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)
JOHN DE GREY and HAWISE CLARE (28)
JOHN DE GREY was the son of Anchitel de Grey and Matilda de Redvers.
Most researchers make him the only son. English Heritage’s history of the Grey family of Rotherfield Greys give him a brother and two sisters.
He is thought to have been born around 1148, in the reign of King Stephen.
A number of family trees have him born in Thurrock, Essex. This should be treated with caution. The manor of Thurrock was granted to his son Henry in the reign of Richard I [1189-1199].
It is hard to establish how far back the Greys’ association with Thurrock goes. It seems likely that John’s son Henry had some association with it before becoming lord of the manor.
English Heritage has John’s brother Richard born in Thurrock, but gives John’s birthplace as Cornwell, one of the Oxfordshire manors granted to their ancestor Anchetil de Graye by William the Conqueror.
The link may lie with John’s great-great-grandfather twice over, William Peverel. He was a Norman lord who was the owner of Thurrock (later Thurrock Greys) in the Domesday Book.
John is believed to have grown up at the family home of Rotherfield Greys in Oxfordshire.
HAWISE DE CLARE or DE GREY. There is some uncertainty about Hawise’s origins. Some researchers believe that she is the daughter of Roger de Clare, Earl of Hertford, and Maud St Hilary d’Aubeny. They say that she is sometimes known as Elena. Hawise is sometimes included in the long list of Roger and Maud’s children, sometimes not.
These researchers give her birthplace as Tunbridge Castle, Kent
Others hold that she is Earl Roger’s granddaughter. They give her parents as John de Gray of Water Eaton in Buckinghamshire and Eleanor de Clare, daughter of Roger de Clare and Maud St Hilary.
In this scenario, she is born at Water Eaton.
This John de Grey was Lord of Codnor and Water Eaton.
Hawise is given a birth date in the range 1150-54, in the last years of King Stephen’s reign.
The couple are said to have been married in Thurrock Greys in 1165.
In a charter before 1166, in the reign of Henry II, John consented to his father’s gift of two meadows in his Essex manor of Standlake to the monks of Eynsham abbey. He later confirmed this gift and added to it the meadow called Chettuchesham sometime before 1192, when his son-in-law Ralph Murdac held Standlake.
They had at least five children: Robert, Eva, Hawise, Henry, Agnes and Walter. Walter became Archbishop of York. There may also have been a son John, who became Bishop of Norwich.
John de Grey is said to have died at his manor of Standlake in Oxfordshire, after 1198. This would have been in the reign of King John. It is questionable whether he lived long enough to see the signing of Magna Carta in 1215, when the unpopular king sought to make peace with his rebellious barons by granting more freedoms.
Hawise is believed to have outlived him, dying after 1215, possibly in Water Eaton.
Their principal heir was the eldest son Robert. Our descent is through the younger son Henry, who became a notable soldier, statesman and landowner. The youngest son Walter became archbishop of York.
The last surviving child of John’s generation was his sister Eva, who became the last of the Greys to hold Greys Court in Rotherfield Greys.
She married the royal judge Ralph Murdac, who was lord of Rotherfield in 1192, but whose lands were forfeited in 1194 for rebellion against King Richard I. After his death, Richard restored Standlake to Eva.
When she died in 1242, the manor was divided into quarters.
In 1243, Walter de Grey, son of Hawisia and John de Grey, was in possession of lands at Rotherfield. The extent of Archbishop Walter’s lands at Rotherfield is unknown.
We find the following charter concerning the eldest son Robert and his brother Walter. It confirms that Hawise outlived John.
“Inspeximus and confirmation, in favour of Robert de Grey of Rutherefeld, kinsman and heir of Robert, son of Hawisia mother of Walter de Grey, sometime Archbishop of York, of the following: A charter dated at Windsor, 9 March, 24 Henry III [1239-40], granting to the said Hawisia and her heirs that she and they and their men shall be forever quit of shires and hundreds and suits thereof, sheriff’s reeves’ and bailiffs’ aids, view of frankpledge and murder, and to Robert her son, and his heirs, the land of Rutherefeld, which the said archbishop, who had it by the gift of Eva de Gray, has given to him, and also exemption as above.”
The Dictionary of National Biography states that Walter de Grey ‘was probably a younger son of John and Hawisia de Grey of Rotherfield’, a line of descent that is also outlined in the above extracts from the Calendar Rolls.
Dugdale’s Baronage makes him the son of Henry, and hence Hawise and John’s grandson.
English Heritage’s report on Greys Court in Rotherfield tells us:
“Walter de Grey was a powerful and astute individual who became a leading figure in contemporary affairs and is acknowledged as one of the principal statesmen of his time.
“Educated at Oxford, although derided by his contemporaries for displaying a lack of learning, Walter was concerned with secular business, paying King John five thousand marks to receive the office of chancellor, on 2 October 1205. He ‘made himself the obsequious instrument of King John’s will’, and in return received from the King many benefices, including the prebend of Malling at Rochester in 1207, the prebend at Exeter and Bishopric of Lichfield in 1210.
“ He resigned the Chancellorship temporarily in 1213, during an absence from the country, resuming the position in 1214 and was appointed Bishop of Worcester in July of that year. He surrendered his chancellorship the following October1 and was present at Runnymead on 15 June 1215, appearing on the King’s side at the signing of the Magna Carta.
“His loyalty was rewarded by the King’s direct intervention in his translation to the vacant archiepiscopal see of York in 1215, when the Chapter, who had referred to Walter as ‘illiterate’, were forced to abandon their preferred choice, Simon Langton, in favour of Walter de Grey.
“However, Walter had a profound impact on the see. He was responsible for building the north and south transepts of the minster – the earliest elements of the Minster to survive above ground level – and ensured that the Chapter came to include a number of his own personal circle, including members of his South-Midlands family. De Grey’s nephew, William de Langton (alias Rotherfield) became Dean, while two other nephews, Walter de Grey and Walter le Breton, also found employment at York. The treasurership, one of the foremost positions in the Chapter, was taken by one William of Rotherfield, another of the Archbishop’s relatives.
“During his lifetime, Archbishop Walter accrued vast estates, a circumstance, that points to the likelihood that his direct involvement in affairs at Rotherfield Greys may have been slight. However, the references to Rotherfield in the family names of the Dean and Treasurer of his Chapter, testifies to the position of Rotherfield Greys in the de Grey family.
“Later in life, Walter withdrew from state affairs, ostensibly on the grounds of age and ill health, although there is speculation that he had become convinced of the misgovernment of the King.
“Archbishop Walter de Grey died in Fulham, London, on 1 May 1255, while a guest of the Bishop of London. His body was embalmed and returned to York and buried in the Chapel of St. Michael, in which, during his lifetime, he had already established a chantry for the observance of masses for his soul. His tomb, in the south transept, includes a Purbeck marble effigy beneath an elaborate canopy, said to be ‘one of the finest of its date in England’. His coffin has a painted lid on which the archbishop was depicted in ‘full pontificials, with pallium, holding his crossstaff’.”
Tomb of Archbishop Walter in York Minster
 Greys Court, Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire, English Heritage.
NEXT GENERATION: 27. GREY-BARDOLF
PREVIOUS GENERATIONS: 29. GREY-REDVERS
29. CLARE-ST HILARY D’AUBENY