Research on the Father of William Hearne the Merchant

In 1981, James Hearn hired a professional genealogist in England to try to find the father of William Hearne the merchant.  He has kindly provided copies of the correspondence.  Months of research turned up no conclusive answer.  Indeed, records on William seem to be absent.  However, it will be useful to those wishing to search for the father of William, where research was conducted.

All correspondence here is from R.O. Dennys, M.V.O., O.B.E., F.S.A. Somerset Herald of Arms, College of Arms, Queen Victoria St., LONDON, E.D.4. to James B. Hearne, of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Letter Dated 10th November 1980

Mr. J. B. Hearn,
1209 Winchester Street,
Virginia 22401, U.S.A.

Dear Sir,
    Thank you for your letter of 1st November, and the information on your family.  Should you wish it, I can have some searches undertaken to see what can be found out about families of Hearn(e), with particular reference to the London area in the 17th century.  these searches would be done in our Official registers here (which began about 1530, and continue to the present) to see what references can be found for this surname, and what Coats of Arms are on record for the name.  At the same time, a few preliminary searches can be carried out in books and manuscripts in our library here, to see if we can subsequently undertake further more extensive research outside the College of Arms, with a view to finding out much more about the family.  This further work would obviously depend on the results of the preliminary searches.
    My report would be sent in the form of a typed letter, explaining what had been found, and what further work it would be possible to carry out.  If you wanted to prove a right to a Coat of Arms, we would have to establish your own descent from a Hearn(e) already on official record here with a Coat of Arms - and this would naturally involve a good deal of work, since the descent would have to be proved with full documentary evidence from America.  (Printed works are not accepted as evidence).  However, I can advise you better when the initial searches have been made: the results could not be forecast in advance, as I'm sure you realise.
    If you would like me to carry out the search and send my report, perhaps you could let me have a cheque ... in respect of the fee.

Yours faithfully,
R.O. Dennys
Somerset Herald of Arms.

Letter Dated 13 Jan 1981

Mr. J. B. Hearn,
1209 Winchester Street,
Virginia 22401, U.S.A.

Dear Sir,
    Thank you for your letter of 26th December, and enclosed fee... The searches you requested have now been carried out and I can summarise the results as follows.
    There are various entries for the surname in the Official Registers of the College of Arms (which began about 1530, and continue to the present day). These are listed below, but don't hesitate to let me know if you want more information about any of the points mentioned.

