THE HORTONS OF LEICESTERSHIRE

 

    I.1 HENRY de HORTON

                    born probably at Horton, Northamptonshire; he died after 1277 probably at Knaptoft, Leicestershire.

    Henry was first of record at Horton in connection with the wealthy Gobion/Gobyun family, which was seated there as early as the time of Henry III (1216-1272). L.G.H. Horton-Smith documents three generations of the Gobion family (Richard 1, Hugh 2, and Richard 3) with whom the earliest records of the Horton family were intertwined.

    Henry de Horton seems to have been a tenant of the Gobions long enough to have earned a reputation for dependability when, about 1269, he was appointed bailiff for their distant lands at Knaptoft. These lands had come into their possession about 1220 as dowry land of Agnes de Merley, who married Richard (1st generation) Gobion. The Inquisition (royal inquiry) of 1268 lists only "one free tenant" at Knaptoft, known to be Philip de Redesdale, whose family had long been in the employ of the de Merleys.

    Undoubtedly, Henry migrated to Knaptoft from Horton, some time after 1268 and well before 1277, when the Fine of Trinity (tax list) shows him as a resident there. He was known as Henry de Horton, deriving his name from his native hamlet. At least one son Hugh, migrated with him.

    In Knaptoft, Henry had free tenure on one virgate (24 acres) of land, a messuage (dwelling place) for his family, and the responsibilities of bailiff. In this capacity, he collected rents from the villeins (workers on the land) on behalf of the Gobion family; the Inquisition of 1268 recorded 24 virgates held in villeinage by 24 villeins at Knaptoft.

    Henry conveyed his "free tenement" to his son Hugh de Horton (11.1) in the Fine of Trinity (1277), after which his name disappeared from the records.

 

    II.1 HUGH de HORTON

                             born at Horton, Northamptonshire, died between 1327 and 1332 possibly at Knaptoft but more probably at Mowsley; Leicestershire; married possibly a daughter of Philip de Redesdale at Knaptoft.

    Hugh was of record in the "Fine of Trinity" (1277) together with his father, both as residents of Knaptoft. Hugh, called "son of Henry de Horton" is plaintiff, and "Henry de Horton" is defendant in that conveyance of a messuage and one virgate of land in Knaptoft to Hugh.

    The manor of Knaptoft was located about six miles west of Market Harborough, only two miles north of the Northamptonshire-Leicestershire border. In Hugh's lifetime, a few villeins were living and working on the land about a mile closer to Market Harborough. Hugh (2nd generation) Gobion, who had in 1235 appointed his brother Anselm as rector of Knaptoft, later extended his services to include the smaller settlement, calling it the Chapelric of Mowsley. Before 1279, Hugh (2nd generation) and Anselm Gobion had erected the church now known as St. Nicholas Parish Church at Mows1ey.

    Sometime during this period, a strategically located croft was given to a Horton, Presumably Hugh de Horton or possibly his son. The croft (small enclosed land used for tillage adjacent to a house) was adjacent to the churchyard on the north side of the church; in fact the dwelling-place which this Horton erected shared a common wall with the churchyard. This unique property on high and level land in the center of the small Mowsley settlement was to be known for more that 400 years as le Prest Croft (Prest meaning an advance grant or payment to enable the recipient to proceed with an undertaking of some sort). That undertaking may well have been the appointment of Hugh de Horton as bailiff for outlying Mowsley holdings.

    The Inquisition of 1279, taken in the seventh year of Edward I's reign, provides a description of Knaptoft. Richard (3rd generation) Gobion was then lord of the manor of Knaptoft with 22 virgates held in villeinage by 22 villeins and 3 virgates held in free tenure by "two free tenants." That these two free tenants were Philip the son of Philip de Redesdale and Hugh the son of Henry de Horton was the conclusion of Dr. Hoskins Horton Smith who based their inference on a comparison of 1277 and 1327 tax lists and taxpayers names.

    The Subsidy List of 1327 proves that Hugh de Horton was still living and in possession of his free tenement fifty years later, paying a rate of 6s 3d on his Knaptoft holding.. The List also shows that he had expanded the land holdings received from his father with three virgates held in common with Philip de Redesdale the elder, thus the suggestion that Hugh married a daughter of Philip and with her obtained some dowry land. Since these subsidy lists show only taxes on movable goods or personal property, with occasional mention of land holdings, it is entirely possible that Hugh de Horton at that time held le Prest Croft at Mowsley.

    The Subsidy List of 1332 does not show the name of Hugh de Horton; his tenemen was in the possession of Roger Payn. Hugh had either died or removed from Knaptoft with his sons

    Hugh and his wife had at least two sons of Leicestershire record. Henry, possib4y the oldest, paid taxes of 3s in Knaptoft in 1327, 2s 9d in l332, then removed to Leicester where his descendants were of record. John (111.2), probably the younger son, was of record in Mowsley in 1345. No further evidence of Horton family residence at Knaptoft after 1332 has been seen.

 

    III.2 JOHN HORTON

                            born probably at Knaptoft, Leicestershire, died before 4 April 1345 at Mowsley; married an unknown wife before or by l322, probably at Mowsley, Leicestershire.

    John, the younger of Hugh de Horton's two known sons, is of record in the Schedule to the Brabazon Charter as a resident of Mowsley prior to 4 April 1345. No doubt he, if not his father before him, acted as bailiff for the Gobion family there or in some other capacity served the landed interests, for he was named as the free tenant who occupied le Prest Croft. The likelihood is greater that John inherited it from his father who was the recipient of le Prest Croft, for the Gobion family influence began to diminish about the turn of the century when John was probably very young. Richard (3rd generation) Gobion died before 13 March 1301 leaving two daughters only: Hawisia/Avice then 18 years of age and married to Ralph le Botiller, and Elizabeth, younger and unmarried.

    St. Nicholas Parish Church records show one Oliver le Boteler replaced Anselm Gobiona in 1302 as the Rector of Knaptoft and the Chapelric of Mowsley, an indication of the changing lordship. Perhaps during the lifetime of Hawisia Gobion le Boteler, the Hortons held their position of trust at Mowsley.    

