The Sussex Family take their name from Haremere Hall in Etchingham where they were Lords of the Manor. The earliest recorded Harmer is Milo (or Miles) de HAREMERE at about the end of the 12th century. The derivation of HAREMERE is obscure, the second part “MERE”, is probably a pool. The first part might be an Anglo Saxon word meaning “grey”, “old”, or “hoary”; it does not seem very likely that it means “hare”. The spelling of the name is recorded in 1395 as HARMERE, (dropping the middle “E”) and finally dropping the last “E” in 1423 to become HARMER.

Since its formation in 1978 HFA has published two major Sussex trees – namely Heathfield and Salehurst and many minor trees. Research is continually in hand to push back the generations and link up the minor trees wherever possible with the one of the two main trees who it appears from DNA samples share a common ancestor.

Most Sussex Harmers were agricultural workers, brickmakers, bricklayers and builders although a large branch of the Heathfield tree moved to various parts of the UK in the Coastguard Service. A considerable number emigrated in the 1800s, mainly to America, Australia and Canada. The most well known Sussex Harmer is Jonathan Harmer, 1762 – 1849, a stone mason, potter and surveyor whose terracotta grave plaques can still be seen in many East Sussex churchyards.


The giant Heathfield tree as displayed at the 1998 reunion

Jonathan Harmer 6th cousin, 7 times removed to Jonathan Harmer the stonemason and potter of Heathfield, at the 2008 reunion