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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


 PETER STONEMAN. From the date of his marriage we would expect Peter to be born around 1656.

Baptism. St Mary Magdalene, Chulmleigh
1658/9 Jan 30  Peter son of Peter Stoneman

Peter was the second child and the eldest son in a family of four.

His mother was Agnes Fenner.

Peter was born in the closing years of the Commonwealth, after the death of Oliver Cromwell. He grew up in the more licentious England of the Restoration.

He was only 18 when his father died.


MARGARET GILL. The only baptisms of a suitable date we have found are in Hatherleigh and Swimbridge, both 11 miles away. In both cases, this Margaret married in her birth parish.

There were no Gills in the Protestation Returns of 1641 in Chulmleigh, where she raised her children, or in Eggesford, where she married.

Her origins remain unknown.


There are two records for their marriage.
Marriage. St Mary Magdalene, Chulmleigh
1681 Dec 30  Peter Stoneman and Margeett Gill.
Marriage. All Saints, Eggesford.
1681 Dec 30  Peter Stoneman of Chulmleigh and Margrett his wyffe

The apparent coincidence can be explained if the couple married by licence. This often named two possible parishes where the wedding could take place. Or if the marriage took place by banns, these would be called in the parishes of both bride and groom. Since Peter was from Chulmleigh, we assume that Eggesford was Margaret’s parish.


We have the baptisms of four children.

Baptisms. St Mary Magdalene, Chulmleigh
1685 Aug 11  Agnes
1687/8 Mar 24  Peter
On 31 Mar 1688/9 we have the burial of Jane, daughter of Peter Stoneman, whose baptism we have not found.
1691 May 10  Roger
1695 Oct 27  Thomas. Thomas was buried on 13 Sep 1698, aged just under 3.


In 1689, Protestant England became concerned about King James II’s leaning towards Catholicism and his second marriage to Mary of Modena. They feared this would lead to an heir who would take the country back to Catholicism. James was deposed and the throne went to his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange. When both she and her sister Anne died childless, the throne passed in 1714 to the German George of Brunswick-Lüneburg, who was a great-grandson of James I. Catholics in England believed that James Stuart, son of the deposed James II, had a greater claim to the crown. A Jacobite invasion in 1715 was defeated.

In 1720-22 there was a Catholic plot to assassinate George I and place James on the throne. It was betrayed on the ringleaders punished. In 1723 the adult population was required to make an oath of allegiance to the Protestant king and that: ‘I A.B. do swear, that I do from my Heart abhor, detest and abjure, as impious and heretical, that damnable Doctrine and Position, That Princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope… may be deposed or murthered by their Subjects’. Those who failed to take the oath could be deprived of their estates.

There had been similar oaths before. Here, for the first time, women were required to sign as well as men. In practice, far fewer women than men appear on the lists of signatories. There appears to have been some confusion over who was supposed to sign and only a fifth of the adult population seem to have done so.

Peter Stoneman was one who did. He was among the mass of people signing at the Bell Inn on a second day of oath-swearing in Chulmleigh. The Bell no longer exists, but was probably near the church.

1723 Oaths sworn at The Bell Chulmleigh 23 October before William Fellowes and Bampfield Rodd esqs.[1]
Peter Stoneman Chulmleigh ‘Marked S’

Peter was one of many who could not sign his name, but had learned to write the initial letter, instead of making a cross.

Margaret is not among the signatories.


Six years later, Peter and Margaret were buried on the same day.
Burial. St Mary Magdalene, Chulmleigh
1729 Aug 14  Peter Stoneman and Margaret his wife.

1729 was a disastrous year in many parts of the country. It started with a poor harvest in 1728. There were food shortages. This was coupled with reports of unusual levels of infections. There were outbreaks of “suffocating coughs”, catarrh, “inflammatory fevers” – possibly the result of ’flu – whooping cough, chicken pox and smallpox. These would take a heavy toll on people suffering from malnutrition.[2]

One writer commented, “ in some respects ye disorder resembled ye Plague and continued amongst us above two years.” [3]

In the church of St George in Exeter, there was a memorial to Richard Vivian, merchant, four of whose sons died in September 1729.[4]

There were 54 burials in Chulmleigh in 1728 and 56 in 1729. This compares with 31 in 1719 and 30 in 1739, making the death toll in 1729 nearly twice the normal.

Peter and Margaret were 71 when they died. Even in good times, Peter would have been finding it hard to work for a living. With rising food prices and virulent infections, they would have been easy targets.

Chulmleigh churchyard [5]

They were buried in Chulmleigh churchyard.


[1]Friends of Devon Archives. http://www.foda.org.uk/oaths/QS17/2/3/12b.htm
[2] Timmins, Geoff, “Dying in Droves: History Mysteries and Parish Records”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/trail/htd_history/evidence/hist_mysteries_and_recs_04.shtml
[3] Timmins
[4] https://www.british-history.ac.uk/magna-britannia/vol6/pp177-234
[5] http://oldbakehousedevon.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/chulmleigh-church.jpg




Sampson Tree