  1. A record was made about the funeral of Sir George Henege of Haynton in Lincolnshire, who died in 1595. His second wife Olive was daughter of Thomas Breton, and widow of Thomas Hearne of London, Esquire. No information at all is given about this Thomas, no whether he and olive had any children.
  2. A Coat of Arms was granted in 1865 to Thomas Hearn of Buckingham, gentleman, to be used by him and his male line descendants.
  3. At the Heralds' Visitation of Norfolk in 1589, a pedigree of the Whiple family was recorded. Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Whiple, married William Hearne, but no information is given about him.
  4. At the Herald's Visitation of Suffolk in 1664, a Baldwin family was registered. James Baldwin of Worlington in Suffolk married Margrett, daughter of William Hearne of Tibenham, Norfolk, and they had issue.
  5. At the same Visitation, a Colman family was registered. William Colman of Great Waldingfield in Suffolk had a daughter Elizabeth, who married Arthur Herne, B.D.
  6. At the Heralds' Visitation of Hampshire in 1686, information was registered on the family of John Coleman, J.P. and Alderman for Basingstoke in that county (he was born about 1624). His wife, Alice, was a daughter of William Herne of Basingstoke (whose ancestors came from Staffordshire). John and Alice had two sons and a daughter.
  7. A good deal of information is on record about the family of Nicholas Hyrne of Drayton in Norfolk. His son was Clement Hyrne (Hurne) who was Mayor of the City of Norwich about 1593, and had an estate at Haveringland in Norfolk. Clement's son was Thomas Hyrne of Haveringland, an Alderman of Norwich; he had a son named Clement, who married Mary Knyvett and had a son named Francis. This Francis Hirne lived at South Erpingham in Norfolk, and married Alice Warburton; in 1664 they were both living, with children John aged 16, Clement and Thomas. The Coat of Arms of this family was registered in 1596 for Clement Hurne, lately Mayor of Norwich. It is a shield with a gold background, with three paris of narrow red bars across it; on a white canton there are five red lozenges. The Crest is a black bloodhound with a narrow gold collar and leash. As you can see, this is totally different in design from the Coat of Arms mentioned in your letter.
  8. At the Heralds' Visitation of Norfolk in 1664, there was a pedigree registered which began with John Herne who lived at Godmanchester, in the county of Huntingdon. His son Robert lived at Tibenham in Norfolk, and married Margaret Bury. They had a son Robert, who also lived at Tibenham; in 16664 this last-named Robert was living, with children Robert aged 10, John, Nicholas and two daughters. They used a seal with a shield on it - a red background, with a chevron ermine, between three white herons.
  9. A Coat of Arms was granted to the Hall family, following the petition of Mrs. Sarah Hall, widow of Joseph Hall of London, merchant. She was the sister of Sir Nathaniel Herne and Sir Joseph Herne, both deceased. The Arms of her father's family were given as a black background, with a chevron ermine between three white herons. The name of her father is not given. No date is now apparent in this document; but it seems that Sir Joseph Herne died in 1699, and the Arms were certainly registered before Easter 1703, so this gives a period of about three years within which the Arms must have been recorded. Apparently the Herne Arms were already in use by the family, and the main purpose of the document was to grant a new Coat of Arms for the Halls.
  10. At the Heralds' Visitation of Oxford in 1574, a family was registered starting with William Herne of Alford, Lincolnshire. His son, Sir John Herne, had sons called Gyles, John, Cristofer, Edward, Henry and one more. Gyles the first son had Thomas, and a daughter. John Herne had a son Richard, who had Edward Herne of Lincolnshire. A later addition shows that this Edward was living in 1593; by his by his first wife Anne he had sons Edward, William and John, while by his second wife Dorothy he had a son James, and two daughters. They used the same shield as the family in number 9, above.
  11. At the Heralds' Visitations of Norfolk 1664 and London 1633/34, pedigrees were registered showing Nicholas Herne of Tibenham in Norfolk, who had a son Richard. This Nicholas was presumably a close relative of the families in numbers 4 and 8 above, but it does not look as though this relationship is actually in our Official Registers.  Richard, Nicholas's son, was an Alderman of London, and died about 1625.  He married Alice Paske, and had sons Nicholas, John and Richard.  John, the second son, had a son John who lived at Arminghall in Norfolk; he married Mary Pitts, and had children John (born about 1648), George, Francis, Thomas, Robert, Lionel, and three daughters. Nicholas Herne (eldest son of Richard and Alice) was married first to Elizabeth Hooker; they had children Richard, born about 1615, Nicholas, John, Robert and three daughters. He was married second to Sarah Ironside, and at the time of the London Visitation of 1633/34, they had children Nathaniel, Samuel and James. Their shield was the same as that given in number 9 and 10, above - black ground, with a chevron ermine between three white Herons (the herons' legs were registered as gold). They had a Crest - the device above the shield, often depicted upon a helm - a white heron's head erased, with a gold beak, and a gold coronet around its neck.
  12. At the Herald's Visitation of Essex in 1613, a very scrappy pedigree was recorded, showing William Hernes. By his first wife he had children William and Vincent; by his second wife he had a son Arthur; by his third wife he had sons Christopher and Edward. No Coat of Arms was recorded for them.