    The 14th century Charter was inscribed on the occasion of Roger Brabazon, then lord of the manor of Mowsley, granting his property and lordship to John Oudeby of Stokedrie in Rutland. The privileges and profits of the grant were couched in the phraseology of the times, but shed valuable light on those times when examined. In essence, annual rent was "to be paid at the feast of St. Michael the Archangel" by (among others) "the heirs of John Horton of Mowesley" (he was already deceased) "aforesaid for his messuage situate on the North side of the Church...and it abuts upon the cemetery" (churchyard). "For the said messuage, and for three virgates of land and for a croft called le Prest Croft, Rendering per annum for capital rentó5s 8d.....all the said free tenants hold through the fifth part of the service of one knight's fee, as appears in the Charter annexed to this Schedule."

    Thus, John Horton's heirs were of age, "free tenants" as he had been, and could continue to occupy the Horton "free inheritable tenement." Under the English feudal system, the free tenants and the villeins on the lord's manor had protection by the lord against outside interference. The protection was provided by the owner or holder of the "fief" (Old French) or "fee (English). The holder did not always go to war himself, but he was responsible for supplying the necessary armed men for the feudal army. "One knight's fee" was that unit of land consisting of two carucates of land or about 100 acres which originally was as much land as a team of oxen could plough in one season. The Horton heirs held "the fifth part" of one knight's fee, or 20 acres of land at Mowsley.

    John's heirs also held 3 virgates or 72 acres of land in free tenure along with the messuage and the specified croft. These heirs, occupying the property on 4 April 1345 were named in the Mowsley Poll Tax of 1381 as John Horton and William Horton.

    John, the oldest son of John Horton (111.2) of Mowsley, married Alice (-), held le Prest Croft and paid the highest tax rate in the village in 1381: 4s 2d. However, there is no record of any children born to John and Alice Horton and in time the Horton property was left to the children of John's brother William Horton (IV.2).

 

    IV.2 WILLIAM HORTON

                                born undoubtedly at Mowsley Leicestershire, probably before or by 1324 as he was of majority age in 1345; died after 1381 at Mowsley; married Agnes (-) before 1381.

    William Horton, second son of John, was first of record at Mowsley on 4 April 1345. In the Schedule to the Brabazon Charter, already discussed. In this record he is identified as one of "John Horton's heirs" who were "free tenants at Mowsley," living and in possession of the Horton property there.

    William and his wife Agnes are next of record and named in the Poll Tax for Mowsley of 1381 which calls them residents, holding land at will and paying 3s 9d taxes, the second highest rate in the village. They are probably the parents, by reason of the name, of the William Horton (V.3) also named in the 1381 tax list, although it is possible that the younger William was their grandson, nephew or great nephew.

    A bubonic plague, which swept over Leicester in 1348-1349 must be considered in connection with not only Horton family history, but all English people living at the time. The results of the Black Death, as it was called, were disastrous; a third of the population was left dead. The great decrease in population increased wages gave more freedom to the villeins, reduced farming and the value of land, disrupted industry, depopulated whole villages and broke up some manors.

    This grim event may explain why only one son survived this generation of Hortons at Mowsley. William did have at least two male second cousins living at Leicester whose names are in records there.

 

    V.3 WILLIAM HORTON

                                born undoubtedly at Mowsley probab1y before or by 1360 as he was of majority age in l38l; died after 1390 at Mowsley, Leicestershire; married Joan (-) before 1381.

    William, probable son of William, certainly a direct descendant, is of record in the Mowsley Poll Tax of 1381. With wife Joan, he is shown as a land holding resident, paying a tax rate of 21d. The fact that this is the lowest tax rate of any Horton in Mowsley in that year suggests that William's father still lived and occupied the family property. His name suggests that he was the son or grandson of William, but see above (William Ix.2).

    William was probably the complainant whose name appears on the De Banco Roll of 1390, a "plea of assault at Mowsley" against John Paynell of Knaptoft. After this action, in the 13th year of the reign of Richard II (the outcome of the plea being unknown), his name disappears from the records.

    William Horton left at 1east(one son (VI.2) who in time also left a male heir (VII.2) as shown by a historical note recorded by the Rector of Mowsley. Rev. J.H. Green, who served St. Nicholas Parish Church from 1876 to 1915, and would have been in an excellent position to know the small hamlet of Mowsley, left among his unpublished papers a note:

    The Hortons are still represented in Mowsley, and the messuage situated on the North side of the Church was in their possession in 1761. The old house on the Churchyard wall was pulled down, and a new house built in 1761 on the other side of the property. In putting up a new fence on the North side of the Churchyard in 1909, the foundations of the old house were discovered.

    This note is highly significant as a statement by a reliable eye-witness that in 1909 he saw the foundations of the old Horton messuage unearthed in the precise location they were described in the document of 4 April 1345, And further, that he knew that the messuage was still in the possession of the Horton family in 1761, which could not be said if any Horton daughter had taken it with her as dowry land when she married .

 

    VI.2 HORTON

                        born undoubtedly at Mowsley; died at Mowsley, Leicestershire; married (?) one son. This son of William Horton (V.3) is identified in the note of Rev. Green, rector of Mowsley, only as a Horton heir who inherited and occupied throughout his lifetime the messuage and le Prest Croft on the north side of St. Nicholas Parish Church yard.

    This Horton householder of unknown given name is also of reference in a valuable historical article by Dr. W.G. Hoskins. In his discussion of The Leicestershire Farmer in the Sixteenth Century," Hoskins comments, in connection with "the leading yeomen of the village of 1524-25" who "were representatives of families that had long been rooted in the same place" (underlining here and following is mine):

    At Mowsley, there were the Hortons, the leading family in the village throughout the Tudor period, who had been there since Edward III's time [1327-1377]....

    Of the eleven different family names in Mowsley in 1524 only the name of Horton is found in the poll tax list of 1381: all the others had appeared since that date....

    Generally speaking, there were in the Leicestershire village of Tudor days [1485-1603] only two or three families who had been there since the fourteenth century and these old families were usually the most prosperous yeomen. Many of them owed their long stay in one place to their ownership of an ancient freehold of thirty acres of so of land.

    It is apparent that this son of William Horton (V.3) lived long enough to pass on to his son or sons a thorough schooling in the prevailing practices of successful farming.

 

    VII.2 HORTON

                            born undoubtedly at Mowsley; died at Mowsley, Leicestershire, probably after 1450; married ---- C-) and had at least one son.

