Dictionary of Welsh Biography

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

HOLLAND , HUGH ( 1569 - 1633 ), poet and traveller

Born at Denbigh , son of Robert Holland of that town (see Holland families (6)).

Hugh Holland was educated at Westminster School , under Camden , where he was distinguished for his classical scholarship. In 1589 he was elected to a scholarship at Trinity College , Cambridge ; he may have been elected later to a Fellowship. On leaving Cambridge he travelled abroad, visiting Rome and Jerusalem . At Rome he suffered for making certain observations concerning queen Elizabeth , and ‘ his overfull discourse betrayed his prudence ’ ( Anthony Wood ). In Jerusalem he may have been made a Knight of the Sepulchre , but on his return journey he touched at Constantinople where he was reprimanded by the English ambassador ‘ for the former freedom of his tongue .’ In England he retired to Oxford and spent some time there reading at the libraries , and tradition associates his name with Balliol College . Later he lived in London after spending some years at the Inns of Court . After his travels he expected some preferment, and not getting it ‘ he grumbled out the rest of his life in visible discontent ’ ( Fuller ). From his poems, especially his Cypress Garland , 1625 , we learn that he found one patron in George Villiers , duke of Buckingham , who introduced him to king James . In the same poem he talks of his wife ‘ Ursula ,’ the widow of Robert Woodard of Burnham, Bucks. , of ‘ Phil ’ his daughter, and of a son named Martin . He was survived by another son named ‘ Arbellinus ’ to whom letters of administration were granted in 1633 . Holland had apparently acquired some wealth; ‘ he had a good estate in candlemas-rents ’ ( Hunter ) and was buried in Westminster Abbey on 23 July 1633 .

Holland 's chief claim to fame is the laudatory sonnet prefixed to the first Shakespeare folio ( 1623 ). Despite a few good phrases, the sonnet is not a distinguished piece of work. Two of his longer poems and some lyrical pieces were printed; these include Pancharis: the first Booke. Containing the Preparation of the Love between Owen Tudyr and the Queene, long since intended to her Maiden Majestie and now dedicated to the Invincible James , 1603 ; A Cypres Garland. For the Sacred Forehead of our late Soveraigne King James , 1625 ; commendatory verses to Farnaby 's Canzonets , 1598 ; Ben Jonson 's Sejanus , 1605 ; Bolton 's Elements of Armory , 1610 ; Coryate 's The Od-combian Banquet , 1611 ; Parthenia , 1611 ; Sir Thomas Hawkin 's translation of Horace , 1625 ; and Alabaster 's Roxana , 1632 . There are [some Latin verses in T. Farnaby 's edition of Seneca 's tragedies, 1624 , and some] unpublished verses in B.M. Lansdowne MS. 777 ; B.M. Harleian MSS. 3910 and 6917 ; and some letters in B.M. Cotton MS. Julius, C.iii (15) . Holland is also the author of a Latin epitaph on George Montaigne , archbishop of York .

A number of other works have also been attributed to Hugh Holland , probably due to a confusion with Henry Holland , the son of Philemon Holland . Hugh Holland of Denbigh was a scholar and poet well esteemed in his day; he was a member of the Mermaid Club and his sonnet to the first folio suggests that he may have known Shakespeare personally. Anthony Wood saw a copy of his epitaph, made by Holland himself — “ Miserimus peccator, musarum et amicitiarum cultor sanctissimus .’ In this sense is he best remembered.


  • Fuller , The History of the Worthies of England. Endeavoured by Thomas Fuller (London, 1662) ;
  • Wood , Athenae Oxonienses (1813–20) ;
  • Geirlyfr Bywgraffiadol o Enwogion Cymru (1870) ;
  • Corser , Collectanea anglo-poetica or, a Bibliographical and descriptive catalogue of a portion of a collection of early English poetry, with occasional extracts and remarks biographical and critical (Manchester, 1860-83) ;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • Daniel Williams and A. S. Vaughan Thomas, Cyfansoddiadau buddugol traethawd ar Hugh Holland (1943) (National Eisteddfod of Wales Council, 1943 ).


Arthur Spencer Vaughan Thomas, M.A., Barnet

Published date: 1959