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)
RICHARD DE WELLES (28)
RICHARD DE WELLES. We are descended from the de Woolavingtons, lords of the manor of Woolavington in Somerset. But they only assumed that surname when they moved to the village of that name in the late 12th century. Before that, their surname was de Waleis or Welles.
This branch of the Welles family was descended from Jocelyn the Fleming, who came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066. These early Welles settled first in Nottinghamshire, though they also had lands in Somerset.
Richardus, or Richard, was the grandson of Jocelyn. His father was an older Richard, who had been born in Flanders but came to Nottinghamshire as a child. Richard the younger was the first generation of this line to be born in England.
The History of the Welles Family in England tells us about Richard’s father that:
“This Richard took to wife in Nottingham, a lady named N., and had issue a son, named Richard, who inherited the lordship of Welbec (in Nottinghamshire, adjoining Wharleton), and the whole third part of one knight’s fee, as aforesaid; that is to say, lands in Langthwait with Manor of Haya, in Cukeney, reserving for himself the capital messuage (chief Manor) in Cukeney, and nine bovates (or oxgangs) of land, and did service for them of the lord in chief, Tickhill, and his successors.”
Welbeck is on the River Poulter, four miles south of Worksop. Richard’s uncle Thomas founded the abbey there. Cuckney is a mile or two south, on the other side of the river.
An oxgang or bovate was a measure of ploughland 
Another version of this story gives us dates.
“Ricardus, or Richard de Welles, Lord of Welbec, or Welles Manor, in Nottinghamshire, son of Joscelin, the Fleming, born in Flanders about 1060. About 1090 he took to wife a lady name N., and afterwards Hewise, kinswoman of the Count of Ferrers, in Nottinghamshire, in the reign of Henry I (about 1105), and had a son name Richardus, born in Nottinghamshire, about 1105.”
This second version makes it appear that Hawise was Richard’s mother. A more likely explanation is that his mother was Richard the elder’s first wife, but that she died when he was born in 1105. We do not know her name.
The younger Richard would have grown up knowing only his stepmother Hawise. The gap between his parents’ marriage in 1190 and Richard’s birth in 1105 means that he probably had older sisters, and possibly brothers who did not survive.
The History goes on to tell us:
“This Richard had issue a son and heir, named Thomas, who had a suit with the Abbot of Welbec about the aforesaid territory.”
“He had issue the following sons:
“Thomas de Welles (his heir), born about 1130.
“Randulphus de Welles, born about 1135,
“Salvini, or Savar, or Savaricus, born about 1137.
“Richard de Welles, born about 1140.”
We do not have the name of Richard’s wife. They may have had daughters as well as their four sons.
Richard evidently lived to see the bitter civil war between Henry I’s daughter, the Empress Matilda, and his nephew Stephen, from 1139-54. In 1140, Matilda’s forces burned the city of Nottingham, which was held by Stephen, and besieged Nottingham Castle, though it held out. The following year, after defeating Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln, she succeeded in capturing it, but ultimately lost the war. Stephen finally won the throne, but agreed that his heir should be Matilda’s son, Henry II.
It is quite likely that Richard fought in this war, but we do not know on which side.
When Richard died, The chief estates of the family went to his eldest son Thomas. It was necessary for the younger sons to put down roots elsewhere. In The History of the Welles Family we are told that his grandfather Jocelyn the Fleming settled in Somersetshire. We find our early Welles family in Nottinghamshire, but it seems likely that they also had land in Somerset.
The second son Randulphus, or Ranulph, became lord of the manor in to the Somerset village of Woolavington, which he took as his surname.
Salvini became bishop of Bath and Glastonbury.
The youngest son Richard the younger signed the confirmation of the charter of Welbeck Abbey. We do not know what became of him after that.
NEXT GENERATION: 27. WOOLAVINGTON
PREVIOUS GENERATIONS: 29. WELLES