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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




THOMAS MATHEWS was the son of Richard and Sarah Mathews

Baptism. Chulmleigh.

1727  Thomas Son of Richard Matthews by Sarah his Wife was baptized the 10th December.


The first mention of this family in Chulmleigh is the baptism of Thomas’s sister Rebekah, in 1724 and it is possible that they had recently moved to Chulmleigh. Another seven children were born after Thomas.

The Mathews family seem to have been dogged by poverty. The name occurs frequently in the records of Chulmleigh Overseers of the Poor. Young Thomas Mathews, like his brothers after him, was apprenticed in 1737 in accordance with the provisions for poor children in the Poor Law Act.


Overseers of the Poor. Chulmleigh. Apprenticeship Indentures.


This Indenture made the Twelvth Day of April in the Tenth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Second by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, and so forth, And in the Year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and thirty Seven, Witnessed, that William Bird, George Pasmore and John Yorke Churchwardens of the Parish of Chulmleigh in the County of Devon And George Nott  ? Baker and Francis Lawrence Overseers of the Poor of the said Parish, by and with the Consent of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the said County whose names are hereunto subscribed, have put and placed and by these Presents do put and place John Thomas Mathews a poor Child of the said Parish, Apprentice to                      

Robert Westacott the Younger of the same parish with him to dwell and serve from the Day of the Date of these Presents, until the said Apprentice shall accomplish his full Age of Twenty four Years according to the Statute in that Case made and provided: During all which term, the said Apprentice his said Master faithfully shall serve in all lawful Business according to his Power, Wit, and Ability; and honestly, orderly, and obediently in all Things demean and behave himself towards his said Master and all his during the said Term. And the said Robert Westcott for himself, his Executors and Administrators, doth Covenant and Grant to and with the said Churchwardens and Overseers, and every of them, their and every of their Executors and Administrators, and their and every of their Successors for the time being, by these Presents, that the said John Thomas Mathews the said Apprentice in Husbandry shall teach or Cause to be taught  and Instructed And shall and will, during all the term aforesaid, find, provide and allow unto the said Apprentice, meet, competent, and sufficient Meat, Drink, and Apparel, Lodging, Washing, and all other Things necessary and fit for an Apprentice. And also shall and will so provide for the said Apprentice, that he be not any way a Charge to the said Parish, or Parishioners of the same; but of and from all Charge shall and will save the said Parish and Parishioners harmless and indemnified for the said term. And at the end of the said term, shall and will make, provide, allow, and deliver unto the said Apprentice double Apparel of all sorts, good and new, (that is to say) a good new Suit for the Holy-days, and another for the Working-days.


In Witness whereof, the Parties abovesaid to these present Intentions interchangeably have put their Hands and Seals the Day and Year above written.


Seal’d and deliver’d (being                          We whose Names are subscribed, Justices of the

First duly Stamp’d) in the                           County aforesaid do consent to the Presence of                                                                                                    putting forth of the aforesaid John  (Thomas) Mathews

  John Willcox                                                Apprentice according to the Intent and Meaning

  John Turner                                                of the Indenture abovesaid        Robert Westacott

                                                                         Sam: ?Inings

                                                                         Robt: ?Davy



William Marshall, writing The Rural Economy of the West of England in 1796, describes the system thus:

APPRENTICES. It is a universal and common practice, throughout Devonshire, and, I believe, the West of England in general, to put out children of paupers, boys more particularly, at the age of seven or eight years, to farmers and others; and to bind them, as apprentices, until they be twentyone years of age; and formerly until they were twentyfour! on condition of the master’s finding them with every necessary, during the term of the apprenticeship.

  This is an easy and ready way of disposing of the children of paupers, and is fortunate for the children thus disposed of; as enuring them to labor and industry, and providing them with better sustenance, than they could expect to receive from their parents. To the farmers, too, such children, under proper tuition, might, one would think, be made highly valuable in their concerns, and, in the end, would become very profitable.

  The contrary, however, is generally the case: an unfortunate and indeed lamentable circumstance, which arises, in a great measure, I apprehend, from improper treatment. Instead of treating them as their adopted children, or as relations, or as a superior order of servants, whose love and esteem they are desirous of gaining, for their mutual happiness, during the long term of their intimate connexion, as well as to secure their services at a time when they become the most valuable, they are treated, at least in the early stage of servitude, as the inferiors of yearly or weekly servants, are frequently subjected, I fear, to a state of the most abject drudgery: a severity which they do not forget, even should it be relaxed, as they grow up. The ordinary consequence is, no sooner are they capable of supporting themselves, than they desert their servitude, and fill the provincial Papers with advertisements for “runaway prentices.”

  There are, no doubt, circumstances under which it were difficult, or impossible, to render this class of servants, either pleasurable or profitable to their masters; such as the naturally bad disposition of the servants themselves, and the more reprehensible conduct of their parents, in giving them bad counsel. Nevertheless, it strikes me forcibly, that much might be done by a change of principle, in their treatment. 

