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The Floyer Reunion held at Wadham College, Oxford on August 24th and 25th, 2002 was a smashing success, with approximately 40 people in attendance. Denis Gibbs presented a talk on Sir John Floyer of Hints, Staffordshire, Tim Sandberg presented a talk on Internet genealogy research, and Nick Floyer presented a talk on Heraldry and the quarterings of the Floyer Arms. Excellent meals were enjoyed, pleasant company was shared, and a good time was had by all amid the ambience of Wadham College. We thank Jenny Floyer very much for all her work in organizing the event.

INTRODUCTION
ORIGIN OF THE NAME
EARLY HISTORY
THE EARLY CHARTERS
THE FLOYER COAT OF ARMS

INTRODUCTION

THE FLOYERS, an ancient Saxon family from Devonshire, while never very distinguished, have a well documented history longer than most, being one of only a handful of families who can trace their ancestry in the direct male line back to pre-Norman times. In later generations it comprises in the main men of the church, with a large number of barristers and a sprinkling of medical men.

The fullness and continuity of the record are attributable in large measure to:

  • The connection with the Wadham family - (Anthony d. 1608 married Anne, daughter of Margaret Martyn, the sister and co-heir of Nicholas Wadham, the founder of Wadham college) which relationship entitled Floyer family members to claim 'founders kin' status at Wadham. In order to do so, pedigrees showing the relationship were required to be registered with the College of Arms. These provide a largely independent source of genealogy.

  • The marriage of Anthony Floyer (d. 1671), son of the Anthony above mentioned to Eleanor, the daughter of Sir William Pole the noted Devon Historian and antiquary who transcribed many of the Floyer family deeds relating to their five-century-long uninterrupted residence at Floyers Hayes.

  • Prince's 'Worthies of Devon' by John Prince (b. 1643 d. 1723) pub. 1710 which gives an account of the family from earliest times up to Anthony Floyer (of Exeter College, Oxford) who died in 1701. Prince acknowledges the works of Sir William Pole as the source of much of his material.

  • The genealogical tastes of John Gould Floyer (d. 1841) and his son Ayscoghe (d. 1872) and more recently, to the Rev. John Kestell Floyer (d. 1936).

The account herein has been compiled by Tim Sandberg from numerous sources, principally the writings of Rev. John Kestell Floyer and the notes of David Cornish Floyer. Nick Floyer has provided valuable editorial input, as well as the discussion of Heraldry. For further information, see:

The Annals of the Family of Floyer  J. Kestell Floyer's account of the history of the family
Two Devonshire Papists in the Time of Queen Elizabeth  J.K. Floyer's account of a particular period in Floyer history
The Obituary of Ernest Ayscoghe Floyer  Dr. Vaughan Cornish's obituary of my great-grandfather
Tim Sandberg's WorldConnect Database  Over 35,000 individuals
West Country Genealogy  Nigel Batty-Smith's excellent source of information on the genealogy of the English West Country Families
James Floyer's Homepage  James Antony Floyer is a graduate student in geography at the University of British Columbia

ORIGIN OF THE NAME

According to Rev. J. Kestell Floyer: 
 

"It has been disputed by different writers whether the origin of the family of Floyer was Norman or Saxon. A Norman origin has generally been taken for granted, because the name is first on record about the time of the Norman invasion of England; but such evidence as is afforded by the derivation of the name and the amount of land held is in favour of the contrary idea. A 'Flo' is an arrow, was in use in Chaucer's time, and is of Saxon derivation. The suffix 'er' denotes generally an agent or worker. The introduction of the 'y' finds a parallel in 'sawyer' and 'lawyer.' Hence Floyer is an arrow-maker, and is distinct from the Norman name for the same occupation, 'Flechier,' which afterwards passed into 'Fletcher.' 

The earliest spelling of the name, as it is found in the Domesday Survey, A.D. 1086, is 'Floher,' or in the Latin form, 'Floherus.' By the time of Henry III the middle 'h' begins to be omitted,and it is written 'Floer' or 'le Floer.' Towards the beginning of the 14th century the spelling 'Floyer' or 'le Floyer' becomes constant, except for a period during the 16th and 17th centuries, when in some places it shared the fate of many other names in having the middle 'y' made into an 'i', but there is no trace of members of the family ever having signed themselves 'Floier'. "

J. K. Floyer's unpublished notes in the possession of Rachel Nicholson indicate that the 'h' in 'Floher' was pronounced as the 'ch' in German 'nacht'.


