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)
WILLIAM SAMPSON and SUSAN HARRIS (4)
The family moved to Cheldon, near his father’s birthplace of West Worlington, where they shared a house with his aunt Anne and her husband and children. William’s older siblings Mary and John were by then working on farms in Chulmleigh, where they were born.
1841 Census: Cheldon, Holes:
Richard Sampson 35 Ag lab
Jane Sampson 11
William Sampson 8
Richard Sampson 4
Samuel Price 40 Ag Lab
Anne Price 40
Anne Price 11
William Price 7
Maria Price 4
Jane Price 1
William was apprenticed on a local farm. Meanwhile, his father remarried.
1851 Census: West Worlington & Cheldon, Mousebery.
Edward TOLLEY Head M 59 M Farmer Of 182 Acres Meshaw
Mary TOLLEY Wife M 64 F --- Brushford
William TOLLEY Son U 24 M --- Romansleigh
Richard WARE Serv U 24 M Ag Lab Winkleigh
William SAMPSON Appr U 18 M Ag Lab Meshaw
Elizabeth COLES Serv U 17 F General Servant Romansleigh
William, like his father, lived the nomadic life of the husbandman and labourer, with frequent changes of home and job. He married a young woman of higher status, whose parents had established a family farm.
SUSAN(NA) HARRIS was baptised in Mariansleigh in 1838, the fifth child of Robert Harris and Susanna Cook .
1838 Aug 29. Susanna, daughter of Robert and Susanna Harris. Mariansleigh. Farmer.
The address of ‘Mariansleigh’ may mean that they were living in the village, rather than on an outlying farm. By 1840 the family were at Triddencott, a farm south-east of the village.
1841 Census: Mariansleigh
Robert Harris 45 Farmer
Robert 1 month
Ten years later, her baptismal name has been shortened to Susan, and she remains Susan for the rest of her life.
1851 census : Mariansleigh.Triddencott
Robert Harris Head M 44? Farmer
Susan Wife M 46
Elizabeth Daur U 20
John Son U 16
Susan Daur U 12
Mary Daur U 6
William Son U 4
Robert Son U 10
William Sampson and Susan Harris were married in or before 1861. They lived first at Adworthy, in the parish of Witheridge, where a former farmhouse had apparently been divided to house agricultural labourers.
1861 Census : Witheridge 2 Higher Adworthy
William Sampson Head Mar 28 Ag Lab Meshaw
Susan “ Wife Mar 22 Mariansleigh
Their first son, William, was born in Witheridge, but the couple had him baptised in St Mary’s, East Worlington.
Baptism. East Worlington
1861 Mar 12 th William Son of Willam & Susan Sampson Witheridge Labourer
This may have been because this church was nearer than the church in Witheridge, or the couple may moved on to East Worlington before the baptism. They were living in this parish when their next son John was born, c 1864. Around 1870 they moved finally to Romansleigh.
1871 Census. Romansleigh
25 Village. Thorndown Cottage.
William Sampson Head Mar 36/8 Ag Lab Meshaw
Susan “ Wife Mar 32 “ Wife Mariansleigh
John “ Son 7 East Worlington
Mary “ Daur 6 “
Robert “ Son 3 “
Susan “ Daur 2 “
Richard “ Son 7 mths Romansleigh
None of their older children went to school. There was a small school in Romansleigh and another in neighbouring Mariansleigh. Following the Education Act of 1871 requiring schools to be provided for all children, plans were made for a new school to accommodate the children of both parishes. The Oxham School, midway between the two villages, was opened in 1877. From then on, the younger Sampson children from Romansleigh would have attended it, along with their Harris cousins from Mariansleigh.
In 1871, 9-year-old William had already left home and was a farm servant with Susan’s brother at her old home of Tridencott, Mariansleigh. William is back with them in 1881. Three more children have been born, but the parents seem a bit confused about their birthplaces.
William SAMPSON M 48 M Meshaw Head Farm Labourer
Susan SAMPSON M 42 F Mariansleigh: Wife Wife
William SAMPSON U 19 M Witheridge Son Farm Labourer
John SAMPSON 17 M Westington Son Farm Labourer
Robert SAMPSON 13 M Worlington Son Scholar
Susan SAMPSON 12 F Worlington Daur Scholar
Richard SAMPSON 10 M Worlington Son Scholar
Sarah SAMPSON 8 F Worlington Daur Scholar
Frederick SAMPSON 6 M Romansleigh Son Scholar
Elizabeth SAMPSON 4 F Romansleigh Daur
The younger children now go to school. The 1870 Education Act established schools for all.
The two older boys, William and John , joined the Devonshire Regiment before the next census.
1891 Census: Romansleigh Cottage.
William Sampson age 57 agr lab born Meshaw
Susan wife 50 Mariansleigh
Sarah dau 18 dom serv Romansleigh
Elizabeth dau 14 ""
Thomas H son 7 ""
William went to India as a sergeant in the 1st Devon Regiment. In Rawal Pindi he contracted fever. To celebrate his recovery, he ate a large meal, collapsed and died on 6 December 1893.
John served in Egypt and returned to Plymouth as a colour sergeant.
William and Susan lived in Bell Cottage, which was previously the Blue Bell Inn. Though William appears in every census as a labourer, they appear to have kept a shop. Perhaps Susan ran this from their front room.
Kelly’s Directory 1897. Romansleigh, William Sampson, shopkeeper.
In the 1901 census, occupations were defined as ‘Employer, Worker or Own account’, with a further column to say ‘If working at home’.
1901 Census. Romansleigh. Romansleigh Village.
Sampson Wm Head M 67 Agricultural Labourer Worker Meshaw
Sampson Susan Wife F 60 Mariansleigh
Sampson Elizth Daur F 23 Dressmaker Own A/c Romansleigh
Sampson Fk? Son M 17 Farm Labourer Worker Romansleigh
None of them is listed as working at home, though Susan may be assumed to do so. It is not clear where Elizabeth did her dressmaking, since she was self-employed. Perhaps she did her sewing at the houses of her clients.
There is a splendid photo of William sitting before his cottage hearth.
William and Susan are buried in Romansleigh churchyard. As you enter the gate, there is a grave on the left of the path surrounded by a railing. It looks surprisingly prominent for a farm labourer’s grave.
In Loving Memory of
who died November 11th 1907
aged 67 years
Husband of the above
who died October 31st 1910
aged 77 years
“peace perfect peace”
Next Generation: 3. JOHN SAMPSON
Previous Generations: 5. SAMPSON-MATHEWS