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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)


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 THOMAS HUTCHINGS. There are many Thomas Hutchings in Moreton, Chagford and the surrounding villages. The reason we cannot find this baptism, around 1755, may be because some of the 18th century Hutchings were Presbyterians and there is a gap in the Presbyterian records for the relevant period. Their eldest son was an early Methodist.


Thanks to Treleaven’s Diary, we know the occupations of the men in the Moretonhampstead side of the family at an early date. Hutchings in general seem to be craftsmen rather than agricultural labourers. Common trades are carpenter, thatcher and woolcomber. When his eldest son was married, Thomas was a fishmonger. Moreton Hampstead is 15 miles from Exeter, the nearest quay where fish were landed. Thomas may have ridden or driven to some such port, perhaps early in the morning, to buy his fish, or may have paid to have it delivered .

He was not the only one to travel long distances to sell his goods. Brice’s Grand Gazeteer of 1759 tells us:

 The soil seems to be peculiarly adapted to potatoes. With these, which are excellent in their kind, they supply the market for 20 miles around; nay, they have of late had a kind of potato market in the midst of the Forest of Dartmoor where they carry them on fixed days of the week, and at an appointed place on the Moor – viz. at the Two Bridges, or near some rocks called Jobber’s Cawse, – be the weather as it will, and although there is no house to shelter them, but all is wild and bleak, meet and treat with their customers from Tavistock and parts adjacent; but if these do not come according to their appointment and agreement made some former market day, the potatoes are thrown out of the sacks and left on the Moor for the buyers, – or whoever comes soonest to take them; the buyers sustaining all losses occasioned by their neglect. This Moor market is not only advantageous to these potato dealers, but also of some use to strangers who venture to travel over the Forest to Tavistock without a guide, they having now an apparent path, whereas a few years since no track or vestige of a road appeared there for several miles together.


William Marshall, writing The Rural Economy of the West of England, 1796, agrees.

It is not more than twentyfive years, if so much, since the entire Country, including I believe, the markets of Plymo00uth, was supplied with Potatoes from the neighbourhood of Morton Hampstead, at the opposite end of Dartmore, and at not less than twenty miles distance from the center of this District, nor less than thirty miles from Plymouth and its dock yard!…

  It is reasonable to suppose that the people of Morton, while they monopolized, and practised as a mystery, the culture of Potatoes, during a length of time, would not be inattentive to the minutiae of cultivation; and it is equally probable, that the knowledge they acquired travelled Westward, with the operation.



JOAN BATTERSHILL was the eighth of the fifteen children of John Battershill and Joan Nosworthy.

Baptism. Moretonhampstead, St Andrews:
1764 Nover 20th was Baptized Joan Daughter of John Battershill


She was twenty, comparatively young by the standards of the period, when she married Thomas Hutchings in 1785. Her 26-year-old sister, christened Betty, was married the same day.

Marriages. Moretonhampstead, St Andrews.
1785  March 13th were Married Thomas Hutchings and Joan Battershill
1785  March 13th were Married       Thomas Day and Elizabeth Battershill


There are six baptism records for their children in Moretonhampstead:

Baptisms. Moretonhampstead, St Andrews:
1786  Decemr 26th was Baptized Mary Daughter of Thomas Hutchings
1791  Decr 11th Walter Battershill  Son of Thomas Hutchings
1797  Augt 21st Thomas Battershill son of Thomas Hutchings
1800  July 20th Maria Daughter of Thomas Hutchings
1803  May 8th James Son of Thomas Hutchings
1805  Sepr 8th William son of Thomas Hutchings

Thomas Battershill Huthcings died in 1837.


The character of Thomas Hutchings remains enigmatic. If he was brought up in a Dissenting family, he may have had high moral standards. The fact that his son Walter became a Methodist would support this, though Thomas’s children were baptised at the parish church. On the other hand, there is an entry in Treleaven’s Diary which could refer to him. [1]

1800  Mon. May 12th. On Thursday last two of this Town bought of a Smuggler four Kegs of Brandy for which they gave eleven Guineas, on their taping the Kegs to draw off they found them to contain nothing but water except about a halfpint of good Brandy which was in a tin cup curiously fastned inside the head of each Keg. This is a species of fraud never heard of in Moreton before.

