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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 DE GREY was the eldest son of Anchitel de Grey. His father came to England from the village of Graye-sur-Mer in Normandy at the Norman Conquest. He was one of the knights of William FitzOsbern, who became Earl of Hereford.

Anchitel’s brother Turstin remained in Normandy to continue as seigneur of the family estates, while Anchitel founded what was to become the influential English Grey family.

Richard was the first generation of the Greys to be born in England.

The date commonly given for Richard’s birth is 1110. Another site puts it at 1095-1110. 1110 seems rather late for the eldest son of a father believed to have been born in 1052. It is also at odds with a charter of 1109 which talks of Ricardus de Graio having sent a son to Eynsham Abbey. It is much more likely that he was born in the last quarter of the 11th century, and well before 1095.

We do not know his mother’s name. We believe that he had at least one brother.

His home was Rotherfield Greys close to Henley on Thames in Oxfordshire. In the grounds of the Tudor manor house of Greys Court are the ruins of a castle built c.1347. At the base of the Great Tower in the castle ruins are the remains of an even older building.

English Heritage says: “The earliest surviving phase, visible from evidence above ground, consists of a short length of wall, built of banded flint and tiles, encapsulated within the west elevation of the ‘Great Tower’. The form and quality of construction denotes that this early fabric probably formed the end wall of a high-status range, while the use of polychromatic banding probably implies a date of construction in the period between the late 11th and late 12th centuries. The wall pre-dates the adjacent tower and curtain walls and relates to a period when the site is unlikely to have been fortified by the present masonry curtain, although the existence of an earlier wall or timber palisade cannot be ruled out.”

This would have been the home of the earliest English Greys, probably a fortified house.

Earliest stonework L of door [1]

 Richard de Grey married Mabilla de Vernon.


MABILLA DE VERNON  was the daughter of Richard Vernon de Reviers (Redvers) and Adelise Peverel. The Vernons came from Reviers in Normany.

She is said to be one of as many as twelve children, though most family trees list only some of them.[2]

Like Richard, her father had taken part in the Norman Conquest. His subsequent support for Henry I in his struggle for the throne against his brother led to Richard Vernon becoming one of the richest men in the country. He held about 180 manors.

Her mother was the daughter of William Peverel, another Norman knight, who had been rewarded by William the Conqueror with over a hunded manors.

Mabilla was thus from a wealthy family. Their holdings far surpassed the modest manors of the Greys. But, given the number of her brothers, she is unlikely to have been a notable heiress.

Mabilla was probably born in the late 11th century at one of her father’s earliest manors, Mosterton in Dorset.


Richard and Mabilla had a number of children. Richard gave the first two Viking names from his ancestors: Anchitel, “Cauldron of the gods”, from his father, and Turgis, “Thor’s hostage”, from his great-grandfather. There were also Thomas, William, Robert, and an unnamed son who became a monk. Doubtless there were daughters as well.

The entry of Richard and Mabilla’s son to Eynsham abbey was accompanied by the gift of a tithe from three of Richard’s manors.  In a charter dated 25 Dec 1109, Henry I confirmed the properties of Eynsham abbey, including the donation of “decimam de Dærneford et de Wideli et de Corneuuella” donated by “Ricardus de Graio” when he sent “unum filium suum in eodem monasterio”. These manors were Dornford, Weaverley and Cornwell. The tithe was paid with such produce as grain, wool, cheeses or livestock.

Eynsham is in Oxfordshire, west of Oxford.

The son who was sent to become a monk was probably only a boy.

Richard de Gray witnessed Walter the ditcher’s quitclaim in Dumbleton (Glos) for Abingdon abbey made in 1113-14.


The English crown was changing hands. William I died in 1087. He had ruled as both Duke of Normandy and King of England. On his death, his eldest son Robert Curthose became Duke of Normandy, while a younger son William II was crowned King of England. Robert died in 1106 and the youngest brother, Henry, became Duke of Normandy. William II, known as Rufus because of his red hair, was an unpopular king. In 1110 he died in suspicious circumstances, shot in the back with an arrow while hunting in the New Forest. Like his father before him, Henry then ruled England, as well as Normandy, as King Henry I.

We do not know whether Richard and Mabilla lived to see his death in 1135 and the bitter civil war that followed, when the barons reneged on their promise to recognise Henry’s daughter Matilda as heir to the throne and backed his nephew Stephen. Stephen was eventually victorious and was crowned king.


We do not know when Richard and Mabilla died, but it was probably before the mid-century.

Richard was buried at Eynsham abbey, where he had sent one of his sons to become a monk.

The Greys’ patronage of Eynsham abbey continued. Richard and Mabilla’s eldest son Anchitel was also buried there with his wife. In 1151-1174, Stephen de Punsold and his wife Alice de Gray, daughter of Thomas de Gray, gave the church of Cornwell to Eynsham abbey. Alice was Richard and Mabilla’s granddaughter.



[1] Historic England Research Report. https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn%3AANd9GcRiNOiuYiUHdfeR1ilpT3VaDDCEcL2M1qa-UA&usqp=CAU
[2] http://mauriceboddy.org.uk/Vernon.htm





Sampson Tree