  13. At the Heralds' Visitation of London in 1687, a pedigree was registered from Henry Hern of Hampton in Middlesex (west of London), who was a servant of King James I. He was apparently descended from the Hern family of Norfolk, but no details about this descent could be discovered in our registers. He had sons named Henry and William. William had one son who died unmarried. Henry, the elder son, died in 1655 aged 63. By his wife Rebecca he had children as follows: (a) eldest son Henry Hern of London, died in 1648 aged 28. He married and had a son John (born about 1645) and two daughters. (b) second son Edward of London, citizen and Apothecary (born about 1621). He married Alice Wood, but no children were recorded for them. (c) third son Basil Hern, an Attorney of the Court of King's Bench (born about 1627). He married Dorothy Wilbraham, and they had a son Basil, born about 1652, and four daughters. (d) fourth son William Hern of London, Grocer. He was born about 1630, and died and 1659. He had a son William, born about 1657, and a daughter name Elizabeth. (Henry and Rebecca, mentioned above, also had a daughter). Their Arms had a black ground, and a chevron ermine between three gold herons. The Crest was a white heron's head erase, with a gold coronet around the neck.
    I find no later reference to the surname in our Registers, after the end of the 17th century (apart from the Arms already mentioned in number 2 above), so it is not possible to say what later descendants the above-mentioned families may have had, without undertaking quite a lot of further research.
    Some searches were then made in various printed or manuscript sources in our library, in case something could be found out about you ancestor William of London, born in 1627. It seems quite possible that your William might be related to one of the families mentioned above, but no such connection could be found in our Registers. The Arms mentioned in your letter are no doubt meant for those in numbers 9, 10 and 11 above, while the Crest you mentioned was registered for the families in number 11 and 12. If you wished to prove any right to the shield or Crest, it would be necessary for you to prove your direct descent from one of those families, and this would entail much further research, since your ancestor William could not be found on official record here.
    According to Dr. P. H. Reaney, A Dictionary of British Surnames (first edition, London, 1958), the surname Hearn, Herne, Harn, Hurn or variations comes from the Old English word "hyrne", meaning a nook or corner of land, or a bend, and the word was thus applied to people living in such a geographical feature. There are in fact place-names with this origin, such as Herne in Kent, and Hirn in Hampshire. Hern is also a Middle English form of the word "heron", hence the fact that families of the name had herons in their shields, and at a very early date the surnames are found as variants of one another.
    A search in the records of Oxford University between 1500 and 1700 revealed twenty-six entries for the name, almost all spelt Hearne; there was only one William Hearne. He was a chorister at Oxford between 1628 and 1635. William the father lived in London. None of the other Hearnes in the list appears to have come from London.
    A search was made in the records of Cambridge University between 1500 and 1700, and this revealed forty-six entries for the name, in a wide variety of spellings. They included various members of the family from Norwich or Tibenham, who appear in the College's Official Registers. There were three Williams, as follows:
    1. William Hearne, at Clare College; he became B.A. in 1574, and M.A. in 1577. He was possibly the same person as William Hieron, who was Rector of Hemingby in Lincolnshire in 1597.
    2. William Herne or Hearne, at Jesus College (admitted there in 1635). He came from Huntingdonshire. There was a man of this name who was Rector of High Hoyland, Yorkshire, in 1660, but no evidence if it was the same one.
    3. William Hyrne of Herne, born about 1671, son of William of Norwich, Norfolk. He became B.A. in 1692, and M.A. in 1695. From 1697 he was Rector of Harkstead, Suffolk; he became D.D. of Cambridge University in 1709, and held various church livings.
    As you can see, these unfortunately don't help us. The Cambridge list has only two or tree of the surname who appear to have had any connection at all with London.
    A search was made in printed volume of London marriage licences, covering 1585 onwards to about 1665 (there were a few entries for the name both later and earlier than this period). This revealed seven entries for the surname, in various spellings, but no William at all.
    A search was then made in marriage index covering London and middlesex, compiled many years ago by a genealogist name Percival Boyd, with one copy in our Library here. he did not include very London and middlesex parish, but he did a good many - quite enough to give an idea of the distribution and frequency of a name, and often the entries given provide most useful clues on particular families. The index between 1610 and 1630 has seventeen male entries for Hearn, Herne etc., only on of these being for any William: this was the marriage of William Herne and Elizabeth Kenvin on 3 February 1628 in the London church of St. Botolph, Bishops gate. A search in the baptism records of that parish revealed no children of William and Elizabeth (although there were four children for William and Maudlin Herne, none of the called William).
    The search in Boyd's index was then made between 1646 and 1665, for any William, in case something which might be relevant to your own William could be found. In those twenty years there were three for William Hearn (Herne, etc.): William Hearn and Mary Kinsman, in 1649 at the church of St. Peter-le-Poor; William Hearn and Elizabeth warner, in 1654 at the church of St. Benet Fink; and William Hearn and Lettice West, in 1656 at St. Margaret's church, Westminster. You mentioned that William your ancestor married a woman named Mary, and I suppose it is possible that the 1649 marriage could be the right one - although of course there is no evidence that your William was definitely married in London, and even if he was, there may be some other William Hearn and Mary who did not appear in Boyd's index.
    A search at random in a few London parish registers showed quite a lot of entries for Hearn, Herne etc., so the name was apparently by no means really rare in London at that date. A few of the entries no doubt belonged to the families in our Official Registers, as mentioned above, but there must have been various others of the name in different parts of the capital, in various walks of life and different areas of London, and by no means all of them could be connected with one another.
    A search was then made in the index to wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbuy (which was the most senior probate court in the country, until the entire probate system was changed in 1857). Between 1620 and 1700, there were about eighty-three entries for the surname, in various spellings, and those in London were as follows:-
