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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


FLOHERE. We can trace the Exeter Floyers back to the Domesday Book.

This extensive survey of the manors of England was compiled in 1086 to serve as a basis for taxation. Detailed accounts were made of individual counties, and these were compiled into the Exchequer Domesday for the whole country.

Flohere appears in the Exon Domesday Book but is omitted from the Exchequer compilation. His estate is found in the holdings of Terrae Francorum Militum in Devenesira (Lands of French knights in Devonshire).[1]

Floherus habet i mansionem quae vocatur Sotrebroc quam tenuit Alviet ea die qua rex Eduuardus fuit vivus et mortuus et reddidit gildum pro dimidia virga. quam possunt arare iiii boves et valet per annum ii solidos

Flohere has 1 estate which is called ‘Sotrebroc’, which Ælfgeat held on the day that King Edward was alive and dead, and it paid geld for half a virgate. 4 oxen can plough this and it is worth 2 shillings a year.

We do not know whether the omission of Sotrebroc from the Exchequer Domesday meant that Flohere paid no tax on it.

Floherus is believed to be a Latinised form of Flohere.

It is unclear whether Flohere was connected to Fulchere, a Devon Domesday Book tenant-in-chief, called in the Exon Domesday “Fulchere the Bowman”, as the arms later adopted by the Floyer family) features arrows.

The Rev. Kestell Floyer tells us:[2]

“It has been disputed by different writers whether the origin of the family of Floyer was Norman or Saxon. A Norman origin has generally been taken for granted, because the name is first on record about the time of the Norman invasion of England; but such evidence as is afforded by the derivation of the name and the amount of land held is in favour of the contrary idea. A “Flo” is an arrow, was in use in Chaucer’s time, and is of Saxon derivation. The suffix “er” denotes generally an agent or worker. The introduction of the “y” finds a parallel in “sawyer” and “lawyer.” Hence Floyer is an arrow-maker, and is distinct from the Norman name for the same occupation, “Flechier,” which afterwards passed into “Fletcher.”

“The earliest spelling of the name, as it is found in the Domesday Survey, A.D. 1086, is “Floher,” or in the Latin form, “Floherus.” By the time of Henry III [1216-72] the middle ‘h” begins to be omitted and it is written “Floer” or “le Floer.” Towards the beginning of the 14th century the spelling “Floyer” or “le Floyer” becomes constant, except for a period during the 16th and 17th centuries, when in some places it shared the fate of many other names in having the middle “y” made into an “i”, but there is no trace of members of the family ever having signed themselves “Floier.”

K. Floyer’s unpublished notes indicate that the ‘h’ in ‘Floher’ was pronounced as the ‘ch’ in German ‘nacht’.

Sotrebroc, or Southbrook, was a thane’s living-house, and the property was what would later be called a manor. It was granted by William the Conqueror, with the barony of Okehampton, to Baldwin de Sap, de Meules, or de Brion, who married Albreda, niece to William. This barony later came to the Courtenay family.

The manor of Sotrebroc which Flohere held, later became known as Floyers Hayes. “Hay” means an enclosed field.

According to the Exeter Archaeological Field Unit Reports, 1984-85:
Sotrebroc and Floyers Hayes:

To the SE of Haven Road was the small medieval manor of Floyers Hayes, whose other lands lay mainly in the corner of St. Thomas bounded by Alphington Street, Haven Banks and Alphington parish. This manor is the only sizeable estate recorded in the Exon version of the Domesday Book yet omitted from the Exchequer version. In the Exon Book it is called ‘Sotrebroc’, a name not recorded thereafter. Sotrebroc was held in 1066 by a Saxon called Alfgeat and in 1086 by one Flohere, hence presumably the medieval name Floyers Hayes. In the past some historians have identified Sotrebroc with a stream called the Shutebrook which flowed into the Exe a few hundred metres to the SE of Exeter. This has led to the identification of the Domesday Sotrebroc manor with Larkbeare, a medieval tenement situated next to the Shutebrook in Holloway Street and first documented in the l3th century. In fact the derivations of the two names are different, and each can be explained in terms of the local topography. Shutebrook contains the old English element ‘scyte’ and may mean ‘the brook in the steep valley’, or posssibly ‘boundary brook’ since the Shutebrook stream marks the SE boundary of medieval Exeter. Sotrebroc simply means ‘south brook’. There is no natural stream in the immediate vicinity of Floyers Hayes which could have given rise to the name of the pre-Conquest Sotrebroc estate. The existence of a leat in St. Thomas in the 11th century is however implied by the record in Domesday Book of a mill belonging to Cowick manor. Sotrebroc itself is not recorded as possessing a mill. The leat discovered in the excavation ran through Cowick manor from Exe Bridge to Haven Road, where it entered the Sotrebroc estate. Hence there is a good case for regarding it as the ‘Southbrook’ which gave its name to the Domesday manor later known as Floyers Hayes. The archaeological evidence from the excavation indicates only that the leat existed by the later 12th century without excluding an earlier origin for it.”

Flohere was also the mesne tenant of the manor of Sutton in the parish of Halberton, Devon, which he held from a certain Aiulf, one of the minor Devon Domesday Book tenants-in-chief of King William the Conqueror. A mesne tenant is the landlord of a subtenant. Flohere’s mesne-tenancy of Sutton is mentioned only in the Exon Domesday Book. Halberton is just west of Tiverton, 15 miles from Floyer Hayes.