EARLY HISTORY

The earliest mention of the name is in the Exon version of the Domesday survey of 1086 in which Floher holds inter alia, lands just outside the Exeter city walls (identified as Floyers Hayes) where the family resided until approximately 1580. The Exon survey was later copied into the Devon Domesday Book, but there are a number of errors and ommissions. For some reason neither of the Floher entries appears in the official record, though this is held to be the result of clerical error rather than a form of tax avoidance.

Floyers Hayes is clearly shown on old maps of Exeter - notably 'Ex Brauns Civitates Orbis' 1570 - which also shows St. Thomas' Church which the Floyers were largely instrumental in building. Some remains of Floyers Hayes existed until 1830/1840 but have since been covered by development.

A document can be found attached to the Exeter Book of Anglo-Saxon Poetry in the Exeter Cathedral library which records members of the family as witnesses to the manumission of a slave. At a time when there was usually only one copy of anything, such documents were often bound into the end-papers of important books for safe-keeping. The Exeter Book of Anglo-Saxon Poetry is 11th Century, but the documents attached to it are mainly early 12th Century. The style of the manumission here considered is late Anglo-Saxon and influenced by Carolingian script from the Continent, so it probably dates from around 1130. The original text reads as follows:

Note: the following text uses fonts that may not be recognized by all browsers. MacIntosh users, in particular, will have difficulty with it. The subscript '7' is equivalent to the modern ampersand. TMS

 
"Her cy on issere bec Leowine Feala sunu bohte hine silfne
7 his ofspring t Wulfworde frices sunu at Jacobe cyrca to healfe punde on Williames gewitnesse preostes 7 on Godwines pr 7 on Arnoldes pr 7 on Edwines pr 7 on Bartholemews Floheres sunu on Floheres 7 on Algares Pagardes 7 on Cona 7 Algares Leofl de sunu 7 Haim 7 Oter Dirlinges sunu Edwacer Agelword Ofstanes sunu Osber Alworde sunu Alfsta on Wunforda Edwi Nobol Ocing Agelword Pudding diac. 7 on ealles a [s hun]dredes on Excestre to ceosende him hlaford 7 his ofspring swa hwr swa hig woldon 7Alword portgerefa 7 Alwine Dirlinges aum fangon to am tolle for s cynges hand 7 habbe he Godes curs 7 ealre halgena e is fre undo."


Translation: Here quoth on this book that Leowine Feala's son bought himself and his offspring from Wulfworde Aelfric's son at James' Church for half [a] pound in William the priest's witness, and in Godwin the priest's, and in Arnold the priest's, and in Edwin the priest's, and in Bartholomew Floher's son's, in Floher's and in Algar the Pagard's, and in Cona's and Algar's Leoflaed's son and Haim and Oter Dirlinge's son the Edwacer, Agelword Ofstane's son, Osber Alworde's son, Alfsta in Wonford, Edwi. Nobol. Ocing. Agelword Pudding [son of Pudda] the deacon, and on all the hundred of Exeter, to choose him a lord and his offspring wheresoever that he will, and Alword the portreeve and Alwine Dirlinge's son took oath for the toll for the King's hand, and let him have God's curse and all the saints who shall ever undo [i.e., break this testimony].

The local character is shown by the name Alfsta in Wonford, the mention of the Hundred of Exeter, and the name of Alword the Portreeve, who makes himself responsible for paying the King's dues on the transaction. The document therefore shows that in the early 1100's a man called Floher and Bartholomew his son were living close to Exeter, presumably on the Wonford side, on or near the estate soon after known as Floyer's Hayes.

According to the Exon. Domesday Book, A.D. 1085-6, published by the Devonshire Association,1884-92:

 
"Floherus habet unam mansionem que vocatur Sotrebroc quam tenuit Alviet ea die qua Rex Edwardus fuit vivus et mortuus. Et reddidit Gildum pro dimidia virgata quam possit arare iiij boues 7 val. per annum . . . . solidos." (See Vict. Co. Hist., 520a.)


