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The following article is adapted from an article kindly sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker, Jul 2018:

John Hogsflesh, miller of Hungerford:

Between 1370 and 1380 Geoffrey Chaucer wrote his famous book “The Canterbury Tales”. In it, The Miller’s Tale is a famously bawdy story of lust and revenge recounted by a drunken, churlish miller.

Our miller of Hungerford, John Hogsflesh, fortunately bears no resemblance to that lout and in fact appears to have been a pillar of the community, despite a surname that we might today find slightly less than dignified.

The Hogsflesh family tomb can be found in the graveyard of the Ebenezer Chapel in Church Street and bears an inscription commemorating four family members:

- John Hogsflesh of Eddington Mill died 22 Feb 1842, aged 83 years. He is memorialised as "A man of unusual piety and moral worth", clearly a fine, upstanding member of the community.

- Mary, daughter of John and Hannah Hogsflesh died 27 Feb 1843, aged 27 years.

- Elizabeth Hogsflesh wife of Herbert Hogsflesh died 26 Oct 1875 aged 78 years.

- Herbert Hogsflesh died 26 May, 1876, aged 74 years

The latter two inscriptions are of interest, since these interments took place after the Wesleyan Methodists moved from Church Street to Charnham Street where a fine new Gothic Wesleyan Church had been built in 1869.

The Hungerford Virtual Museum website records that Eddington Mill had been in the Hogsflesh family for three generations and that the family had come from Kent. In fact, the family originally came from Surrey and three generations of Hogsflesh millers had lived in that county. However John Hogsflesh himself was born in Kent and was the first miller in his family to occupy Eddington Mill which he took over around 1812. Eddington Mill, incidentally, was first recorded in the Doomsday Book in the 12th century.

He was baptised at Otford, Kent on 25 Jan 1761. He had two elder brothers, William b. 1751 and Thomas b. 1755. John Hogsflesh’s parents were Thomas Hogsflesh and Ann Round who had married in Shoreham, Kent on Christmas Day, 1749.

Photo Gallery:

Eddington Mill ...
Eddington Mill 1908 Eddington Mill 1908
Eddington MIll ...
Eddington MIll 1985 Eddington MIll 1985
Eddington Mill ...
Eddington Mill 2012 Eddington Mill 2012
Herbert and Eli...
Herbert and Elizabeth  Hogsflesh Grave Herbert and Elizabeth  Hogsflesh Grave
John Hogsflesh ...
John Hogsflesh Grave John Hogsflesh Grave
John Hogsflesh ...
John Hogsflesh marriage to Hannah Salt John Hogsflesh marriage to Hannah Salt
Mary Hogsflesh ...
Mary Hogsflesh Grave Mary Hogsflesh Grave
Otford Mill 192...
Otford Mill 1924 Otford Mill 1924

- Eddington Mill 1908 (kindly sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker, Jul 2018)

- Eddington Mill 1985 (kindly sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker, Jul 2018)

- Eddington Mill 2012 (kindly sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker, Jul 2018)

- Herbert and Elizabeth Hogsflesh grave, The Ebenezer Chapel, Church Street (kindly send by Dr Jimmy Whittaker, Jul 2018)

- John Hogsflesh grave, The Ebenezer Chapel, Church Street (kindly send by Dr Jimmy Whittaker, Jul 2018)

- Record of John Hogsflesh's marriage to Hannah Salt, 22 Nov 1811 (kindly send by Dr Jimmy Whittaker, Jul 2018)

- John Hogsflesh grave, The Ebenezer Chapel, Church Street (kindly send by Dr Jimmy Whittaker, Jul 2018)

Hogsflesh Wills:

When John’s father died in 1789, his will (held by The National Archives at Kew), described him as a miller of Otford. Presumably his mill was on the nearby River Darent. In his will he left money to his sons including John. (Click here for John Hogsflesh's will).

Thomas Hogsflesh had been the son of another miller, William Hogsflesh. When William died in 1748, his will published on 26 July described him as a miller of Witley, Surrey. Presumably his mill was on the nearby River Wey. In his will he left money to his son Thomas. (Click here for William Hogsflesh's will).

