A puzzle for scholars for years, and their exact nature and role is only now becoming clear. In many surviving parish records, particularly churchwardens' accounts, from the 15th, to early 17th centuries, hoglers (sometimes hogglers, hognelers, or hoggeners) are listed as contributing substantial amounts to parish coffers, on a regular basis, year after year. By comparing all these entries it has become clear that these people would go round the parish collecting money (and/or corn) for the church, at a period before organized church rates existed (compare also church ales). In most cases, their activities were concentrated in the Christmas-New Year period, and there are hints that they went in procession and some of them at least entertained potential donors with songs. The records indicate that the hoglers were usually drawn from the ranks of the respectable and respected parishioners—the same sort of people who served as churchwardens—and that some places had several groups, organized on guild lines. Other references indicate the men going hogling at Christmas, while the women went at Easter. As further references come to light, the exact nature of hogling will, it is hoped, become clearer. What needs to be investigated, however, is why hoglers are mentioned in certain southern counties—Somerset, Devon, Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Gloucestershire—but not in the Midlands or north of England. The name also opens up areas of investigation. What is the relationship between hoglers and Hogmanay, the name for New Year in Scotland and the north of England? The first reference to the latter only dates from c.1680 (OED), 200 years after the first southern occurrence. Derivations of Hogmanay’ usually cite the medieval French word aguillanneuf (meaning ‘New Year’ or ‘New Year's Gift’) as possible source. A cognate (and perhaps earlier) term in the south of England would help explain the connection, but more work needs to be done.
James Stokes, ‘The Hoglers: Evidences of an Entertainment Tradition in Eleven Somerset Parishes, Somerset N&Q 32 (1990), 807–17;Uvedale Lambert, ‘Hognel Money and Hogglers’, Surrey Archaeological Collections 30 (1917), 54–60;Hutton, 1996: 12–13.