Translation: Floher has one manor which is called Southbrook, which Alviet held on the day King Edward was alive and died, and it rendered geld for half a virgate which four oxen can plough, and is worth [two] shillings a year.

According to the Exeter Archaeological Field Unit Reports, 1984-85:
 

"Sotrebroc and Floyers Hayes:

To the SE of Haven Road was the small medieval manor of Floyers Hayes, whose other lands lay mainly in the corner of St. Thomas bounded by Alphington Street, Haven Banks and Alphington parish. This manor is the only sizeable estate recorded in the Exon version of the Domesday Book yet omitted from the Exchequer version. In the Exon Book it is called 'Sotrebroc', a name not recorded thereafter. Sotrebroc was held in 1066 by a Saxon called Alfgeat and in 1086 by one Flohere, hence presumably the medieval name Floyers Hayes. In the past some historians have identified Sotrebroc with a stream called the Shutebrook which flowed into the Exe a few hundred metres to the SE of Exeter. This has led to the identification of the Domesday Sotrebroc manor with Larkbeare, a medieval tenement situated next to the Shutebrook in Holloway Street and first documented in the l3th century. In fact the derivations of the two names are different, and each can be explained in terms of the local topography. Shutebrook contains the old English element 'scyte' and may mean 'the brook in the steep valley', or possibly 'boundary brook' since the Shutebrook stream marks the SE boundary of medieval Exeter. Sotrebroc simply means 'south brook'. There is no natural stream in the immediate vicinity of Floyers Hayes which could have given rise to the name of the pre-Conquest Sotrebroc estate. The existence of a leat in St. Thomas in the 11th century is however implied by the record in Domesday Book of a mill belonging to Cowick manor. Sotrebroc itself is not recorded as possessing a mill. The leat discovered in the excavation ran through Cowick manor from Exe Bridge to Haven Road, where it entered the Sotrebroc estate. Hence there is a good case for regarding it as the 'Southbrook' which gave its name to the Domesday manor later known as Floyers Hayes. The archaeological evidence from the excavation indicates only that the leat existed by the later 12th century without excluding an earlier origin for it."

The Pipe Rolls are the yearly accounts of the Royal revenue as rendered by the King's officers. They are extant as a regular series from the second year of Henry II., though one year before this, that of 31 Henry 1., is also preserved. Thus it will be seen that Richard, son of Floher, and his son Nicholas appear as holding some office in three of the earliest existing rolls, and if the series had been complete they would probably have appeared as holding the same office as often as they rendered their account. What this office was can be determined by the three words "ministerium," "cortine," and "lestagium". The first shews that Richard and Nicholas farmed an office from the Crown. "Cortina" is a round vessel or Basin, and considering the situation of Floyer's Hayes, which bordered the "basin" or harbour of Exeter, it is safe to assume that they exercised the office of Portreeve or Master of the Port. This is confirmed by the last entry, which mentions "lastage", a tax or toll on ships bringing in goods. The office of Portreeve had been held in the time of Edward the Confessor by one Alword.
 

"Et in thesaurum liberavit Ricardus fil Floheri xl solidos numero pro custodia Cortine." 31 Henry 1. (113O-31 ).


Translation: And Richard son of Floher has paid into the Treasury forty shillings by tale for the custody of the Basin.
 

"Nicholaus filius Floherii reddit comptum de ij unc. auri pro ministerio suo. In thesauro xxx s. pro ij unc auri et quietus est." 4 Henry II. (1157-8).

Translation: Nicholas son of Floher renders account of two ounces of gold for his office. [He has paid] thirty shillings into the Treasury for two ounces of gold and is acquitted.
 

"Nicholaus filius Floherii reddidit comptum de xxx s. de veteri lestagio. In thesaurum liberavit et quietus et." 4 Henry II. (1157-8).


Translation: Nicholas son of Floher rendered account of thirty shillings from the old lastage. He has paid it into the Treasury and is acquitted.

THE EARLY CHARTERS

The Floyers held the estate of Floyer's Hayes under feudal tenure from the Barons of Okehampton. At first, this Barony was held by the family of de Redvers or Reviers, but later passed to the de Courtenays.