    This grandson of William Horton (V.3) is affirmed only as a Horton heir and holder of Horton property in Mowsley, by the two authorities already given.

    Horton-Smith concludes that this grandson of William Horton (V.3) possibly had two sons: Thomas whose son William was living in Saddington in 1554 and Richard (VIII.2). Since Richard was born about 1450, as will be discussed, that date is the only one, which can be associated with this Horton individual.

 

    VIII.2 RICHARD HORTON

                                born undoubtedly at Mowsley about 1450, as his grandson's marriage date is about 1532; died before 1 June 1515 at Mowsley, Leicestershire; married Anne (-) whose two wills were dated 1504-1515 at Mowsley.

    Richard Horton was called "of Mowsley and holder of Smyth Place thereat," as well as "Yeoman" in his widow Anne's will which was dated 1 June 1515. Anne Horton's first will was dated 1504, 1514, or 1515 (no longer decipherable). Both wills proved together at Leicester during the period 1515-1526.

    Richard and Anne Horton held considerable property in Mowsley as is evident when the two wills are read together. The Horton lands had been increased by dowry and by purchase. In the wills three sons are named: William, Thomas and Richard Horton (IX.3)

    "Eldest son William Horton" is appointed his mother's executor in the first will and left "one tenement in Leicester and all the lands and tenements which I have in My Petlynge" (Peating Magna, 4 miles northwest) "lately purchased." William had married 1) Alice (-) before 1515; he later married 2) Agnes (Dawe), widow of ---- Burdyd whose will was dated at Saddington on 12 February 1539/40 and proved at Leicester before 25 March 1540. William's place of residence and children, if any, are unknown.

    To her second son Thomas Horton, Anne left "one messuage and one virgate of land called Pkynes" (Parkyn's) "land in Mowysley, and one messuage and one virgate of land in Sadeyngton lately purchased from Thomas Harvey, esq., and which were late my husband's, and also one messuage in Mowsley called Smyth Place." In her second will, she repeated the bequests to Thomas, adding "...all the lands and tenements that Richard Horton my husband late purchased from Symon Malyry, esq., and of Wm. Ros." Thomas had married Maud (-) in whose will dated 2 November 1560, proved 12 December 1560 at Leicester, he is called "Thomas Horton of Mowsley, Yeoman. "Thomas and Maud had four sons; their second son William Horton of Mowsley is the ancestor of L.G.H. Horton-Smith who has traced that line further.

    To her third son Richard Horton (IX.3), Anne left a legacy (not specified) in her first will. Probably she handed him the legacy in person sometime prior to the writing of the second will for he is not mentioned in it.

 

    IX.3 RICHARD HORTON

                                born at Mowsley probably by 1485 since his first-born son was of majority age by 1533; died after 16 February 1539/40 at Mowsley, Leicestershire; married ---- (-) probably before 1511 at Mowsley.

    Richard Horton, third son of Richard and Anne Horton was first of record when mentioned in the first will of his mother, already cited. In that instance, he was named as recipient of a legacy, which was not specified. He probably received the legacy from his mother before 1 June 1515 when she wrote her second will at Mowsley but made no mention of him.

    Richard doubtless inherited some of his fathers considerable property and occupied this family property in Mowsley throughout his lifetime. It may have been le Prest Croft which he received as a legacy from his mother since neither of the two Mowsley properties, which his brother Thomas received, was so designated.

    "The Hortons of Mowsley were in 1524 assessed on three-quarters of the personal estate of the entire village", Hoskins tells us from his examination of the tax lists. He adds that this Horton family of Mowsley was "wealthy yeomen who headed the subsidy list". These must have been the three brothers, all living in 1524: William, Thomas and Richard Horton.

    Richard married an unknown wife and had sons: Thomas (X.l), Robert and Bartholomew. Robert's marriage to Ellenor (-) is of record at Saddington in 1538; no children are of record. Bartholomew's marriage to an unnamed wife is also of record at Saddington on 7 October 1548; no children of this marriage are of record either.

    Richard served as witness for the writing of his sister-in-law's will on 16 February 1539/40; Agnes Horton of Saddington, widow, had as her other witness her brother John Dawe.

 

    X.1 THOMAS HORTON

                                born at Mowsley by 1511 if of majority age when called "husbandman" about 1533-1538; died at Saddington, Leicestershire, after 8 November 1560;married ---- C-).

    Thomas Horton, oldest son of Richard, was first of record as Complainant in a Chancery Suit recorded in the period l533-l538. In this suit, "Thomas Horton of Mowsley, husbandman, son and heir of Richard Horton" (IX.3) complained that one Robert Inyn/Immyns "being a great rich man", had lately "forcibly expulsed him" from " 11 acres of arable land and 1/2 acre of meadow in the town and fields of Sadyngton" which had "descended to him" (Thomas) "as son and heir". Robert Inyns' reply claimed that the land in question had descended to him from "his ancestors, time out of mind," thus denying the Horton claim. The court's disposition of this case is not known. Thomas was married about 1532 (estimation based on the Chancery Suit and his two younger brothers' marriage dates); his wife's name is unknown.

    Thomas was living in Saddington by 1554 when he was of record in a land transaction. The origins of the controversy which resulted in this transfer of land are not clear from the available records; it is certain that Thomas's grandfather Richard Horton (VIII.2) and wife Anne had held property at Saddington which by Anne's two wills was clearly left to their second son Thomas. It may be significant that their eldest son William's widow Agnes dated her will at Saddington where she presumably resided at that time, 12 February 1539/40, possibly on the property which William had purchased. Therefore, the possibility exists that Thomas (X.l) was "defendant" in 1554 of land which his uncles William Horton or Thomas Horton had purchased or inherited from his grandfather Richard Horton (VIII.2). Further, care must be taken to distinguish Thomas (X.l) from his cousin of the same name, Thomas Horton son of Thomas and Maud Horton (see Richard Horton VIII.2), who also lived in Saddington. However, since the acreage of the property which was contested in 1554 was considerably greater that the "one virgate of land in Sadeyngton lately purchased from Thomas Harvey, esq." and left to Thomas (X.l)'s uncle Thomas, the likelihood is that the contested property had never been held by Richard Horton (VIII.l).

