Over the years the Association has built up a tremendous library of UK research material, this includes parish register extracts, comprehensive census material for the various census years, calendars of wills, Petty Session, Prison  and Army records etc. It has compiled its own Harmer birth, marriage and death indexes since the inception of registration in 1837 to the present day from the General Register Office indexes. The same indexes have been collected together from the Scottish Registration Service. In addition, HFA has collected over 1,000 certificates for Harmer births, marriages and deaths.

Researchers in our overseas branches have assembled a wealth of similar information on Harmers in their own countries, and happily everyone works well together in pooling and sharing all our information and expertise.


Since the start of the Association’s research an ongoing project has been the assembling of an index of all known Harmers worldwide. This now totals over 37,000 individuals. Many of these have been identified and placed with either the Sussex, Norfolk or Gloucestershire family groups, but some remain a mystery yet to be unravelled. As the internet makes new sources of records available so we continue to add new individuals or add further information to existing records.

The Association is using DNA to further our knowledge of the origins of the Harmer families and currently has over sixty different samples in its project. This work has already proved its’ worth by demonstrating that the Sussex Harmers are a completely separate family from any of the Norfolk or Gloucestershire Families.

Currently we are busy identifying the Harmer families recorded in the recently released English and Welsh 1911 census

DNA Research


For our purposes we look at a part of the “junk” DNA in the Y chromosome . Y chromosome because only males have it so it follows the traditional family tree and “junk DNA” because it mutates relatively frequently. “Junk DNA” is no longer Junk! Research published 5 September 2012 in 30 research papers as a result of collaboration between 32 institutes from around the world under the title of “The International Encode Consortium” has revealed that 80% of the “junk DNA” plays a vital function in switching on and off the “useful” genes.

The HFA has 37 different sections of the “junk” DNA tested and the result for each section is expressed as a number between 8 and 41. By looking at the pattern of the results in a sample it is possible to determine a person’s deeper ancestry going back thousands and tens of thousands of years. This pattern is known as the Haplogroup and amongst our results both Gloucestershire and Norfolk Harmers are in the R1b1b2 group. R1b’s are the most prevalent in the British Isles (75 – 80% of the population) and this suggests that they shared a common ancestor at about the time the British Isles were being permanently settled.

The Sussex Harmers however are in Haplogroup I2a, which is found in only 3-5% of the population. Rib’s and I2a’s are thought to have shared a common ancestor about 45,000 years ago in what is now Arabia before diverging into two different migration streams.

If you want to see the route out of Africa that your distant ancestors took then log on to familytreedna and log in using you kit number and the password you were given with it. Once into your familytreedna page you need to click on Y-DNA, Migration Maps. In order to determine how recently two people shared a common ancestor it is necessary to compare their results for each of the 37 markers. This begs the question whom should be selected to be the standard against which the samples are compared?

I am indebted to HFA member Iain Poplett for suggesting that I create a theoretical individual whose results are the most frequently occurring for each of the 37 sections. The standard Harmer is referred to as “MODAL.”If by chance an actual result matches “MODAL,” this is a curiosity rather than a significant result. What is significant is where the samples share a common ancestor within the last 750 years as that is just about as far back as the use of surnames goes and is known as genealogical time. It is important to remember that DNA results are a pointer to which family tree an individual belongs but they need to be supported by traditional archive research.

If you go back about 800 years when few individuals had surnames then a family of; father, the local blacksmith, his son John who assists him in the forge and his second son, William who is a carpenter will all have the same DNA. If the two sons decide to follow the latest fashion of having a surname then John is likely to called John Smith and William, William Carpenter which means that the two brothers male descendants in the 21st century though called respectively Smith and Carpenter and therefore seemingly unrelated will have identical or closely matching DNA.

Current material available to Members is listed below;

Harmer Research Material

·         Canadian Civil Registrations - Ontario

·         Heathfield Memorials

·         U.K. Harmer Probate Records, 1861 – 1966

·         Harmers DNA Results 2012

·         Harmer Stories

·         Mathew & Mary Harmer

·         The Harmer Tartan

·         Sussex Wills - Index

·         Sussex Wills – Summary

·         London Times - Index

·         London Times - Stories

·         London Harmer Marriages

·         Harmer John and Johane - mentioned in a deed 11 Dec 1546

·         Sussex Harmers

·         Norfolk Harmers

·         Gloucestershire Harmers 

·         1914-1918 Key information (see 1916 section)

·         UK Census Data OnLine

·         HFA Newsletters Online from 1978 to 2022

·         HFA Newsletter - Alphabetical index of feature articles and Search Capability to search past newsletters.

 Harmer Memorabilia & Reunion Displays

·         BBC Radio Brighton Interview September 1978 ** MP3 sound files

·         BBC Radio Brighton interview by David Arscot with Ronald and Michael Harmer, broadcast 24 August 1979  ** MP3 sound files

·         BBC Radio Brighton interview by David Arscot with Michael Harmer, broadcast 18 August 1980  **  MP3 sound files

·         Harmer Australian Connections

·         Harmer Australia Convict Stories

·         Bishop John Reginald

·         Samuel Fielding

·         Harmers from Brinton, Norfolk

·         Kelling Norfolk Harmers

·         NorthMundham Sussex Harmers

Ashburnham Sussex Harmers

More details are available to Members under a user access code and password login.

This is why its important to become a Member as you benefit from the research that has already been undertaken. 

Membership Application 2023   It's FREE to Join and become a Member!



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