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The Floyer Reunion held at Wadham College, Oxford on August 24th and 25th, 2002 was a smashing success, with approximately 40 people in attendance. Denis Gibbs presented a talk on Sir John Floyer of Hints, Staffordshire, Tim Sandberg presented a talk on Internet genealogy research, and Nick Floyer presented a talk on Heraldry and the quarterings of the Floyer Arms. Excellent meals were enjoyed, pleasant company was shared, and a good time was had by all amid the ambience of Wadham College. We thank Jenny Floyer very much for all her work in organizing the event.
THE FLOYERS, an ancient Saxon family from Devonshire, while never very distinguished, have a well documented history longer than most, being one of only a handful of families who can trace their ancestry in the direct male line back to pre-Norman times. In later generations it comprises in the main men of the church, with a large number of barristers and a sprinkling of medical men.
The fullness and continuity of the record are attributable in large measure to:
The account herein has been compiled by Tim Sandberg from numerous sources, principally the writings of Rev. John Kestell Floyer and the notes of David Cornish Floyer. Nick Floyer has provided valuable editorial input, as well as the discussion of Heraldry. For further information, see:
The Annals of the Family of Floyer J. Kestell Floyer's
account of the history of the family
to Rev. J. Kestell Floyer:
J. K. Floyer's unpublished notes in the possession of Rachel Nicholson indicate that the 'h' in 'Floher' was pronounced as the 'ch' in German 'nacht'.
The earliest mention of the name is in the Exon version of the Domesday survey of 1086 in which Floher holds inter alia, lands just outside the Exeter city walls (identified as Floyers Hayes) where the family resided until approximately 1580. The Exon survey was later copied into the Devon Domesday Book, but there are a number of errors and ommissions. For some reason neither of the Floher entries appears in the official record, though this is held to be the result of clerical error rather than a form of tax avoidance.
Floyers Hayes is clearly shown on old maps of Exeter - notably 'Ex Brauns Civitates Orbis' 1570 - which also shows St. Thomas' Church which the Floyers were largely instrumental in building. Some remains of Floyers Hayes existed until 1830/1840 but have since been covered by development.
A document can be found attached to the Exeter Book of Anglo-Saxon Poetry in the Exeter Cathedral library which records members of the family as witnesses to the manumission of a slave. At a time when there was usually only one copy of anything, such documents were often bound into the end-papers of important books for safe-keeping. The Exeter Book of Anglo-Saxon Poetry is 11th Century, but the documents attached to it are mainly early 12th Century. The style of the manumission here considered is late Anglo-Saxon and influenced by Carolingian script from the Continent, so it probably dates from around 1130. The original text reads as follows:
Note: the following text uses fonts that may not be recognized by all browsers. MacIntosh users, in particular, will have difficulty with it. The subscript '7' is equivalent to the modern ampersand. TMS
The local character is shown by the name Alfsta in Wonford, the mention of the Hundred of Exeter, and the name of Alword the Portreeve, who makes himself responsible for paying the King's dues on the transaction. The document therefore shows that in the early 1100's a man called Floher and Bartholomew his son were living close to Exeter, presumably on the Wonford side, on or near the estate soon after known as Floyer's Hayes.
According to the Exon. Domesday Book, A.D. 1085-6, published by the Devonshire Association,1884-92:
to the Exeter Archaeological Field Unit Reports, 1984-85:
Pipe Rolls are the yearly accounts of the Royal revenue
as rendered by the King's officers. They are extant as a
regular series from the second year of Henry II., though
one year before this, that of 31 Henry 1., is also
preserved. Thus it will be seen that Richard, son of
Floher, and his son Nicholas appear as holding some
office in three of the earliest existing rolls, and if
the series had been complete they would probably have
appeared as holding the same office as often as they
rendered their account. What this office was can be
determined by the three words "ministerium,"
"cortine," and "lestagium". The first
shews that Richard and Nicholas farmed an office from the
Crown. "Cortina" is a round vessel or Basin,
and considering the situation of Floyer's Hayes, which
bordered the "basin" or harbour of Exeter, it
is safe to assume that they exercised the office of
Portreeve or Master of the Port. This is confirmed by the
last entry, which mentions "lastage", a tax or
toll on ships bringing in goods. The office of Portreeve
had been held in the time of Edward the Confessor by one
Nicholas son of Floher renders account of two ounces
of gold for his office. [He has paid] thirty shillings
into the Treasury for two ounces of gold and is
The Floyers held the estate of Floyer's Hayes under feudal tenure from the Barons of Okehampton. At first, this Barony was held by the family of de Redvers or Reviers, but later passed to the de Courtenays.
evidences which follow, and are referred to as "B.
and P" are from a MS. pedigree supplied to John
Gould Floyer, from the records of the College of Arms, by
G. F. Betz, Lancaster Herald, and Jas. Pulman, Portcullis
Pouirsuivant, 1827. Those referred to below as
"Pole" are collated with Brit. Mus. Add. MS.
