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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




JOHN FOOK was born in the parish of Filleigh, between South Molton and Barnstaple, in 1731. He was the second son of Amos Fook and Susanna Bawman’s seven children. His older brother died in infancy before John was born, as did a younger brother and sister later. John was the oldest surviving child.

Baptism. Filleigh.
1730(1)  John the Son of Amos Fook.  Janry 20th  [1]

John’s father is described in one record as a husbandman in another one of the same date as a farmer. We can assume that he rented a small farm. Despite spending his boyhood on a farm, John did not grow up to be a husbandman.

He became a woolcomber. North Devon had a thriving wool industry.

Raw wool was laid out so that the strands were roughly parallel. Oil was worked into it before combing

. The woolcomber used a heated comb like a short rake with several rows of teeth. The heat softened the lanolin in the wool and the extra oil released made combing easier. Combing removed the short strands which were unsuitable for spinning. When two combs were full of wool, the woolcomber took one in each hand and combed the two hanks together to form a larger hank with parallel strands. It was hot and greasy work.

The job required a seven-year apprenticeship. Amos probably apprenticed John when he was about 12. This may have been when John left Filleigh for Bishops Nympton, 7 miles away, or he may have gone to work there after he completed his apprenticeship.


ANN PEASTER. We have not found Ann’s baptism. It does not appear to have been in Bishops Nympton.


So far, two possible marriages have been found for John, both in Bishops Nympton. In December 1748, John Fook married Elizabeth Thorn. John Fook of Filleigh would only have been seventeen, which is too young to be likely. A far more probable marriage would be that of John Fooke, Woolcomber, to Ann Peaster, on 8 Nov 1754. This John would have been a typical 24.

The bridegroom appears to have been living in Bishops Nympton, but did not come from there. No John Fook was baptised in the parish for more than 50 years previously. Nor did this couple have children baptised in Bishops Nympton. This is consistent with John moving to Bishops Nympton from Filleigh before his marriage, then taking his bride back to his home parish to raise his family. Since the banns for his marriage do not appear in the Filleigh register, it would seem that Bishops Nympton was his parish of settlement at that time.

We have traced John’s Fook family back to Bishops Nympton in the 1600s and earlier. John may have taken an apprenticeship there with his extended family.


It is possible that Ann died soon after the wedding. If so, she was not Sarah’s mother.

Burial. Filleigh.
1755  Nov 5  Ann Foke

The Filleigh register does not give the usual details like “wife of John Foke”, so this may be a different Ann.


We have found no evidence of a second marriage for John, and nor have we found a later burial for Ann.


John had two daughters baptised in Filleigh. The register does not name the mother.

Baptisms. Filleigh.
1759  Sarah  Dr. of Jn Fokes  Ap. 24
1763  Johanna  D: of John Fokes  Mar 27

The first of these is four and a half years after the wedding in Bishops Nympton. The delay would be consistent with a second marriage. But there is four year gap between Sarah and Johanna and then no more children, so it may be that Ann was not particularly fertile.


John probably died in 1782.

Burial. Filleigh.
1782  John Forlkes Octr. 13

He would have been 52.


Both Sarah and Joanna were married in South Molton, Joanna in 1792 and Sarah in 1795. Both of them were in their early thirties, which is later than usual. The girls may have gone to this market town to find work, since there were few opportunities in the village of Filleigh, other than at the big house at Castle Hill. Or they may have moved there with their mother after John’s death.

Joanna married James Dadds and Sarah married the husbandman Henry Harris. Both brides and grooms were said to be of this parish.



[1] BMDs from parish registers.






Sampson Tree