Annals of the Family of Floyer

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Annals of the Family of Floyer.1


Minor Canon of Worcester Cathedral.

(Communicated by the Rev. W. Harpley, M.A.)

(Read at Honiton, August, 1898.)

[Reprinted from the Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature, and Art. 1898. -xxx, pp. 505-524.]

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IT has been disputed by different writers whether the origin of the family of Floyer was Norman or Saxon. A Norman origin has generally been taken for granted, because the name is first on record about the time of the Norman invasion of England; but such evidence as is afforded by the derivation of the name and the amount of land held is in favour of the contrary idea. A "Flo" is an arrow, was in use in Chaucer's time,2and is of Saxon derivation. The suffix "er" denotes generally an agent or worker. The introduction of the "y" finds a parallel in "sawyer" and "lawyer." Hence Floyer is an arrow-maker, and is distinct from the Norman name for the same occupation, "Flechier," which afterwards passed into "Fletcher." 

The earliest spelling of the name, as it is found in the Domesday Survey, A.D. 1086, is "Floher," or in the Latin form, "Floherus."3 By the time of Henry III the middle 'h" begins to be omitted,4and it is written "Floer" or "le Floer."5 Towards the beginning of the 14th century the spelling "Floyer" or "le Floyer" becomes constant, except for a period during the 16th and 17th centuries, when in some places it shared the fate of many other names in having the middle "y" made into an "i",6 but there is no trace of members of the family ever having signed themselves "Floier." 

In the earliest mention of this family in Domesday Book, 1086, Floher holds from Aiulph a manor called Suetetona, and has a mansion called Sotrebroc, and some land with it.7 Rev. O. J. Reichel identifies Suetetona with Swetton, in the parish and hundred of Halberton, near Tiverton. 

Sotrebroc, or Southbrook, may be identified with a small manor of about thirty acres on Exe Island, immediately outside the west gate of the city of Exeter and which was afterwards known as Floyer's Hayes, or lands, from the name of its owners. (See Appendix A.) 

Sotrebroc, or Southbrook, was a thane's living-house, and the property was what would technically be called a "quillet," "cotlif," or, at the present day, a reputed manor.8 It was granted by William the Conqueror with the barony of Okehampton to Baldwin de Sap, de Meules, or de Brion, who married Albreda, niece to William.9 From him it descended through the Avenals and d’Avranches to Robert Lyaker, or Fitz Roy, and afterwards to the Courtenays, Earls of Devon. At Sotrebroc, or Floyer's Hayes, the Floyer family lived continuously until about 1580. It was held by the tenure mentioned in the early charters, namely, that when the Earls of Devon should come to Exe Island to fish or enjoy themselves, the lord thereof for the time being, Floyer, should attend him, in decent apparel, with a pitcher of wine, and offer him to drink. In the older charter granted by Robert Fitz Roy the obligation to furnish one soldier is also mentioned. 

There are now no architectural remains of the house, though there were some existing until about 1830 or 1840. It stood a little way back from the road on the left hand side going from Exeter to Alphington, between the Haven Road and the railway viaduct, rather beyond what is known as Sydney Place.10 The name "Flower Pot Buildings" may have been originally "Floyer's Plot." The land lies very low, and was, and still is, intersected by streams by which mills are worked. A mill is mentioned as being on the manor of Floyer's Hayes in the time of Henry III.11 The house is shown on a map of Exeter of 157312 as a building of very considerable size, surrounded by a stone wall, and entered beneath a massive circular arched gateway. 

In view of the circumstances already mentioned, it is less surprising that little is known of the personal history of the family, especially in the earlier centuries of its existence. Under the first three Henries the representatives held some small local office, but the nature of this is difficult to determine. In 1130, Richard, son of Floher, paid into the exchequer forty shillings "pro custodia cortinis,"13 which would seem to mean the care of the courtyard of the castle.14 There is no record of the deeds of the next few generations, either in war or peace. In 1412 the chapel on Exe Bridge was swept away by a flood, and John Floyer took part with one Holland, another leading parishioner, and the vicar, John Alkebarwe, in procuring a fresh site from the monks of Cowick, and in causing the new church of S. Thomas to be built. The church was consecrated on the 14th October, 1412.15

In 1474 the Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV., assisted the King to raise an army for a war with France and special privileges as to livery of lands, and other matters were granted to all those who should attend.16 In this army William Floyer, of Floyer's Hayes, was engaged as a captain, and undertook to provide three archers and thirty spears to accompany the expedition. The form of the original summons is as follows:- 

"The Duke of Clarence, Earl of Warwick and Sarum, and Great Chamberlain of England: "Trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well. Whereas at our last being in the west parts, ye agreed to go in our retinue in my lord's voyage over sea, with such number of archers as is contained in an indenture that we send unto you by our servant John Halwel, bearer hereof, wherein ye show yourself of right loving disposition towards us, whereof we thank you heartily. It is also that we, having consideration of the labour and cost that should be unto you, to come to London or hither to seal the indenture, have for your more ease sent you the same, praying you to seal the one part thereof, and deliver it to our servant. 

"Yeaven at our castle of Warwick the 14 day of February."

