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)
RALPH DE FERRERS and SYBIL MANDEVILLE (28)
RALPH DE FERRERS was the first of this name to settle in Devon. There were other Ferrers elsewhere.
He is thought to be the son, or more likely the grandson of Roger de Ferrers, of Ferrières at the foot of Cherbourg Peninsula. He is first recorded in 1168 and is thought to have been born around 1135 in Normandy.
In the Domesday Book of 1086 Bere Ferrers (Birland) and Newton Ferrers (Niwetona) were both held by Reginald de Valletorte of Robert count of Mortain. At a later date both were held by Ferrers of Valletorte as of the barony of Trematon.
Robert, count of Mortain, was the half-brother of William the Conqueror. He held considerable lands in the Tamar Valley, and elsewhere in Cornwall.
Mortain is a town 8 miles north of Ferrières. Valletorte is Torteval in Normandy.
In 1091, Roger de Ferrers’ overlord was Geoffrey count of Mortagne (Mortain). Geoffrey had fought at the Norman Conquest of England and been rewarded with lands there. It is likely that Ralph was able to obtain land through a later Count of Mortagne.
Bere Ferrers stands on the bank of the River Tavy, a tributary of the Tamar.
It may have been Ralph’s father who built the first Norman church to replace an earlier Saxon one, soon after the Norman Conquest. The only thing that remains of it is the remarkable 12th-century font, made of Hurdwick stone from Tavistock. It is lead lined, in an ornately carved ‘girdle tub’ style, and big enough to allow full immersions.
You can still make out adze marks on the bowl, which is supported on remarkable shell-like projections, curving outwards. These shells, if that is what they are, rest on carved leaves. The effect is rather like an up-ended tree trunk.
The Ferrers’ son Henry was probably baptised here.
Font, St Andrew’s, Bere Ferrers 
The Ferrers lived at the manor house of Bere Barton. This stands on the edge of the River Tavy, shortly before its confluence with the River Tamar, north of Plymouth. In those days, there was no port city where Plymouth now stands.
Also in the hands of the Ferrers family was Newton Ferrers. This stands on a bend of the Yealm estuary, a little way east of Plymouth Sound. The Domesday Book lists Newton as part of the holdings of the Valletorts of Trematon, across the Tamar. They gave it to the Ferrers family who had come over with Willliam the Conqueror.
By 1160 Ralph Ferrers was established at Newton Ferrers.
SYBIL de MANDEVILLE. Family trees offer two possible wives for Ralph de Ferrers. One is Sybil de Mandeville; the other is Sibilla Pyn.
Sybil de Mandeville seems the more likely of the two. The Pyn family had their home at Lyme Regis in Dorset. Sybil’s branch of the Mandeville family held lands in the Tamar Valley and in east Cornwall. Ralph’s home was Bere Ferrers, only two miles from the River Tamar and the boundary between Devon and east Cornwall. The two families would have been near neighbours. Both families owed allegiance to the count of Mortain as their liege lord.
There was another Ralph de Ferrers, based further east. It is likely that he was the husband of Sibilla Pyn. This would account for the dIscrepancies in the children attributed to this couple.
Sybil de Mandeville was the daughter of Roger de Mandeville. Her mother may be A de Nonant, who witnessed a document with him, though others make her the wife of William de Mandeville.
The Mandevilles originated in Normandy, either in the town of Magneville or Manneville.
One branch of the Mandevilles acquired land in South-West England. Around 1162, Roger de Manneville made a grant of land in Hornicott to Launceston Priory. This grant was confirmed in a separate charter by his daughter Sybil, thought to be the wife of Ralph de Ferrers. She was his only (or only surviving) child and his heir, which may be why her consent was needed. Or the land may have formed part of her dowry, and so needed her permission to be given elsewhere.
Hornicott lies in the valley of the River Inney, between Launceston and Bodmin Moor.
Four years after Sybil confirmed this grant, her father, Roger de Mandeville, took over Bossiney Castle from its founder Robert, count of Mortain. This was an earth and timber ringwork and bailey fortification on the north Cornish coast. It was later overshadowed by its more ambitious neighbour Tintagel Castle, built in stone.
The Devon Ferrers, Ralph and Sybil, had one known child, Henry de Ferrers.
We have no certain information about their death dates.
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