Archer, William

1826 - 1889

Father of Fred Archer, William Archer, one of thirteen children, was born on 1st January 1826 at St George's Cottage, St George's Place, Cheltenham where his father kept a livery stable. Short-tempered, foul-mouthed and pugnacious, he boasted that he had not had more than two days' schooling in his life. 

Photo courtesy of John Griffiths

Aged 11, he ran away from home and found work riding for a Mr Eccles of Birmingham. His wages in the early days were just £6 per year, plus  a suit of livery. He rode enough winners to keep himself off the breadline, but had begun to put on weight as he grew. 

 Thoughts of a jump career loomed when, unexpectedly, at 17, he was asked by no less than the Emperor of Russia to manage his stud. The Emperor had been impressed with William's success as a rider. William excepted and, in 1843, with testimonials from the Earl of Chesterfield and the Waterloo hero Lord Angelsey (both for whom he had successfully ridden),

William sailed out from Hull with sixteen English thoroughbreds under his care. He stayed at the Tsarskoe Zelo Palace near St Petersburg from where, for the next two years, he trained the Czar's horses. He also trained at Thirsk, near Moscow. 

However, such was the extreme climate and severity of the Russian winter that William returned home to Cheltenham. 

 First riding on the flat before switching to fences, he quickly picked up a winning thread: he rode the 1858 Grand National winner Little Charley and, aged 32, he moved to Prestbury, where his third son, Charles Edward, was born on December 22nd 1858.

In 1849, William Archer married Emma Hayward, the daughter of William Hayward, the owner of the King's Arms, Prestbury. Emma, an attractive, aristocratic-looking woman, moved into St George's Cottage where she gave him two daughters and two sons, William and Fred, who both became jockeys. (William jnr was killed in a fall at Cheltenham in March 1878 whilst Fred committed suicide in 1886)

William Archer senior, his jockey career almost behind him, rode for the last time at a long-forgotten meeting at Beckford on a horse called Little Dwarf. 

Then, when the opportunity arose, he took over his father-in-law's public house, the King's Arms. 

William Archer Senior died at Cheltenham on Saturday 7th December 1889, aged 63.

William's brother, Reuben, also rode over jumps. He died at Cheltenham on January 28 1867.

Of his thirteen children, eight were born to his housekeeper. Ann Harding.

 William Archer's Grand National record:  (9 rides)

Tramp  (1847)  pulled up

Naworth  (1848)  pulled up

Napoleon  (1849)  pulled up

Vengeance  (1850)  7th

Warner  (1852)  6th

View Halloo (1853)  pulled up

Spring  (1854)  2nd

Dan O'Connell  (1856) pulled up

Little Charley (1858)  WON: William's last ride in the race.