  1. 1625, Alderman Richard Herne of St. Vedast parish, Foster Lane
  2. 1625, William Herne of Whitefriars, London, gentleman
  3. 1629, Alice Herne (widow of Alderman Richard, above)
  4. 1631, Thomas Herne of St. Michael-le-Querne parish, citizen and merchant taylor
  5. 1647, Peter Hearne of St. Leonard Eastcheap parish, merchant
  6. 1651, John Hearne of London, gentleman
  7. 1654, Samuel Herne of St. Gregory parish, London
  8. 1654, James Hearne, citizen and cook of London
  9. 1655, John Hearne, of James garrison in London (in service at sea)
  10. 1656, Margaret hearne of St. Martin-le-Grand, London, widow
  11. 1663, Nicholas Herne of St. Mildred parish, Bread Street, citizen and merchant taylor
  12. 1665, William Hearne of St. Bride parish, London, citizen and skinner
  13. 1666, Stephen Herne of St. Dunstan in the West, London, citizen and clothworker
  14. 1669, Rebecca, widow of Henry Herne of St. Botolph Bishopsgate parish, gentleman
  15. 1674, Nicholas Herne of St. Margaret Lothbury parish, London, citizen and merchant taylor
  16. 1677, George herne of St. Andrew, Holborn
  17. 1679, William Hearne of St. michael Queenhithe parish, London, citizen and founder
  18. 1679, Sara Hearne of St. michael Queenhithe, widow
  19. 1679, Sir Nathaniel Herne of St. michael Queenhithe, knight and Alderman of London
  20. 1680, Henry Herne of London, mariner (died overseas in the ship 'Bengal merchant')
  21. 1693, Basil Hearne of St. Michael Bassishaw parish, London, gentleman
  22. (1691, Judith, wife of Robert Hookes of St. Mary Islington; formerly wife of Sir Nathaniel Herne, mentioned above)
  23. 1695, John Hearne, sergeant in the army; of St. Giles Cripplegate parish, London. Died in the ship 'Duchess'.
  24. 1699, sir Joseph Herne of St. Stephen Colman Street parish, knight, merchant
Apart from this list there are many others not in the London area, including a few Williams; there are also several near London, for example one or two in Surrey and Essex, and a few in Middlesex, in the area which is now a part of west london. If you ancestor William was born in London in 1627, it seems very likely that he is related to one of more of the people mentioned in this list; but without further research, I am afraid it is not possible to say what was the nature of the connection. The list may, for all we know, include his father, and an examination of some of the will listed (especially Williams) might reveal more information. A search was then made in volumes 1 to 112 of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. The index had various entries for the surname in varying spellings, but there was only one William. This was an englishman named William Hearn, serving on board ship apparently in the 1860s. Obviously this is not relevant.
    A search was made in Virginia Settlers and English Adventurers by Noel Currer-Briggs (Baltimore, U.S.A., 1970). The index gave three for the name - Robert Hearn, Sir Thomas Hirne, and John Hyrne - but no others.
    A search was made in the six volumes of Caribbeana in our library, a printed compilation which gives much genealogical and historical information about the West indies and the families who lived there or traded in the area. This revealed a number of entries for the name, but only one for William: this was in Volume III, page 35, where there is a list of men serving in 1677/78 on Nevis Island, in the military company or division of Captain Burr. The list of names included William Herne, but no information at all was given about the men apart from just the names.
    As I said above, it seems that your own William Hearne is not in our Official Registers. Should you wish me to do so, I can carry out more extensive work in local and national records outside the College of Arms, with a view to finding our more about him. The starting-point should probably be some searches in the wills listed above, in case one of them mentions a William who can be identified with yours; further parish registers in London should also be investigated, especially those of St. Peter-le-Poor, where a William and Mary were married in 1649 (mentioned towards the foot of page 4, above). Of course it is not possible to say beforehand ho much success we would have: sometime it just runs up against a brick wall, while at other times one is really fortunate and can find our quite a lot. If you William can be linked with a Hearne/Hern etc. already on record with a Coat of Arms, this would be an added bonus; but it should not be looked for at the moment, and it is best to have the work carried out from purely genealogical interest.
    If you would like to continue the research, perhaps you could let me have a cheque ..., and as much as possible would be done within that sum. Naturally a report would be sent to you at intervals, explaining what source had been searched, and with what results. I cannot say whether we would be really successful or not, but I can say that London sources at that period are fairly extensive, and I shall be glad to put the work in hand if you wish.
    Meanwhile, I have one of two comment about the information given in your last letter. You said that William your ancestor (born in 1627) was a wealthy merchant, who "served as captain with Cromwell in in all of his famous battles", but this is a little puzzling. It is possible, of course, but it seems a bit unlikely: the great majority of merchants played safe, staying close to their business and looking after it as well as they could during the troubled period of the Civil Wars, and many of them (although not all, by any means) stuck by the Royalist cause. Secondly, you stated that William and Mary had two sons when they were living in Maryland - that is, after 1688; but this seems very odd, if (as you imply) they were already married by 1660, since Mary would then have been at least 46 when her first child was born after about thirty years of marriage! Was William, whose children were born after 1688 a son of the William born in 1627? Any information you have on these points may be useful, and also if there is any clue to Mary's maiden name. Don't hesitate to let me know if you in turn have questions about any of the matters mentioned in this report.

