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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




ROBERT HARRIS’s origins are still unclear. He was married in 1739, which gives him an estimated birth date of about 1710-15. The marriage took place in South Molton, and he was then said to be ‘of Rose Ash’. He had his first three children in Kings Nympton. But his baptism has not been found in any of these parishes. There are other Harrises in the first two, but none in the Rose Ash registers until 1748.

There is a promising baptism on 13 Jan 1712(3) in Winkleigh, for Robert, son of Henry Harris. Our Robert named his first son Henry, and this name recurs down the generations. Winkleigh is eight miles from Kings Nympton, twelve miles from South Molton and thirteen from Rose Ash.

Closer geographically is Robert, son of Will Harris, baptised in Chulmleigh on 23 Jul 1718, or less probably, Robert, son of Robert Harris, baptised in Chulmleigh on 6 Jan 1723. Chulmleigh and Kings Nympton are neighbouring parishes. But the name Will does not occur in the next generations of our Robert’s family.

Other nearby parishes have yet to be investigated.


For Rose Ash to become Robert’s parish of settlement, he must have been working there before his marriage. He was a husbandman by the time he married, and may have been apprenticed to a farmer in Rose Ash. Richard Sampson moved from Winkleigh to Rose Ash as a young farm-worker, and Robert Harris’s early years may have followed a similar pattern.


JOAN LOOSEMORE came from a well-established family in Rose Ash. She was the daughter of Nicholas Loosemore and Mary Southcombe.

Baptism. Rose Ash. (DCRS transcript)
1721(2)  Loosmore, Joan  d. Nicholas ye Younger  15 ffeb


Her father’s family had been in Rose Ash for at least a century. The year before she was born, Nicholas Loosemore of Rose Ash rented ‘Messuages called Pooles’ in the neighbouring parish of Knowstone, for a consideration of ‘2 broad pieces of gold and £260’. Compared with other similar leases, this was a large sum of money. It is not clear whether this was Nicholas senior or junior, but it shows the Loosemore family to be comfortably off.

Her mother was related to the Southcomb family who provided Rose Ash with eight generations of rectors from 1675 to 1948.

Joan was the oldest of five children, though one of her sisters died at three years old and the other a week or two after she was born, leaving Joan with two younger brothers.

Around this time, a Nicholas Loosemore was churchwarden and living in ‘ye Easter part of ye Barton’. Again, this could be Joan’s father or the older generation. In either case, little Joan would have been at home in ‘ye Barton’, which is Rose Ash Barton, near the village centre.

Joan was only 16 when her father died. Three years later, her mother married the husbandman Thomas Veysey. After another two years, a little half-brother was born.

By then, Joan may have moved away from home. She was married in South Molton, though Rose Ash was still her parish of settlement. She was 17, which was unusually young for a husbandman’s wife, though it would have been less so for a higher-class family.

Robert’s age is uncertain. If he was the boy baptised in Winkleigh, then he would have been 26. This was a typical age for a man to marry, but a nine year gap between bride and groom was unusual.

The couple were married by licence. This was necessary, because South Molton was not the parish of either bride or groom. The simplest reason for their marrying there, and not in Rose Ash, is that Joan was working there. The possibility, given Joan’s young age, that she was pregnant, and that the marriage was arranged quickly and discreetly, is not supported by an early baptism.


Exeter Marriage Licence.
1739  Harris, Robert of Roseash, husbandman, and Joan Loosemore of same, spinster  Nov 19


The marriage took place five days later.

Marriage. South Molton.
1739  Harrice, Robt & Joan Loosemoore  by licence.  24 Nov.


The couple set up home in Kings Nympton, five miles to the south. Probably Robert had already been farming here.

There is no continuous pattern of Harris baptisms, marriages and burials in the Kings Nympton registers, but there are occasional individuals, who may be Robert’s relatives. In 1666, there was a baptism for a daughter of Thomas Harris of Warkleigh. There are three references to Roger Harris. The first is unusual. In 1707 the burial is recorded of ‘George Gossall Son in Law of Roger Harris’. I have found no other case where the relationship of son-in-law is recorded in a parish register. It may indicate that Roger Harris was a notable local figure, though he does not appear to be of the gentleman class. Robert named one of his sons Roger.


Robert and Joan had three children in Kings Nympton.

Baptisms. Kings Nympton.
1740  Mary  daughter of Robert & Joan Harris  Sept 28th
1742(3)  Elizabeth  daughter of Robert & Joan Harris  Mar 20th
1745  Henry  son of Robert & Joan Harris  Septer 1st

There is no further record of them in that parish.

They moved back to Rose Ash. Here, in 1748, twin girls were born and died almost immediately.

Baptisms. Rose Ash
1748  Harris, Amy & Joanna  twin daughters  Robert  23 Apr.  Joanna bur May 1 & Amy May 15.

Probably they were born prematurely.

1749(50)  Harris, Roger s. Robert  25 Feb
1752  Harris, Joan d. Robert  15 Oct


This year the Rector, Lewis Southcomb, made a note in the register:

When this Register is ended: Let it be remembered that a small Folio register is by far preferable to a Quarto.


Robert and Joan seem to have raised their remaining five children without further loss. Henry grew up to be a husbandman, like his father.

The three older children may have gone to South Molton, as their mother did when she was single. There is no record of Mary and Elizabeth marrying in Rose Ash, but there are marriages in South Molton for Mary Harris in 1766 and for Elizabeth Harris in 1768. They do not appear to have been born in South Molton. Robert and Joan’s daughters would both have been 26 then, a typical age for marriage.

Henry also married there, but not until 1795.

Their parents stayed in Rose Ash. There are two possible burials for Joan. The first is in 1772, when she would have been 50.

Burial. Rose Ash.
1772  Harris, Joan  25 June

Robert died in 1783. We do not yet know how old he was. The child born in Winkleigh would have been 70.

1783  Harris, Robert  12 Jany.

The other possible burial for Joan was a year later.

1784  Harris, Joan.  A pauper.  31 Oct.

It was not unusual for people who had maintained a reasonable standard of living to fall into poverty when their circumstances changed. But since their son Henry was still unmarried then, he should have been able to support his mother.

The most likely interpretation is that the earlier burial is Robert’s wife, and the later one their youngest daughter. If Joan junior had remained in Rose Ash, while her older siblings moved away, she might well have found herself a pauper when her father died.

There is no evidence yet of what happened to Roger, unless he was the Roger Harris who married in St Stephens, Exeter, in 1773.

After his late marriage, Henry farmed as a husbandman in the parish of Mariansleigh, next to Rose Ash. He was buried in the same churchyard as his parents.






Sampson Tree