Samuel was baptized on the 11th of May 1761 in Northleigh, Devon to parents Thomas and Joan Underdown (nee Cox). It is believed his father was a yeoman or tenant farmer.

He was their 6th son and 8th child, one of 18 siblings in total. His siblings were Sarah, Jane (Jenny), Robert, Abraham, Thomas, James, Phillip, Benjamin, Joseph, Elizabeth, Molly, Agnes, Noah, Emanuel, Anne, Susanna and Ann.

Death of Siblings[]

Being one of 18 children, a few of his siblings died before Samuel was married. The first was his sister Anne, who died before 1775 when his youngest sister with a similar name was born.

Next was his eldest sister Sarah, who did in 1783 at the age of 33. Then it was his brother Abraham who died in 1790 at age 36.


Samuel married Sarah Pady at Colyton on the 4th January 1791. Sarah was the daughter of James and Joan Pady (nee Clegg). The Pady family were well known in the local district.

The couple settled in Northleigh. Samuel was a farmer, but it is unclear at this time which property he lived and worked on.

Tablet in Northleigh church in memory of Samuel's brother Robert and son Robert

Death of brother and birth of first child[]

Another of Samuel’s siblings, his brother James, would die later that year in 1791, aged 33 years.

Samuel and his wife Sarah would have their first child a year later in 1792, a son Robert who was baptized in Northleigh.

Death of Parents and children[]

Samuel’s father Thomas died in 1795. Samuel inherited a plot of land from his father upon his death. The plot was located in the parish of Offwell.

Samuel’s mother Joan would die within a year of her husband in 1796.

Samuel and his wife Sarah then lost three of their own children in infancy, Thomas, Sarah and Abraham, between the years 1796 and 1798. The children were buried in the Northleigh churchyard.

Samuel's family plot in the Northleigh churchyard

According to the Sherborne Mecury newspaper dated 31/10/1796, Samuel was also listed as having a game keeper's certificate in the parish of Northleigh for a John M Howe, gentleman. Samuel's occupation was recorded as yeoman.

Move to Widworthy[]

In 1798, the family began to baptize their children in Widworthy. The reason for the move is currently unclear. In the Devon Freeholders 1711-1799, Samuel is listed at Widworthy in the Colyton hundred for the year 1799.

Farway Volunteer Infantry[]

Samuel was involved with the East Devon Local Militia for a short time, along with his brother Robert. The London Gazette (issue 15696) published on 24/4/1804 lists a Samuel Underdown, gent, to be Lieutenant in the Farway Volunteer Infantry. A later London Gazette (issue 16334) published on 16/1/1810 lists Samuel with his brother Robert in a list of local gentleman who were to be lieutenants in the East Devon Local Militia. The Gazette was somewhat out of date as they had been made lieuntenants on 24/9/1808. Their listing in the Gazette was also reported in the Taunton Courier on 1/2/1810.

Samuel Underdown's will page 1

Game Duty and Apprentice[]

According to a document in the Devon Record Office, Samuel had an apprentice in the year 1805 by the name of John Potter. John was 9 years old when his father hired him to Samuel, and for the first 2 years John’s father took his wages that he earned working for him. For the 3rd year, John received the wages himself, and left to work for another farmer at Branscombe.

According to the Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post (dated 5/9/1805, 11/9/1806 and 20/9/1810), Samuel Underdown of Widworthy was listed with persons who have obtained General Certificates, at the rate of Three Guineas each, in the county of Devon, for Game Duty.

Death of daughter and brother[]

Another child, Henrietta, died in her infancy in 1807 and was buried with her other siblings in the Northleigh church yard.

Samuel’s elder brother Robert died in April 1811. He had never married and upon his death was the captain of the East Devon Local Militia. A marble tablet was placed in the Northleigh church in memory of him, and it is unknown at this stage if Robert requested the tablet himself or one of his relatives placed it there for him. It is suspected that Samuel may have arranged for it’s placement due to the later naming of his son on the same marble tablet. The laying of the tablet was recorded in a local newspaper.

Robert had inherited a plot of land in Offwell from his father Thomas upon is death in April 1795, just as Samuel had done. It appears that Robert’s plot may have passed into Samuel’s hands upon his death, as Samuel made instructions for the use of both plots in his own will.

Will of Samuel Underdown page 2

Robert had purchased land in the parish of Northleigh and called it “Northleigh Farm”. The amount for the purchase was five thousand and seven hundred pounds. He had not completely paid for the purchase of the property at the time of his death. His brothers Benjamin and Emanuel were listed as his executors and because of the debt, his brothers had to organize the sale of the property and house sales to cover them. The house sales were advertised in the newspaper on 3.10.1811. In Samuel’s will, he states that he contracted his brothers Benjamin and Emanuel as trustees of the Northleigh Farm property that Robert had purchased, which indicates that Robert left the property to him.


Samuel died on the 28th March 1812 and was buried in Northleigh churchyard. His family have a plot in the churchyard, and at the time, Samuel was buried with his children Thomas, Sarah, Abraham and Henrietta. His youngest daughter Amelia was only 1 year old at the time of his death. Samuel was aged 51.

His wife Sarah would outlive Samuel by 23 years, and she too was buried in the plot upon her death.

Samuel left a will upon his death that was very informative about the family and some of its dealings. It named his father, several of his siblings, his wife and the names of his surviving children.

Samuel appears to be the only son of Thomas and Joan Underdown (nee Cox) who maintained a degree of wealth at his death. His effects were sworn to be under the amount of 2000 pounds. His executors were his wife Sarah, his younger brother Emanuel (gentleman, of Northleigh) and Samuel Newberry (gentleman, of Musbury). Sarah was left with a property called Thrishes plus an annual payment out of the estate and the surviving children were left with a sum of 500 pounds.


Name Birth Death
Children of Samuel & Sarah Underdown

Robert bap 23/9/1792
bap Northleigh, Devon
Bridgewater, Somerset

Samuel bap 20/4/1794
bap Northleigh, Devon
bur 23/3/1863
Huish Episcopi, Somerset

Thomas bap 13/7/1796
bap Northleigh, Devon
bur 14/8/1796
bur Northleigh,Devon

Sarah bap 4/6/1797
bap Northleigh, Devon
bur 1797
bur Northleigh, Devon

Abraham bap 7/10/1798
Widworthy, Devon
bur 1798
Northleigh, Devon

Emanuel 23/1/1801
Widworthy, Devon
Peachy Belt, South Australia

Harriet bap 18/3/1804
Widworthy, Devon

Henrietta bap 29/3/1807
Widworthy, Devon
bur 23/9/1807
bur Northleigh, Devon

John bap 3/7/1808
bap Widworthy, Devon
December Q 1858
Chichester, Sussex

Amelia bap 8/1/1811
bap Widworthy, Devon
December Q 1889
Chichester, Sussex


  • Parish records
  • Genealogical information from Peter Underdown
  • Genuki
  • Will of Samuel Underdown
  • Devon Record Office
  • Devon Freeholders 1711-1799
  • Sherborne Mercury, 31/10/1796
  • Trewman's Exeter Flying Post, 5/9/1805, 11/9/1806, 20/9/1810
  • London Gazette Issue 15696, published 24/4/1804, issue 16334, published 16/1/1810
  • Taunton Courier, 1/2/1810