The document was thus endorsed: 

"To our trusty and well-beloved William Floier."17

The indenture referred to in the foregoing is worded as follows: 

"This indenture made betwixt the Right High and Mighty Prince, George, Duke of Clarence, on the one part, and William Floier of Exeter in the County of Devon, on the other part Witnesseth, That the said William is retained and belist towards the said Duke, to do service of wars unto the King our Sovereign Lord, in the said Duke's retinue, in the dutchy of Normandy and realm of France, for one whole year, with three archers well and sufficiently habiled, armed and arrayed, taking wages for himself xijd by the day, with rewards accustomed, after the rate of C marcs in a quarter for xxx. spears, and for every the said archers vid by the day; with divers other conditions and agreements. Dated the xiv. of December in the xiv. year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King Edward the iiijth."18

In connection with the above transaction there is extant the copy of a receipt dated about three months later, and worded as follows: 

"This indenture made at Exeter 29th Martii 15 Ed. IV. between the most high and might Prince the Duke of Clarence, and William Floyer on the other part Witnesseth that the said William hath recd of the said Duke by the hands of John Hayes xiijlxiijS cijd for a quarter's wages that is to say for himself, a spere after xviijd by the day and for three of his retinue taking for every of them vjd by the day. In witness whereof to the one part of ye sd Willm hath set his hand."19

In 1474, the year of the first indenture, the Duke of Clarence actually went to France with his army, but the English and French came to terms before any battle was fought, and the army was disbanded. The Duke of Clarence, as is well known, met his end in a butt of Malmsey. 

The position and influence of the family was increased at this period by alliances with the Carews, the Martins of Athelhampton, through whom the connection with Nicholas Wadham, the founder of Wadham College, was established, and with the Poles of Colcombe. 

1549 was a year of tumult in many counties besides Devon and Cornwall. It was provoked chiefly by the ordinances which confiscated Church property and issued the reformed Prayer Book, and was fomented by the agricultural discontent resulting from the enclosure of commons and other abuses carried on by the new-made nobles and gentry who had received grants of the abbey lands. The city of Exeter was loyal to the King, the county in rebellion. A Protestant called Kingwell was hanged on Exe Island, near, if not upon, the estate of Floyer’s Hayes. Exeter was besieged for thirty-five days, and was then relieved by John, Lord Russell, an adherent of the King, and a recipient of many abbey lands. 

Lord Russell hanged the vicar, John Welsh, who had taken great part in the rebellion, from his own tower in his vestments.20 It is difficult to understand that John or William Floyer, at that time owner of Floyer's Hayes, can have escaped taking one side or the other in these disturbances. It will be seen that the vicar of the parish and the Floyer's feudal lord, Courtenay, were both in favour of the rebellion, and adhered to the old pre-Reformation ritual. Exe Island, immediately outside the city, and owning the jurisdiction of the feudal lords, was a constant menace to the citizens in their continual disputes with the Courtenays.21 These disputes were especially bitter during the 15th century. 

In consequence of this rebellion, the Courtenays suffered humiliation by Exe Island being granted by the King to the citizens as a reward for their loyalty. 

The Privy Council grant is worded as follows: 

"Letter to the Chauncellour of thaugmentation that wheare as the Kinge's Majestie, having good zeall to the cittie of Exeter the rather in recompence for their good service in the last rebellion, to make to the Mayor, Baylefs, and commynaltie of the said cittie a graunte of the manour of Exilande, with thappurtanences of the value of xxxli by the yere, for the mayntenance of their cittie, with licence also to take out of the woodes of Cotley and Peridge woode sufficient for the reparacion of the saide manour, and a licence further to purchase of any other but the Kinges Majesties Cli lande by the name of the Mayour Baylifes and Commynaltie of the said cittie."22

Soon after these events, and possibly in consequence of them, the family removed from the estate which they had occupied for some five hundred years, and went to live at Stanton S. Gabriel, near Charmouth. The last burial entry in the register of S. Thomas', Exeter is that of William Floyer, in 1579, a few days later than the marriage of his eldest daughter there.23

The house of Floyer's Hayes passed by purchase to the Goulds, and subsequently to Thomas Templar, who is said to have partly destroyed it and divided the property.24Anthony Floyer, in whose lifetime the migration was made, inherited through his wife a fourth part of the large estates of the Martins at Athelhampton, in Dorsetshire, and elsewhere. He seems never to have lived at Athelhampton, for the estate was so exactly divided that only a fourth part of the house fell to his share.25 He is noticed in the public records as having on one occasion, about 1580, been to Southampton with one Henry Carewe, and opposed with weapons the mayor and his brethren when they attempted to hold an "admiralle courte" at Keyhaven. Carewe claimed some ancient right in the place against the people of Southampton, and he and Floyer had to appear before the Privy Council to make good the claim and answer for their conduct.26

There are a few remains of the manor house at Stanton S. Gabriel embodied in a farmhouse which still exists near the sea. Anthony's widow lived at Llanteilo Portholley, in Monmouthshire,27 a property inherited or acquired by the family about this time; but her son Anthony, between 1616 and 1626, purchased the estate of Berne, in the same parish, and distant only a few miles from Stanton S. Gabriel. Berne House is described by Coker, writing 1622-35, as "late the house of Sir George Somers." Sir George, in fact, lived there at some period of his life, and possessed it at his death in 1610.28 He was the discoverer of the Bermudas, and on his death at Somers Island, his body was brought home and buried at Whitechurch Canonicorum, the parish in which Berne is situated.29 Anthony Floyer the younger attained his majority in 1625 or 162630, and either on that occasion or on his marriage took up his residence at Berne, which became the seat of his descendants for about eighty years, though his grandson Anthony lived for a time at Stratton, in Dorsetshire. Anthony Floyer, of Berne, sold Floyer’s Hayes to Henry Gould, of Lew Trenchard.31 Portions of the estate, however, remained in the family, and were finally disposed of towards the end of the 18th century. 

