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Update March 07

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Horler family history

Image 1 for Horler family history Crest of the County of Somerset.

Origins of the name - Horler. I haven't been able to determine exactly what the name 'Horler' means or where it comes from. Neither has any other Horler researcher that I can see. A Reverend Wickham in 'Records of Spade and Terrier" suggests that the name refers to 'coal-carrier' and Horler ancestors were involved in the Somerset coal trade in the 17th through to 19th century. He says that the name is relatively modern and did not exist in medieval times and that "the name outlived its special application". We can say that the name is peculiar to the North East of Somerset, which is where I can trace the family roots of my grandfather. Apparently until the Victorian era, when travel became more accessible, the name was almost exclusively in this part of Somerset. In 1891 the name was mainly found in Somerset with some other Horlers in the southern counties of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Hampshire and some in south Wales. Variants of the Horler name include Harler, Horlor, Harlor and sometimes Horley.

Horler family post war history. My grandparents were Harry and Hebe Horler and they moved to Hartmoor Farm, Underhill, East Knoyle in the 1950's where Harry worked for the Glencoat family. In mid-1982 Harry and Hebe moved to the Cocked Hat in the same village and Harry continued to look after various animals - chickens, sheep and horses. His particular affinity for horses lasted through his life and in earlier years he used to 'break in' new horses for riding, not an easy task. They eventually returned to Somerset and lived for the rest of their 'retirement' (although Harry always laboured in his garden and Hebe in the home) at a bungalow in St Cuthberts Road in Wells. Harry outliving Hebe by a few years spending his last couple of years in a local nursing home.

1920 - 1950. From the 1930's until the 1950's Henry (or Harry as he was more commonly called) and Hebe Horler lived at Sharcombe Farm in the small village or hamlet of Dinder which is between Shepton Mallet and Croscombe. Sharcombe days are remembered fondly by all. Harry started working Sharcombe Farm for the Summerville family (to which family I have found a family link on my nan Hebe's side) and later Lord Strathconan. Sharcombe in these days was apparently a model farm and well kept. Harry was in a reserved occupation during the war and, I believe, served with the Home Guard. They took land workers onto the farm and also evacuees from London. Harry was a 'special constable' whilst living in Dinder and enjoyed playing for the village cricket team, for which he was recognised in later life as an honorary president. He supported Bristol City football club, travelling to watch them on his motorbike, and on occasion used to police a match at Ashton Gate (with more an eye on the match than the fans I expect).

1820 - 1920. Harry's parents were Matthias Tremeer Horler and Minnie (nee Say). Minnie was from the Say family of Croscombe and her father, Robert, was for a time the village blacksmith. Robert and Harriet are buried in Croscombe churchyard and the gravestone reads of Robert "he laboured hard during his life for those he loved and left us to remember him" which is testimony to the great respect in which he must have been held. There is an interesting story about her mother Harriet Say (nee Rhymes) who in the 1870's was involved in the struggle to protect the village cross (see documents for full story). There are many Say's buried in Croscombe churchyard and they would seem to have been a prominent local family in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Say is a Norman name and I believe that Robert and his daughter Thurza were very tall that this may well be where me and my cousins get our height from (see under documents for a poem about the Mendips). Matthias Tremeer Horler was a grocer in later life, however in his younger days he was for many years a Royal Marine. He met his future wife Minnie whilst they were both working at Bath workhouse between his two stints in miliary service. He was in the Royal Marine Light Infantry from 1889 until 1899 and rejoined and served with them during World War 1. In WW1 he was mentioned in despatches by Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig (signed by the Minister for War Churchill) for 'gallant and distinguished services in the field'. According to my grandfather, he was a rather strict disciplinarian, not surprising given the military background of the era. Matthias' parents were Matthias and Emma Horler and the younger Matthias took his mother's maiden name of Tremeer as his second name from Emma's Cornish roots. Matthias senior was also a military man and was in the 22nd Foot Regiment (Cheshire Regiment - see links page for regimental info). According to his discharge papers he served for over 21 years in the army from 1841 when he was 18 years old and for almost 15 of those years he was overseas. He spent 12 years in India. He had three good conduct badges and was promoted to Sergeant. He served in the Scinde (part of modern Pakistan) campaign in 1843, was present at the battles of Meeanee or Miani (for which he was awarded a medal) and Hyderabad, was present at the taking of the fort of Pandharpur and at one excursion into the desert and destruction of fort Emnanpur. He was also present at the taking and destruction of villages in the Boice Valley in the Peshawar district. Matthias and Emma were in Malta when he was discharged from service and one of their daughters was born there. They lived in Plymouth, Emma's home area (Cornish ancestry to Saltash/Landrake) for a time before moving back to Somerset.

1600-1820. For a few generations prior to 1820 the Horler family resided in the Somerset town of Mells. Thomas Horler who was born in 1772 was a farmer and coalcarrier. There are some rumours about whether our Horlers are in fact descended from the landed family of the Horner's in Mells, the rumour being that Matthias Horler born in 1824 was in fact the son of Susannah Boddie (the gardener's daughter on the Mells estate) and one of the junior Horners. The story goes that the Horners and local clergy covered up the actual parentage to avoid a scandal and Susannah married Thomas Horler being about 3 months pregnant. This will never be confirmed but it is quite possible and I understand that my great grandfather believed this was the case and even made a claim on the Mells estate when the last surviving male Horner passed away. Assuming the Horler ancestry is the correct one we have got a probable line back as far back as 1600 and to a Hercules Horler who was a coal miner in Stratton-on-Fosse. I have traced one branch back through the Say family to Ubley in Somerset and the Dirricks. This branch is traceable back to the early 17th century and Edmund Dirrick was parish clerk and started the parish records in 1671 (see links). I have copies of his writing in the early parish records where he recorded two severe weather events in the area and which causing famine and much hardship for the populace caused by on one hand excess rain and the other severe frost and snow. On the Say/Hart family line there is also a possible line through the Drews of Bishops Cannings and Devizes to the Drews of Cornwall and then a connection to noble ancestry via the Prideaux's of Cornwall. This aristocratic line is though possible rather than proven as some gaps still exist in the line in the 16th/17th century. But the name (Drew), area and date connections all suggest at a connection to this lineage.