    Any search into this puzzling land transaction should include inquiry into the identity of William Warde, "Plaintiff" in the 1554 record, and his relationship to Richard Warde who was one of the three Overseers of the Will of Maud Horton in 1560. Perhaps the unknown wife of Thomas (X.l) was a Warde daughter and the land in question was dowry land to which a Warde son laid claim.

    The 1554 record shows only that the controversy was "Between William Warde, Plaintiff, and Thomas Horton, defendant, of a messuage, a toft" (a site for a dwelling and its outbuildings) "a garden, 66 acres of land, 12 acres of meadow, 40 of pasture, and 3 of wood in Saddington". Thomas made no reply which was recorded, but the conclusion of the matter was that Thomas received "Grant by William to Thomas for life, then to John Horton son of Thomas, and John's lawful issue, in default to Thomas, son of Thomas Horton, and his lawful issue, in default to William Horton and his lawful issue." From this we learn that Thomas (X.l) and his wife had at least two sons, John and Thomas (XI.3) living in 1554, and by confirmed grant, 121 acres at Saddington.

    Thomas was last of record in the will of his aunt, Maud Horton, widow of his uncle Thomas Horton, on 2 November 1560. He was then "of Saddington", a legatee, one of the Overseers of the will, and by her called "my cosyn" (nephew). On 8 November 1560, he joined in taking the inventory of her goods, at Mowsley, with his cousin John Horton (Maud's son) and Richard Warde (possibly his brother-in-law).

    The oldest known son of Thomas, John Horton who was named in the 1554 land grant, married about 1555 Elizabth (-) who was buried at Saddington on 2 November 1577 as "wife of John Horton". John was buried at Saddington shortly after 28 February 1588/9; his will dated 8 February 1588/9 was proved at Leicester on 22 April 1589. John and Elizabeth Horton had eight children including four sons, but only the oldest Son Thomas continued at Saddington and on 22 February 1595/6, his only son William was buried there in infancy. The second and third sons of John died without issue; the fourth son William was living, under 21 years of age, on 8 February 1588/9; he proved the will of his younger brother John Horton on 10 March 1596/7, and disappeared from Leicestershire records.

    In the same 1554 record a William Horton was named third in line to receive the Property. The grant stipulated that John Horton "son of Thomas" (X.l) is to receive the property upon the death of Thomas; and Thomas Horton "son of Thomas" (X.l) is next in line to receive the property upon the death of his brother John; then the last named is a "William Horton and his lawful issue" --his relationship to Thomas (X.l) not given. He disappeared from Leicestershire records after 1554.

 

    XI.3 THOMAS HORTON

                                    born probably at Mowsley, died at Saddington, possibly the Thomas Horton buried there on 1 October 1594; married ----(-) probab1y before 1575 at Saddington, Leicestershire.

    Thomas, third of the known sons of Thomas Horton (X.l) was living in 1554 when called "Thomas son of Thomas Horton (of Saddington). In that record, his father was granted property in Saddington by William Warde. After his father's death, the property was to go to older brother John Horton, his lawful heirs, and next to Thomas. Since John was buried at Saddington in 1588 leaving three sons, and Thomas himself seems to have predeceased nephews Thomas and William Horton surviving in 1594, Thomas apparently did not receive the property in Saddington.

    Thomas probably purchased some property in the Saddington area. The property holdings of Thomas and his Horton cousins who remained in Mowsley, also grandsons of Richard Horton (IX.3), attracted the attention of the Leicestershire historian Dr. Hoskins. He states that the tax lists show that "from 1546 onwards... both branches of the family" (the sons of Richard VIII.2 who left continuing family lines: Thomas and Richard IX.3 Horton) were "purchasing farms is these parishes" (Mowsley and Saddington). Dr. Hoskins goes on to describe the Horton family as "an excellent example of solid yeomen...who rose more slowly" (than the spectacularly successful yeomen he had previously discussed) "steadily buying farms rather than whole manors."

    Thomas (XI.3) and his unknown wife had two sons of record at Saddington: Thomas (XII.5) and William (xII.6). Thomas (XII.6), oldest son, was probably born before 1575; he married A1ice(-) about 1605. This Thomas and his wife Alice may be the Thomas Horton and wife who recorded their children's births at Tredington, Warwickshire, according to parish records there: Thomas born 2 Aug. 1609, Nathaniell (sic) born 18 Dec. 1610, John born 30 Dec. 1611, Abraham born 10 July 1614 Isaac born 15 Sept. 1616 and died 2 March 1617, Maria born 29 Oct. 1617, and Isaac (again) born 20 January 1620. Thomas and his wife then disappeared from Tredington records (where no Horton family records were seen before their appearance in 1609). Sometime in the year 1618, however, Thomas went to Gumley, Leicestershire, and purchased one acre of meadow, 28 acres of pasture and one acre of wood for £41.56 He returned to Tredington for his family and made the final removal after Isaac's birth in 1620. The expanded acreage was probably necessitated by increased flocks of sheep, for there was no mention of a dwelling house at Gumley. They probably lived at Saddington, two miles northwest of Gumley, where Alice was buried on 21 March 1628/9.

    Thomas (XII.5) and Alice Horton's third son John, b. 1611, was married about 1630 in Ratcliffe Culey, Leicestershire, to Katherine Farmer, daughter of Ursula Farmer, widow. Following this circumstance, a controversy arose between the parents of the young couple, perhaps over dowry land; the resultant Chancery Suit provides evidence for us of four generations of Hortons. The Bill of Complaint was dated 27 November 1633 wherein the plaintiff was Ursula Farmer of Ratcliffe Culey, widow. The defendant was "Thomas Horton the Elder, of Saddington, Yeoman" who gave answer dated 20 January 1633/4. In his answer, Thomas spoke of his lands in Saddington as being "lands which had come down to him from his ancestors". (The property in question was doubtless the land which was granted in 1554 by William Warde to his grandfather Thomas Horton (X.l), then held in turn by his uncle John, his cousin Thomas Horton who was living in 1604, and sometime after that, his cousin William Horton having left Leicestershire, the land descended to him. The legacy of land night have prompted his return from Tredington, Warwickshire, back to Saddington.) Thomas also stated that he had himself purchased a close of 25 acres called "Little Wood" in Gumley.

