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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 TURNER was known as a young man as John Turner the Younger or John Turner Junior. Both he and his father, John Turner the Elder, were helliers and masons in Chulmleigh. A hellier is a roofer, slater or tiler. It is possible that John Turner, Hellyar, who had several children baptised in Chulmleigh at the beginning of the 18th century, was his grandfather. John’s own son John may have continued the tradition.

There are many John Turners in Chulmleigh. As yet, the marriage of his parents and his own baptism have not been certainly identified and they may have taken place outside Chulmleigh.

One possible christening is:

Baptism. Chulmleigh.
1717  John Son of John Turnner ye 5 of March.

It might have followed the marriage of a John Turner to Thamzin Sholbrook in 1713 or John Turner to Jane Jossling in  May 1717. Until 1752, the English calendar year began on March 25. By modern reckoning, this baptism would have taken place early in 1718.

This christening would make him 41 at the time of his marriage to Ann Hammett. This is rather old, if it was his first marriage.


In 1757 he fathered the child of Mary Baple, the 24-year-old woolcomber’s daughter.

The Poor Law regarded the children of unmarried mothers as at risk of requiring support from parish funds unless otherwise provided for. The mother was asked to name the father, on oath. Her word was accepted, unless the man could prove that it was impossible for him to have been the father. He was required to deposit a lump sum or make regular payments for the upkeep of his child.

When it was found that Mary was pregnant, she was examined before a Justice of the Peace and signed a sworn statement naming John Turner the Younger as the father.

It appears that pressure was put on John to marry her. The banns for a wedding between John Turner the younger and Mary Baple were published in Chulmleigh church on 27 Nov and 4 Dec 1757.

But it must have been a decision made late in her pregnancy. Where the printed register says “on the three Sundays underwritten”, the word “three” has been crossed out.

Mary did not live to marry John. She gave birth to a daughter and died in childbirth. She was buried on 11 Dec 1757, the day the banns should have been read for the third time.

Burial. Chulmleigh.
1757  Mary Baple.  December ye 11th.  Affid. Recd.

Ten days later, we have a baptism. Baby Mary was given John’s surname

Baptism. Chulmleigh.
1757  Mary Turnar  Daur of Mary Baple a Natural Child.  Dec ye ?21th.


In January 1758 John Turner the Younger, together with John Turner the Elder and David Baple, signed a bond for forty pounds for the maintenance of Mary’s daughter. Mary Baple was the daughter of David and Mary Bap(p)le. John Turner the Elder was presumably the infant’s other grandfather, and John Turner the Younger’s father. It appears that they were not required to pay over the lump sum, provided they met all the costs of the child’s upbringing.

John Turner the Younger was literate, making an elegant T in his signature. David Baple’s mark may be a rudimentary attempt at the letter B. But John Turner the Elder’s mark is unusual. It is neither a cross nor a crude capital letter. It consists of a vertical line, crossed by three arcs, the upper one an upturned semicircle and the two lower ones downward facing.

It is probably his mason’s mark.

Every mason had his own mark, which he carved into a stone. It identified his work so that he could claim payment.


John Turnner the Younger and John Turnner the Elder and David Baple Bond for Maintaining John Turnner the Younger Bastard Child

Know all men by these presents that mr John Turner the Younger & John Turner the Elder of Chulmleeigh in the County of Devon Helliers and Masons & David Baple of the same place Woolcomber are held and firmly bound unto William Pridham and John Hill Churchwardens and Lawrence Cole and John Hulland overseeers of the poor of the said parish of Chulmleigh in trust for the parishioners of the said parish in forty pounds of good & lawfull money of Great Brittain to be paid to the said William Pridham John Hill Lawrence Cole or John Hulland or their Certain Attorney their Executors administrators or assigns which payment well and truely to be made we bind ourselves and each of us jointly and severally and our and each and every of our heirs Executors and administrators firmly by these presents sealed with our seals and dated the sixth day of January in the thirty first Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Second of Great Brittain France and Ireland King Defender of the faith and so forth & in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and fifty eight