Yours sincerely,
Somerset Herald of Arms.

Letter Dated 9 March 1981

Mr. J. B. Hearn,
1209 Winchester Street,
Virginia 22401, U.S.A.

Dear Sir,
    Thank you for your letter receive today, and the enclosed cheque ..., with some further information on the family. The notes about William Hearn's will (1691) are particularly helpful, since they provide details of a contemporary document, rather than later account whose sources are not always stated.
    As regards William's service in Cromwell's Army, this may of course have been before he became a merchant; although quite a number of merchant families (perhaps the majority of them) did not side with Cromwell at all. They tended to remain as neutral as possible, or else supported the Royalist cause but in a non-active way. If William was born in 1627, he would have been only about thirty by the time any conflict (either internal, or against foreign powers) came to an end.
    I find it hard to believe that a man born in 1627 and married by 1660 would have been having children (by his original wife) as late as 1691. what may have happened is that William was married twice: Mary with whom he left England was his first wife, and his second wife was also named Mary, and was much younger than he was, being the mother of children born in 1688 and 1691. The alternative is that there were in fact two Williams: the William who died in 1691 being a son of William and Mary who left England about 1660. This would be quite reasonable: one would expect William who died in 1691 to have been married, say about 1683 to 1687, so his birth would possible have taken place between (approximately) 1655 and 1665. Possibly the research in England might enable us to sort this out, although as I mentioned before, the results of the work cannot be forecast beforehand.
    The fact that William had a brother called Derby Hearne may be useful, because the first name Derby is very rare; so perhaps at some time one of the family had married a Miss Derby, her surname later being used as the first name of her children/grandchildren, etc. The name Ebenezer is also not very usual.
    The work will be put in hand, and a report will be sent to you as soon as possible; but naturally it may take a little time.

Yours faithfully,
Rodney O. Dennys
Somerset Herald of Arms.

Letter Dated 12 April 1981

Mr. J. B. Hearn,
1209 Winchester Street,
Virginia 22401, U.S.A.

Dear Sir,
    Thank you for your letter of 12th April and the enclosed copies of pages from the ledger.
    Since Mary seems to have been about twenty years younger than William, they would presumable have been married at some time between 1668 and 1686, and probably in the latter part of that period.
    The research is continuing, but I have not yet got enough results to send a report.  When more searches have been done, I will write again to let you know what sources have been examined, and what results were obtained.

Yours faithfully,
Rodney O. Dennys
Somerset Herald of Arms.

Letter Dated 21st September 1981

Mr. J. B. Hearn,
1209 Winchester Street,
Virginia 22401, U.S.A.

Dear Sir,
    In the absence of Mr. Dennys on holiday, I am writing with a report on the research, further to your letter of 22nd April last. As you know, it is handicapped by the fact that exact details of William hearn (the emigrant ancestor) are lacking as regards his dates and origins in England, except that he was a merchant in London; research has therefore been undertaken in the records most likely to prove useful, and the results can be set out as follows.
    First of all, searches were made on the Computer File index (CFI) compiled by the Mormons' genealogical organisation. This is stored on a special sort of microfilm called a microfiche, and copies of it are available in various record offices in England. The London and Middlesex section of the CFI was examined for all baptisms of any William Hearn (in any likely spelling) between 1620 and 1670, and eleven were found:

