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Family and Education
of Leigh-on-Mendip, Som. b. by 1591, ?2nd surv. s. of Thomas Horner† (d.1612) of Cloford and his 2nd w. Jane, da. of Sir John Popham† of Wellington, Som., c.j.q.b. 1592; bro. of Sir John Horner*, step-bro. of Arthur Champernowne*. m. after 1612, Mary, ?s.p.1 admon. 25 Oct. 1651.2
of Mells, Som. and L. Inn, London. b. c.1603, 1st s. of Sir John Horner* of Mells and Anne, da. of Sir George Speke of Whitelackington.3 educ. Wells sch., Sidney Sussex, Camb. 1621,4 L. Inn 1622, called 1629. ?unm. d. aft. June 1629.5
The Thomas Horner who represented Minehead in 1626 and 1628 belonged to the prominent Somerset family based at Mells. However, there are two possible candidates, an uncle and nephew. As the election indentures describe this Member as ‘esquire’ in 1626, but ‘gentleman’ in 1628, it is unclear whether the same man sat on both occasions, or whether each of them entered the Commons in turn.8 There is no record of parliamentary activity which might shed light on the Member’s identity. Moreover, both men are likely to have employed the same electoral strategy. Mells lies almost 40 miles from Minehead, and the Horners owned no property near the borough, so they almost certainly relied on the mediation of their first cousin by marriage, Thomas Luttrell*, who had represented Minehead himself in 1625, and whose father was a major local landowner.9
Little is known about either man. The elder Horner’s greater age and experience ostensibly makes him the more likely candidate, but he seems to have spent his life as a quiet country gentleman, playing no known part in local government. His patrimony consisted of a £30 annuity, which he exchanged for two properties of equivalent value at Leigh-on-Mendip, around three miles from Mells.10 In 1621 he was assessed there for subsidy at £3 in goods. He died before October 1651, when administration of his estate was granted to one of his creditors. If he was the Minehead Member, he may have been prompted to stand by his elder brother, Sir John, who himself represented Somerset in 1626.11
The younger Horner was still a Lincoln’s Inn student during the period when he conceivably served in Parliament, but residence close to Westminster might well have been viewed in Minehead as an advantage, since it reduced the Member’s expenses and thus the need for the borough to offer wages. He had in fact already begun to play a small part in public life, for in May 1625 he and his father were both appointed as trustees for the workhouse at Shepton Mallet, six miles from Mells. Given that service in the Commons was often viewed by young gentlemen during this period as an educational opportunity, it might well have seemed fitting for Horner to secure a borough seat at the same time as his father sat for their county. Called to the bar on 16 June 1629, his subsequent career is unknown, but he seems to have died relatively early, the family estates descending instead to his younger brother George†.12
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: George Yerby / Paul Hunneyball
- 1. Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. iv. 162; PROB 11/120, f. 153.
- 2. PROB 6/26, f. 158.
- 3. Vis. Som. (Harl. Soc. xi), 57.
- 4. Al. Cant.
- 5. LI Admiss.; LI Black Bks. ii. 286.
- 6. Som. Enrolled Deeds ed. S.W.B. Harbin (Som. Rec. Soc. li), 238-9.
- 7. C181/4, f. 3v.
- 8. C219/40/132; 219/41A/65.
- 9. Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. iv. 162; Vis. Som. 125; Collinson, Hist. Som. ii. 12.
- 10. PROB 11/120, ff. 152v-3.
- 11. E179/171/350; PROB 6/26, f. 158.
- 12. LI Black Bks. ii. 286; Vis. Som. 57.