Some remains of the older Berne House still exist, but the greater part of it was destroyed, perhaps by fire and only one wing is now left of the residence of Sir George Somers and of the Floyers. In 1592 a Captain John Floyer is mentioned as in command of a ship on one of Sir Walter Raleigh's expeditions. He was accused of having captured, contrary to the orders of the Privy Council a ship of Bayonne with a load of cod, and a "waistcoat of carnation colour, curiously embroidered."32 His precise relationship to the family has not been ascertained. An extract from the Diary of Lord Shaftesbury shows that at the time of the Great Rebellion, Anthony33 Floyer was a Royalist, for he is mentioned as being on duty at Dorchester with Lord Shaftesbury as justice of the peace. In 1685 the Duke of Monmouth landed with his army at Lyme Regis, distant only a few miles from Berne. A notice in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1767 would seem to refer to some lost tradition of the past which Anthony Floyer, as major in the militia,34 played in opposing his advance, but this is now only to be conjectured. Many notices of ordinary business transactions as justices of the peace and as churchwardens remain in the parish books of Whitechurch Canonicorum, Chideock, and elsewhere. 

It is remarkable that up to the latter part of the 17th century no cadet branches of the older house established themselves. The name is on the records of no county but that of Devonshire and those immediately adjacent, and there is scarcely a mention of anyone of the name at any period up to this time whose immediate connection with the main line cannot be readily established. In Staffordshire, it is true, there are traces of the rise of a family called Flyer in the 16th century, who afterwards took the name and arms of Floyer;35 but no connection with the Devonshire Floyers has ever been proved. A younger son from time to time took up his residence in a place not far distant from the family seat, but after a generation or two his descendants are no more heard of. 

William Floyer of Berne HouseAbout the middle of the 17th century, however, a large and distinguished branch, originating through a younger son, settled at Moorlinch, in Somersetshire, and afterwards in Monmouthshire, where they dwelt at the "White House," in the parish of Llanteilo Portholley.36 This branch seems now to be quite extinct, and to have become so at the end of the last century.37 Towards the end of the 17th century other branches are formed in the descendants of the second wife of William Floyer, of Berne, who survive still at Stafford House, near Dorchester.38 Many members of another offshoot attained to high office in the East India Company, but seem now to have died out.39

Berne House passed to the Stafford House line,40 and Anthony Floyer, the representative of the elder family, soon after 1700, and possibly on his father's death, moved with his mother to a house in S. Peter's, Dorchester. He died young and unmarried, and the property passed to his brother William, Rector of Trusham, through whom at his matriculation in 1708 the connection with the founder of Wadham College was first registered, a connection which gave advantages to many of his descendants.41

Anthony, the eldest son of the Rev. William Floyer, of Trusham, also lived at Dorchester, and died young and unmarried. He was succeeded by his brother, the Rev. John Gould Floyer, Rector of Esher, in Surrey, and sometime Fellow of Wadham College, and Moderator in Philosophy.42 A story is told of his quiet retirement at Esher, that he was so engrossed in listening to the song of a robin that he forgot his congregation waiting in the church close by.43 Two letters from him are preserved among the Duke of Newcastle’s letters - one dated at Esher, 11th January, 1760, asking the Duke to use his interest with the Dean and Chapter of S. Paul's to give him the promise of the next living that falls in their gift in London or Westminster.44 The request, however, was not granted, for he died in his obscurity at Esher. He also was unmarried. 

If the sale of Floyer's Hayes marks one epoch in the family history, another is certainly marked by the migration of William, brother and successor of Rev. John Gould, to Lincolnshire. He made a runaway match in 1752 with Frances Ayscoghe, a lady of distinguished ancestry, and heir to considerable possessions in Lincolnshire.45

The marriage ceremony seems to have been performed by one Peter Sympson, who describes himself in his handbill as "educated at the University of Cambridge, and late Chaplain to the Earl of Rothes." The register is entered among those of the Keith Chapel, in London, but Dr. Alexander Keith, its founder, was in 1742 excommunicated, and in the following year confined for fifteen years in the Fleet prison for interfering by his irregular marriages with the work and interests of the regular clergy. Sympson did his work during his imprisonment.46 Of the legality of the marriage there is no question. After his marriage William Floyer lived at Reesby Hall, in Stainton-by-Langworth, in Lincolnshire, and was a captain in the first-raised North Lincolnshire regiment of militia.47

A curious and inexplicable incident is mentioned in his life, namely, that at the age of fifty-four, he wound up his affairs in England, went to France under the name of Monsieur de Champenaux, and died in Paris two years later.48 He seems to have gone abroad more than once, for it is mentioned that on the first occasion he took with him his box of family plate, and afterwards left it behind with his housekeeper, Miss Masterton, at Reesby, who made away with it. 

The marriage of his sister Margaret with James Cornish was the first alliance with that family. 