  1. 2 March 1622 at St. Giles Cripplegate, son of William Horne.
  2. 11 May 1628 at St. Martin in the Fields, son of Jeremiah and Catherine Hearne
  3. 10 June 1632 at St. Giles Cripplegate, son of Richard Horne
  4. 12 June 1635 at St. Dunstan, Stepney, son of William & Jane Horne
  5. 10 June 1638 at St. Botolph Bishopsgate, son of William and Maudline Hearne
  6. 17 March 1645 at St. Giles Cripplegate, son of William Horne
  7. 21 August 1655 at St. Benet Fink, son of William & Elizabeth Hearne
  8. 11 March 1659 at St. Benet Fink, son of Will and Elizabeth Hearne
  9. 26 February 1660 at Dulwich College Chapel, son of William Herne
  10. 17 February 1664 at St. Bride, Fleet Street, son of William and Mary Hearne
  11. 1 August 1669 at St. Dunstan, Stepney, son of William & Rose Horne
A search was then made in the same source for the marriage of any William and Mary between 1647 and 1665, and three were found:
  1. 24 May 1653, William Horne and Mary Achen
  2. 11 September 1654, William Horne and Mary Elmes
  3. 8 April 1649, William Herne and Marie Kinsman, at St. Peter le Poor church
In the previous correspondence, we have mentioned the family of Sir Nathaniel Hearne, Knight, who was sheriff of London in 1674, and it has been possible to work out a fairly extensive pedigree of his family. This was mentioned (no. 11, page ) in the report sent to you on 13th January last. However, not one single William has so far been proved to belong to this family. Your own ancestor William would presumably have been of the same generation as Sir Nathaniel, who was married in 1656 and died in 1679. His brother Sir Joseph died in 1699. They had brothers called Samuel and James, and older half-brother called Richard, Nicholas, Robert and John, about whom little has yet been found. Certainly, if your ancestor was a merchant, one would expect him to belong to a fairly wealthy family - the term "merchant" was in those days fairly strictly kept for men engaged in a large and extensive way of business, usually dealing with a good many different commodities, according to the area in which they operated. It would therefore be quite reasonable to expect him to belong to Sir Nathaniel's family, or to one of similar standing - but obviously, this is not the same thing as obtaining proper evidence of the fact.
    Searches in one of two parish registers in London have not given any helpful information. Basil Hearne, Attorney (born about 1627) attended the parish church of St. Lawrence Jewry, and his family appears in the registers there, but without any William (they were mentioned in the report of 13th January, no. 13 on page 3). In your last letter you mentioned the printed Hearne History, stating that Basil Hearne was a son of Sir Nathaniel; but as far as I can see at present, Basil the attorney and Sir Nathaniel were not connected. Indeed, I could not find any son name Basil in Sir Nathaniel's family; he had issue John, Nicholas, Joseph, thomas and two daughters, all born from about 1670 onwards, when the family lived in the parish of St. Olave Jewry; but since Sir nathaniel was married in 1656, there may obviously have been earlier children baptised elsewhere, and one of these could possibly have been a Basil. Even so, if the author of Hearne History was right, there was rather a long age-gap; Basil, son of Sir Nathaniel (if he had such a son) must have been born by 1668 at the latest, yet it states that his grandson Sir William of Maidenhead was born in 1745 - but this is possible, of course, even if a little unlikely.
    A search was then made in Boyd's London Burial, between 1630 and 1680 (a list compiled many years ago by a genealogist name Percival Boyd). In this period there were a great many entries for the surname in a variety of spellings, including three for William - 1640 at St. Giles Cripplegate, 1643 at St. Antholin Watling Street, and 1679 at St. Benet Fink.
    A search was mad in Boyd's Citizens of London, compiled by the same genealogist some fifty or sixty years ago, using various London sources (such as the records of the City Livery Companies, parish registers and so on). This gave a great many Heron entries, and also the following five spelt Hearn(e):
  1. William Hearn of St. Michael Queenhithe parish, died 1679. He was a citizen and founder of London (that is, he belonged to the craft of founders).
  2. William Hern/Heron, will made in 1580, buried at St. James Clerkenwell. His children were listed as George, Henry and Susan. He was Sergeant Painter to the Queen (Elizabeth I).
  3. William Hearn of St. Benet Fink. Married there in 1654 to Elizabeth Warner. He was a cordwainer.
  4. Robert herne of St. Mary Aldermanbury, died 1594. His children were given as John and Robert (both predeceased him).
  5. Richard Herne of St. Vedast, Foster Lane, Alderman of London. He had a wife Alice and children Nicholas, John, Richard, and three daughters; his father was Nicholas Herne of Tibbenham, Norfolk.
This of course is, unfortunately, of no assistance in our present research.
    The earliest printed directory of London dates from 1677, listing only the very considerable citizens and merchants. The only two reference for the surname in that work are Sir Nathaniel herne in Lothbury (the name of a street in the City) , and "Jos. Herne, at Sir John Fredericks [house/office] in Old Jewry" (which is another nearby street).
    In the report dated 13th January, a list was given of entries for the name in London in the list of wills proved in the prerogative Court of Canterbury. Four of these have now been examined, with the following results.
  1. William Herne of Whitefriars, London, gentleman. Will dated 26 May 1625, proved later the same year. He mentioned his son Nicholas, and his son-in-law William Higate' also his son Stephen Herne, and another son-in-law named William Bancks. He mentioned William Higate of Whitefriars, citizen and goldsmith of London, but whether this was his son-in-law or another William Higate is not clear. His will was declared in the presence of Thomas Herne of Burston, Norfolk,, Richard Herne of London, barber-surgeon, Robert Herne of Basinghall Street, London, milliner, and one or two others. His relationship to these men was not stated.
  2. William Hearne of London, citizen and skinner. Will dated 19 December 1664, proved 21 January following. His wife was name Mary or Maria, and she was expecting a child at the time the will was made. There was already a daughter name Mary. William mentioned his sisters Alice Hearne and ... Hearne (the name is almost impossible to read, but looks rather like "Well").
  3. Nicholas Herne of London, citizen and merchant taylor. Will dated 17 March 1673, proved 10 December 1674. He mentioned quite a number of persons, including his brothers Nathaniel and Joseph [they were of course his younger half-brothers, both later knighted], and some married sisters. no person named William Herne was mentioned.
  4. William Hearne of London, citizen and founder. Will dated 3 april 1679, probate 19 June and 10 January following. He mentioned his wife Sara; sons William and Thomas Hearne; half-brother and sister Thomas and Sara; daughter Jane and her husband William Baxter; son-in-law Edmon Outeram; daughter Elizabeth Hearne; sisters Mrs. Dowman, Mrs. Feeld and Mrs. Lyon; and various other relatives or friend, not surnamed Hearne. He had an apprentice named samuel Yeomans, presumably related to him, since one of his sisters-in-law was named Anne Yemans. (In that period, as you probably know, the use of "in-law" does not necessarily mean our modern usage of the term. For instance, "son-in-law" could mean either mother-in-law or stepmother. There were other terms used more loosely than nowadays, and this has to be borne in mind when reading wills of any date before about 1750 and possible rather later).
As you can see, there is unhappily nothing in any of these wills which would be helpful from our point of view. Research is continuing, and another report will be sent when possible. A further examination of some more wills might be an idea, as well as searches in additional London sources, such as the records of some City livery companies. Certainly a merchant's family should be found in such sources, but it cannot be absolutely guaranteed that the will be. The work will naturally concentrate on those records which seem most likely to help.

