INTRODUCTION TO MY OYLER ANCESTORS
THE OYLERS OF KENT 1500-1700S
SAMUEL OYLER OF HAWKHURST & FAMILY
THOMAS PETTIT OYLER & ELIZABETH POTTER
POTTER SAMUEL OYLER & MARY ANN HALES
THOMAS POTTER OYLER
The Oyler family is one branch of my family tree. Other branches can be viewed by clicking on HOME or any of the buttons above.
Oyler is probably anglicized from the name Iler. The Ilers were rumoured to be Huguenots but it is not known
if they were French, Dutch or Belgian. Indeed, there is no firm
they were originally Huguenots. In the International Genealogical Index
Mormon Church records) there are Ilers (also Iller and Oyler) in both
Netherlands and France but not in Belgium.
There were several influxes of Huguenots to England. In 1270, King Henry III extended a royal invitation to "all workers of woollen cloth" to come and settle in England, and in 1331 the export of unwashed wool was prohibited by King Edward III and he issued letters of protection to Flemish weavers who wished to settle in England. The Flemings planted their “fulling-mills” along the rivers Cray and Dart, the weavers settling principally at Cranbrook, Goudhurst, and the neighboring villages. “At county meetings the Gray-coats of Kent carried all before them, gray cloth being the prevailing color of the Kentish article, as that of Kendal was green.” The Huguenots: Their Settlements, Churches, and Industries in England…. - Samuel Smiles
Flemish emigration to the British Isles continued throughout the 14th century and into the 15th century. The cloth-trade has long since departed from Cranbrook, once the centre of the Kentish trade, its manufactures like so many others, having migrated northward; and the only indications remaining of the extinct branch of industry are the ancient factories, evidently of Flemish origin, which are still to be seen in the principal street of the town.
In 1685, the Catholic King Louis XIV of France outlawed the practice of Protestantism. Many French Protestants fled from France following the Edict of Fontainbleau. The Huguenots' services were banned and their churches torn down. All French children were required to be raised as Catholics. Yet it was illegal to leave the country, and Protestant men caught trying to escape abroad could be executed or sentenced to serve as galley slaves, while women risked imprisonment. Despite such risks, around 200,000 French Protestants, mostly Calvinists, fled abroad, smuggling themselves out hidden in bales of straw or empty beer barrels and wine vats. Around 50,000-80,000 of them settled in London, in Soho and in Spitalfields. London's traditional anti-Catholicism, and stories of French atrocities against Protestants, ensured them a warmer welcome than was usually given to foreigners.
Many of the Huguenots who made Spitalfields their home came from Lyons, centre of the French silk industry. They set up business as silk weavers, using handlooms to weave raw silk imported from Italy. In the 1750s there was another large influx of Huguenots. Many of these refugees settled in Canterbury and Sandwich, bringing their skills into the area, including silk weaving, paper making, goldsmithing and bookbinding.
The first member of the Oyler family that I can trace was
John Oyler (Iler) born about 1555-1560 my great x10 grandfather. I found descendants from each generation down to my grandmother Alice Oyler