28,649, being "Collectanea ex manuscripto magni
voluminus sed majoris
dignissimi illius Antiquarii
Dni Gulielmi Pole de
Shute," in the handwriting of John Prince, author of
the "Worthies of Devon."
Inq. pm. on John de Courtenay, Hen. III., Harl. MS. 6126, British Museum:-
MS. Rental in the possession of the Earl of Devon at
Powderham Castle. Copied 1908 by J. K. Floyer:
William ffloyer holds ffloyer's lands by the service of half a fee as above. And whensoever and how often soever as the lord comes on the Isle of Exe below the bridge or in any other way the same tenant for the time being shall come into the lord's presence provided with dinner or [ ] girt over his tunic or shirt, having a white towel put about his neck, and shall bring one pitcher of wine and one white or silver cup, and shall offer the same lord to drink. And certain persons say [he shall provide] four simnels (i.e., loaves of finest wheat bread), which is not in his charter.
the Visitation of Devon in 1564, with additions from the
earlier Visitation of 1531:
Translation: The manor of Hayes lies on the western side of the river Exe, and is held from the Earl of Devon by this service, that is to say, when the Earl of Devon comes into the Isle of Exe to fish, or otherwise to amuse himself, then the lord or proprietor of this manor ought to serve the said Earl in a decent coat or ready with napkin on his shoulder and a cup of silver in his hands filled with wine, offer the same to the said Earl to drink.
This is what is known as a "waiting" or "serjeanty" tenure. Such tenures were most common among those to whom the King had granted "folk" land. The idea was that the house should be one of call to the King's agents when on the public service. This suggests that Floyer's land had been previously held by the same tenure before the charters were granted. There are slight variations in the form at the different periods at which it is mentioned. In the charters of Robert FitzHenry and of Reginald de Courtenay between 1170 and 1194 the same phrase is repeated - the pitcher of wine is to be given "whensoever it shall happen that I or my heirs shall dine on the Isle of Exe." In the later account, before 1272, the pitcher becomes a cup (allum), and it is to be offered as often as John de Courtenay and his heirs breakfast or dine on the Isle of Exe, and the provision of a soldier in addition is not mentioned, this requirement being now made by other means. In 1311 the tenure is still more carefully defined. It is to be rendered whensoever Hugh de Courtenay comes on to the Isle of Exe, below the bridge, the tenant for the time being shall attend, provided with dinner, a white napkin girt round his neck over his tunic or shirt, and shall bring one pitcher of wine and one white or silver cup, and shall offer the same lord to drink. Four simnel cakes are also added. These differences look as if each time the service had been rendered it had been done with these small variations, which were afterwards registered as the precise form in which it should be offered in future, for it is expressly said that the four simnel loaves were not in the charter, that is, not of obligation.
The following three documents connected with the Duke of Clarence are of considerable interest. The Duke had, with his father-in-law the Earl of Warwick, fled to Exeter for refuge in 1470, and the city was presently besieged by Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon, on behalf of Edward IV., for twelve days. A few months later, in August 1470, the Duke of Clarence, the Earl of Warwick, and their followers landed at different Devonshire havens, and met at Exeter. This visit is probably the one which Clarence alludes to in his letter to William Floyer, when he mentions "our last being in the west parts." The army which William Floyer was to join was that raised by Edward IV. for a projected invasion of France. The expedition actually went, though no war took place owing to the astuteness of Louis XI., who succeeded in making Edward desert his ally, the Duke of Burgundy, by the treaty of Picquiquy of 1475. So, though William Floyer was engaged for service for a year, he apparently only served for three months, for the receipt is for one quarter's wages, and is dated at Exeter, by which it appears that he had returned home within six weeks after his first summons. In consequence of this expedition, following the precedent of many others who had been engaged in the wars in France, William Floyer became a gentleman of coat armour. The three arrows of the family coat are an obvious allusion to the three archers he took with him. The arms were registered, quartering those of his grandmother, Bash, in the Herald's Visitation of Devon in 1531.
The family motto, "Floret Virtus Vulnerata", translates roughly as "Virtue Flourishes (although) Wounded". An alternate version, used by Ayscoghe Floyer, is "Florescit Vulnere Virtus". Perhaps any Latin scholars out there can help with translation.
Un canadien fier
Design & Maintenance by Tim Sandberg
These pages are dedicated to the memory of my mother,
Cynthia Edith Floyer
Aug. 25, 1923 - July 25, 1998