    Thomas (XII.5) wrote his will 30 January 1633/4 at Saddington, and died on 17 February 1634/5; his will was proved at Leicester on 26 February 1634/5 with a short Codicil of February 1634/5 attached to it. On 24 September 1635, an inventory of his holdings was recorded at the Castle of Leicester showing him as "seised in his demesne as of fee and in a messuage, a cottage and land" etc. in Saddington, and with a close of pasture, namely Little Close, in Gumley"; his son and next heir was John (XIII.3) Horton then "aged 24 years and upward". The will appointed "my brother William (XII.6) Horton and his son John (XIII.8) Horton to be Overseers". Thus the Saddington property granted in 1554 to Thomas (X.1), the close of Little Wood purchased in 1618 by Thomas (XII.5), oldest son of Thomas Horton (XI.3), and the will of that same Thomas (XII.5) in which he names his son, brother and nephew, taken together, show the relationships of four generations of Hortons.

    It may be useful to comment further on the children of Thomas and Alice Horton, for theirs was the generation of emigration to the American colonies. Their oldest son Thomas was believed by Horton-Smith to have been that Thomas Horton "who died unmarried at the age of about 21 and was buried at Saddington on 17 July 1633." Of the second Nathaniel, nothing is known.

    John Horton, third son, b. 1611, after marriage with Katherine Farmer, was named son and next heir" in his father's will of 1633/4, inherited his father's property in 1635, sold some of it both at Saddington and at Gumley, and was living at Saddington in 1658 as "John Horton, gent."

    Abraham Horton, fourth son, b. 1614, may be the "A. Haughton", proprietor of Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1636; and the Abraham Horton later of London as witness in a 7 March 1654 merchant's transaction. In this event, Michell Rayner (relative of the Edith Reyner mentioned in Footnote 52?) bestowed upon the mariner Henry Parkes of London the power of attorney in order that he transact business in his behalf in New England. The second witness was John Hicks who because of his presence at this and related business transactions in New England, may be the person of Weymouth in 1637, Newport in 1639, a patentee of Flushing, L.I., in 1644 and Hempstead by 1658. This Abraham's business associates were all interested in trading during the period 1636-1654. I find the name of "Abraham" very rare in English Horton families. Of Isaac Horton, fifth son, b. 1620, nothing has been found.

 

    XII.6 WILLIAM HORTON

                            born certainly at Saddington before 1576 if 21 years of age in 1597; died 14 February 1637/8 at Gumley; buried there the same day; married on 29 August 1597 to Isabell Freeman.

    William Horton, second of the known sons of Thomas, was first of, record at Saddington on 29 August 1597 when he married Isabell Freeman, probably of the large Gumley family of that name.

    William purchased the manor of Gumley on 31 January 1608 from Sir Thomas Griffin. Nichols also tells us that in 1610, William with two other plaintiffs purchased three messuages and land in Gunley from Sir Edward Griffin, knt., Lucy his wife, and Sir Thomas Griffin, knt., for £200. In 1611, William and one of the two plaintiffs, Richard Iliffe, purchased two messuages and land at Theddington, Leicestershire, from Thomas Cave for £100.65.

    William was named in the will of his brother Thomas, dated 30 January 1633/4 at Saddington, where he is called "brother" and appointed, with his son John Horton, to be an Overseer.

    William's own will, dated 14 February 1637/8 at Gumley, proved 27 August 1638 at Oadby, named his children John, Thomas (XIII.9), James, Andrew, Robert, William, Elizabeth and Mary, all living, the two daughters unmarried.6Horton-Smith adds to the family Ellin who was baptized at Gumley on 11 March 1617/8 and died there the following day, and Frances who was buried at Gumley on 6 December 1629 as "Frances Orton"; their birth dates, estimated by a comparison of available records, all cited below, are: John 1589, Thomas 1600, James 1602, Andrew 1604, Robert 1606, and William 1608.

    William's oldest son John married Margery Caslin/Kestin, had seven children, inherited the Gumley property and dated his will there 5 October 1664, which was proved at Leicester on 3 August 1667. His descendants have been traced another four generations by Horton-Smith.

    William's widow, called "my deare Mother Issabell Horton" was living on 3 July 1649 when their second son Thomas mentioned her in his will written at Cardiff, Wales. Thomas also named his "Good Brother John Horton.. two sisters Elizabeth and Mary Horton... brother Henry Freeman and James Horton" (Henry Freeman's relationship is not clear)".. my brother Andrew Horton.. my brother William and his wife..." with John Horton and James Horton appointed with three others to be Overseers of the will and "Gardianes of my only Sonne and Executor Thomas Horton".

    William and Isabell Horton's son Robert apparently died between 14 February 1637/8 and 3 July 1649, or for another reason was not mentioned by son Thomas, who named all of his other siblings in the same order as had his father in his will. Search was made in the Leicestershire records by the antiquarian Henry Hartopp, who could not find the names of Thomas, James, Robert or William Horton after the date of their father's will. Andrew Horton was of record in Leicester as overseer of the highways in 1657, apparently married about 1662, and had daughter Liddia bapized at St. Mary's, Leicester, in.1663.

    William and Isabell Horton's son William, called living in his father's will of 14 February 1637/8, had probably already emigrated to New England at that time. He was, I believe, the William ĎHouhtoní who voyaged in the "Increase" from London in 1635. He gave his age then as 22 years, and he could well have been born about 1613, being listed only as the sixth and youngest son in that will. Pope tells us that he settled at Boston and was a butcher by trade. On 3 July 1649, in his brother Thomas's will, a bequest is mentioned "to my brother William "ffiftie pounds val. and his wife in his hands". From this it appears that Thomas might have loaned William the £50 for the passage money since it was already in his hands, and that Thomas had knowledge of Wi1liam's marriage. On 6 December 1649, a William 'Houghton' appeared in particular Court in Hartford, Connecticut. He was Plaintiff against Jervis/Jeruis Mudge in an action of debt to the value of £6 lOs. In that action, the Court granted William right to the Cowe" which the defendant Mudge had formerly "sould him in Satisfaction for the Debt." This William was probably William Horton, butcher, who could, reasonably enough, accept a cow in payment of a debt. Pope tells us that William Horton returned to Boston by 6 February 1651, when his daughter Sarah was baptized there. His whereabouts after that are not known, of if he ever had further contact with any of the Leicestershire relatives.