A younger brother, Caleb, took Holy Orders, and became Rector of Tealby, in Lincolnshire. A manuscript containing some sermons of his brother, Rev. John Gould, and himself, was preserved until recent years. The Rev. Ayscoghe Floyer says of them, "There is a slight measure of the poetic vein in which the union of common sense with much warmth of temper has resulted as I think to constitute the usual Floyer type."49

Anthony Floyer, the son and successor of Captain William, was a lieutenant under his father in the Lincolnshire Militia, and afterwards captain in the Nottinghamshire Fencibles. For one or two years after his marriage with Elizabeth Brabins, he continued to live at Reesby, but afterwards lived at different times at Bollingbroke, Cadwell, in 1793 at Louth, and for a little while in Dorsetshire,50 but if his residence was at Athelhampton, he was the first of the family who had lived there. 

Latterly he lived at Ketsby Hall, in the parish of South Ormsby, near Louth, where his son, John Gould, succeeded him. Of the remainder of Captain William's large family of eleven, little is known except of one daughter, Margaret. In 1782 she was living with her sister Anne at Newark, but a year or two later she emigrated with her brother William, a lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of His Majesty's Sixtieth or Royal American Regiment of Foot, to Nova Scotia. The following account of her residence there was extracted from Mrs. Lawson's History of Dartmouth, Preston, and Lawrencetown51

"In 1793, St. Pierre was taken by the British, and a number of the inhabitants were brought to Halifax. Among them was the Governour of the Island, M. Danseville, a devoted adherent of the House of Bourbon, who refused to return to his native land while Napoleon was in power. Governour Wentworth transmitted a memorial from him to the Duke of Portland on the l0th October 1794, requesting certain rights and privileges during his residence in Nova Scotia. This gentleman afterwards went to the Old Preston Road, Halifax, and dwelt with Margaret Floyer. Many years previous to his arrival, Margaret Floyer had arrived there from England with her brother William. William purchased a property near Allen's tanyard, on the Old Preston Road, where he built a pretty, comfortable cottage, and there the two lived together for some time. She is described by those who remember her as 'a refined, intellectual woman, with a sweet, sad face, and gentle, winning address, very reticent and quiet, but exceedingly courteous to all who knew her.' William is said to have stayed there for a year or two, and departed to join his regiment which had arrived in Jamaica. Margaret lived on alone at the cottage, not associating much with the other inhabitants, but amusing herself with her books and flowers and garden. She was kind to those about her, especially in times of illness, and was devoted to children, whom she always made welcome. 

"When M. Danseville came to Dartmouth he was attracted by the appearance of the cottage, called to enquire if he could be lodged there, and received an affirmative answer.

"He was very genial and companionable, talked freely of his home, and wife, and family in France, and of his change of fortune. A few still52 remember the courtly old gentleman with silver hair and charming manners, who made himself happy under adverse circumstances. Margaret Floyer was always in easy circumstances. Remittances arrived punctually from England, and her wants were few. M. Danseville, feeling that it might be years before be could return to France, and to fill his leisure time, induced Margaret Floyer to consent to the building of a larger house on another part of her property. The result was a long, low, stone cottage with a flat roof, set in a sheltered situation, and surrounded by forest trees. Here he spent a great deal of time in laying out and ornamenting the grounds. Before the new house was quite finished, the one where they bad been living was destroyed by fire during their temporary absence from home in the summer. They took possession of the new house and personally supervised its completion, and 'Brook House,' as it was called, from its neatness and pretty appearance, became the admiration of passers-by. At 'Brook House' the two lived together until 1814, when news came to Halifax that Napoleon was a prisoner on the Island of Elba. M. Danseville was overjoyed at the Restoration of the Royal Family. He at once dressed himself in his long-unused uniform, put on his hat with its white cockade, and walked up and down the road during the whole afternoon of one day, shouting 'Vive La France!' He took passage in the next ship bound for France, and parted with the lady who had given him shelter with every demonstration of friendship and regret. 

"After his departure Margaret Floyer led a more retired life than ever, and developed erysipelas. She was found one morning unconscious in her room, and presently expired. Sir John Wentworth announced her death to her family in England. Her nephew, John Gould Floyer, gave Sir John a power of attorney to administer her estate, and Mr. John Waite Attorney, Mayor of Boston, her brother-in-law, represented the claimant in England. Correspondence passed between Halifax and England during the four years from 1815 to 1819, and eventually the property was sold and the balance remitted. Margaret Floyer was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, and her spirit was said to have been seen wandering about her grave. Her relations in England caused a large stone slab to be placed over her grave. The inscription is as follows:

DIED THE 8TH DEC. 1815, 

Sir John ShoreSir John Shore, afterwards Lord Teignmouth, and some time Governor-General of India, brother-in-law of Captain William Floyer, offered at one time to provide for any one of Captain Floyer's sons if he would fit him out, but the offer was refused,54 and none of them seem to have had a good start in life. The second son, William Floyer, who had accompanied his sister Margaret to Nova Scotia, is said to have been killed in an expedition against the American Indians, and to have died unmarried55 about 1795.56

Another son, John Gould, left Wadham College without a degree, went abroad, and his fate is not known. 

A daughter, Frances, married John Hall, an attorney, and died childless. 

Anne, another daughter, who was born in 1772, lived for some time with Dr. and Mrs. Clarke at Thorpe Hall, near Louth, and afterwards at Well Vale with the Dashwoods, but subsequently at Claxby, and again at Alford, where she appears to have kept a school and supported her brother Richard.57 In a time of revolutionary disturbance, during a time of scarcity, she is said to have undertaken to pacify a mob which had collected and was approaching the hall door at Well Vale. She received them on the steps, and having ordered the door to be locked behind her, succeeded in persuading them to disperse. She died unmarried in 1826. Edward Ayscoghe, a younger son, entered the Royal Navy and afterwards the Army, but it is not known what became of him.58

Richard, another son, was living in 1782 at Donnington, near Spalding, but about 1817 went to live with his sister Anne at Alford, where he died unmarried in 1826. Of Elizabeth nothing is known, and of the youngest, Jane, it is only mentioned that she married John Waite, an attorney, of Louth. 

