Likewise: I wrote that poem years ago after discovering that the Devon branch of my family had been banished from Scotland for continuing to operate as Rievers across the border into England after the Act of Union made this formerly honourable occupation illegal. My genealogy researches identified a second group of Horrells in Dundee, also banished from the border country at the same time. The banishment specified that the family move “500 leagues” from the border on pain of death. My ancestors had no idea how far 500 Leagues was, but the King’s Army had made it very clear what “Pain of Death” meant, so the family went North or South till they could go no further. A league is actually 4.828 kilometres or 3 miles: it is impossible to travel 1500 miles from the Scottish border and still be in the UK. My Scottish cousins reasoned that Dundee was far enough for safety (100 miles) whereas my direct ancestors kept going South till they reached the Sea, and have lived in the villages and farms around Exeter ever since (400 miles from the border). Some Horrells traveled to Ireland, but they either didn’t enjoy the climate or met up with a potato famine, because they left for the American Colonies after only a few years. Some of my American cousins went down in history as the Horrell Gang, who were virtually wiped out in the 1870’s after a series of fairly pointless murders in the Horrell-Higgins feud.

The Devon Horrells were law-abiding farmers who sent many landless descendants to found farms in the New Zealand colony. None of the Horrells had any idea that they were descended from King Harald’s family, and none of us have joined the Grievance Industry or demanded our stolen territories back as the rightful rulers of England. It makes a good story, though.

I work in IT, Community volunteer interested in Politics, support Capitalism as the best economic system for lifting people out of poverty, Skeptical scientist.

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