Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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HOLLAND , WILLIAM ( 1711 - 1761 ), early Methodist and Moravian ;

b. at Haverfordwest 16 Jan. 1711 , son of Nicholas Holland , of the Hollands of Walwyn's Castle — see Holland families (2) ; Nicholas Holland was great-great-grandson of Robert Holland (q.v.) . According to Moravian tradition, William Holland was at Haverfordwest grammar school at the same time as bishop John Gambold ( see under Gambold ); he does not seem to have been Welsh -speaking. Before 1732 he was in London , and had a fairly large house-painting business in Basinghall Street . He took to religion, and frequented the society which met at first in James Hutton 's house and afterwards in Alders-gate Street and Fetter Lane , before the split between John Wesley and the Moravians ; it seems pretty certain that Hutton was the man who read out portions of Luther on Galatians , in Wesley 's hearing ( 14 May 1738 ) — the event which Wesley regarded as the occasion of his own ‘conversion.’ But Hutton was drawn into Moravianism . On receiving ( 1741 ) the Brethren 's assurance that he could be one of them without forsaking the Church of England , he sold his business and was set apart as a Moravian ‘labourer.’ When the official congregation (i.e. church) of the United Brethren was established in Fetter Lane ( 30 Oct. 1742 ), Holland 's name stood first in the list of its members; he was one of its two ‘stewards,’ and an ‘ elder .’ In 1743 , he was appointed ‘ correspondent for Wales ’; in the same year he conducted a mission in Yorkshire ; in 1745 he went to Germany . On his return, he was sent on a mission to South Wales , including Pembrokeshire ; his journey took from Nov. 1746 till Feb. 1747 . But even from 1745 he had been disturbed by what he considered an increasing tendency among the Brethren towards separate ‘denominationalism,’ being himself a staunch Anglican . In Nov. 1747 he was deprived of his ‘labourer's’ commission, and resumed his house-painting ; shortly afterwards, to the intense chagrin of the Brethren , he went over to John Wesley . He d. in London 23 Feb. 1761 . His wife ( 1741 ) was Elizabeth , daughter of Thomas Delamotte and thus aunt to the first wife of David Mathias (q.v.) ; the Fetter Lane Archives have an autobiography and letters of hers; they have also an interesting account by Holland of the state of religion in Wales between 1735 and 1747 , and an incomplete journal of his travels in South Wales in 1746-7 — these documents were printed by Miss Elnith R. Griffiths in Cylch. Cymd. Hanes M.C. , xvi and xvii.


  • Moravian Records at Fetter Lane and at Haverfordwest;
  • Elnith R. Griffiths (above);
  • The journal of the Rev. John Wesley, enlarged from original mss., with notes from unpublished diaries, annotations, maps, and illustrations (1938) in Curnock 's edition and with his notes (indexed);
  • Benham , Memoirs of James Hutton; comprising the annals of his life, and connection with the United Brethren (London, 1856) ;
  • Y Cymmrodor , xlv (indexed).


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

Published date: 1959