The Horn, or Horne, family (the "e" seems to have been a later addition, possibly by census enumerators and other official record keepers and transcribers) were very long established in Englefield, the family's length of residence there possibly equalled only by the Englefields themselves, with whom the Horns certainly overlapped.
Alwin Horn had the manor of Englefield from King Edward in 1066, although his main property seems to have been at Kingsbury in Middlesex and it is not known if he stayed at Englefield at all. It is said that he went with King Harold first in September to Stamford Bridge and then on to Hastings where he met his end. In any event he was dispossessed of his lands by the new King William. We cannot, of course, adduce any connection between Alwin and the later family.
The Horns were certainly in Englefield around the time when parish records were first ordered by Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to Henry VIII, in 1538 for there is a record of the birth of John Horn in the village in 1544. Another John Horn is recorded as born in 1576 (probably son of the first John Horn) and that first John is also probably the one recorded as buried in 1583.
In the seventeenth century, Richard Horn (born 1640) was a mercer in Englefield and is included with 62 others in a list of inhabitants in the parish records for 1680. He died in 1692 and an inventory of his goods and chattels in the shop and his living quarters over it totalled £228 3s 6d. He died intestate owing certain sums of money to several people, which his father Robert undertook to pay. In return for the sum of £30 cash Richard's widow Margaret assigned all rights to the business premises and any credits due to her father in law. Margaret was probably Richard's second wife for there is a record of a marriage of Richard Horn to Elizabeth Langley in 1633 and her death in 1642. There were two sons, Robert and Richard, from this marriage though and Richard was listed as one of 55 inhabitants of Englefield in 1696. In 1677 Robert Horn, then a Yeoman of North Street, was elected as Churchwarden at St Mark's, Englefield and together with fellow warden William Kent presented in 1679 a set of church plate engraved with their initials. These men also collected the sum of £3-18-10 from the parishioners in 1678 towards the gilding of the new St Paul’s after the Great Fire. Robert's grandson John was also a churchwarden between 1717 and 1721.
Between 1649 and 1684 the Horns bought various pieces of land in Englefield and North Street and John Horne, the son of churchwarden John, who died in 1759 left property in North Street, six acres in Theale, two properties in Englefield known respectively as the New House and Knapps, a piece of land known as Bucklesmore in Englefield and a house and land in Tilehurst, transcribed as Bunce’s but possibly a misreading of Dunces, between his sons John, William and Thomas. John inherited the greater share and his farm together with Bucklesmore, left to William, covered the area between North Street and the river Pang at Hogmoor. Thomas Horn also owned property in Englefield at that time as well. During the Enclosures John and William acquired further pieces of land in compensation for the loss of their holdings in the common fields. John Horn died in 1813 and his wife Elizabeth in 1812 and they both have substantial gravestones in the favoured area of the parish churchyard just to the right of the church door. All these lands were sold to Richard Benyon in about 1819 and from then on the Horns became tenants, working on the Englefield Estate but the Horn ownership is still evident today in Horn’s Copse.
The Hornes (the "e" by now seemingly firmly established) were plentiful in Englefield during the 19th century and the 1851 census shows 5 separate Horne households in Englefield. By the Second World War the only person with the Horne name left in Englefield was Henry Horne at 39 Chalkpit Cottages but many of the girls born to Horne parents had married local men so a number of other well-known local families had Horne ancestry. These included the Cox, Parsons and Vince families and their descendants. Another such were the Winchcombs, among them Miss Bertha Winchcomb, whose mother was Mary Elizabeth Horne.
The last people to live in the village having been born as Hornes were sisters Emily Smith and Ethel Parsons, daughters of William George Horne and Fanny Pusey from Bradfield. They lived first in the old Wimbleton's Cottages then in number 7 the Street and finally just across the road in number 10. Ethel married George Parsons, a carpenter on the estate, in 1910 and they lived first in Tidmarsh. He died in 1933 and Ethel then lived at number 19 in Englefield Street with their children, where she died in 1982. Emily went out to service in Henley where she met and married William Percy Smith, at the time a furniture salesman. He became a farmworker and they moved around various places but when William Percy enlisted in 1915 Emily returned with their four children to live with her widowed mother at number 10. When William Percy came home in 1919 they lived first at Rose Cottage in North Street then at Thatcham. William Percy died in 1925 and Emily and the children (now five of them) returned again to number 10. Emily remained there as a widow for the next 56 years until her death in 1981.
© 2021 Richard J Smith