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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)

Sampson  Tree



RALPH WAKE. We find the Wakes in Dowlish Wake in Somerset from the late 12th century, where the first lord of the manor we hear of is Ralph Wake.[1]

The earliest record we have is in 1189. This is only 103 years after the writing of the Domesday Book.

Dowlish Wake was their principal manor in Somerset. The Dowlish Wake Heritage site tells us:

“The Domesday survey confirms that Doules had existed before 1066. The place name, Doules, reflecting the name of the brook that runs down from Windwhistle Hill. Dowlish Brook is joined by Wall brook and Stretford water before journeying down to the River Isle. British History Online identifies Ralph Wake as holding land in Dowlish in the 12th century and that the estate was divided into two manors, East and West Dowlish. The survey was conducted by landowners listing how their land was used.”

The Victoria History of Somerset enlarges on this: [2]

“The parish of Dowlish Wake, also called East Dowlish to distinguish it from its neighbour West Dowlish in Bulstone hundred, lies 2¼ miles southeast of Ilminster at the western end of the hundred. The name Dowlish is thought to derive from the Dowlish brook which runs through the village, the additional name from its early owners. The ancient parish, nearly 1¾ mile from north to south and ¾ mile from east to west, measured 794 a.

“The manor was probably held in the later 12th century by Ralph Wake (I).  His widow Christine, later wife of Richard Wild (salvagius), received dower when her son Ralph Wake (II) succeeded in 1214. A grant of land in Dowlish formerly of Ralph Wake was made by the Crown in 1216.”

The church and later manor house stood on the scarp above the village, and it is likely that the original manor house did too.

The present church of St Andrew is the third to be built on that site. The original one was Saxon.

No trace of the original manor house remains, but it was probably built of the warm yellow Hamstone quarried at nearby Moolham, and with a thatched roof.

Dowlish Wake, local stone and thatch[3]

Our earliest record of the Wakes concerns the church.

“Probably from the origin of the church the advowson was held with the manor. The grant of the church to Wells cathedral by Ralph Wake (I) before 1189 was evidently of no effect, and ownership of manor and advowson continued to descend together.”

Just why this grant fell through is unclear.

There was later a similar grant concerning the mill in Dowlish (Duuelicium).[4]

“R. bishop of Bath, to his diocesans (parrochianis) and all faithful. We grant just demands without delay, wherefore assenting to our brethren the monks of Ferleia we confirm the gifts made to them in churches and lands in my diocese (parochia mea) to wit, the church of Cluttuna, the tithe of the lordship of Thimbresbera by the gift of Geoffrey (Gaufredi dapiferi), the mill of the same town by the gift of William his son, the land which renders 6s. in Clutt’, by the gift of Ilbert de Caz. Item 7s. from the mill of the same town by the gift of William de Greinvilla, the church of Feremberga and the land which renders 5s., the land of Bara by the gift of Osmund the knight, the tithe of the lordship of William de Bera, the land of Pridia by the gift of William son of John, the land of Chinctuna by the gift of the same William, the land of Middetuna by the gift,of William Denebold, the land of Heamtuna by the gift of the same William, the mill of Duuelicium by the gift of Ralph Wac. Cursed be the offenders, etc. Endorsed: Martyn de Hull. Thorn’ de Hull. [Somerset]”

This can be dated only to 1100-1300, so this could be any of three Ralph Wakes. There were several bishops of Wells whose names began with R between 1136 and 1292. The handwriting suggests a later date, around the time of the third Ralph Wake, great-grandson of the 12th– century one.

But it implies that this earlier Ralph Wake also owned the mill. Villagers would have to bring their corn there to be ground, providing a healthy income for the lord of the manor.


We learn from the Victoria History of Somerset that Ralph’s wife was Christine.


CHRISTINE DE DURVILLE. We believe Christine’s surname to be de Durville, though we have no firm confirmation of this. In 1208, Eustace de Durville gave half of the manor of Clapton in the Somerset parish of Crewkerne to Christine, widow of Ralph Wake. It is likely that he was her brother.

This would make Christine the daughter of William de Durville, of Compton Durville. This is close to South Petherton in Somerset and only four miles from Dowlish Wake.

“In the late 12th century the terre-tenancy was evidently held by William de Durville, who was succeeded by his son Eustace. In 1208 Eustace gave half of Clapton to Christine, widow of Ralph Wake, although this subdivision does not recur. Eustace de Durville had conveyed the manor to Alice de Vaux before 1212, in which year it was held by her son Robert, although her ownership was again recorded in 1214.”

As well as telling us about Clapton, the following account give news of the shocking end of Eustace de Durville, whom we believe to have been Christine’s brother.

 “Petherton lies at the centre of a group of hamlets with varying beginnings. Compton Durville seems to have originated at the centre of two, and perhaps three, pre-Domesday estates, part often associated with land in Kingsbury and also with an unidentified settlement called Clopton.

The immediate descent of these properties is not known, but a succession of disputes from 1212 onwards suggests that until that time a large estate was held by the Durville family. William de Durville was succeeded before 1212 by his son Eustace, and both had already subinfeudated much of their property to tenants including Reynold of Bath, the prior of Bruton, Adam le Bel, an.d Robert de Radwell. Subsequently, but still before 1212, two fees of the Durville estate in Compton and ‘Clopton’ in Kingsbury were granted by Eustace and his son William to Alice de Vaux, and these descended with her other properties in the area.  The remaining Durville holdings were forfeit to the Crown when Eustace was hanged for felony between 1223 and 1229. Such tenants as Reynold of Bath received their holdings of the Crown by escheat.”

“The estate later known as the manor of Clapton may be that which was held by Wlua and his brother Alvric in parage in 1066 and by Mauger de Cartrai of the count of Mortain in 1086.  Like Compton Durville in South Petherton,  it descended to the Durville family and in 1208 Eustace de Durville granted half his land at Clapton for ½ fee Mortain to Christine, widow of Ralph Wake (I). Christine and her second husband Ralph Wild also received from the prior of Bruton a virgate of land which Wigam de Ashley had given to Bruton. In 1216 Christine gave all the land to Christchurch priory (Hants), and the priory retained it until its dissolution in 1539.”

“An even more miserable story must lie behind an inquisition held in Edward I’s reign into Compton Durville in Somerset. Eustace de Durville held the manor, which was assessed at a whole knight’s fee in the previous reign, but he sold everything apart from annual rents of 6d, a pound of cumin, and a pair of white gloves. He died on the gallows, accused and found guilty of felony.”[5]

We would love to know the form Eustace’s felony took, but no further details are available.


Ralph and Christine had a son Ralph. He inherited his father’s estates when Ralph senior died in 1214.


Christine married again. One source names her second husband as Richard Wild (salvagius), another as Ralph Wild. We have been unable to find more about him under either name. “Ralph” may be a confusion with her first husband.


She may have lived for 46 years after Ralph Wake’s death. In Aug 1250 we have the following:

“Henry de Wingham to John de Vernon, escheator in Wiltshire: the record of inquest into the lands of Christine Wake.” [6]

It is possible this is a different Christine Wake. We do not have enough details to confirm it. And it is questionable whether she would still be known as Christine Wake or Christine Wild.



[1] A P Baggs and R J E Bush, ‘Parishes: Dowlish Wake’, in A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 4, ed. R W Dunning (London, 1978), pp. 151-156. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/som/vol4/pp151-156 [accessed 26 June 2022].
[2] Baggs and Bush.
[3] Geograph
[4] National Archives. E 40/13645
[5] Michael Prestwich, Plantagenet England 1225-1360.  2005.
[6] National Archives SC 1/6/174




Sampson Tree