Those evidences which follow, and are referred to as "B. and P" are from a MS. pedigree supplied to John Gould Floyer, from the records of the College of Arms, by G. F. Betz, Lancaster Herald, and Jas. Pulman, Portcullis Pouirsuivant, 1827. Those referred to below as "Pole" are collated with Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 28,649, being "Collectanea ex manuscripto magni voluminus sed majoris … dignissimi illius Antiquarii Dni Gulielmi Pole de Shute," in the handwriting of John Prince, author of the "Worthies of Devon."
 

"Robertus filius Henrici regis omnibus baronibus suis tam clericis quam laicis salutem. Sciatis me concessisse et carta mea confirmasse Ricardo filio Nicholai totam terram ultra Exam quam Avus suus Ricardus filius Floheri tenuit. Tenendam de me et heredibus meis sibi [et] heredibus suis pacifice et quiete eodem servicio ut predictus Ricardus filius Floheri melius et liberius tenuit ut Baronia mea, testatur per monstracionem unius militis et per servicium de uno pichardo vini quod ipse Ricardus filius Nicholai debet dare quoties contigerit me vel heredes meos in Insula Exe prandere. Testibus Hugone de Bovet seneschallo Willielmo Talbot, Guidone de Briano, Antonio de la Bruize, Algario capellano, Osberto fil Algari, Reginaldo filio Seminarii, Jordano Prilla, et multis aliis." (B. and P. and Pole)


Translation: Robert son of King Henry to all his barons, both clerical and lay, greeting. Know that I have granted, and by my charter confirmed, to Richard son of Nicholas all the land beyond Exe which his grandfather Richard son of Floher held. To hold it from me and my heirs for himself and his heirs peacefully and quietly by the same service as the said Richard son of Floher held it as from my Barony, that is, by the provision of one soldier, and by the service of one pitcher of wine, which Richard son of Nicholas himself ought to give as often as it shall happen that I or my heirs dine on Exe Island. Witness, etc.
 

"Notum sit omnibus ad quos presens carta pervenerit quod ego Reginaldus de Courtenay assensu Matilde uxoris mee concessi et hac presenti carta mea confirmavi Ricardo filio Nicholai et heredibus suis tenementum quod predictus Ricardus de me tenuit ultra Exam tenendum de me et meis heredibus ita libere et quiete sicut unquam Avus suus Ricardus filius Floheri vel Nicholaus pater predicti Ricardi tenuit de Ricardo filio Baldwini melius et liberius et per idem servicium mihi et heredibus meis faciendum quod pater ejus et avus ejus fecerunt Ricardo filio Baildwini scilicet per monstracionem unius militis mihi vel heredibus meis [et] de uno pichardo vini quod ipse dabit quoties contigerit me vel heredes meos in Insula Exe prandere. Hiis testibus W. de Punchardo, Hugone de Punchardo fratre ejus, Roberto de Novoburgo, Willelmo Dan’ense, Ricardo Totilla, Galfrido de Comevilla, Willelmo filio Galfridi, Ricardo de Rokesia, Johanne de Knighton, etc." (B. and P. and Pole.)


Translation: Be it known to all to whom this present charter shall come that I, Reginald de Courtenay, with the consent of Matilda my wife, have granted, and by this present charter confirmed, to Richard son of Nicholas and his heirs the tenement which the aforesaid Richard held from me beyond Exe, To hold it from me and my heirs as freely and quietly as ever his grandfather Richard son of Floher, or Nicholas, father of the aforesaid Richard, held it from Richard son of Baldwin better and more freely, and by the same service to be done to me and my heirs that his father and his grandfather did to Richard son of Baldwin, that is, by the provision of one soldier to me or my heirs, and of one pitcher of wine, which he himself shall give as often as it shall happen that I or my heirs dine on Exe lsland. Witness, etc.

Inq. pm. on John de Courtenay, Hen. III., Harl. MS. 6126, British Museum:-

"Et quod Hugo de Courtenay est filius et heres dicti Johannis et est etatis xxiij annorum ad Festum Annunciationis de Marie ultimo preterito. Et per sacramentum Johannis Floyer, etc., qui dicit quod idem Johannes tenet molendinum cum pratis et aliis pertinenti de domino Rege in capite apud Exoniam ut membrum Baronie de Okehampton. Et quod Johannes tenet triginta acras terre ac pertinenti de domino Johanne de Courtenay in capite reddendum inde unum allum vini quotiescunque dictus Johannes et heredes sui gentaculare vel comedere in Insula Ex voluint pro omni servicio." (Before 1272.)