The Condition of this obligation is such that whereas Mary Baple of Chulmleigh aforesaid single woman did in her life time and by her voluntary examination in writing and upon oath before William Melhuish Esquire one of his Majestie’s Justices of the peace in and for the said County of Devon declare that she was with child and that the said Child was likely to be born a bastard and Chargeable to the said Parish of Chulmleigh and that the above bounden John Turner the Younger was the father of the said Child which said Mary was about six weeks since delivered of a female Bastard Infant according to said her Examination which said Female Bastard Child is now living and may be chargeable to the said parish of Chulmleigh the mother thereof the said Mary Baple being since dead If therefore the said John Turner the Younger John Turner the Elder and David Baple or either of them their or other of their Executors or administrators do and shall from time to time and at all times hereafter fully and clearly indemnify and save harmless as well the above-named Churchwardens and overseers of the poor of the said parish of Chulmleigh and their successors for the time-being as also all and singular the other parishioners and inhabitants of the said parish of Chulmleigh which now or here after shall be for the time-being of and from all manner of Costs taxes Rates assessments and Charges whatsoever for or by Reason of the birth education and maintenance of the said female Bastard Child and of and from all actions suits troubles and other charges and demands whatsoever touching or concerning the same that them this present obligation to be void otherwise of force.


Signed Sealed and delivered having                                           John Turner        

been first stampt in presence of                             The mark of John Turner  

                                                                                                      The Elder

            W Melhuish                                        The mark of David Baple     B

            John Thorne



In November of that year, John married Ann Hammet.


ANN HAMMET was the daughter of Stephen Hammet and Hagar Boavins

In May 1724, the burial is recorded of ‘Ann the wife of Sthephen Hammet’, followed by the marriage in September 1724 of ‘Stephen Hammett and Hago Collings’. It seems probable that Ann was Stephen’s first wife. Stephen and Hagar gave their first child the same name.

Baptism. Chulmleigh
Ann ye daughter of Stephen Hamet was Baptized ye 9 of June 1725.

There were three younger children from this marriage, one of whom died in infancy.

Her stepmother died in 1731, when Ann was nearly six.


Ann married John Turner in 1758.

Marriage. Chulmleigh.
John Turner of this parish Mason, and Ann Hammet of this parish, Spinster.
Married in this Church by Banns this 6th Day of November in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and fifty eight, by me H W Webb, Curate of Chulmleigh.

                John Turner

            The Mark of Ann \ Hamett

In the presence of Stephen Hammet

                                 Robert Lewis Junr


The Stephen Hammet who witnessed the marriage may have been Ann’s father or brother. He was literate, but Ann was not taught to write.


The couple had at least two children:

Baptisms. Chulmleigh.
1760  John son of John Turnar by Ann his wife. April ye 24th

Burials. Chulmleigh.
1761  John Son of John Turner.  March ye 27th.  Affid. recd.

This could be the infant son of John and Ann, born the previous year.

Another baptism follows.

1762  Elizabeth Daur of John Turner Junr by Ann his wife. January ye 31th.

A burial later that year may explain why there were no further children.

Burials. Chulmleigh.
1762  John Turner.  June 7th.  Affid. Recd.

There is another burials which could also be relevant.

1767  John Turner.  November ye 22nd.  Affid. Recd.

With so many John Turners in the parish, it is hard to be sure which is the correct one.


Unlike Ann, their daughter Elizabeth was given the advantage of literacy. She was married in 1780 to Joseph Mathews. Both Elizabeth and her husband signed the marriage register in a confident hand.

This was not the only connection of the Turners with the Mathews family.  In 1792 the Chulmleigh Overseers of the Poor apprenticed Elizabeth Matthews to John Turner, mason, ‘for ability on a hearing’.


Parish Overseers… saw that the children of the poor were ‘apprenticed’ at an early age (often eight or nine) to local occupiers in rotation, nearly all boys to ‘husbandry’ – farm work – and girls to ‘housewifery’ – domestic service, in both cases for maintenance only. Boys were bound till twenty-four until 1778, and then till twenty-one; and girls until twenty-one (or, after 1734, till marriage if earlier). This relieved the Poor Rate, as well as poor parents, from the cost of maintaining children.

R.R. Sellman. Aspects of Devon History. Devon Books, 1985, p.56.


We have been unable to identify Ann’s burial with certainty. There are possible burials in 1781, 1788, 1790 and 1804. The burial register gives little identifying detail.






Sampson Tree