Of the six sons of this generation only the eldest, Anthony, is recorded to have left children, and he but one son John Gould.59 The latter is described as a man of great determination, strict, and rather severe in disposition, and in the education of his children. By industry and thrift he acquired a considerable fortune, and in his latter days, during his residence at Louth, was fond of state, keeping many servants and a yellow chariot, the panel of which was emblazoned with twelve quarterings. As a young man he lived at Leake, near Boston, and married Sarah, daughter of Richard Wright, the vicar of the adjoining parish of Wrangle. He died of apoplexy at Louth in 1841, leaving his property to his three sons, John Wadham, Richard Ayscoghe Martin, and Ayscoghe. These all went to Louth Grammar School, an institution where many men afterwards famous were educated, amongst others the poet Tennyson. John Gould Floyer's two elder boys were admitted at Christmas, 1826, one aged eight, the other six, and the youngest, Ayscoghe, was sent two years later, also aged six. A Mr. Waite was at that time the headmaster.60 From a memorandum in their father's handwriting it appears that they were fond of hunting. John Wadham went for a time to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and subsequently bought Martin Hall, near Horncastle, where he settled down as a country gentleman. His son, Eric Randolph, still represents him in Horncastle. Richard, the second son of John Gould, went in due time to Wadham College, took his degree, and his name was entered at the Inner Temple; but his career as a barrister was cut short by his death at Mablethorpe in 1843, of haemorrhage caused by the extraction of a tooth. 

Rev. Ayscoghe FloyerAyscoghe Floyer also went to Wadham College, and was the last of the family who was entered as Founder’s Kin.61 He took Holy Orders, and became curate under his father’s presentee, Rev. John Parkinson Wilson, at Marshchapel, of which parish he succeeded to the incumbency in 1845. Typhus fever, caught in the course of parish work, left neuralgia in the right eye, which developed into polypus, and necessitated the extraction of half the eye in 1848. In the winter of the same year, while taking temporary duty at St. Mary Church, near Torquay, he became acquainted with the Hon. Mrs. F. J. Shore, who was then living at Adlamville Lodge. He married her daughter Louisa in the following year, and the remainder of his life was spent chiefly at Marshchapel in parish work, in restoring the church, and in other matters connected with the parish. He became paralyzed in 1869, and retired to live at Putney with his mother-in-law. He died there in 1872, leaving seven children: Ernest Ayscoghe Floyer, now of Cairo, who married Mary Louisa, daughter of the Rev. W. R. Watson, of Saltfleetby St. Peter's, Lincs.; Edith Louisa, who married Rev. Charles Henry Butcher, D.D., sometime Dean of Shanghai; Margaret Sarah, who married first Edward Hockin, of Poughill, Cornwall, J.P., and secondly Townsend Kirkwood, now of Burghfield, Berks; Frederick Anthony Floyer, of Mortimer, who married Alice Maude, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Roberts Jones, Rector of Codicote, Herts; Mabel Frances, who married Glynne Barrington Leared Williams, of Estancia San Anselmo, Argentine Republic; George Wadham, died in Egypt, 1890; John Kestell, married Helen Frances, daughter of the late Rev. George Hill, vicar of St. Winnow, Cornwall.


THIS family had its origin in a younger son of Anthony Floyer, of Stanton S. Gabriel, who married the co-heir of Nicholas Martin. A property at Moorlinch, in Somersetshire, was acquired, probably by purchase, by William Floyer, brother of the above Anthony, and judging by the amount of plate and jewellery he left in his will, he lived there unmarried in some magnificence.62 On his death in 1623 this estate, with another at Llanteilo Portholley, in Monmouthshire, passed to his nephew William, who moved to Llanteilo Portholley, where his mother had lived as a widow. A house there, known as the White House, became the family seat for some generations. During the Civil Wars, when the Parliamentarian army took Hereford, William the younger was found in the garrison, put into prison, and his estates confiscated as a "Papist in arms." He was, however, liberated on his proving that he had never borne arms, and had only gone into Hereford on business with his father-in-law and to take physic for his health. After many petitions, and some years' delay, his estate was eventually restored. Some thirty-two documents relating to his claim are preserved among the Royalist Composition Papers at the Record Office, many of them autograph letters. He died married, though without children, and the property passed to his brother John, who lived at Moorlinch.63

John's three sons - Martin, John, and Benedict - were living at Llanarth in 1638.64 Martin, being under age at his father's death,65 was made a ward of Charles the First. He married, but died without children, and was succeeded by his brother John, of whom little is recorded. John's son John succeeded him, and again lived at the White House, the residence of his great-uncle, whose uncle was there previously. Many members of this family were connected with the law. John Floyer, the eldest son of the succeeding generation, was admitted as a Bencher of the Middle Temple in 1728.66 His son Charles was an attorney, and his nephew Philip a lawyer of some distinction, being author of a work entitled The Proctor’s Practice in the Ecclesiastical Courts.67

This house came to an end at the end of the last century. Charles Floyer, one of the last representatives, died first,68 and his three children died young, without issue.69 His wife's nephew, William Greenly, of Titley Court, near Hereford, was the eventual heir of the family and none of the name appears to have survived except David Stephens Floyer, born in 1740, son of Philip the proctor. Whether he lived and married, or died young like his brother William, has not been discovered. 