“In the earliest mention of this family in Domesday Book, 1086, Floher holds from Aiulph a manor called Suetetona, and has a mansion called Sotrebroc, and some land with it.7 Rev. O. J. Reichel/ identifies Suetetona with Swetton, in the parish and hundred of Halberton, near Tiverton.” [3]

J.K. Floyer tells us:

“It has been suggested that Sotrebroc cannot be identical withs Floyer’s Hayes, because Sotrebroc was held in Domesday by Floher in capite, and as the lands of a free knight, and Floyer’s Hayes was held under the Barony of Okehampton. William I., however, granted the Barony of Okehampton to Baldwin de Sap, one of his generals at the Battle of Hastings, and afterwards the husband of his niece. It is more than probable that at the time of this grant, Floher, if he were a Saxon, was infeudated, and continued to hold his land, but as a vassal of the Baron of Okehampton. Hence the necessity of a grant.

“The argument has been somewhat confused by a mistranslation of the Domesday entry. “Mansio” is a thane’s living-land haus, called also a cotlif or quillet-haus, and Sotrebroc was assessed at half a plough, that is, at fifty acres or less. Swetton was about 163 acres. Floyer’s Hayes itself seems to have comprised about thirty acres. There is no difficulty in identifying the Floher of Floyer’s Hayes with the Floher of Domesday, if the following three independent accounts are compared:


Exon. Domesday. Pipe Rolls. Charters.
Floher Floher. Floher of Floyer’s Hayes
Held Sotrebroc, 1086. Ric. fil. Floheri.
31 Hen.I. (1131).
Nicholas fil. Floheri.
4 Hen. II. (1158).
Richard fil. Floheri.
Hen. I.
Nicholas fil. Ricardi.
Ricardus fil. Nicholi, of Floyer’s Hayes.


We do not know the name of Flohere’s wife, but we know of two sons.

John Burke’s genealogical history names one.[4] He begins his Floyer lineage:

The pedigree of this family is authentically deduced from
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.

There was a rare Anglo-Saxon name Ricehard, meaning “rule hard”, but the more common Germanic name Ricohard was adopted by the Normans before the Conquest and softened into Richard. The likelihood is that, though Floher was probably Anglo-Saxon, he was assimilating the culture of the Norman ruling elite.

We have confirmation of Richard from the Pipe Rolls of 1130-31:

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

Richard appears to have held the office of portreeve, overseeing the trade in the harbour basin at the head of the Exe estuary. It has been held that the portreeves of Exeter in early Norman times were Anglo-Saxons.[5]

1130-31 is the same date as we have for another son of Floyer.

One of the treasures  of the Exeter Cathedral library is a rare book of Anglo-Saxon poetry. Some more prosaic documents are attached to it. One records members of the family as witnesses to the manumission of a slave.

“At a time when there was usually only one copy of anything, such documents were often bound into the end-papers of important books for safe-keeping. The Exeter Book of Anglo-Saxon Poetry is 11th Century, but the documents attached to it are mainly early 12th Century. The style of the manumission here considered is late Anglo-Saxon and influenced by Carolingian script from the Continent, so it probably dates from around 1130.”

The translation reads: “Here quoth on this book that Leowine Feala’s son bought himself and his offspring from Wulfworde Aelfric’s son at James’ Church for half [a] pound in William the priest’s witness, and in Godwin the priest’s, and in Arnold the priest’s, and in Edwin the priest’s, and in Bartholomew Floher’s son’s, in Floher’s and in Algar the Pagard’s, and in Cona’s and Algar’s Leoflaed’s son and Haim and Oter Dirlinge’s son the Edwacer, Agelword Ofstane’s son, Osber Alworde’s son, Alfsta in Wonford, Edwi. Nobol. Ocing. Agelword Pudding [son of Pudda] the deacon, and on all the hundred of Exeter, to choose him a lord and his offspring wheresoever that he will, and Alword the portreeve and Alwine Dirlinge’s son took oath for the toll for the King’s hand, and let him have God’s curse and all the saints who shall ever undo [i.e., break this testimony].”

The local character is shown by the name Alfsta in Wonford, the mention of the Hundred of Exeter, and the name of Alword the Portreeve, who makes himself responsible for paying the King’s dues on the transaction. The document therefore shows that in the early 1100’s a man called Floher and Bartholomew his son were living close to Exeter, presumably on the Wonford (west) side, on or near the estate soon after known as Floyer’s Hayes.

All the names are Anglo-Saxon, except for Bartholomew. Saints’ names only became popular after the Norman Conquest.

Bartholomew is thus a second son.


Flohere’s known career covered the period 1086 – 1130. He would appear to have been born around the middle of the 11th century or soon after. He probably died before the middle of the 12th century.


[1] The principal source of information on the early Floyers is “The Family of Floyer”. http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~floyer/genealogy/index.htm
[2]  Rev. J Kestell Floyer, Annals of the Family of Floyer. Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature, and Art. 1898. -xxx, pp. 505-524. http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~floyer/genealogy/annals.htm
[3] Floyer.
[4] 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.
[5] W G Hoskins, Two Thousand Years in Exeter, Philimore 1969.





Sampson Tree