Select Archer Miscellany

Here are some Archer stories and accounts over the years:

The Archers at Umberslade

The estate of Umberslade near Tanworth-in-Arden in Warwickshire had been given in the reign of Henry II by Henry de Villiers to Robert L'Archer (Sagittarius), son of Fulbert, who had married his daughter Selida.  The estate remained in the hands of the Archer direct male descendants for the next six hundred years.

Robert's son William acquired additional land from Earl Waleran and his son John was granted by Earl Thomas, to whom he was acting as "champion," extensive rights of hunting and hawking in return for a render of twelve broad arrow-heads and two capons at Whitsuntide.

A later John Archer of this family was Constable of the Tower of London in the 1450's.

The Umberslade Venus

The sculpture of the Crouching Venus is thought to have been commissioned by the statesman and lawyer Andrew Archer for his home at Umberslade Hall in Warwickshire.  The house had been constructed in the 1690's and the sculpture was then placed in the entrance hall, paired with a statue of Apollo.   

The artist was John Nost the Elder.  His nude goddess half-kneels on an integral plain rectangular base, her arms crossed in front of her breasts, her head turned to her right, and her hair partly coiled in a bun at the back of her head.  The figure was after the antique prototype of the Crouching Venus of which several versions were known.  One version, dating from the 2nd century, had been presented to Charles II by Sir Peter Lely and was probably seen by Nost.    
No documentation of the original commission has survived.  The sculpture had apparently remained at Umberslade throughout the 18th century.  It was first recorded at Umberslade in 1815 when the house was described as being "long neglected."   It stayed there until the 1970's when Umberslade Hall was sold for conversion into flats.  

Archers of Kilkenny

Archers date from an early time in county Kilkenny in Ireland.  The following extract comes from the Rev. Carrigan's 1905 book History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory.

"The Anglo-Norman family of Archer or Le Archer appeared in the records of Kilkenny city for the first time in 1307 when Walter le Archer was named as one of the jurors who "extended" the Countess of Gloucester's property in the burg of Kilkenny. 

In 1345 Walter Archer was Portreeve of Kilkenny city and, from thence to the year 1652, the name Archer was found no fewer than sixty-four times in the lists of civic magistrates, as porteeves, sovereigns, mayors, sheriffs, coroners etc.

On December 3, 1557, the Bishop of Ossory, the sovereign of Kilkenny, David Rother, Robert Shethe and Walter Archer, had a royal commission 'to enquire of all chalices, ornaments, bells, houses and lands, belonging to parish churches and chapels in the County Kilkenny, and in whose hands they are now, and to return their inquisition into chancery.'"  

Archers in Harford County, Maryland

There was a paper written by Dr. John Archer in 1786 entitled The Descent of the Archer Family.  It named as the earliest known ancestor of the family, Robert Archer, but failed to state either the name of his wife or the place of their abode.  His son John Archer immigrated to America in the early part of the 18th century from Derry in Ireland and settled in what is now Harford county, Maryland.

John's son Thomas was the first of the name in Maryland of whom there is certain knowledge.  He settled about 1740 near what is now Churchville in Harford county.  He appears to have been one of the colony of Presbyterians who first settled that part of what was then Baltimore.  He is styled as "planter" in the deeds by which he first acquired land in the county. He was also a merchant and had a smith to work for the vicinity and himself.  He died a wealthy man for his time. 

Thomas Archer was a prominent member of the local Presbyterian chapel.   All of his children bar one died of scarlet fever with 10 days of each other in October 1747.

The Thomas Archers of Woolmers

Thomas Archer chose the pick of the plains in northern Tasmania to build his home.  By the mid 19th century he'd created an estate to match his ambitions.  Sumptuous Woolmers covered 13,000 acres and was complete with crested china and fine furnishings from the Continent.  However, the unexpected death of his son Thomas the 2nd left only a young grandson to inherit the mantle.  The connection between family and estate was lost.  Thomas the 3rd chose to live elsewhere.  The Archers of Woolmers became absentee landlords.

It was two generations later in 1934 that Thomas the 5th, his wife Marjorie and their son young Tom moved back into the big house on the hill.  Marjorie would prove to be a potent force at Woolmers.  She was called the Dutchess, she had a sort of regal presence, and she was very possessive of her son young Tom.  She never left the estate until her death.  Soon after, her husband died and young Tom, now in his fifties, was all alone.  He'd had this lifetime of non-associating and he was living there like a hermit.  In May 1994 Thomas Archer the 6th, the last of his line, died.  Two centuries of Woolmers history were then frozen in time. 

Today Woolmers is a museum run by a public trust.  Young Tom's reclusive life is on show for all.  Sadly that lifestyle that young Tom had is the reason that Australia has this time capsule.  And he virtually sacrificed his life for that.

Thomas Archer's Wandering Life

Thomas Archer was born in Scotland but, when he was three, he was taken to Larvik in Norway by his parents where they were to live for the rest of their lives.

At 14 years of age Thomas set off for Australia, arriving there in 1837.  A elder brother David had gone there in 1834 and two other brothers, William and Thomas, were to follow in 1838.  In 1841 these brothers moved to what is now the border between New South Wales and Queensland, taking about 5,000 sheep with them. Travelling approximately on the line of the present towns of Warwick and Toowomba, they crossed the main range at Hodgson's Gate and established themselves for four or five years in the Moreton District. They also did a good deal of exploratory work as far north as the Burnett river.

In 1849 Thomas left his brothers and went to California.  He had some success at the diggings and then went to Europe.  In 1853 he married, to Grace Lindsay, and they returned to Queensland.  The harsh life, however, did not suit his young wife's health and a return was made to Scotland in 1855.  Part of the next five years was spent in Norway and most of the time between 1860 and 1872 in Scotland.

Archer still retained an interest in the Queensland station along the Fitzroy river and he again set sail for Australia in 1872 and spent about eight years at the station at Gracemere, about seven miles from present-day Rockington in central Queensland.  He was back in London with his family in 1880 but then returned in 1881 as Agent General for Queensland.

John Archer, Mayor of Battersea

John Archer was born in Liverpool in 1863, the son of Richard Archer and his wife Mary Thersea.  Richard was a ship's steward from Barbados, his wife Irish and illiterate and Catholic, the faith in which John grew up and remained for the rest of his life.

When he was elected mayor of Battersea fifty years later, John replied to press speculation about where he might have come from with the remark that he had been born "in a little obscure village in England probably never heard of until now - the city of Liverpool."  He went on to declare: "I am a Lancastrian bred and born."

Return to Top of Page
Return to Archer Main Page