 

    XIII.5 COLONEL THOMAS HORTON

                                            born undoubtedly at Saddington, Leicestershire, probably in 1600; died in Ireland of malaria on the military march from Ross to Waterford, between 3 July 1649 and 25 Oct. 1649; probably married --- (-) by 1641.

    Thomas, second son of Wi1liam, was born in Saddington, where his parents were married in 1597. The family removed to Gumley sometime after his father purchased the manor of Gumley in 1608.

    In his youth, Thomas entered service in the household of Sir Arthur Haselrig/ Heslerig; a wealthy Puritan whose manor was located nine miles northeast of Gumley at Mosley. Here he was trained as a falconer. Sir Arthur, whose considerable career in national politics has been noticed by several historians, delighted in the country pastimes of hawking and falconry. Oliver Cromwell, a long-time friend of Sir Arthur, also loved hawking and this circumstance combined with the common religious and political views which both men held, brought them together--all three of them in fact--in the fields of Leicestershire.

    Thomas Hortonís life was unquestionably shaped by these two who were his contemporaries, Cromwell (to whose cause Thomas devoted his life, was born in 1599) and Sir Arthur Haselrig. Ironically, a third individual whose life affected Thomas Horton to a high degree, was also born in 1600: Charles I who became King of England in 1625. Since Thomas played an important role in the momentous events of his time, much more is known of his life than of any of his Leicestershire family. And strangely enough, perhaps for the same reason, very little is known about his son's life.

    The momentous events that engulfed England during Thomasís lifetime must be dealt with here, however briefly, for some understanding of them seems essential to an appreciation of his place in history and in this genealogy.

    Thomas Horton was born in the final years of the reign of Elizabeth I. The succession to the throne of James I in 1603 marked the beginning of a course that would eventually lead to the complex series of struggles known as the English Civil War (1642-1649).

    Politically, Englishmen were divided between those whose chief loyalty was to the crown and those who wished to limit royal power, particularly the landed gentry and local officials in counties and cities. At the highest level it was a struggle between Parliament and two kings, James I, 1603-1625, and Charles 'I, 1625-1649.

    Economically, from Parliament down, Englishmen of all levels were deeply divided. Charlesís eleven-year suspension of Parliament (1629-1649) only increased opposition to his taxation measures, his tampering with industry and trade, and his foreign policy bred a widespread suspicion of corruption in the court.

    Religiously, there were highly sensitive questions involving the power and intolerance of the established Anglican Church (within which Puritanism was emerging with diversity and promise of powerful possibilities), the continued strength of Roman Catholicism especially in Ireland, the demands of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, and the steady spread throughout the countryside of the Bible (authorized by James I in the English language) which gave every literate Englishman a new sense of individual control over his spiritual destiny.

    The unrest in England was further subjected to attempts of the Spanish, French and Dutch courts to influence events in England to their own benefit, while internally the vacillations of the kings and the intrigues of a host of civil, ecclesiastical, and military leaders throughout the British Isles added chaos. Such was the tumultuous half-century into which Thomas Horton was born.

    His native Leicestershire had been well known for its religious fervor from the time of John Wycliffe's service as rector of nearby Lutterworth (1374-1384). At Market Harborough, five miles southeast of Gumley, the wealthy Puritan Robert Smythe founded in 1614 a grammar school, which was built, with his bequest. Thomas appears to have had a fair education, probably in Market Harborough, as evidenced by the language of his will and his firm signature on a public document, soon to be discussed.

    Brought together, then, in the country pastime of hawking, Sir Arthur Haselrig, Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Horton shared common views, and in time, a camaraderie developed which lasted until their deaths. Haselrig and Cromwell are both of record as favoring the Petition of Right of 1628, by which Parliament attempted to check the power of the king, and both consistently championed local rights. Their stated sympathies clearly led them away from the established authorities, both king and church. Thomas Horton's association with these two prominent Puritans was to have a profound effect on the course of his life.

    Although Anglican persecution of the Puritan sect increased under Archbishop Laud, Haselrig and Cromwell for a time saw no need to join the Separatist Puritans, who had gone to Holland as early as 1607 and by 1621 were living at Plymouth Plantation in the New World. Rather, their course of statesmanship was based on the hope that Charles I would soften his attitude concerning political and religious rights of the individual.    

    By the end of the 1620ís, however, harvests in England were bad, poverty was rife, and the prospects of improved rights were discouraging. Not surprisingly, many Puritans became interested in emigrating to the New World; a large company departed under the leadership of John Winthrop, Sr., in the great fleet of 1630 which resulted in a ring of little towns edging Boston harbor in Massachusetts.

    Cromwell and Haselrig joined with another group of wealthy Puritans under the leadership of John Winthrop, Jr., with the intention of establishing a settlement on 1,500 acres at the mouth of the Connecticut River, to be called Saybrook. In 1635 Winthrop led a party of servants and workmen, together with livestock and supplies, to build a fort and manor houses for the "most prominent Puritan lords and gentlemen," who were to follow.

    Although there is no documentary evidence, (the earliest records of Saybrook are not extant) there are reasons to believe that Thomas Horton was among the servants whom Haseirig sent to Saybrook. First, his several biographers have been unable to account for his whereabouts after he left the Haseirig household (if he did leave) prior to 1643. Second, it is highly unlikely that Thomas could have been commissioned a colonel in the Parliamentarian army in 1643 without prior military experience. Such experience could well have been acquired in skirmishes, say, under Capt. John Mason, with the Indians in the Connecticut valley during the early Saybrook years. Third, it is apparent that a number of Cromwellís soldiers were drawn from the colonies, as was Mason himself, who settled at Saybrook about 1637, but returned to serve under Sir Thomas Fairfax in England. Lastly, it is of record that Haselrig agreed to send servants to Saybrook to prepare for his planned emigration.

    In Alveston, Warwickshire, Back in England, which Thomas Horton may or may not have left, a solitary parish record exists: Thomas Horton and wife baptized their son Thomas Horton on 13 Feb. 1641. Attempts to date to prove or disprove this connection have been unsuccessful, and it remains the most probable record of the place and date of birth of Thomas's "only Sonne Thomas Horton". A summary of the facts, which led to this conclusion, is given with the son's life below.

