Samwell was the eldest child from House Tarly. His father, Lord Randyll Tarly, who was regarded as one of the finest military commanders in the Seven Kingdoms, did everything in his power to raise his son into what he deemed a proper heir, but Samwell frustrated him at every opportunity, resisting every effort made to change his nature. A dozen masters-at-arms failed to toughen him. Attempts such as dressing him in his mother's clothes, and being bathed in aurochs blood by Qartheen warlocks failed to raise his valor. He wept even to see a chicken slaughtered.
When Sam reached maturity, his father told him that he was not worthy of their house's ancestral sword, and that he must join the Night's Watch and renounce his family name so that he would not stand in the way of his younger brother's inheritance. Failing that, his father promised that he would suffer an unfortunate hunting accident on the morrow. Sam chose to take the black.