When the unfortunate offspring of unfortunate parents fall into the hands of men of sense and discretion, they frequently turn out well, and become most valuable members of the community.

Thomas seems to have been one who benefited from his apprenticeship. There is no evidence that his own children needed the help of the Overseers of the Poor, though some of his grandchildren may have done.

ELIZABETH STONEMENT. If, as seems the case, Stonement is an alternative spelling of Stoneman, then the family goes back to at least 1641 in Chulmleigh, when Peter Stoneman took the Protestation oath.

There are two possible baptisms for Elizabeth, in 1716 and 1723.
Baptisms. Chulmleigh.
Eliz: daughter of Peter Stoneman ye 26 of March 1716
Elizabeth the daughter of Roger Stoneman was baptized the 20th day of November 1723

She may have been the daughter of either of these marriages.

Marriages. Chulmleigh.
1710  Peter Stoneman and Jane Hill ye 6 december
1715  Roger Stoneman and Ann Bowden ye 21 October

The first of these would make Elizabeth 32 when she married Thomas and the second 23. Since Thomas was 21, the second is more likely, making her parents Roger Stoneman and Ann Bowden.

Both these Elizabeths were the granddaughters of Peter Stoneman and Margaret Gill, making them first cousins. They were descended from the earliest known Stonemans in Chulmleigh – Peter and Mary, in the first half of the 17th century.


In 1731, there is a burial for Elizabeth Stoneman. Since there were two women with this name alive and of marriageable age in 1748 and since the dead woman is not described as anyone’s daughter, it is likely that this Elizabeth was one of the older generation.

In 1744, one of the unmarried young women had a baby.

Baptism. Chulmleigh.
1744  Elizabeth daur of Elizabeth Stonement a natural Child.  July the 31th

Peter and Jane’s daughter would have been 28 then, Roger and Ann’s daughter, 20.

This is quickly followed by a death.

Burial. Chulmleigh.
1744 Elizabeth Stonement. August ye 2?th. Affid. recd.

Again, no relationship is given, but at this period the curate was cutting corners and gave no details of anyone in the burial register. The dead Elizabeth could have been a child or an adult. Following so soon after this birth, it seems likely that it was either the mother or the baby. The marriage of two women named Elizabeth Stonement four years later makes it more probable that it was the infant who died.

Marriages. Chulmleigh.
1748 Thomas Mathews and Elizabeth Stonement.  April ye 15th.
1748  William Tibbs and Elizabeth Stonement  Feberary ye 8th

These marriages took place shortly before the introduction of the new-style register, which would have given more information. The signature of a witness sometimes suggests a close family relationship. Nor have we yet found the baptism of several sons for either couple, one of which might have been named after the wife’s father.

In 1749 (1750 by modern reckoning) Peter Stonement married Elizabeth Hammet. Peter may be a brother of one of these Elizabeths, though his baptism has not yet been found.


There are three baptisms in the Chulmleigh registers for the children of Thomas and Elizabeth Mathews. The first and second are 11 years apart, but in addition, there are two other baptisms for children of Thomas Matthews, one in South Molton and the other one in George Nympton. Both of these are isolated baptisms, not part of a sequence for this family. It seems likely that these are children of our Chulmleigh couple, who lived elsewhere for a time and then returned to Chulmleigh. Together these baptisms make an evenly spaced pattern.

Baptisms. Chulmleigh.
1749  Elizabeth Dauof Thoms Mathews by Elizabeth his wife. Debr ye 5th
Baptism. South Molton.
1753 Feb 18  Thomas S of Thomas Matthews of Little Hele.
Baptism. St George, George Nympton.
1757 Feb 6  Susanna ye daughter of Thomas Matthews and Elizabeth his wife.
Baptism. St Mary Magdalene, Chulmleigh.
1761  Joseph Son of Thomas Matthews by Elizabeth his wife.  January ye 25th.
1764  Sarah Daughter of Thomas Matthews by Elizabeth his wife.  July ye 5th.

Thomas had been apprenticed for “husbandry”, which means farming. As an adult, he may have attended annual hiring fairs, offering his services as a farmhand. This could result in labourers moving from parish to parish.

Little Hele is a farm to the south of South Molton town, overlooking the River Mole. It is three miles from George Nympton, where we next find the Mathews family.

Little Hele, South Molton [i]


Sarah died aged one year old.
Burials. Chulmleigh.
1765  Sarah Daur of Thomas Matthews.  Octobr ye 5th. Affid. Recd.

 Their son Joseph had sufficient education to sign his name confidently in the marriage register.


One, at least, of the couple lived into the nineteenth century.

Burials. Chulmleigh
1804  Febrry 24th.  Thomas Mathews

Elizabeth’s burial may be either of the following:

1767  Elizabeth Matthews  April ye 19th.  Affid. Recd.
1805  July 14th.  Elizabeth Matthews

The register at this time does not give the usual information about the name of a woman’s husband, or whether she was a widow.


[i] https://s2.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/03/68/99/3689946_646d2d6c_1024x1024.jpg






Sampson Tree