    Sir Arthur Haseirig, as well as other prominent Puritans, had found it impossible to sell his estate without attracting the attention of Charles Iís government, which was concerned with any revenue possibilities from the landed gentry. Cromwell had been prevented by the king from emigrating and by 1641 was an outspoken Member of Parliament like Haselrig. On 4 Jan.1642, Charles I named Sir Arthur as one of those "Five Members" of Parliament who were ringleaders in "prolonged and treasonous attempts to wrench away" his royal authority. Lacking parliamentary support to enforce his orders for their arrest, Charles I left both the House of Commons and then London, never to return until the time of his death. During the restless months of 1642 there were certain negotiations, but both the Parliamentarians and the Royalists "desperately searched about for the materials of war" as one historian puts it.

    At Edgehill near Kineton, only 10 miles southeast of Alveston, on 23 Oct. 1642, the two sides met in conflict for the first time. Haselrig was there, having raised a troop of horse in Essex's army, and fought under the command of Sir William Balfour. Quite likely Thomas Horton was there too, mounted on a horse, which Sir Arthur provided. If Cromwell was at Edgehill at all, it was as an observer.

    However, by the spring of 1643, Cromwell had not only raised his own troop in his Native Huntingdonshire, but began to extend it into a regiment which would become a positive army, the New Model. And by May 1643, both Cromwell and Horton were colonels, Thomas in the army of Sir Thomas Fairfax; Sir Arthur was also an officer, commanding a regiment of cuirassiers in July 1643.

    On 24 June 1643, Parliament resolved that Thomas Horton be recommended to Lord Inchiquin "to have the command which Sir William Ogle formerly had in Ireland." Deep-seated resentment against the Kingís anti-Catholic policies still remained from the Irish rising of Oct. 1641. Most of the principal action of the Civil War took place in the northern and eastern parts of England, where Fairfax and Cromwell defeated the Kingís forces at Marston Moor in 1644 and at Naseby in 1645, forcing Charles to flee to Scotland.

    Col. Thomas Horton seems to have held the command in Ireland until early 1648, when a fresh revolt of Royalists broke out in South Wales and Parliamentary troops were assigned there. Col. Horton was sent there to "second Cromwellís operations", which he did "ably" Col. J. Philip Jones, born in Swansea, Wales about 1618, Parliamentarian officer also, became an associate of Thomas Horton when Jones was "hurried thither with a company of men from Swansea to reinforce the Parliamentary troops Under Col. Horton. He took part with Horton in all the subsequent marches until Horton came up with the Royalist forces at St. Fagans." This Philip Jones was later named in both of Thomas Horton's wills.

    Col. Thomas Horton had led an indecisive action against Col. Powell near Carmarthen followed by another "defeat, which he inflicted on Col. John Payerís forces... also indecisive" Then one of his most notable victories occurred on 8 May 1648, between St. Fagans and Peterstown in Wales, where he totally routed a Royalist force of 8,000 and took 3,000 prisoners, having about 3,000 in his own troops.

    Shortly after this, Cromwell joined his forces with Hortonís in pursuing the Royalists as far as Tenby Castle, where five or six hundred of them were holding out in an apparently impregnable position. While Cromwell moved on, Horton besieged Tenby and brought about its surrender on 31 May. For both of these victories Parliament ordered thanksgivings and settled lands confiscated from the Royalists on Col. Horton and his brigade. The levying of the fine of £20,000 on the counties of South Wales, according to an act passed 23 Feb. 1648/9 appears to have been entrusted to Jones and Horton    

    With South Wales now subdued, the main Parliamentarian force moved across Great Britain to defeat the Scottish army at Preston in northern England. Probably Thomas remained in South Wales as a military administrator.

    Finally, on 6 Dec. 1648, the victorious army under Fairfax and Cromwell entered London, arrested the king, expelled the Presbyterian majority from Parliament, and established a High Court of Justice to try the king as a war criminal. Thomas Horton was certainly in London at this time, for along with other New Model Army officers and a number of prominent Leicestershire men, he was appointed a judge of the High Court. He attended the sessions every day and, when the fateful moment came, was the forty first of the fifty-seven signers of the warrant for the execution of the king. There is some evidence that only the first twenty-eight men signed voluntarily, the rest requiring persuasion. Whatever the truth may be, the execution took place in front of Whitehall on an icy 30 Jan. 1649. The way was now open for the establishment of the Puritan Commonwealth for which Thomas had fought so valiantly. Cromwell would be named Lord Protector in 1653, and Sir Arthur Haselrig would become one of the most powerful men in England in the coming decade.

    Col. Horton apparently returned shortly to South Wales, where he now had an estate and was to serve Cromwell as a commissioner. But early in the summer of 1649 his regiment was drawn by lot to go into Ireland. Prompted perhaps by his imminent departure, he took up pen on 3 July and wrote his will, "in the presence (and probably also the house) of John St. Loe, John Fennell, and Margaret St. Loe" in Cardiff. This will, and another that Thomas wrote a few months later, contain many valuable clues which provide a clear identification of Thomas himself, as well as highly significant a clues concerning his son.

    The 3 July 1649 will mentions for the first time "my only Sonne Thomas Horton" to whom he left the bulk of his estate; the son to be executor when he reached the age of twenty-one. Until then, five "gardianes" are named to oversee the will and to "manage his estate to his sole benefitt and best advantage", a deliberate choice of wording which suggests that the testator left no other survivors, neither wife nor daughters. Since Col. Horton had often gone into battle since Edgehill in 1642, his wife may have been previously provided for, if in fact she was living on 3 July 1649.

    Thomas's will leaves small bequests to several members of his family: his mother Isabell Horton, his sisters Elizabeth and Mary, and his brothers John, James, Andrew and William. The bequests to Andrew and William are apparently for sums already loaned to them, which were now forgiven. The amount for William and his wife is fifty pounds, considerably larger that the other bequests. Since it is certain that William had left Gumley and had not kept in touch with the family, it would seem that Thomas knew of Williamís marriage and whereabouts. A particularly enigmatic reference is a small bequest to his "brother Henry Freeman" whose identity is unknown.

