Julian Frederick Horner (always known as Frederick) was born in 1888 in Exeter, the fourth child of William Horner (born in Gloucester in 1851) who was working as a Grocer’s Manager in the City, and his wife Laura who had been born in 1855 in Eyke in Suffolk. There were five children in the family, all born in Exeter, living next to the White Lion Hotel as shown in the 1881 census. First was William, born in 1891, then Arthur, followed by Eleanor May, born 1886, Julian Frederick Ernest, 1888, and Julia Daisy born in 1890. The 1891 census shows the family at 5 Polsloe Villas, South Avenue, Heavytree, Exeter, wealthy enough to be employing a domestic servant. Sometime between then and 1901 the family had moved to Fore Street, Williton, Somerset, because William had now set himself up as a grocer in his own shop, with Arthur as his assistant. By 1911 William and Laura had moved again, this time to Winkleigh. William is shown as ‘retired Grocer’ while Laura had set up a drapery business in Fore Street (the village Square) in a shop that according to village memory is today the village vet and pet shop. Arthur’s brother Frederick was recorded in the census as Grocer’s Assistant, living in the same house.
Arthur had enlisted in the 8th Devons, a Kitchener battalion. He died of wounds on 6th June 1916 as a result of an accident on the bombing range. Very shortly after Arthur’s death, Frederick is recorded as having been married in Winkleigh in the summer of 1916 to Louisa Turner, then aged 26. In the 1891 census Louisa, then one year old, is recorded as staying with her grandparents Richard and Ann Western in Chumleigh, perhaps because her mother had died in childbirth and her father, now a widower, had only just moved into the King’s Arms in Winkleigh with his sister. The family tree of the Horner family, attached to this page, shows this link. Frederick had volunteered in 1914 to enlist but is mentioned in the Chumleigh Deanery Magazine as being one of four volunteers who were initially rejected ‘on medical grounds’. By 1916, however, conscription had been introduced and things were very different. According to the Roll of Honour, Frederick served in the Royal Field Artillery. In later life Laura may well have taken over her mother-in-law’s drapery business in Winkleigh; ‘Mrs. Horner’s Drapery shop’ is certainly remembered in the village. She finally moved in the last part of her life to Bideford where she died in 1967 aged 77.
Sadly, all documentary traces of Frederick’s service have been lost. His military records were lost, like the majority of the other ranks, in the London blitz. There is also no record card of any awards, which could indicate that, called up late in the war, and perhaps with some disability, he did not serve overseas. In any case, as a grocers’ assistant and possibly by now running the shop, he could well have been granted exemption working in a reserved occupation essential to the home front, to be ‘combed out’ for enlistment only at the very end of the war.
We very much hope that family interest or memories will help us to enhance the site and preserve the memory of Frederick Horner. 16 July 2011