William Sampson 1754-1831 & Honour Williams 1758-1850

Married on 28 Jan 1783 at Breage Parish Church, Cornwall. Witnesses were John Williams, father-in-law  and George Sampson, his cousin.

William Sampson

Fifth child of William Sampson & Margaret Trewhelae

Baptised: 10 Sep 1753 Crowan, Cornwall (Born 1 Sep 1753, Drym)

Siblings: Thomas 1745, Thomas 1748, Margaret 1749 and English 1751,

Occupation: Yeoman Farmer

Died: Mar 1831 possibly at Drym Farm, Crowan

Buried: 4 Mar 1831 Crowan Parish Church, Cornwall

Honour Williams

Baptised: 1 Nov 1758 Breage Parish Church, Cornwall

Died: 18 Apr 1850 Sparnon Farm, Breage, Cornwall

Buried: 23 Apr 1850 Crowan Parish Church, Cornwall

Occupation: Yeoman’s wife

William Sampson was baptised at Crowan 10 Sep 1753 the ’son of William and Margaret’. The only son of William and Margaret who survived before her death in child birth. William would never have known his mother.

He grew up working at Drym – sharing the farmhouse with his father and his uncle and his family of cousins. When his father, William died aged 74 in 1781, he received his father’s half of Drym. The will says  ‘my son [to] receive all the rest, residue and remainder of all my effects, estates, goods and chattles of what nature or kind soever wherever so situate’. As far as we know he worked cooperatively with his cousins and Drym was farmed as one property

He may have already met Honour Williams by then as they were married, by licence, at Breage 28 Jan 1783. The parish register says ‘William Sampson – a Yeoman from Crowan’. His wedding was witnessed by his cousin, George Sampson.

William, signed as a witness at the marriage of his sister, English to John Stephen (spelt Stevens) on 4 Feb 1783 at Crowan Parish Church.

In family history some people are treated very unfairly and William received bad-press. The rumour that unfairly cascaded down the generations was that William enjoyed the Whisky and got himself into debt and this eventually pushed him into mortgaging the estate for £140 (£21,700 in 2017 value) – a vast sum, but nonetheless the mortgage document (which ended up at Sparnon) gives a clear description of how Drym was divided

It seems William had the kitchen, hall, cellar with the chambers over the same in the south side of the dwelling house and the stable, barn, garden and orchard there adjoining the eastern part of the town plot and the a list of fields – all-in-all about 75 acres. It goes on to say it was ‘late in the tenure or occupation of William Sampson, deceased. The mortgage was set to last 99 years The mortgaged was signed 27 Sep 1783. [Witnessed by Christopher Wallis, Attorney, Helston]. Now it looks clear that he almost immediately used the money, not for drink, but to lease new farm lands.

He probably worked at Drym until he married Honour in Jan 1783, she was a hieress and when her father died in Sep 1783, William assumed responsibility for Sparnon. The following year he got himself a lease on a part of a small-holding at Chyverton, Breage the other lives were his wife Honor (25) and his nephew, John Cooper (then 10 and living in Falmouth) on the 15 Jan 1784. Chyverton was described as a tenement west of the lane leading from Godolphin to Breage Church Town.

Parties: 1) Francis, Lord Godolphin 2) William Sampson of Crowan, yeoman Consideration: £131 10 shillings Term: 99 years on the lives of the lessee, wife Honor Sampson, and John Cooper son of John Cooper of Falmouth Rent: 8 shillings 6 pence Part of the tenement of Chyverton to the west of the lane leading from Godolphin to Breage churchtown, except a field already granted to James Rogers, late in the occupation of John Symons, deceased Number 131, Manor of Godolphin [RH/1/1502]. This gave him a considerable estate in Breage. – Three properties firstly, from his father, Sparnon manor (now effectively – Lower Sparnon), then from his wife Honor, Sparnon and then Chyverton (or what is now called Chytoddon). 

Even after this his children were born at Drym, so prehaps he sublet or perhaps Honor returned back to the in-laws to give birth each time. On 29 Sep 1851 James Hebbard of Breage ‘a yeoman’ obtained a 14-year lease at a rent of £17 from Francis Godolphin D’arcy, Duke of Leeds of the tenement of Chyverton, formerly leased to Wm Sampson (as above) Good husbandry clauses. [RH/1/1503] 

William uses the money to lease Chiverton, Breage for £131 in 1784 – essentially doubling the size of Spernon. The lease document – dated 15 January – gives his age as 30, his wife as 25 and John Cooper [his nephew, althought not stated as such] as 10.

Honour became pregnant almost immediately and William and Honour’s first child, a daughter was born on the 27th of October at Drym Farm. They called her Jenefer and although she was baptised it probably wasn’t in the Church, but by the vicar at home when they knew she was poorly and unlikely to survive. Smallpox had raged through Cornwall from 1780-82 and the winter of 1783 was very severe indeed – It snowed and the ground was frozen for months. 

However baby Jenefer was ill and she died in the second week of December and William took her little coffin to Crowan Church for burial on the 11th of December. The vicar wrote in the register  ‘Jenefer Sampson died in her infancy, aged one and a half months’. 

However further children were born Jane in 1785 and William in 1787. Next Honour had twins John and Richard in 1790 and then baby Thomas who was born and died in 1783. By 1794 baby Thomas had been replaced by another Thomas. In 1797 another girl Margaret and then the baby of the family Christian in 1800 – all born as far as we know at Drym Farm, Crowan. All in all nine children, seven of whom survived infancy and apart from Richard who died aged 7, they all survived into adulthood.

Now when his uncle John died in 1798 his cousins John (Born 1747) and Richard (Born 1752) inherited his portion of Drym. So there are three families living there. John junior becomes ill and in his own will, dated 20 May 1802 he gives his quarter share of Drym to his brother Richard. So Drym goes from half / two quarters to two halfs. But he gives ‘ten pounds each paid in three-months after my death – their minorities not withstanding’ to William and Jane ‘the son and daughter of my cousin, William Sampson’. He signs a clear hand. 

So this one singular piece of information says William (the cousin of John 1747-1802) had a son and a daughter, one William and Jane and that they were minors or under the age of 21 in 1802, so both born after the year 1781. We searched for William’s marriage after 1778 (when he would have been 25 – an average age) and found nothing. Essentially he understood that a divided Drym was not a long term future, but since Honour’s half-brother Joe had died his sons would inherit Spernon as of right.

William Sampson of Crowan was buried at Crowan on 4 Mar 1831 aged 77.   William’s family increasingly saw Spernon as their future home and I’m guessing that Richard’s son William Bosanko Sampson took over the half portion of Drym and it was fully united.

Sparnon farmhouse – Said to be the oldest surviving house in Breage. Probably 16th century cob built with 6-feet thick fireplace wall. This photograph taken by William Sampson (1870-1945) in about 1910.