    Thomas remembered his Puritan mentor Sir Arthur Haselrig and his wife Dorothea, John and Margaret St. Loe, Col. J. Philip Jones and Walter Cradock all with small sums to be used to buy memorial rings. Such rings were a custom of the time, especially with family or friends who were not in financial straits.

    Thomas named as guardians: Col. J. Philip Jones, John Saintloe/St. Loe (variously spelled in the will), Walter Cradock and Thomasís brothers John and James Horton. They were specifically charged to see that young Thomas "may be educated in the Grace of God and in Knowledge of the Ghospel of Jesus Christ... and I do give Them or any three of Them power to order and mannage his estate".

    Thomas signed and sealed his will, with the St. Loes and John Fennell, his "faithful Servant", acting as witnesses. He may have left Cardiff for Ireland within the week with his newly reorganized regiment. Part of his old regiment had refused to go to Ireland and had disbanded. Cromwell himself was appointed to command the campaign.

    By mid-October 1649, the army was on the march between Ross and Waterford in Ireland. Although the campaign was generally going well, the weather was dreadful, and illness, particularly "low malarial fever", was taking a heavy toll of the army, One historian reports that as many as a thousand men were lost to disease that season. Among those, struck dawn was Thomas Horton.

    Shortly before his death, probably in mid-October 1649, Thomas wrote an addition to his earlier will. In the second-will, which was undated but witnessed by Oliver Latham and Richard Eljer, he disposed of numerous horses, saddles, bridles, clothing, and weapons in his possession at the time, giving most of them to his army comrades. A particularly touching gift is that of his horse called "Haselrigg" to Cromwell. Twelve pounds, forty shillings (probably his cash in hand) was to be divided among the sixty men of his regiment. An additional bequest of special interest was ten pounds for the "Saints in Wales" to be dispersed at the discretion of Mr. Cradock, 'Minister of the Ghospel", and Col. Jones. This would appear to be intended for the group of baptized believers of which Thomas was apparently a member; the inclusion of Col. Jones's name here places him with the group.

    Exactly when Thomas first had joined a Baptist congregation is not clear. Baptist congregations took the name from their belief that adult baptism by immersion was an outward sign of Christian faith and repentance. The denomination had begun in England by 1608 and experienced a period of rapid growth during the Commonwealth period. A Baptist congregation meeting in the Glass House in London recorded many adult baptisms in the spring of 1649. Those months following the execution at Whitehall were a time of spiritual uncertainty for many Puritans, and, for some, guilt resulting from their part in the death of the king. Thomas may have joined this group, along with John Myles, a former chaplain with the Parliamentarian forces in South Wales. Myles returned for a time to Ilston, Glamorganshire, with renewed zeal to preach spiritual peace to war-weary Welshmen. Sampson Mason, a possible relative of Capt. John Mason, has also been identified with this congregation. After serving under Cromwell, the younger Mason became a Baptist and returned to New England where he and Myles were later among the founders of the first Baptist church in Massachusetts, at Rehoboth, later Swansea.

    Thomas Horton's appointment of a Baptist minister as one of his son's guardians in his first will, and the bequest for the "Saints in Wales" in his second, are strong evidence that he had experienced a spiritual conversion, either in London or after his return to Wales as Cromwell's commissioner. Apparently the St. Loes were also in the faith, for in his first will, Thomas refers to John as "my brother (cymri lanro)", an affectionate term that I read as "my Welsh Brother in the Church."

    In his second will Thomas left a final £10 to his "Good Brother" John Horton, all other goods or money in Ireland to be disposed of by Lomax and "my loving Servant" John Fennell, who was probably at his side as he completed dictating his will. Thomas died without signing it and was undoubtedly buried in a soldier's unmarked grave on Irish soil. He was about forty-nine years of age.

    Aside from the second will, which is rich in details of a soldier's life, we have eloquent if brief details of Thomas's death from a personal letter written by Oliver Cronwell. Writing on 25 Oct.1649 to the Speaker of Parliament, Cromwell added a postscript noting that "Colonel Horton is lately dead of the country disease leaving a son behind him." In Nov. Cromwell's own cousin being another victim, he wrote in a letter, commenting on both deaths so near and dear to him: "Thus you see how God mingles out the cup unto us."

    Thomas supplemental will was carefully carried by Oliver Latham and Richard Eljer to Cardiff, where it was appended to and recorded with his earlier will. Together the two documents were proved on 16 Jan. 1650/1.

    Regarding the wife of Thomas Horton, nothing has been found in the records to prove that she did or did not survive him. If she was Welsh-born, as tradition in the American Horton family suggests, she may have been a daughter or other relative of John and Margaret St. Loe; I have not searched any records for their family in Cardiff. This possibility is enhanced by the fact that Thomas wrote his will in their presence and appointed John St. Loe as a guardian of his son.

    Possibly Thomas's wife was a sister or close relative of his army friend Philip Jones; several of the Jones name were baptised in the Ilston congregation of Rev. Myles and later emigrated to Rehoboth and Swansea, Massachusetts.

    A third possible wife for Thomas might be a hometown girl of the Freeman family at Gumley, Leicestershire. I have not searched in that family. Seemingly he had long been absent from Gumley, and his young son was in Cardiff, Wales, in 1649. But who was the Henry Freeman mentioned in Thomas's first will?

    A fourth, and least likely, possibility is a Rachel (Smith) Horton mentioned in the 13 Jan. 1660 will of her brother Richard Smith of St. Dunstanís West, London. Richard stipulated that she was to receive "one third part of the land called Welshmanís." This Rachel Horton had at least one child, for her brother mentions "the heirs of her body. She would have been the right age to be the widow of Thomas Horton, "the land called Welshmanís" is intriguing, and the Milton, Massachusetts, settler Thomas Horton gave the name Rachel to his only daughter. But nothing further is known of her.    

    In summary, Col. Thomas Horton may have married a girl from Gumley, Leicestershire, or South Wale's; of this marriage he unquestionably had one son, Thomas Horton, who was perhaps baptized at Alveston, Warwickshire, on 13 Feb. 1641 and thus about eight years of age when called under age on 3 July 1649. This son, I believe was the Thomas Horton who emigrated to New England, lived in Milton from 1662 to 1704, and later removed to Rehoboth, Plymouth Colony.


Possible English Ancestry of Thomas Horton
Thomas Horton of Milton and Rehoboth Index page
Home

Hit Counter