Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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HOLLAND families:

this surname was borne by so many families (all but one of them in North Wales ) that a conspectus of them may prove useful, though few individuals among them call for notice. They all sprang from Lancashire , but it is now not so certain as was formerly thought what exactly was the connection between the two great clans of Welsh Hollands — neither of them (says Thomas Pennant ) regarded with much affection.

(A.) The clan whose origins are clearer includes (1) the Hollands of Conway . According to the chief authority on the Hollands , Bernard Holland , in his book The Hollands of Lancashire (see also A. S. Vaughan Thomas in the composite volume Hugh Holland , and his appendices), this clan derives from the noble family of Matthew de Holland ( temp. king John ) of Upholland, Lancs. PETER HOLLAND , a servant of Henry IV , came to Conway , and his family became owners of Conway castle , of much of the town, and of lands outside it (see W. B. Lowe , The Heart of Northern Wales , i, 342-5; J. E. Griffith , Pedigrees , 341; Arch. Camb. , 1866 , facing 183). With the sons of HUGH HOLLAND , who had m. Jane Conway of Bryneuryn and had d. in 1585 , this branch forks: ( a ) the descendants of the eldest son, EDWARD HOLLAND , continue the main line, which indeed more than once lacked male heirs, yet was perpetuated when a son or grandson of an heiress assumed the Holland surname. In the end, by a marriage of 1738 , the property came into the hands of the Williams es of Pwll-y-crochan (today, ‘ Colwyn Bay ’), and afterwards ( 1821 ), in like manner, into those of a Scottish family named Erskine ; ( b ) but Hugh Gwyn Holland 's younger sons did not remain at Conway . The fourth son, HENRY HOLLAND (d. 1603 ), is interesting; he went up to S. John's College , Cambridge , but graduated ( 1580 ) from Magdalene , and took orders ( D.N.B. ; Venn , Alumni Cantab. ). In 1590 he published A Treatise on Witchcraft , dedicated to Robert Devereux , earl of Essex , and three or four other books which show that he was a Calvinist — an Anglican Puritan , as indeed his connection with Essex suggests. The third son, Robert Holland (separately noticed), moved to Pembrokeshire in 1591 and there founded the family of (2) the Hollands of WALWYN'S , to which belonged William Holland (q.v.) . In later years, these Pembrokeshire Hollands migrated to England . One of the family was Sir THOMAS HOLLAND ( 1835 - 1926 ), the eminent jurist ; it may be mentioned here that he contributed two articles on the Welsh Hollands to Arch. Camb. ( 1866 , 183-5, and 1867 , 164-70), and wrote the article on Robert Holland in D.N.B.

(B.) The origins of the second North Wales Holland clan are uncertain. It was commonly alleged (e.g. in Arch. Camb. , 1867 , and Lowe , op. cit., i, 345-50, ii, 287-8) that they were congeners of the Conway Hollands . But Bernard Holland will allow at best only an illegitimate connection between the two. It seems that we are on firm ground only when we reach a certain ROGER (or HOESGYN ) HOLLAND , whatever may have brought him into Wales . He had a son, ROBIN HOLLAND , who was a partisan of Owain Glyn Dŵr . This Robin had two sons who concern us:


of (3) PENNANT (i.e. Pennant Ereithlyn , Eglwys-bach, Denbs. — see J. E. Griffith , Pedigrees , 24). A son of his, John Holland ( sheriff of Anglesey in 1461 ), m. Elinor , daughter of Ithel ap Hywel of Berw in Llanfihangel Ysgeifiog , Anglesey , and founded the family of (4) Holland of Berw , separately noticed;


( J. E. Griffith , op. cit., 259); his eldest son, GRIFFITH HOLLAND , lived at (5) FAERDREF , S. George's, Denbs. , which he left to his eldest son DAVID HOLLAND II . But David I 's younger son LLYWELYN HOLLAND also calls for notice, as his grandson ROBERT HOLLAND of (6) DENBIGH was the father of Hugh Holland (q.v.) , the man of letters . To return to David Holland II : Faerdref descended to his heir JOHN HOLLAND , whose son PYRS HOLLAND (d. 1552 ) further became Holland of (7) KINMEL , by marrying its heiress — the great-great-granddaughter of this couple brought Kinmel to her husband Sir John Carter (q.v.) . Other sons of Pyrs Holland of Kinmel were JOHN HOLLAND , father of WILLIAM HOLLAND of (8) WIGFAIR , S. Asaph — see J. E. Griffith , 102, and the index to Peter Roberts , Y Cwtta Cyfarwydd — and HUMPHREY HOLLAND (d. 1612 ), who by marrying the heiress became Holland of (9) TEIRDAN , Llanelian, Denbs. — (see the same references). The Hollands of Wigfair and of Teirdan ran out in heiresses, the former in 1719 ( Arch. Camb. , 1884 , 164), the latter in 1824 ( J. E. Griffith , 102). Returning once more to David Holland II : another son of his, WILLIAM HOLLAND , m. Catherine , daughter and heiress of Thomas Davies ( 1512? - 1573 ), bishop of S. Asaph (q.v.) , and founded the Holland of (10) HENDRE-fAWR , Abergele , family ( J. E. Griffith , 259). The families numbered 5-10 above produced several sheriffs , and bards were found to sing the praises of some of their members, but with the exception of Hugh Holland the poet they are ignored by the writers of our older biographical dictionaries, and the present summary is intended only for the curious inquirer who may wonder why the name Holland was formerly so prevalent in North Wales .


Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959