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)
EARLY TORRELLS (28)
We have traced our Torrells back to William Torel of Little Thurrock at the start of the 13th century. But there were Torrells of this family going even further back.
The earliest whom we know is Torrell the Naperer in the reign of Henry I. In 1130 we find the remission of a murdrum payment to Torrellus Naparius “that he may hold in peace his land of the earl’s fee in Thurrock”. A murdrum was a fine exacted under the Norman kings for the murder of a Franco-Norman when the slayer could not be identified. It was payable by a group of parishes known as a hundred.
The Torrells traditionally held their land in return for napery, or table linen, service to the king. The King’s Household included many Serjeants, each responsible for specific duties, usually on the occasion of the coronation.
Item, a serjeant naperer, who shall perform his office in the king’s chamber and in the hall. And he shall receive the napery from the clerk of the spicery and shall be responsible for it at the account whenever he is asked.
We can be pretty certain that Torrell the Naperer is an ancestor, because the office of Serjeant Naperer appears to have been hereditary. We find the same appointment repeated down the generations.
We do not know his Christian name.
A 13th-century depiction
Of Henry I’ s coronation 
In return for this service, the Torrells held the manor of Torrells Hall in Little Thurrock in Essex. Little Thurrock lies on the north bank of the Thames estuary, almost opposite Gravesend. Their home of Torrells Hall was actually in the adjacent parish of West Thurrock. In the 14th century the family moved to Willingale Doe, 16 miles north, and took the name of Torrells Hall with them. The ancient site in Thurrock is now known as Home Farm.
Later in the 13th century we find William Torrell, who may be the son of Torrell Naperer. He too was a Serjeant Naperer.
WILLIAM TORRELL. The Duchess of Cleveland, writing in the Battle Abbey Roll, writes: “The first connected notice that I could find of this ubiquitous family was in Morant’s History of Essex. In King Henry II’s reign [1154-1189] William Torrell held Torrell’s Hall in that county ‘by the Grand Serjeancy of being Napperer to the King, or having the care of the King’s Nappery, or Table-Linen, on the day of his Coronation’. They also left their name to Shellow-Torrell’s, and Torrell’s Thurrock, where they continued Lords of the manor for at least two hundred years.”
It is less certain that the next Torrell is an ancestor, since there is no mention of his holding the office of Naperer.
AMAURI DE TORRELL. The Battle Abbey Roll also tells us that “Amauri de Torrell was one of the great men that accompanied Coeur de Lion to the Holy Land.” This was the Third Crusade, in which Richard I took part from 1190-2.
There is a family tree that has Amaury de Torrell born in 1160 fathering a son John in 1175. The source of this information is unknown.
The next in line is another William Torrell in 1207. From him we can trace a continuous descent.
 J Horace Round, The King’s Serjeants & Officers of State: Kings & Sergeants, 1911.
 Duchess of Cleveland, The Battle Abbey Roll, Vol III. http://1066.co.nz/Mosaic%20DVD/library/Battle%20Roll/Torell.html
NEXT GENERATION: 27. TOREL