History of the 



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Ancient History


of the Distinguished Surname


The chronicles of England show the early records of the name Archer to be derived from the Norman race. The name appears in England from about 1066 A. D., and its history is interwoven within the majestic tapestry which contains the history of Britain.
Professional researchers used such ancient manuscripts as the Domesday Book ( complied in 1086 by William the Conqueror ), the Ragman Rolls, the Wace poem, The Honour Roll of the Battel Abbey, The Curia Regis, Pipe Rolls, the Falaise Roll, tax records, baptismals, family genealogies, and local parish and church records to establish that the first record of the name Archer was found in Wiltshire where they were granted lands after the Norman Conquest in 1066.
Your name, Archer, occurred in many references. but from time to time, spellings included Archer, Archar, Arsher, Arshire, Archere, Archire, and many others.
 Scribes recorded and spelled the name as it sounded. It wasn't unlikely that a person would be born with one spelling, married with another, and buried with a headstone which showed another spelling.
The Normans were commonly believed to be of French origin but, more accurately, they were of Viking origin.  The Vikings landed in the Orkneys and Northern Scotland about the year 870 A. D. , under their King, Stirgud the Stout. Later, under their Jarl, Thorfinn Rollo, they invaded France about 940 A. D. The French King, Charles the Simple, after Rollo laid siege to Paris, finally conceded defeat and granted northern France to Rollo. Duke William who invaded and defeated England in 1066, was descended from the first Duke Rollo of Normandy.
The surname Archer emerged as a notable family name in the county of Wiltshire. The name derives from the old Norman French L'Archer, or professional "bowman". The name was first recorded in 1166 in Wiltshire, England, as Edward and William L'Archier, and the name is to be found on the Battel Abbey Rolls. The name later appeared in the Rotundi Oblitus et Finibus, a census of England taken by King John about the year 1210, to determine which of his nobles he could rely on for support. He later signed the Magna Carta in 1214. Richard and Nicholas Archer appeared on this census.
   The family moved westward, and by the end of the 13th century Odo Archer was registered in Devon, but in 1273 they had moved further west again to Cornwall, where perhaps the most famous of the Archer family name developed. It was from this latter group that the senior scion of the family, Baron Archer of Umberslade was derived, although in Parliament as far back as the time of Henry VI. Much has been written about this branch of the Archers in Cornwall.
  By 1350 the name had also branched northward to Herefordshire, as Colin Archer was recorded in that county. It appears that certain of the Archers, unhappy with the Norman administration, had already moved northward in the train of King David of Scotland, being granted lands by that King in Ayrshire, and had rendered homage to Edward 1st of England in 1296, on his brief conquest of Scotland.
 For those interested in further research, we recommend "Brief Memorials ... of the Name of Archer" complied by J. H. L. Archer, printed in Edinburgh in 1856, and in London in 1861. Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Baron Archer of Umberslade.

 The surname Archer contributed much to local politics and in the affairs of England or Scotland. During the 12th century many of these Norman families moved north to Scotland. Later, in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries England was ravaged by religious and political conflict. The Monarchy, the Church and Parliament fought for supremacy. The unrest caused many to think of distant lands.
 In Ireland, settlers became known as the "Adventurers for land in Ireland". They "undertook" to keep the Protestant faith, occupying the lands of the Irish. In Ireland this distinguished family settled in the 13th century and became one of the "Tribes of Kilkenny".
The democratic way of life of the New World beckoned many. They sailed aboard the fleet of sailing ships known as the "White Sails".
 In North America, migrants which could be considered a kinsman of the family name Archer, or variable spellings of that same family name included Samuel Archer who settled in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1630, just ten years after the "Mayflower".
He was at St. John's, appointed Marshall in 1650. Henry Archer was another settler in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1639; Hugh Archer settled in the Barbados in 1680 with his wife and servants; Alexander Archer, his wife Jane, and four children, settled in CharlesTown S. C. in 1767; Christopher Archer settled Newfoundland, in 1703; Richard Archer was a Constable in Trinity, Newfoundland, in 1730. From the port of arrival settlers joined the wagon trains westward.
During the American War of Independence some declared their loyalty to the Crown and moved northward into Canada and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.
Meanwhile, the family  name was highly regarded in the social stream. There were many notables of this name, Archer Peter Archer, British Parliamentarian; Franklin Archer, notable U. S. Attorney; Violet Archer, noted Canadian composer; General Archer of Dublin, Ireland. The senior line, Baron Archer, was lost by marriage to another family name.

The most ancient grant of a

Coat of Arms found was:

 Three golden arrows, points down, on a blue background.



The Crest was:


A dragon's head emerging from a crown.



The ancient family Motto for this distinguished name is:

  "Sola bona quae honesta"







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  1998,  2001 by The Archer Cousins Association. All rights reserved.
Revised: 2001

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