The Progeny of John Hogsflesh:

John Hogsflesh married Ann Perritt on 11 Mar 1786 in Whitechapel, Middlesex, England and the couple went on to have twelve children:

1. James Hogsflesh, b.1786–1855 ​
2. Eliza Hogsflesh, b.1788–1872
3. William Hogsflesh, b.1789–1873
4. Ann Hogsflesh, b.1790
5. Henry Hogsflesh, b.1792–1793
6. Harriett Hogsflesh, b.1793–1793
7. Jane Hogsflesh, b.1794
8. Henry Hogsflesh, b.1795–1868
9. Maria Hogsflesh, b.1797
10. John Hogsflesh, b.1799
11. Hugh Herbert Hogsflesh, b.1801
12. Matilda Hogsflesh, b.1806–1856

After his wife Ann died, John Hogsflesh married his second wife, Hannah Salt, originally from Lambourn, on 22 Nov 1811 at St. Giles Church, Cripplegate, London. John and Hannah Hogsflesh had a further six children:

1. Richard Hogsflesh, b. 1813
2. Elizabeth Ann Hogsflesh, b.1815
3. Mary Hogsflesh, b.1815-1843
4. Thomas Hogsflesh, b. 1816-1896
5. Sydney Hogsflesh, b.1825-1908
6. Frederick Hogsflesh, b.1825-1861

The Will of John Hogsflesh

John Hogsflesh died on 22 Feb 1842 in Eddington, aged 83! His will, published on 11 Nov 1789 and held by The National Archives at Kew, suggests he was quite a wealthy man. (Click here for John Hogsflesh's will). He left money and property to a dozen beneficiaries:

- James £20
- Eliza £40
- Ann £120
- Jane £40
- Matilda £140
- Mary £150
- Thomas £200
- Sydney £200 on reaching his 21st birthday
- Herbert £200 on reaching his 21st birthday. Herbert later became the miller at the Dundas Mill in Kintbury.
- William £40
- Hannah (his wife), the interest on £1,200

His total estate was worth in 1842 was around £2,400 (worth around £250,000 in 2018).

Origins of the name Hogsflesh:

The three main sources of the derivation of English surnames are:

1. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames, 1872-1896 by Charles Wareing Endell Bardsley
2. Patronymica Britannica, 1838-1860 by Mark Antony Lower, and
3. Surnames of the United Kingdom (1912) by Henry Harrison

From these we find various references to the name “Hogsflesh”:

- The surname “Hogsflesh” is derived from a nickname. This is a Sussex surname, and may originate in Arundel. It was very familiar at one time in Worthing and the surrounding district. A local jingle dated 1805 which says: 'Worthing is a pretty place, And if I'm not mistaken, If you can't get butcher's meat. There's Hogsflesh and Bacon.'

- Charles Lamb chose the name Hogsflesh as the groundwork of his little comedy entitled “Mr. H”, first performed in Drury Lane in 1806.

- 'Mr. H . Pigsflesh occurs as early as 1300.

- Margery Hoggesflesh: Calendar of Proceedings in Chancery, temp. Elizabeth I.

- (Anglo-Scand.) a nickname for a Pork-Butcher [v. under Hog(g, and M.R. Flesch, Old Englishflœsc, flesh, meat

- William Hoggesflesh, ibid.

- A sobriquet, perhaps originally applied to a pork-butcher

- The Practical Cook, English and foreign, by J. Bregion and A. Miller, 1845. At Lyons, the mixture is hogs' flesh, asses' flesh, and a little beef; at Bordeaux, it is beef and hog in equal proportions, and sometimes beef and pork separately.

Change of Name:

After John Hogsflesh died, the mill at Eddington remained in the Hogsflesh family for another three generations but the family changed its name to Hofland.

Further generations changed theirs to a variety of names including Hoflay, Herbert, Hofland, Humphries, Howard, Hoxley, Hoflesh and even Grover and Oxley! Often a family name would be included in “their new identity” such as Robert Newton Hofland, the grandson of John Hogsflesh who later owned Eddington Mill. The change of name was probably caused by a sense of embarrassment or peoples’ discomfort with their surname.

In 2006, a team of geographers at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London (UCL) investigated the distribution of surnames based on original data from the 1881 census and came up with some interesting information on embarrassing surnames.

Cocks come from Truro, Willys hail from Taunton and Bottoms came from Huddersfield. Glasgow was the home of the most Smellies in 1881, while Nottingham was home to the Dafts, Jellys were based in Guildford and Piggs in Newcastle upon Tyne.

In the case of the Hogsflesh family, genealogical records of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (The Mormons) indicate that the Hogsflesh’s originally came not from Surrey but from from Sussex and the first parish record concerns a Jhon (sic) Hogsflesh who was christened on 3 July 1588 in West Wittering, Sussex. Wittering, Sussex. Incidentally, his father was also called Jhon like our original John Hogsflesh. the miller of Hungerford.

See also:

- William Hogsflesh's will (11 Nov 1789)

- John Hogsflesh's will (9 Nov 1837)

- Eddington Mill

- The Ebenezer Chapel, Church Street