THIS branch had its origin in the second marriage of William Floyer, of Berne House, whose eldest son by this marriage inherited Berne and was captain in the Militia. 

John Floyer, grandson of William of Berne, lived at Upwey, where he had some property, and for some time in London, as a barrister of the Inner Temple. He was also Recorder of Dorchester. 

Catherine, sister of the above John Floyer, married Humphrey Sydenham, of Dulverton, and became the mother of Floyer Sydenham, a man of great attainments, Fellow and sometime Moderator of Philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford. He was afterwards Rector of Esher until 1744. He published Notes on Plato, edited the Greater and Lesser Hippias; also a Dissertation on the Doctrine of Heraclitus, and Onomasticon Theologicum. He was so small a gainer in money by these works that he died in great poverty. The sympathy aroused for poor authors by his death led to the formation of the Literary Fund. 

His grandfather, Humphrey Sydenham, was one of the original Fellows of Wadham College, and the first to take the degree of Master of Arts from that college. John Floyer, eldest son of John Floyer, of Upwey, dying without issue, the property devolved upon William, brother of the younger John, Rector of Stinsford, in Dorsetshire. William, son of this last William, became a midshipman in the Royal Navy, and served in H.M.S. Revolutionaire, under Captain the Hon. Fleetwood Pellew. He was upset in a pleasure boat off Portland on the way home from Plymouth, in July, 1822, and drowned. His only companion was saved. His brother and heir, John Floyer, who was educated at Winchester and Balliol Colleges, purchased the Frome estate in 1831, and married in 1844 Georgina Charlotte Frances, daughter of the Right Hon. George Bankes.71 In 1846 he entered Parliament as a Conservative, and sat for the County of Dorset until 1857. He was again elected in 1864, and sat until 1885, when the county was divided. He was chairman of the Board of Guardians from 1836 until his death in 1887, and elected chairman of Quarter Sessions in 1883. He was also made Deputy-Lieutenant in 1844, and a few weeks before his death appointed a member of H.M.'s Privy Council. He was succeeded by his son, George William Floyer, now of Stafford House, educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford; a barrister-at-law of the Inner Temple, and justice of the peace, etc. 


CHARLES FLOYER, younger son of William Floyer of Berne House, by his second wife, was the founder of this distinguished family. He entered King William's army as an ensign, and quickly raised himself by his merits to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He may probably be identified with Lieut.-Col. Floyer, who left the island of St. Christopher, West Indies, in 1708, and came to England, being the bearer of a present of "citern water and one barrel of sweatmeats" from Col. Parke, Governor of St. Christopher's, to the Duke of Marlborough.73 He afterwards retired, and married in 1714 Jane, the daughter of Nathaniel Turner, whose family were much connected with the Hon. East India Company. In this service Col. Floyer's descendants rose to high rank. 

Col. Charles Floyer died in 1731 in his own house at Richmond, Surrey. His son, Charles Floyer, was Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Madras in 1747, hut was recalled in 1750. On his retirement he lived at Hollin Close Hall, in Yorkshire, and died in 1766. A monument to his memory exists in Ripon Cathedral. 

Some interest is attached to his sister Jane, who married, in 1741, at Somerset House Chapel, in London, Norton Nicholls, and became the mother of Norton Nicholls the younger. Norton the younger is known as the friend of the poet Gray, to whom he was introduced at the age of nineteen in the rooms of Mr. Lobb, a Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge. In the summer of 1770, he went with Gray on a journey through the midland counties, and wrote a journal of their proceedings, which the poet kept in his possession. He again travelled with Gray in the following year, in France, Switzerland, and Italy. Later on he took Holy Orders, and was presented, through the instrumentality of his uncle, William Turner; to the Rectory of Lound and Bradwell, near Lowestoft. As there was no rectory house, he lived with his mother at Blundeston House, in an adjoining parish, and devoted his spare time to the improvement of the lawns and trees. He died at Blundeston on November 22nd, 1809, and was buried at Richmond, Surrey, where his uncle, William Turner, had lived, and where his grandfather Colonel Floyer's monument still exists.74

Charles Floyer, son of Charles Floyer, of Hollin Close Hall, was a merchant in the Hon. East India Company's Service, and a member of the Governor's Council of Madras in 1776. In an action about the Benwell claims, in the following year, be sided with G. Stratton and the majority of the Council, in arbitrarily deposing the Governor of Madras, Lord Pigot. Pigot was put into prison, and died there. Floyer and his party were put upon their trial, and though acquitted, they were suspended and recalled. Charles Floyer was afterwards appointed Chief of the Guntoor Circars. His sister Frances married John Francis Erskine, of Mar, a lieutenant in the 9th Dragoons. Of the two sons of Charles Floyer, Augustus attained distinction in the East India Co.'s military service as colonel of the Madras Cavalry. He was made K.C.B., and died at Hyderabad in 1818. This branch of the family seems also to be extinct.75


IT has been suggested that Sotrebroc cannot be identical withs Floyer's Hayes, because Sotrebroc was held in Domesday by Floher in capite, and as the lands of a free knight, and Floyer's Hayes was held under the Barony of Okehampton. William I., however, granted the Barony of Okehampton to Baldwin de Sap, one of his generals at the Battle of Hastings, and afterwards the husband of his niece. It is more than probable that at the time of this grant, Floher, if he were a Saxon, was infeudated, and continued to hold his land, but as a vassal of the Baron of Okehampton. Hence the necessity of a grant. 

