SAMPFORD, John, of Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Feb. 1383
Apr. 1384
Nov. 1384
Sept. 1388

Family and Education

m. (1) by 1377, Isabel: (2) Alice, 1s.

Offices Held

Commr. of arrest, Cornw. May 1389; to requisition ships and mariners for Sir Philip Courtenay’s* passage to Ireland Sept. 1394, fishing vessels for the King’s service Nov. 1394; of inquiry, Devon Aug. 1400.

Steward of the liberty of Dartmouth by Sept. 1392.2


The Sampfords came from Somerset where John was the tenant for life of lands belonging to the wealthy family of Cheddar; but they also acquired property in Nymet ‘Bordemyle’ and elsewhere in Devon which in 1390 was the subject of an acrimonious family quarrel.3 Although first described as ‘of Somerset’, John made his home in Devon, and it was two of the boroughs of that county which he served in Parliament. A lawyer, he made several appearances at the Exchequer and in Chancery on behalf of his west country clientele. In 1384, for example, he stood surety for John Talbot of Exeter, the farmer of customs levied in Devon and Cornwall. In 1387 he and his kinsman, Hugh Sampford*, were outlawed for failing to appear in the court of common pleas to answer suits for debt, but both men were able to obtain royal pardons. John benefited materially from the judgements of the Merciless Parliament of February 1388: on 10 Nov. that year (shortly after the dissolution of the Cambridge Parliament in which he had represented Barnstaple), he was granted custody of the lands and marriage of a minor, Elizabeth Jardyn, whose wardship had belonged to John Blake, one of the men condemned to death. Among his mainpernors was Thomas Moyle, who had sat in the Commons for Lostwithiel in the same session, and in May 1389 he returned the favour when Moyle shared with John Urban* an Exchequer lease of estates forfeited by Sir Robert Tresilian, c.j.KB.4

By then Sampford had formed an attachment to the powerful Courtenay family: in 1390 he stood surety at the Exchequer for Sir Peter Courtenay, a son of Hugh, earl of Devon (d.1377); and in 1394 he requisitioned ships for the passage to Ireland of Sir Peter’s brother, Sir Philip. Then, described as a ‘serjeant-at-arms’, he was commissioned with the latter to send ten fishing vessels to Dublin with supplies of fish for the King’s army. In 1395 Sampford acted as Sir Philip’s attorney at the assizes held at Exeter, and in the following year, as his bailiff of the manor of Bradninch, he became involved in litigation over lands which were said to be a parcel of the manor. But the Courtenays were not his only patrons of note: in 1392 he had served one of Richard II’s half-brothers, John Holand, earl of Huntingdon, as steward of the liberty of Dartmouth. Perhaps bearing in mind his corroberation as an MP of the acts of the Lords Appellant, Sampford procured a pardon from King Richard in October 1398, specifically relating to any support he may have given them.5

Sampford never discharged the royal commission of inquiry to which he was appointed in August 1400, and he died before July 1405.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. W. Prynne (Brevia Parliamentaria Rediviva, iv. 1132) mentions Sampford as elected in 7 Ric. II, within which regnal year sat the Parliaments of Oct. 1383 and Apr. 1384. Whether he was returned to the former as well as the latter cannot now be ascertained.
  • 2. H.R. Watkin, Dartmouth, 80, 184, 275.
  • 3. Som. Feet of Fines (Som. Rec. Soc. xvii), 98; JUST 1/1502 m. 116.
  • 4. CCR, 1381-5, p. 205; CPR, 1385-9, pp. 274, 295, 540; CFR, x. 62, 275, 289.
  • 5. CFR, x. 311; JUST 1/1502 m. 216; CCR, 1396-9, p. 2; C67/31 m. 12.
  • 6. CCR, 1402-5, p. 519. His widow married John Cole, and his son and heir, Hugh, was still a minor in 1406: JUST 1/1519 m. 114, 1527 m. 13d).