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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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JOHN BATTERSHILL was born in 1727. The family name was then spelt Battishill. [1]

Baptism. Moretonhampstead.
1727  June 4th  was baptized John son of Richd Battishill

He was the fifth of nine children of Richard Battershill and Elizabeth Hamlyn.


JOAN NOSWORTHY was born in the same year. Treleaven’s Diary was written from 1799-1820 by Sylvester Treleaven, hairdresser, shopkeeper, postmaster and local gossip of Moretonhampstead. In October 1799 Treleaven recorded the death of Joan Battershill ‘aged 73 and the mother of 15 children’. [2] If Treleaven is right about her age, she was probably christened Jane.


Baptism: Moretonhampstead, St Andrews.
1727  Aug 16th was baptized Jane daughr of Jane Nosworthy, a base child.

This is the best fit for an age of 73 when she died, only one year out. There was another baptism four years later.

1731 Novr 25 was baptized Joan daughter of John Nosworthy

The mother of this child was Grace Hosgood.


In the 18th century, ‘Jane’, ‘Joane’ and ‘Joan’ appear to be used interchangeably, so there is no reason to discount the earlier baptism on that ground. It is true that people’s ages were not always precisely known, particularly by their surviving relatives. But Joan came from the high-status Nosworthy family, who were more likely to be accurate about their ages than illiterate farm workers. Baby Jane, born out of wedlock in 1727, is probably the right girl.


Her unmarried mother, Jane Nosworthy, came either from a family of landed gentry or else from a junior, but still high-status, branch of this family in town. It is unlikely that her mother would have been thrown out on the street to become a burden on the parish. The Poor Law made it difficult for the family to evade responsibility. But there is a record which describes the gentleman’s daughter Jane as a seamstress.

Both the possible mothers married after Jane’s birth, in one case to Walter Hutchings, a woolcomber from a high-status family, in the other probably to Cyrus Hill, also from an affluent family, though possibly to the poorer William Launder. It is not certain whether little Jane grew up with their other children. She may have been taken in as an infant by married relatives and brought up with their own family. Jane could have passed her childhood at Great Sloncombe Farm, tucked away in a valley outside Moreton, at the manor house of High Hayne, on the outskirts of town, or in the town itself.

 Almshouses, Moretonhampstead [3]

 The burial register shows another possibility, that her mother died when the child was only three, though this seems less likely.


John Battershill and Joan Nosworthy were both 26 when they married.

Marriage.  Moretonhampstead, St Andrews.
1752  May 19th were Married John Battershill and Joan Nosworthy


There followed fifteen children, all baptised at the parish church.

Baptism. Moretonhampstead, St Andrews.
1752(3)            Jan 1                Elizabeth          buried 31 Dec 1753. Age 1

Moretonhampstead should have changed its calendar in 1752, so that the year started with January 1 and not March 25. Instead, the registers continue to use the old dating until 1765.

1754    Jun 30              Betty                buried 20 Aug 1754. Age 2 m
1755     Jun 11             John                married. Buried 4 Aug 1782. Age 27
1757     Nov 20            Betty                Married Thomas Day of N.Tawton, 13 Mar 1785.
Death not known.

At Betty’s baptism the spelling of the father’s name changes from ‘Battishill’ to ‘Battershill’ and this is the spelling used from then on.

1759     Aug 26           William            Married Mary Easton, 26 Dec 1781. Died 1816.
1761     Apr 19            Mary                buried 31 May 1765. Age 4.
1763     Apr 1              Richard            buried 27 Nov 1770. Age 7.
1764     Nov 25          Joan                married Thomas Hutchings, 13 Mar 1785

Moretonhampstead reluctantly went over the modern calendar in 1765, so that from now on the year number given for January, February and March 1-24 is the one we use nowadays, not the same as for most of the previous year. But the Moreton registers continued to be kept from March 25 to the following March 24, simply inserting the new year number when they reached January.

1766     Apr 6               Mary                no further details
1767     Jun 8               Susanna           Married William Tozer 27 May 1792. Died 1797.
1769     Mar 3              Ann                  buried 13 Sep 1772. Age 3.
1771     Jan 30             Joseph             no further details
1773     Jan 1               Sarah               Married William Hole, 20 Sep 1795. Died 1846.
1774     Aug 24           Thomas                        buried 5 Nov 1776. Age 2
1777     Sep 14            Anna                no further details


John and Joan lived to see the collapse of the woollen industry in Moreton around 1760. In 1799, Treleaven’s Diary records the advent of mechanisation.

1799  Wed. June 5th.  Mr. White of Ashburton, took Mr. John Mardon’s house, and enters on it at Mid-summer next, he has several Spinning Jennies, and has bought One-Mill at the bottom of Long-meadow, where he is going to erect a Machine for Carding and Scribling Wool.

1799  Thurs. June 27th.  Mr. White’s Machine at One Mill sat to work, several Children employed, and likely to prove a benefit to the Town

The Battershills’son William became a woolcomber, and this may have been the family occupation, but Treleaven reports that at the age of 45 he took up a different employment.

1816  Sat. May. 25th.  Died in the 57th year of his age William Batershill, Woolcomber, but for the last 12 years he had been a chaise driver.



Joan died 23 Oct 1799. Her passing was recorded in Treleaven’s Diary with a note of her age, 73, and the prodigious number of her children. She was buried two days later.

Wed. Oct. 23rd.  Died Joan the Wife of John Battershill aged 73,  She had been the Mother of 15 children.

Burial. Moreton Hampstead, St Andrews.
1799  Octr 25th was Buried Joan the wife of John Battershill

John was buried almost exactly four years after her.

1803  Octr 23rd John Battershill Senr


[1] BMDs from parish registers.
[2] Treleaven’s Diary, www.moretonhampstead.org.uk
[3] http://www.moretonhampstead.org.uk/images/buildings/almshouses/almGeorge22.jpg







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