Translation: And that Hugo de Courtenay is son and heir of the said John [and] of the age of twenty-three years at the Feast of the Annunciation of Mary last past. And by the oath of John Floyer, etc., who says that the same John holds a mill with meadows and other belongings from the lord King in chief at Exeter as part of the Barony of Okehampton. And that John holds thirty acres of land belonging the lord John de Courtenay in chief, rendering for it one cup of wine whensoever the said John and his heirs wish to breakfast or to dine on Exe Island.

From a MS. Rental in the possession of the Earl of Devon at Powderham Castle.  Copied 1908 by J. K. Floyer:
 

Rental of Hugh Courtenay, 1311.

Baronia de Okehampton “Floyeresland juxta Exam quod Willelmus Floyer tenet per servitium dimidii feodi:

"Sectatores curie militum de Okehampton de tribus septimanis in tres septimanas."

Willelmus ffloyer tenet terras de ffloyeris per servitium dimidii feodi ut supra. Et quandocumque et quotienscumque dominus venit in Insula de Exe subtus pontem vel alio modo Idem tenens qui pro tempore fuerit veniet coram domino comptus cum [cena?] vel sive [or sine] cingtus super tunicam vel camisiam [circumindutam habens] circa collum suum manitergium album et portabit unum pitcherum vini et unum album ciphum vel argenteum et offeret eidem domion ad potandum. Et quidam dicunt quattuor simenellos quod hoc non est in carta sua.


Translation:  “Suitors of the Court of Knights of Okehampton from three weeks to three weeks.”

William ffloyer holds ffloyer's lands by the service of half a fee as above. And whensoever and how often soever as the lord comes on the Isle of Exe below the bridge or in any other way the same tenant for the time being shall come into the lord's presence provided with dinner or [     ] girt over his tunic or shirt, having a white towel put about his neck, and shall bring one pitcher of wine and one white or silver cup, and shall offer the same lord to drink. And certain persons say [he shall provide] four simnels (i.e., loaves of finest wheat bread), which is not in his charter.

From the Visitation of Devon in 1564, with additions from the earlier Visitation of 1531: 
 

"Manerium de Hayes jacet ex occidentali parte rivoli de Exa et tenetur de Comite Devon per istud servicium, scilicet quando comes Devon adveniet in Insulam de Ex ad piscandum seu aliter ad seipsum recreandum tunc dominus sive proprietarius hujus manerii in decenti habitu sive apparatus attendere debet eidem comiti cum mantile super humerum et cupam argenti in manibus cum  vino replatam offerendo eandem eidein comiti ad bibendum."

Translation:  The manor of Hayes lies on the western side of the river Exe, and is held from the Earl of Devon by this service, that is to say, when the Earl of Devon comes into the Isle of Exe to fish, or otherwise to amuse himself, then the lord or proprietor of this manor ought to serve the said Earl in a decent coat or ready with napkin on his shoulder and a cup of silver in his hands filled with wine, offer the same to the said Earl to drink.

This is what is known as a "waiting" or "serjeanty" tenure. Such tenures were most common among those to whom the King had granted "folk" land. The idea was that the house should be one of call to the King's agents when on the public service. This suggests that Floyer's land had been previously held by the same tenure before the charters were granted. There are slight variations in the form at the different periods at which it is mentioned. In the charters of Robert FitzHenry and of Reginald de Courtenay between 1170 and 1194 the same phrase is repeated - the pitcher of wine is to be given "whensoever it shall happen that I or my heirs shall dine on the Isle of Exe." In the later account, before 1272, the pitcher becomes a cup (allum), and it is to be offered as often as John de Courtenay and his heirs breakfast or dine on the Isle of Exe, and the provision of a soldier in addition is not mentioned, this requirement being now made by other means. In 1311 the tenure is still more carefully defined. It is to be rendered whensoever Hugh de Courtenay comes on to the Isle of Exe, below the bridge, the tenant for the time being shall attend, provided with dinner, a white napkin girt round his neck over his tunic or shirt, and shall bring one pitcher of wine and one white or silver cup, and shall offer the same lord to drink. Four simnel cakes are also added. These differences look as if each time the service had been rendered it had been done with these small variations, which were afterwards registered as the precise form in which it should be offered in future, for it is expressly said that the four simnel loaves were not in the charter, that is, not of obligation.

