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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)



THOMAS DE WAMPFORD. Sir William Pole gives us the following pedigree of the Wampfords: : Espus the son of Richard, Richard the son of Espus, Thomas, Richard, Thomas and Nicholas Wampford, the last, which left issue Jone, wife of John Keynes, & Elizab.[1] The older Thomas is thus fourth in the line of succession, being the son and heir of the older Richard.

In fact, there are two generations missing from Pole’s tree. There was a third pair of Richard and his son Thomas in this alternating sequence. Without them, we would have this Thomas dying at well over 100.

We know his male lineage, but not his mother’s name.

His father Richard was the first to bear the Wampford (or Wonford) surname, having been granted Wampford, Whiteleigh and Northcott in Black Torrington, and the outhundred of Black Torrington. This is probably where Thomas grew up.

We believe Thomas to have been born in the second half of the 12th century, probably in the reign of Henry II.

His father had received these grants of land from his overlord Joel de Mayne, quite possibly as a reward for service in the army of Matilda, daughter of Henry I, in her civil war with her cousin Stephen over which of them should inherit the throne. Matilda lost, but there was an agreement that the throne should pass to her son, Henry II, after Stephen’s death.

The first document we have naming Thomas is dated 12 Jun 1200.[2]

“Confirmation to Thomas [de Wonford] son and heir of Richard son of Espus, of the outhundred of Black Torrington, to hold of the heirs of Walter de Mayenne and Juhel de Mayenne by 1m pa, as testified by charters of the said Walter and Juhel. Also confirmation of  the grants by Juhel of the whole land of Wonford, to hold of Juhel and his heirs by 12s pa, the whole land of Coham, to hold etc by 3s pa, and the whole land of Higher Whiteleigh and Northcott, to hold etc by 10s pa, as testified by Juhel’s charter.”

This is the year following the accession of King John to the throne. Thomas is taking over lands previously held by his father, and the lordship of Black Torrington Outhundred. An outhundred consists of the parishes outside the major borough of the hundred, in this case, Black Torrington. The lord of the hundred would oversee the court of the hundred.

This grant to Thomas leads us to assume that his father had died not long before.

The Wampfords had received their lands from their overlord Joel de Mayne. King John was an unpopular king and his barons rebelled against him. Sometime during his reign of 1199-1216 Joel de Mayne lost much of them when King John seized them to punish Joel for rebelling against him. However, we find successive generations of Wampfords still holding Whiteleigh and the hundred of Black Torrington, though with a different overlord.

Eventually, the barons forced John to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, limiting the absolute power of the monarchy.

When John died in 1216, his young son Henry III took the throne. Disputes with the barons continued. Local government slowed to a standstill. The network of county sheriffs had all but collapsed, and with it the king’s ability to raise taxes and collect royal revenues. The Pope allowed him a second coronation in 1220, in the hope of restoring his authority. The barons swore to return the royal castles they had seized and pay their debts to the Crown, on threat of excommunication. Magna Carta was re-issued in 1225, in return for new taxes.

It was against this troubled background that Thomas de Wampford lived his adult life.

Henry III renewing Magna Carta[3]

We have no information about Thomas’s wife, but we know of one child from his marriage. His heir was Richard.

There is a document of 1238 that tells us:[4]

“Henry de Beaumont holds the hundred of Black Torrington, and was asked to show by what warrant. Henry answers that he holds the hundred with Richard de Wangford, who is in his wardship and proffers a charter of Juhel II de Mayenne, son of Geoffrey de Mayenne, by which he granted to Richard de Wangford son of Espus, ancestor of the Richard who is in Henry’s keeping, the out-hundred (uthundredum) of Black Torrington, to hold by 1m pa. Henry also proffers a charter of king John, confirming to Thomas son and heir of Richard Espus, and his own heirs, the said hundred to hold of the heirs of Juhel and Walter de Mayenne.”

“Wangford” here is an alternative spelling of Wampford.

The Wampfords are paying 1 mark per annum for the hundred. A mark was a third of a pound.

The age of majority for males was then 21. Richard was still a minor in 1238, and thus in the wardship of Henry de Beaumont, but appears to be an adult in documents of 1244 and 1249. This would put his birth between 1217 and 1223.

We do not have an exact date for Thomas’s death, but he had evidently died by 1238. Since his eldest, and perhaps his only son, was still a minor, Thomas was probably no more than middle-aged.


[1] Sir William Pole (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon,(1791).
[2] The ‘Lands of the Normans’ in England 1204-1244. https://www.dhi.ac.uk/normans/appearances.jsp?place=503
[3] Unknown artist, 1905.[4] The ‘Lands of the Normans’ in England 1204-1244




Sampson Tree