Yours faithfully,
C.P. Hartley,
Assistant to Somerset Herald of Arms

Letter dated 3rd November 1981

Mr. J. B. Hearn,
1209 Winchester Street,
Virginia 22401, U.S.A.

Dear Mr. Hearn,
    Following my Assistant's letter of 21st September, more work has been carried out on your family; but I am afraid we are still not proving successful.
    In my letter of 13th January last, i gave a list of all wills for Hearn (Hyrn, Hern etc.) in London, proved between 1620 and 1700 in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. More of these have now been examined, with the following results.

  1. John Herne of Westminster, gentlemen. Will dated 14 October 1623, proved 10 May 1649. Son Arthur (under 21 in 1623); eldest daughter Alis; daughter Ellinor. No other relations mentioned.
  2. William Hearne of Basingstoke, Hampshire, clothier. Will dated 21 March 1633, proved 2 May 1634. Mentions numerous relations, including son William Hearne and his children Marjerie, Alice and William. The said son William was a clothier, like his father, and lived and Chinham, Hampshire. no relations or property in the London area mentioned.
  3. William Hearne of Abingdon, Berkshire, haberdasher. Will dated 11 May 1670, proved 2 April 1674. Various relative mentioned, including son William. no relations or property in London mentioned.
  4. John Hearne of London, gentleman. Will dated 12 October 1650, proved 28 August 1651. Wife Priscilla; property at Ashdon, Essex; nephew Thomas Edwards. No other relations mentioned.
  5. An examination was also made of the wills of William Hearne of Royston, Hertfordshire, proved 30 July 1688; william Herne of Abbots Langley in the same county, proved 20 July 1679; William Hurne of Hanbury, Gloucestershire, proved 17 February 1658; William Herne of Basingstoke, clothier, proved 3 December 1657; William Hearne of Hardingsley, Northamptonshire, proved 9 May 1634. Not one of these mentioned any person called William Hearne, in any likely spelling, nor any connections in London.
    A search is at present being made in the records of several of the Livery Companies of the City of London. these had their origin in the early medieval trade-guilds of the City - Mercers, Grocers, Goldsmiths, Vintners, Clothworkers, Wheelwrights and very many more - but by the 16th and 17th centuries, the men who belonged to these Companies often had no link with the trade which that Company was originally formed to foster and protect. Thus, a merchant dealing with many types of goods might be (for instance) a Draper or a Salter; a man who actually carried on the trade of a cloth-seller might belong to the Dyers of Masons Companies ... and so on. For this reason, it is hard to know where to begin, if we are to hunt for William Hearne among the Livery Companies - and he may well have belonged to one, if he was a merchant. It seems best to begin with Companies which did actually have some link with the cloth trade, since we know he dealt in cloth, just in case his own Company was in fact one which did have some bearing on what he was doing. To this end, a search was made in the records of the Mercers' Company, but this did not reveal anything helpful for the right period: only Richard, son of William Hearne of Tibenham, Norfolk, yeoman, who was apprenticed early in 1632; and Joseph, son of Rev. Samuel Hierne of Modbury, Devon, who was apprenticed early in 1633. There is no record of these two men, by the way, in the list of actual members of the Company; they appear only in the list of apprentices. The records of the Clothworkers' Company between 1600 and 1700 give the following for the surname: 1606, Jozias Herne; and 1613, Thomas Herne; 1623, Thomas Herne; 1625, Thomas Herne; 1627, Stephen Herne; 1639 Robert here; 1643, William Hearne; 1654, Jo Heare [perhaps and error?]; 1694, .... Hearne, son of Stephen. An examination of the 1643 entry shows that it concerns the Freedom of the Company received by William Hearne, who had been made and apprentice in 1636; he was the son of William Hearne of Hollwell, Northamptonshire, farmer.
    A search was then made between 1660 and 1700 in the indexes of State Papers, Domestic, in case any reference could be found to anyone called William Hearne, in any likely spelling. The extensive series of State Papers Domestic covers a very wide variety of papers, from permits for travelling overseas to information about shipwrecks, election to Parliament, local government and many other topics, and as trade is often mentioned among such archives, there are a number of references to merchants and both internal and overseas trade. However, this source has no entry at all for any William Hearne; nor is there anything at all for Baxter and Westcoat - two names which were also searched for, as William Hearne was apparently associated with men of those names in business.
    A search was then made in papers of the Colonial Office, relating to the Leeward Islands: entry books, sessional papers and miscellaneous documents. However, nothing could be found anywhere in these for anyone named Hearne (in any likely spelling).
    A search was then made at the City of London Corporation Record Office, among the schedules of papers relating to cases brought in the Mayor's Court - that is the local court of justice over which the Lord mayor presided, and in which lawsuits concerning City residents were heard. In the index dealing with 17th century papers there was an entry for Baxter, and this was accordingly looked up. It was found to relate to the estate of William Hearne, deceased about October 1682. After hi death - since he seems to have died intestate - two men were appointed to appraise and value his estate: Edward Alder, a member of the Upholders' Company, and John Ashton, a member of the Tallowchandlers. Permission to administer the estate of the deceased was granted to William Baxter in October 1682, but apparently some sort of dispute followed. The deceased William Hearne had owed sums of money totalling 15 pounds (but it is not stated to whom these were due). There is a list of various items which were part of his possessions: household goods were mentioned, and also various items which imply that he kept a tavern or inn of some sort - bar and partitions, a bar bell, tobacco pipes, glasses, empty beer casks, and a sink with two broad stones. These papers were dated 17 December 1682, and in the file of one Thomas Monck, who was a Clerk of the Mayor's Court at that time.
    Unfortunately, the records of the Mayor's Court do not say where exactly William Hearne lived - although presumably it was somewhere in the City of London, since the case concerning his estate was heard in the Mayor's Court - nor were any depositions taken from any friends or relatives; nor has any reference to the administration of his goods been found in likely probate courts, which might have supplied more information.
    The funds which you deposited for this research have now been nearly used up, and I don't know if you would like the research to be continued, bearing in mind how unsuccessful we have been so far. There are certainly more sources which can be searched, such as the records of more probate courts. There are a great many City of London archives which have not yet been searched - for example, rate returns and the records of various taxes and subsidies; but the trouble with these is that there is no central index to them. Rating and similar account are arranged by wards - the ward was a small administrative unit, each one represented by on Alderman and some Common Councilmen, and there are some two dozen wards. Hunting through all these for Hearne entries can be don, of course, but would take a very long time which might not justify the results - especially as we are not certain that your William did actually live within the City of London. He could have lived outside it, in one of the neighbouring parishes, for instance St. Mary-le-Strand, St. Margaret Westminster, or in the Southwark area, and so on.
    There is one possibility which might perhaps help, and that is to make a preliminary investigation of the records of the Vintners' Company. As I mentioned above, William Hearne whose goods were administered by William Baxter in 1682 appears to have kept a tavern in the City; and my remarks about the difference between a man's Livery Company and his actual occupation do not apply (on the whole) in the case of the Vintners' Company. Most members of the Vintners' company were actually working vintners, with an inn - some of them very modest in size, others much more important establishments - so it is possible that something may survive in the Vintners' records, which are fairly full for the 17th century, about both William hearne and William Baxter. By obviously this may not be relevant, in any case. There is nothing to suggest that this particular William Hearne is linked with your own family, and it might be coincidence that he was associated with a man surnamed Baxter.
I am very sorry that our research has not produced some helpful results: it is most frustrating to be balked in the way, and naturally I would very much have liked to be able to be of some assistance. One or two small further searches are being made, and I will write again soon with the results of these. Meanwhile, let me know if you have any questions about the work done.