1803  Tue. Feb. 8th.  The Houses of Saml. Hutchings in Cross Street and Thos. Hutchings in Forder Street searched, by the Supervisor, and Mr. Sarel, Exciseman, for smuggled goods, at the former they took a small Jar of Brandy, at the latter two kegs partly full of spirit and some coffee.


1803  Fri. Nov. 4th. Mary Hutchings, Cross Street was fined, Three Guineas, for smuggling of Brandy &c.

There was more than one Thomas Hutchings, but it was not a common name. As a fishmonger, making frequent journeys to the coast or estuary to fetch his merchandise, or receiving regular deliveries from there, Thomas would have been well placed to obtain contraband.

Samuel Hutchings has not been found in the registers. He may be a brother of Thomas, whose baptism is also missing and perhaps took place at the Presbyterian Meeting or in another parish.


While Thomas and Joan’s younger children were still small, an outbreak of smallpox alarmed the town.

1807  Tue. Apr. 7th.  Jonathan Guy son of Mr John Guy, had been ill a few days, terminated in the small pox, ‘tis supposed he caught the infection at Exeter, in consequence most of the children in the Town and Neighbourhood were inoculated either for the small pox or Cow Pox.

The following entry probably relates to the family.

1807 Wed. July 29th.  Charlotte Hutchings, daughter of Thomas Hutchings, departed this life at Exeter on Monday last, and this day her remains were brought here and Interred.

No baptism has yet been found for this Charlotte, but Thomas and Joan had a granddaughter Charlotte, daughter of Walter. It is not a common name, and it suggests there was a family relationship. There is a long gap between the baptisms of Walter and Thomas junior, and other children could have been baptised in another church.


When their son Walter married in 1814, Treleaven’s Diary gives us information about both families which is not found in the parish registers:

 1814: Sunday, March 13. Married Walter, the son of Thomas Hutchings, Fishmonger, to Elizabeth, daughter of James Taverner, at the Turnpike Gate.


Treleaven’s Diary records several fires in the crowded town where the Hutchings lived:

1816:  Sat. Jan. 13th.  About a quarter after 3 O’Clock this morning, a fire broke out in a house occupied by Thomas Holman, late a Sergeant in the Royal Marines, in the Court (Commonly known by the name of French’s Court) behind Mr Thos. White’s House, which burnt with great fury for four hours, & the people began to be alarmed for the safety of the whole town, but having an excellent Engine, and through the great exertions of the Inhabitants, it was got under after  destroying all the houses on each side of the court, (except two) and all the houses opposite the Dolphin Inn, as far as Mr Neck’s Garden, the houses being occupied by 8 labouring people, and happening at so early an hour, they have lost there all; and what adds to this distressing scene is that one poor woman called Mary West, sister to the  little John Woodley, who lived in an upper room of one of the Tenements, was burnt to death.  Great praise is due to the Rev Wm. Charles Clack, and Richard Holland, Esqr. for their goodness in providing the poor sufferers with Clothes and Money.  A subscription is also set on foot by which it is hoped that the loss of the poor will in some measure be made up.


A Thomas Hutchings was buried in Moreton Hampstead in 1824, aged 70. These dates make it possible this was Joan Battershill’s husband.

Burial. Moretonhampstead.
1824  Thomas Hutchings. Town. 20 Oct. 70.

In the 1841 census we find Joan living alone in Eagle Court. Her age has been rounded to 80. Eagle Court was a courtyard of cottages off Lime Street, the narrow road leading steeply downhill north of the main crossroads in the town

Joan was buried in Moretonhampstead in 1841.

1841  Joan Hutchings. Town. 25 Novr. 77.


[1] Treleaven’s Diary, www.moretonhampstead.org.uk






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