HORNER, Sir John (1576-1659), of Mells, Som.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. 1576, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Thomas Horner† of Cloford, Som. and his 2nd w. Jane, da. of Sir John Popham†, c.j.q.b. 1592, of Wellington, Som.;1 bro. of Thomas Horner*; step-bro. of Arthur Champernowne*. educ. M. Temple 1594.2 m. by 1603, Anne (d. 22 Mar. 1666), da of Sir George Speke of White Lackington, Som. 5s, 6da (2 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1612;3 kntd. 7 July 1614.4 d. 5 Oct. 1659.5

Offices Held

J.p. Som. 1614-48, 1653-d.,6 sheriff 1614-15, 1644-6,7 commr. subsidy, 1621-2, 1624, 1641-2,8 collector, Privy Seal loan 1625-6;9 commr. enclosure, Sedgemoor, Som. 1628, depopulations, Som. 1632, Poll Tax 1641, Irish Aid 1642, assessment 1642-8;10 dep. lt. 1642-5;11 commr. maintenance of forces 1643, sequestration 1643, levying money 1643, execution of ordinances 1644, militia 1648-9, 1659;12 elder, classis of Wells and Bruton, Som. 1648;13 commr. scandalous ministers, Som. 1654.14


The Horners were settled at Mells by the fifteenth century, and rose to county status after investing heavily in ex-monastic lands after the Dissolution. Horner’s father, the first MP in the family, sat for Somerset in 1584 and 1586 and was a deputy lieutenant at his death.15 At the county election of 1614, Horner and his brother-in-law John Symes* took charge of the poll which saw the return of John Poulett*. Later the same year his father-in-law Sir George Speke appointed Horner one of the trustees of a lectureship at White Lackington.16 In December 1620, shortly before the next election, Horner was one of the Poulett supporters who declined to back William Seymour*, Lord Beauchamp, for a county seat, following a meeting with Sir Francis Seymour*.17

Horner was returned for Somerset himself at the 1626 election. The sheriff, Sir Robert Phelips* secured the election of Sir Henry Berkeley for the senior seat, while Horner, a Poulett supporter, was chosen to balance the ticket. He left no trace on the records of the Parliament. During the 1630s Horner was considered so disaffected in matters of religion that in 1639 he was judged unsuitable for a second term as sheriff.18 He and his cousin Alexander Popham* were the principal Somerset ‘gentlemen of eminent quality and fortune’ who openly opposed the king in the summer of 1642, and his estates, valued at £1,000 p.a., were quickly sequestrated by the local royalists. In July 1644 the king stayed at Mells, ‘a fair, large house of stone, very strong’.19

As sheriff at the end of the Civil War, Horner angered the Independent John Pyne* by securing the return of his son George as a Recruiter for Somerset. A religious and political Presbyterian himself, he refused to serve under the Rump, but returned to office under the Protectorate, serving as knight of the shire once again in 1654. He died on 25 Oct. 1659, leaving an incomplete will.20 His son George sat again in the Convention Parliament of 1660.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Vis. Som. (Harl, Soc. xi. 57).
  • 2. M. Temple Admiss.
  • 3. Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. iv. 162; J. Collinson, Hist. Som. ii. 464.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 154.
  • 5. Collinson, ii. 464.
  • 6. C66/1988 (dorse); Q. Sess. Recs. ed. E. Bates-Harbin (Som. Rec. Soc. xxviii), pp. xxi. 4.
  • 7. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 125.
  • 8. C212/22/20-3; SR, v. 66, 89.
  • 9. E401/2586, p. 264; APC, 1626, p. 168.
  • 10. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 167; SP16/229/112; SR, v. 107, 141, 155; A. and O. i. 69, 1091.
  • 11. D. Underdown, Som. in Civil War and Interregnum, 29; A. and O. i. 139.
  • 12. A. and O. i. 68, 116, 151, 460, 1243; ii. 1332.
  • 13. W.A. Shaw, Hist. Eng. Church, 1640-60, ii. 417.
  • 14. A. and O. ii. 974.
  • 15. Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 665; Som. Arch. and Nat. Hist. Soc. cxxiii. 70; Hertford Ltcy. Pprs. ed. W.P.D. Murphy (Wilts. Rec. Soc. xxiii), 197.
  • 16. Som. RO, DD/PH216/81; HMC Wells, ii. 368.
  • 17. HLRO, Commons lib. ms 19 (Horner et al. to earl of Hertford, 14 Dec, 1620).
  • 18. Som. Arch. and Nat. Hist. Soc. xiii. 11.
  • 19. Clarendon, Hist. of the Rebellion ed. W.D. Macray, ii. 295; Diary of Richard Symonds ed. C.E. Long (Cam. Soc. lxxiv), 32.
  • 20. Diary of Sir John Harington ed. J.F. Stieg (Som. Rec. Soc. lxxiv), 22; PROB 11/298, f. 258; Collinson, ii. 464.