Foster Horner and the Redmire Horners may be related to a John Horner,
of Kilburn, east of York, near Thirsk, who leased the Merryfield
Lead mines, on Greenhow Hill, between Appletreewick and Pateley
Bridge, in the manor of Bewerley.
A John Horner is recorded as a voter in 1741 in Kilburn. John
Horner of Kilburn was born in 1755, the son of George Horner
a Blacksmith in Kilburn in the eighteenth century. This John Horner had Interests in Stocking
House, Kilburn, but resided in Helmsley in 1792. He married Eleanor and
they had two children baptised in Kilburn, William Solomon, and
Robert Horner. Their daughter Eleanor was buried at Bell
House in Kilburn in 1812 aged eighteen, which indicates that John
Horner may have resided elsewhere at her birth in 1794. It is possible that Fewster Robert Horner
was the Foster Horner that later moved to Skipton.
John Horner was the eldest son of George
Horner, Blacksmith, of Kilburn. This George Horner married three
times. John Horner had two brothers and two sisters
of whom only one brother George and one sister Anne survived to
adulthood. George Horner, of Kilburn was the son of Robert
and Ann Horner of Low Kilburn. His only sister Dorothy died before reaching
adulthood. It is possible that George Horner also had
a brother named William Horner who was a cordwainer. This
William Horner married Beatrix
Malthouse of Wakefield, but they do not seem
to have borne any surviving children. If John Horner of Kilburn is Foster Horners
father, it would suggest that there is definitely a connection
between these Horners of Kilburn and the Horners of Redmire.
In 1792 a John Horner of Kilburn took out a lease on some lands
John Horner of Kilburn made an agreement with a John
Wood of Craven Cross Mines in 1793, each acquiring
shares in each other’s mines. John Wood’s father William Wood
had leased Craven Cross Mines in 1790 for 21 years from John
Yorke, and the renewal of the lease by John in 1793 indicates
that mining interests often remained in families. Miners often shared the risks inherent in
the mining industry by acquiring shares in more than one mine.
John Horner and his partner would have bargained with the bar
master, appointed by the owner of the mine rights, Sir John Yorke,
over the price of the lease and then employed local men to actually
work the mines.
In 1800, Horner, Wood and Thomas Pullen
a timber merchant of Pateley Bridge, made a new partnership and
took over all of the Stoney Grooves Mine, in Greenhow. These mines were highly profitable and produced
fair returns, but in 1829 there was a depression in the lead industry
with the price of lead falling from about twenty-two pounds a
ton to less than twelve pounds in 1832. In 1827 the partnership
between John Horner of Kilburn, deceased, and William Hedden of
Baldersby, deceased, under the name of Leadhills Mining Company
was dissolved . John Horner's executors were
Thomas Horner of Darlington, Henry Hirst of Northallerton, John
Horner, clerk, George Horner and Thomas Horner.
After a brief resumption of pre-1820s prices,
in 1833 the price again fell to between nineteen and twenty pounds
a ton by 1837. Wages for lead miners had been reduced from fourteen
shillings to seven shillings a week to compensate for the lack
of profits. By 1837, both the Stoney Grooves and Merryfield mines
had collapsed in many parts and in April 1843 the lessors, White
and Sir John Yorke, took back all the ground in Merryfield and
put in their own manager to work the mines.
Foster Horner and his family had therefore
been wise to take advantage of the boom in the early nineteenth
century to move to Skipton where there were other occupations
if the bottom fell through the lead market. It is interesting
that Foster Horner relinquished the leases for the Grassington
mines in the late 1830s and early 1840s when the Lead industry
was reaching rock bottom. He obviously took a decision to diversify.
Christopher Horner moved into Skipton at around the same time,
perhaps having worked in the lead mining industry in Pateley Bridge
or even at Greenhow or Grassington on his way from Redmire to
may have been related to John Horner of Kilburn who may have been
his great-uncle, but. this is unproven. However there may be a family connection as
the mines on Grassington Moor and Appletreewick Moor were close
to Greenhow Hill. Many lead miners from the Redmire and Pateley
Bridge areas also had interests in mines in Appletreewick and
above Grassington and it may have been these family connections
that enabled Foster Horner to move to Skipton and set up business.
The Grassington miners moved their lead
to the canal wharves in Skipton and Gargrave on the opening of
the Leeds Liverpool Canal. Mastiles
Lane, the ancient route used by the wool trade from Fountains
Abbey ran from Grassington to Pateley Bridge across Greenhow Moor. The lead mines of Kettlewell and Appletreewick
were worked by Grassington miners, and many miners in Appletreewick
would have worked on the mines at Greenhow Moor. Both these areas
were adjacent and Sir John Yorke of Gouthwaite in Nidderdale
owned the manor of Appletreewick as well as the mining rights
on Greenhow Moor.
It is highly probable that there was some
family connection between the Horners of Redmire and the Craven
area that brought Foster Horner to Skipton. He may have moved
from Redmire to Grassington and then to Skipton. Christopher Horner
probably followed later after the collapse of the lead mining
industry in Redmire.