The Hartley Family: Sporting Siblings and Brothers in Arms

2022 marks 100 years since the Hartley brothers from Shipton under Wychwood arrived together on the international sporting stage. Their their lives – as well as the sporting lives their sisters – are celebrated in a recent article published online on the Playing Pasts sporting history website.

The article is written by Bill Williams, former Head of Physical Education and sport at Burford school. Bill writes in fascinating detail of the careers of this illustrious sporting family, from early Burford schooldays and onwards. Burford was a pioneer in the promotion of Association Rules Football, and the boys excelled. But cricket were also played to high standard, and the Hartley boys were firmly in the mix, setting themselves up for successful sporting careers in their chosen disciplines. In addition to the boys playing football and cricket, the elder brother Ernest was selected to play for England at field hockey. 

The brothers, on horseback as part of The Oxfordshire Yeomanry in 1914

Bill’s article covers the sporting achievements of each family member, and at the same time takes us through the challenges facing each of them through two world wars. We learn a great deal about the life and times of those pursuing a sporting career in the face of historical changes.

For example , we read “As war broke out in 1914, Tom, Ernest and Frank joined the Army, while William joined the Merchant Navy; Richard stayed at home to run the family farm, which during times of conflict, was a reserved occupation and vital to the war effort. The three brothers joined The Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars, which formed part of The Oxfordshire Yeomanry and by the start of the twentieth century, had reached regimental strength. As a reserve regiment, the Hussars were often granted permission to conduct drills and exercises on the extensive grounds at Blenheim Palace. Thus, as a young boy, Winston Churchill often witnessed the summer cavalry training camps in which he would later take part in as a grown man, rising to the rank of Major and commanding the Henley squadron, the rank he maintained until 1924”.

Richard, Ernest and Frank in later life

The society is pleased to been able to contribute in some small way to Bill’s extensive research, and we recommend members and visitors to visit Bill’s article here.

More on the Hartley Heritage can be discovered in our 2001 Journal here

About Bill Williams
Bill was Head of Physical Education and sport at Burford school in Oxfordshire, from 1987- 2019. Since retiring in 2019, he has spent time researching the sporting history of the school and beyond.