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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



RICHARD FLOYER. John Burke begins his pedigree of the Floyer family with:[1]

 FLOIERUS, who settled soon after the Norman Conquest on lands beyond the River Exe, in the County of Devon, whence the name of “Floierslands” or Floiers Hayes. His son
RICHARD, held those lands of Richard, son of Baldwin de Courtenay, and transmitted them to his son and heir,

We sometimes have to rely on guesswork that successive generations in an ancient pedigree are in fact father and son. In this case we have documentary evidence that Burke is right. The Pipe Rolls of 1130-31 tell us that:

Richard son of Floher has paid into the Treasury forty shillings by tale for the custody of the Basin.”

We do not know the name of Richard’s wife, but we have confirmation that he had a son Nicholas, whose existence is confirmed in the Pipe Rolls.


The pedigree of “Floyer of Floyer Hayes” as submitted in the 1564 Heraldic Visitation of Devon by William Floyer (d.1578), commences in the reign of King Henry II (1154-1189) with “Richard Floyer of Floyer Hayes”. [2]

The Pipe Rolls are the yearly accounts of the Royal revenue as rendered by the King’s officers. They are extant as a regular series from the second year of Henry II [1155-6], though one year before this, that of 31 Henry 1[1130-31]., is also preserved. Thus it will be seen that Richard, son of Floher, and his son Nicholas appear as holding some office in three of the earliest existing rolls, and if the series had been complete they would probably have appeared as holding the same office as often as they rendered their account. What this office was can be determined by the three words in the Latin original “ministerium,” “cortine,” and “lestagium“. The first shews that Richard and Nicholas farmed an office from the Crown. “Cortina” is a round vessel or Basin, and considering the situation of Floyer’s Hayes, which bordered the “basin” or harbour of Exeter, it is safe to assume that they exercised the office of Portreeve or Master of the Port. This is confirmed by the last entry, which mentions “lastage”, a tax or toll on ships bringing in goods. The office of Portreeve had been held in the time of Edward the Confessor by one Alword.
K. Floyer has a different translation:[3]

“In view of the circumstances already mentioned, it is less surprising that little is known of the personal history of the family, especially in the earlier centuries of its existence. Under the first three Henries the representatives held some small local office, but the nature of this is difficult to determine. In 1130, Richard, son of Floher, paid into the exchequer forty shillings “pro custodia cortinis,” which would seem to mean the care of the courtyard of the castle.”

The interpretation of “Cortina” as the harbour basin seems more convincing, especially as Floyers Hayes lay on the west bank of the river near the present harbour.

A Portreeve held something of the authority of a mayor, including keeping the peace. The jurisdiction of the mayor of Exeter stopped at the city walls.

W G Hoskins notes that the Portreeves of Exeter had Anglo-Saxon names, even after the Norman Conquest.[4] This accords with the perception that Floyer derives from the Anglo-Saxon word for an arrow-maker, rather than the Norman-French Fletcher.

From The Suburbs of Exeter:[5]

“Floyer Hayes, the ancient residence of the family of Floyer, is referred to in a Latin note to the Heralds’ Visitation of Devon of 1564, preserved at the College of Arms: “The Manor of Hayes lies on the west side of the River Exe, and is held from the Earl of Devon by service, that whenever he Earl may come to Exe Island to fish, or other wise enjoy himself, then the lord, or proprietor, of his manor, in decent habit or apparel, should attend him, with a mantle upon his shoulders, and a silver cup filled with wine in his hands, and should offer the same to the said Earl to drink.

“This ancient mansion, long since destroyed, is shown in the old map of the City of Exeter, reproduced in Lysons’ ” Magna Britannia,” Vol. ii., p. 178. It stood nearly in a line with “Snayle Tower,” and on the west side of the river, and must have been very near the ancient priory of Cowick, but a little to the south-west of it

“The house appears as a building of very considerable size, and is surrounded by a strong wall entered beneath a massive circular arched gate-way.

“The first of the Floyers, mentioned in their pedigrees, is Richard, who was lord of this manor temp. Henry II [1154-89].”

Floyer Hayes shown (bottom right) on 1617 map of the City of Exeter in the 6th volume of Civitates Orbis Terrarum by Georg Braun (1541-1622). St Thomas’s Church at left (west) [6]


A charter tells us something of Richard’s holdings and obligations, which were passed down to his son and grandson. The Courtenays, barons of Okehampton, who later became Earls of Devon, were the liege lords of the Floyers.

“ Be it known to all to whom this present charter shall come that I, Reginald de Courtenay, with the consent of Matilda my wife, have granted, and by this present charter confirmed, to Richard son of Nicholas and his heirs the tenement which the aforesaid Richard held from me beyond Exe, To hold it from me and my heirs as freely and quietly as ever his grandfather Richard son of Floher, or Nicholas, father of the aforesaid Richard, held it from Richard son of Baldwin better and more freely, and by the same service to be done to me and my heirs that his father and his grandfather did to Richard son of Baldwin, that is, by the provision of one soldier to me or my heirs, and of one pitcher of wine, which he himself shall give as often as it shall happen that I or my heirs dine on Exe lsland.”

Richard’s father already held Sotrebroc, later Floyer’s Hayes,  in 1086. This makes it likely that Richard was born in the late 11th century. He died some time after 1130.


[1] John Burke: A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland: Enjoying Terrestrial Possessions or High Official Rank; but Uninvested with Heritable Honours. Colburn 1833.
[2] Our principal source is “The Family of Floyer”. http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~floyer/genealogy/index.htm
[3] Rev.J Kestell Floyer, Annals of the Family of Floyer
[4] W G Hoskins, Two Thousand Years in Exeter,Philimore 1969.
[5] Charles Worthy, The History of the Suburbs of Exeter. Henry Gray, 1892.
[6] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/af/FloyerHayes_LysonsMagnaBritannia_MapOfExeter..png/220px-FloyerHayes_LysonsMagnaBritannia_MapOfExeter..png




Sampson Tree