The argument has been somewhat confused by a mistranslation of the Domesday entry. "Mansio" is a thane's living-land haus, called also a cotlif or quillet-haus, and Sotrebroc was assessed at half a plough, that is, at fifty acres or less. Swetton was about 163 acres. Floyer's Hayes itself seems to have comprised about thirty acres. There is no difficulty in identifying the Floher of Floyer's Hayes with the Floher of Domesday, if the following three independent accounts are compared: 

Exon. Domesday. Pipe Rolls. Charters.
Floher Floher. Floher of Floyer's Hayes
Held Sotrebroc, 1086. Ric. fil. Floheri.
31 Hen.I. (1131).
Nicholas fil. Floheri.
4 Hen. II. (1158).
Richard fil. Floheri.
Hen. I.
Nicholas fil. Ricardi.
    Ricardus fil. Nicholi, of Floyer’s Hayes.



IT is somewhat remarkable that the records of the Floyer family, never a very distinguished one, and in later generations disturbed by frequent migrations, should have been so fully preserved as they are. Three circumstances will mainly account for this, two of them accidental. By the marriage of Anthony Floyer76 with the daughter of Sir William Pole, the Devonshire historian and antiquary, the family was brought closely into contact with one who transcribed the deeds, charters, and grants of land which had existed in the family deed-box during the long undisturbed residence at Floyer's Hayes. The originals of these are not now discoverable, though they may still be extant. Nor are Sir William Pole's copies accessible. Many of his papers were burnt at the time of the Civil War, and the large volume of Devonshire charters existing in manuscript, now at Queen's College, Oxford, contains none relating to the Floyer family. Another volume, which is referred to by Prince as "Pole's Great MS. Of Charters," may still be at Axminster House, or in some other private collection. Prince, however, copied literally from Pole’s collections, and a great many documents relative to the family are preserved in a manuscript of Prince's, now at the British Museum, which he did not publish in his Worthies of Devon. Indeed, no mention is made by Prince of the Floyer family until the 1810 edition. Copies of these same documents exist, though in a very corrupt form, at the College of Arms. But even if these are sufficient to authenticate the earlier portion of the family genealogy, it is not at all improbable that, because of the change of residence, the chronicle could no longer have been written had it not been for the family connection with the Founder of Wadham College. In order to enjoy the privileges of Founder's Kin, the relationship had to be proved, and in the case we are considering this was done by a pedigree being registered at the College of Arms in 1708, on the matriculation of William Floyer, and again in 1837, on the matriculation of Richard Ayscoghe Martin Floyer, and possibly on other occasions.77 By the copies of the charters, therefore, and the Founder's Kin pedigrees, the genealogy is almost independent of those unreliable yet useful documents, the early Visitations of the Heralds. Where a genealogy is once established, it is easy to illustrate and enlarge it, and to substantiate points which are doubtful, by reference to tbe Public Records, which are every year made more accessible. Some hundreds of books and documents have been requisitioned for the foregoing account. The later generations of the family history owe their fulness chiefly to the genealogical tastes of John Gould Floyer, of Ketsby, and his son, the Rev. Ayscoghe Floyer, who copied and arranged the voluminous and careful notes of his father. It has been the business of the present compiler to consult very many authorities not hitherto accessible, and to arrange the results in a compact form. 


