL. We have traced a father-son relationship for our Torels back to William Torel of Little Thurrock in Essex, who died before 1276.
It is possible to continue the line further back, because the Torels of Thurrock held the hereditary office of Serjeant Naperer, responsible for the king’s table linen on the day of his coronation. The earliest holder we know of is Torrell the Naperer in 1130, but we cannot trace a continuous line from him for the following generations.
The most significant early link is in 1236:
“Will’ filius Will’i Tarel tenet in Parva Turrak et in Chaundewell per serjant’ essendi custas napar domini Regis”.
“William son of William Tarel holds land in Little Thurrock and in Chadwell through being the serjeant in charge of the napery of our lord the King.”
The dates make it highly probable that the younger William is the father of William Torel who died c.1276. It is possible, though less likely, that he is the same man.
This makes the older William the earliest Torel from whom we have a continuous line.
We hear of him first near the start of the 13th century:
The Pipe Roll of 1207 records 30 marcs as due from William Torel “pro habendo officio Naperiae Regis”. The Fine Roll of 1207-8 has him giving the king 60 marcs and a palfrey “pro habendo officio naperiae domini Regis”.
As well as the service of Naperer, the Torels paid the king a sum of money for their land in Little Thurrock.
The service of Serjeant could also be “arrented”, when the service was exchanged for a payment. The tenure was returned in several Inquisitions as that of serjeanty, grand serjeanty or petty serjeanty as King’s Napperer in his household, or on his coronation day, plus an annual payment of ten shillings in the Exchequer. It is however doubtful if these returns were right, for, when the serjeanty was ‘arrented’ under Henry III [1216-72], William Torel exchanged its service for that of the sixth of a knight plus ten shillings a year.
This is more likely to be the William of 1207 than his son.
Given these dates, William is likely to have been born in the latter half of the 12th century. It is possible that he is the grandson of Torrell the Naperer of 1130.
William may well have been Serjeant Naperer for the coronation of the unpopular King John in 1199 and, in all probability, for that of his son, the boy king Henry III, in 1216. As a member of the Royal Household, he may have witnessed the signing of Magna Carta in 1215, as well as, less certainly, its re-issue with amendments in 1225 by Henry III.
We have no information about William’s wife.
We know of only one son, William.
The seat of the Torels was Torrells Hall (now Home Farm) in the parish of West Thurrock. This lies on the north bank of the Thames estuary, almost opposite Gravesend. The Torel family held Torrells Hall and its manor in neighbouring Little Thurrock from the 12th to the 16th century.
There has been a church in West Thurrock since before the Norman Conquest. In the early 12th century, the church of St Clement had a circular tower that served as the nave. In William’s time, the early 13th century, the building was enlarged with north and south aisles built on either side of the rectangular chancel. The church has been much altered since then, but has preserved two doors from the 13th century. As lord of the manor, William may well have contributed to this building.
The 13th-century doors of
St Clement’s, West Thurrock 
.Since his son was Serjeant Naperer in 1236, we assume that William senior died not later than this.
NEXT GENERATION: 26. TOREL
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