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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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GILBERT GALLEN was born in Sandford near Crediton early in 1662, two years after the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II. He was the son of John and Margery Gallen.

Baptism. St Swithun, Sandford. (DCRS transcript)
1661(2)  Gilbert s John Gallen & Margery w.  Jan 20


Sandford, E. of Crediton, is considered the most fertile parish in Devonshire. The soil rests on the red sandstone. But the whole of this neighbourhood is unusually rich and productive. The Lord’s Meadow, a broad open field extending from the Crediton valley to the Creedy river, retains the celebrity it enjoyed in Westcote’s days [16th century]. “The soil,” he says, “is very fertile both for corn and pasture, insomuch as it is grown to a general proverb throughout the whole kingdom, – ‘as good hay as any in Denshire;’ – and here in the country – ‘as good hay as any in Kirton [Crediton];’ and there – ‘as good as any in my lord’s meadow’ – than which there can be no better.”

Murray’s Handbook for Devon and Cornwall (1859)

(Lord’s Meadow is now an industrial estate.)

 Gilbert became a husbandman in this fertile farmland.


The Civil War had divided the country. After the Restoration, the hardline Puritans lost power. But one thing High Anglicans and Puritans were agreed on was that they did not want to return to a Catholic monarchy.

When Gilbert was 23, a son was born to King James II by his second wife. Until then, the heir to the throne had been Princess Mary, the elder daughter of his first marriage. Mary was a Protestant, married to William, prince of Orange in the Netherlands. The new queen was a Catholic, and the country feared that her baby Prince James would be brought up to become a Catholic king. Both Whig and Tory politicians invited Mary and William to come and take over the throne.

On 5 November 1688, William landed in Torbay. In England the revolution was almost bloodless. James II fled to France. Parliament offered the throne to William and Mary jointly in January 1889.

The happy coincidence of the date of William’s landing enabled prayers of thanksgiving to be added to those already made annually on November 5 for the deliverance of the king and Parliament from the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. They would have been read in Sandford Church as everywhere else, followed later by a bonfire.


17th century attitudes to the poor in the varied from the punitive to the charitable. In 1699 Gilbert would have seen the results of William Davie’s agreement to build a hall in Sandford adjoining the House of Correction, for the use of the poor. Davie, from the wealthy family at Creedy Park, also agreed to provide maintenance money for one poor child aged 6 until he be aged 9.


Henry Fielding writes ironically in Tom Jones (1749) of:

that house where the inferior sort of people may learn one good lesson,viz., respect and deference to their superiors; since it must show them the wide distinction Fortune intends between those persons who are to be corrected for their faults, and those who are not; which lesson if they do not learn, I am afraid they very rarely learn any other good lesson, or improve their morals, at the House of Correction.


Gilbert married rather late, at the age of 39. No evidence has been found of an earlier marriage.


WILMOT HILL was the youngest child of Thomas Hill  and Thamzin Corkeram. She was baptized in the parish of Colebrooke, adjoining Sandford, as were her three older siblings. At the baptism of her brother and her eldest sister, their father is named simply as ‘Thomas Hill’. But at the next daughter’s baptism, and at Wilmot’s, he is called ‘Thomas Hill of Crediton’. This probably means that the family had moved across the parish boundary but were still using the same church.

Baptism. St Andrews’s, Colebrooke
1678  Wilmot daughter of Thomas Hill of Crediton baptized ye 16 of September.


Wilmot’s father died when she was seven. What happened next to the family is not clear. But at some point Wilmot moved to Sandford. It seems probable that her mother was baptised in Sandford, so she make have taken her children back there after Thomas died. There were also several Hill families living there, who may have been relatives.

Sandford became Wilmot’s parish of settlement. She may have achieved this by being apprenticed or having yearly employment there. She stated Sandford as her parish when she married Gilbert, though the wedding took place at St Petrock’s in central Exeter. Weddings usually took place in the bride’s parish, so she and Gilbert must have had a reason to be married in Exeter. The likelihood is that Wilmot was by then working in Exeter.

They were married on the same day, and in the same church, as another Sandford couple. Given the difference in age and occupation between the bridegrooms, Gilbert a husbandman of 39 and the other a 21-year-old weaver, it seems more likely that it was friendship between the two women which led them to plan this double wedding. Willmot Hill and Ann Nott may have set out for Exeter together to seek employment, or they may have started work with a well-to-do family in Sandford, like the Davies, who had property and business in Exeter as well, and been moved to the city by their employer. There is another likely link between the couples. Ann’s bridegroom was Thomas Cockram. Cockram was Wilmot’s mother maiden name, so Wilmot and Thomas may have been cousins.

In August 1701, these two Sandford couples appeared before the diocesan authorities in Exeter and asked for marriage licences.

Exeter Marriage Licences. (DCRS transcripts)
1701  Cockram, Thomas of Sandford and Ann Nott of same, spr.  Aug 5.
1701  Gallen, Gilbert of Sandford and Willmott Hill of same, spinster.  Aug 5.


They were married the same day in Saint Petrock’s church, between High Street and the cathedral close.

Marriage. St Petrock, Exeter. (DCRS transcript)
1701  Gallen, Gilbert of Sanford. Husbd.man, & Willmot Hill.  5 Aug.
1701  Cockram, Tho: of Sanford, Weaver, and Ann Nott.  5 Aug.

If we only had the evidence of this marriage register, we would have assumed that Willmot and Ann were residents of St Petrock’s, and were following the normal custom of marrying in the bride’s parish. If that had been the case, they would not have needed a licence to marry there. The licences make it clear that all four were from Sandford.


The DCRS transcript for St Petrock’s notes:

At the close of the 17th, and at the beginning of the 18th Centuries, an unusually large number of marriages is recorded, though never so many as there were at St Martin’s Church at a slightly earlier date. In the majority of cases both bride & bridegroom came from parishes in different, & sometimes distant, parts of the County. Probably it was the custom to obtain a licence in Exeter, & then be married in one of the City Churches. Perhaps there may have been less strictness about the qualifications by residence.


St Petrock’s was a very small parish, spanning the Carfax, where High Street, Fore Street, North Street and South Street met. The church was unusual in being entirely enclosed by other buildings, so that only the tower was visible from High Street or the Close. These buildings were later demolished to open up the frontage. The church is now a centre for homeless people, reflecting in some way the welcome it once gave to out-of-town strangers.


It is not clear whether Gilbert and Willmot returned immediately to Sandford. If so, the marriage in Exeter seems unnecessary. But they were certainly there three years later and they raised their family in Sandford.

Baptisms. St Swithun, Sandford. (DCRS transcripts)
1704  John s. Gilbert Galling & Wilmot his w. Jan 7
1707  Thomas s. Gilbert Galling & Wilmot his w. Apr 9
1709  Anne d. Gilbert Galling & Wilmot his w. Jan 1
1712  Robert s. Gilbert Galling & Wilmot his w. ffeb 3
1716  Elizabeth d. Gilbert Galling & Wilmot his w. Apr 22


In the early 18th century Gilbert and Wilmot seem to be the only couple of childbearing age in Sandford with the Galling surname. It is therefore possible that Richard Galling, who married in Sandford in the 1720s, may also be their son.


Their burials have not yet been found.


In the next generation, Gilbert’s children fell on hard times. Robert, in particular, appears frequently as a recipient of charitable donations.







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