A Family History Collection
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THE HARSE FAMILY OF WRINGTON IN SOMERSET
ORIGINS OF THE HARSE FAMILY
Brian Austin, Consultant Family Historian, who has been researching the Harse family says that the Somerset Harses were difficult to research because of the variety of names used. Early references include ‘Hearse, Hurse and Hurst’. Some of them have also turned up as ‘Harris’. He says that the name “Harse” appears in and around the village of Badgworth in the late 17th Century and the family then spread into Bristol and surrounding area. The villages are Wrington, Uphill, Axbridge, Winscombe, Hutton, Weston Super Mare, Bleadon and Banwell in particular. All of Brian’s papers are willed to Somerset CR0.
It is believed that the “Harses” may be descended from some German, or possibly Austrian, miners imported into the Bristol area as specialist Calamine miners by Statute of Elizabeth I about 1560. Calamine (zinc carbonate) was at that time used in making brass. Pure zinc began to be used instead about 1779. Giles Pooley, Rector of Wrington between 1682 and 1709, wrote a long account of its mining in this area to the President of the Royal Society in 1684. It is reproduced in “The Mines of Mendip” by J.W. Gough and can be found in the Bristol Library.
Maureen Harse, daughter of Ernest Percy Harse, thought that the original German surname was “Hartz” and that the family originated from Bad Hartzburg in the Hartz mountain area of Germany. Meanwhile Walter Harse, son of Walter Colin Harse, believes that the family originated from Bonn in Germany.
THE HARSE FAMILIES IN WRINGTON
Most of the information concerning the family trees has come from Brian Austin. This has been supplemented by information from Michael Lawder, of Wrington. He has also provided information about where in the village the Harse families lived. Sources used, some of which are more reliable than others, are:
a)The 1738 Estate Map provides a list of those occupying properties and plots of ground owned by the Lord of the Manor.
b)The 1838 Map of the Parish determines productive land subject to the payment of ‘tithes’.
c)Lists of those that paid rates for the maintenance of the poor and the church between 1634 and 1862.
d)National Census held between 1851 and 1881.
e)Property title deeds.
The earliest Harse entry in the registers of Wrington Church is the burial of Elizabeth in October 1701. She was in all probability the wife of Thomas Harse, as the son of Thomas and Elizabeth, another Thomas, was buried here in September 1720. The younger Thomas must have born before his supposed mother died in 1701 though he was not baptised here.
It is intriguing that Thomas Harse only appears in the record of ratepayers for one year in 1722, but that was for Brook House plus several fields amounting to some 20 acres in the vicinity.
It has not been possible to identify further descendants of Elizabeth and Thomas. It has not been possible to provide a link with Richard Harse born in 1707. Known information about the ‘Harse’ families identified as living in Wrington is as follows
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