THE FLOYER COAT OF ARMS

The following three documents connected with the Duke of Clarence are of considerable interest. The Duke had, with his father-in-law the Earl of Warwick, fled to Exeter for refuge in 1470, and the city was presently besieged by Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon, on behalf of Edward IV., for twelve days. A few months later, in August 1470, the Duke of Clarence, the Earl of Warwick, and their followers landed at different Devonshire havens, and met at Exeter. This visit is probably the one which Clarence alludes to in his letter to William Floyer, when he mentions "our last being in the west parts." The army which William Floyer was to join was that raised by Edward IV. for a projected invasion of France. The expedition actually went, though no war took place owing to the astuteness of Louis XI., who succeeded in making Edward desert his ally, the Duke of Burgundy, by the treaty of Picquiquy of 1475. So, though William Floyer was engaged for service for a year, he apparently only served for three months, for the receipt is for one quarter's wages, and is dated at Exeter, by which it appears that he had returned home within six weeks after his first summons. In consequence of this expedition, following the precedent of many others who had been engaged in the wars in France, William Floyer became a gentleman of coat armour. The three arrows of the family coat are an obvious allusion to the three archers he took with him. The arms were registered, quartering those of his grandmother, Bash, in the Herald's Visitation of Devon in 1531.

The family motto, "Floret Virtus Vulnerata", translates roughly as "Virtue Flourishes (although) Wounded". An alternate version, used by Ayscoghe Floyer, is "Florescit Vulnere Virtus". Perhaps any Latin scholars out there can help with translation.

"The Duke of Clarence, Earl of Warwick and Sarum, and Great Chamberlain of England:

Trusty and wel-beloved, we greet you well. Whereas at our last being in the west parts, ye agreed to go in our retinue in my lord’s voyage oversea, with such number of archers as is contained in an indenture that we send unto you, by our servant John Halwel, bearer hereof, wherein ye shew yourself of right loving disposition towards us, whereof we thank you heartily. It is also that we, having consideration of the labor and cost that should be unto you to come to London or hither to seal the indenture, have, for your more ease sent you the same, praying you to seal one part thereof, and deliver it to our servant.

Yeaven at our castle of Warwick the 14th day of Febr.

[Thus endorsed:] To our trusty and well-beloved William Floier." (B. and P. and Pole.)

"This indenture made betwixt the Right High and Mighty Prince, George, Duke of Clarence, on the one part, and William Floier of Exeter in the County of Devon, on the other part, Witnesseth, That the said William is retain’d and belist towards the said Duke, to do service of wars unto the King our Sovereign Lord, in the said Duke’s retinue, in the dutchy of Normandy and realm of France, for one whole year, with three archers well and sufficiently habiled, armed and arrayed, taking wages for himself xijd by the day, with rewards accustomed, after the rate of C marcs in a quarter for xxx spears, and for every the said archers vid by the day; with divers other conditions and agreements. Dated the xiv. of December in the xiv. year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King Edward the iiijth (1474)." (B. and P.)

"This indenture made at Exeter 29th Martii 15 Edw. IV. between the most high and mighty Prince the Duke of Clarence, and William ffloyer on the other part, Witnesseth that the sd William hath recd of the said Duke by the hands of John Hayes xiijl xiijS cijd for a quarter’s wages that is to say, for himself, a spere after xviijd by the day and for three of his retinue taking for every of ym vjd by the day. In witnes whereof to the one pt of ye indenture remayning toward the sd Duke the sd Willm hath set his hand." (1475-6). (B. and P.) [The time between the first enlisting and the payment after the return then was about six weeks.]

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A Proud Canadian
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Un canadien fier
Site Design & Maintenance by Tim Sandberg
These pages are dedicated to the memory of my mother,
Cynthia Edith Floyer
Aug. 25, 1923 - July 25, 1998

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