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1 A Pedigree to illustrate this account will be found in HUTCHINS' Hist. of Dorset
2 HALLIWELL, Dict. Of Archaic and Provincial Words
3Exon. Domesday, Government Ed., 1796. Devonshire Domesday, published by Devonshire Association, Plymouth, 1884-92. 
4 Inq. P.m. on John Courtenay, Henry III., Harl. MS. 6126
5Rot. Hundredorum, Government Ed., 1812, Ed. 1. 
6Cal. of Proc. In Chauncery, temp. Q. Elizabeth, Pr. 1827. 
7Devonshire Domesday, Plymouth, 1854-92; REICHEL, "Identification of Devonshire Placenames in Domesday." 
8 Notes by Rev. 0.J. Reichel, M.A., F.S.A. 
9Archaelogical Journal, vol. X.: Ped. by Oliver and Jones. 
10 Mr. Charles Worthy, native and historian of Exeter, had them pointed out to him as a boy, and describes the situation as above. 
11 Inq. P.m. on John Courtenay Harl. MS. 6126
12 From BRAUN's Civitates Orbis Terrarum, &c., published by Cummins, of Exeter. 
13 Pipe Roll. 
14 Letter from Mr. James Parker, F.S.A. 
15 Bp. Stafford's Register. 
16 PARKER's Annals of England
17 PRINCE, Worthies of Devon, 1810.
18 PRINCE, Worthies of Devon, 1810. 
19 College of Arms 
20 WORTHY's Suburbs of Exeter
21Cf. Mrs. J.R. GREEN, Town Life in the Fifteenth Century.
22Acts of the Privy Council, 1552-3, New Series, Vol. iii. P. 177. Printed 1891. 
23 VIVIAN's Visitations of Devon, 1892. 
24 RISDON, Survey of Devon, Ed. 1811. 
25Cf. HUTCHINS' Dorset
26Acts of the Privy Council, 1580. 
27 Will at Somerset House. 
28 Inq. p.m. on Sir G. Somers, 26 July, 9 Jac. I. Copied by the Rev. R.G. Bartlett.
29 COKER, Survey of Dorset, published 1732. 
30 Inq. p.m. on Anthony Floyer, Wards and Liveries, Bun. 3, No. 172, Record Office. 
31 VIVIAN's Visitations of Devon
32 STEBBING's Life of Sir Walter Raleigh
33 i.e., Anthony, who came of age 1625-6. 
34 Grandson of the above Anthony. 
35 See SHAW's Hist. of Staffordshire
36 For printed pedigree see Miscellanea Genealogica, vol. i., New Series, 1874. Mr. Greenly, of Titley Court, is the present representative, though no relation, and has (1897) some pieces of plate formerly belonging to them, and a coat of arms of John Floyer, of the White house, i.e., Floyer impaling Watts. 
37 See below, "The Monmouthshire Branch." 
38 See below, "Floyer of Stafford House." 
39 See below, "Floyer of the Hon. E.I. Company." 
40 Will of Elinor Floyer, 1694. 
41 The connection was two-fold; first through the marriage of his great-great-grandfather with Anne, daughter and co-heir of Nicholas Martin by his wife Margaret, sister and co-heir of Nicholas Wadham, and secondly by the marriage of his grandfather with Margaret, daughter of Sir Edward Lawrence by his wife Grace, third daughter and co-heir of Henry Brune, by his wife Elizabeth, eldest daughter and co-heir of Nicholas Martin. The first connection was registered. 
42 Wadham College Register 
43 Family tradition 
44 Brit. Mus., Add. MSS. 33,067, fol 122; and 32,989, fol. 125 
45 One of four co-heirs of a younger branch of Ayscough or Ayscoghe, of S. Kelsey, Lincolnshire, formed by Thomas, younger son of Sir Ed. Ayscoghe, ob. 1612. 
46 Collected from ASHTON's The Fleet, 1888. Cf. Also LECKY, History of the Eighteenth Century
47 John Gould Floyer’s Genealogical Notes, and Coll. Of Arms Ped. 
48 Family Letters, chiefly of his neice, Anne Floyer. 
49 Copied from the Rev. A. F.'s MS. 
50Family letters. 
51 It was sent to the Rev. J. K. Floyer by "the kindness of Mr. Haliburton, son of Sam Slick." 
52 At the time of the publication of the book. 
53 The above account is somewhat condensed from Mrs. Lawson's account. For the sake of the romance, she has wrapped the story in an atmosphere of mystery and suspicion, which is dispelled by an acquaintance with the family history, though the reason why Margaret first left England is still open to conjecture. Mrs. Lawson's account contains also a list of the title deeds, etc., of the property, some topographical notes, and a poem of eleven verses, written on seeing the grave. The date of the inscription is wrong. M. Floyer died December 9th, 1814, and was buried at one o'clock on Sunday December 11th. 
54 Note in John Wadham Floyer's Mem. Book, extracted by Ayscoghe Floyer, 1843. 
55 John Gould Floyer's Notes. 
56Cf. Army Lists. 
57 J.W. Floyer’s Memoranda. 
58 The account of the whole of this generation is taken, with the exceptions mentioned above, from John Gould Floyer's Notices, and family letters still existing. 
59 The third so-called. 
60 GOULDING's Louth Corporation Records
61 Founder's Kin was abolished by the Commissioners of 1856. 
62 Will at Somerset House. Chancery Proceedings, Car. I., F.F. 39, 1640; F.F. 38, 1627; F. 39, 46; F. 41, 67. Inq. p.m. of Thomas Cocks, 1638. Index Lib., p. 85, Co. Gloucester. 
63 The mother's will was disputed, and the property was finally settled as indicated above, viz,, Anthony at Berne, John at Moorlinch, and William at Llanteilo Portholley. See Chancery Proceedings, Car. I., F. F. 39. 
64 Inq. p.m. of Thomas Cocks, Gloucester. Index Lib., p. 85. 
65 Chancery Proceedings, Floyer v. Batt, Car. I., F.F. 39. Bills and Answers. 
66Inq. p.m. of John Floyer, 8 Car. I., Record Office. 
67 1st Ed. 1744, 2nd Ed., enlarged by T. Wright, 1746. 
68 Will of Blanch FIoyer, 1786. 
69 Wills of Blanch Floyer, 1786, and of Blanch Floyer, 1766. Cf. also Pedigree in Miscellanea Genealogica, by C. J. Robinson, vol. i., New Series, 1874. 
70 For pedigree, see HUTCHINS' Hist. of Dorset
71 He was High Sheriff of Dorsetshire in the same year. 
72 For pedigree, see Miscellanea Genealogica, Sept., 1890. 
73 Hodgkin MSS., Pub. Hist. MSS. Commission, 1897. 
74 There is a monument in Wells Cathedral to Miss Anna Maria Floyer, daughter of the late --- Floyer, of Blundestone, ob. 1842. Cf. JEWERS’ Wells Cathedral. Also Dict. Nat. Biog., art. "Norton Nicholls." 
75 The present Mr. Reginald Floyer Saunders obtained his name from one of this branch. 
76 Who came of age 1625-6. See above. 
77 The Monmouthshire branch of the family also took advantage of Founder's Kin at Wadham. Cf. FOSTER, Alumni Oxonienses.