Yours sincerely,
Rodney O. Dennys
Somerset Herald of Arms.

Letter dated 27th July 1982

Mr. J. B. Hearn,
1209 Winchester Street,
Virginia 22401, U.S.A.

Dear Mr. Hearn,
    Following my letter of 3rd November last, a few more searches have been carried out, but I am afraid without success.
    I mentioned in my last letter that the records of the Mercers' and Clothworkers' Companies of London, looking for any William Hearn who could be your ancestor, had been examined without success. A search has now been made in the records of the Drapers' Company, and this revealed six Herne entries and six for Hearn. However, not one of these was called William, and only one was the son of a William - John, son of William Herne of Basingstoke, Hampshire, gentleman, who was apprenticed to a Draper named Robert Cherry for seven years in 1654.
    I am sorry that our researches have proved so unhelpful, for naturally I would have like to be able to report more positive results. More searches could be made, for example in probate records, and among tax archives and similar records in London, as well as wider searches in the records of various City Companies. there may also be one or two other sources, such as quarter sessions and similar court archives, records of deeds/leases and so on in the City of London, which can be examined. However, we don't really have much of a starting-point about your emigrant ancestor, since his precise place of origin is unknown and nothing relevant seems to have been picked up in the course of our research so far. I am sorry to have to send a most disappointing report, but I don't feel it is fair to encourage you to have further research done unless you are fully aware of the probably expense and difficulties.
    If however you do wish to investigate further, may I suggest that you write to my colleague Mr. P. L. Dickinson, Rouge Dragon Pursuivant of Arms. I am retiring very soon from the office of Somerset Herald; much of my heraldic and genealogical research work will in future be handled by Mr. Dickinson, and I am sure he will be glad to help if he can.

Yours sincerely,
Rodney Dennys
Somerset Herald of Arms