Select Holland Surname Genealogy

The origin of the surname Holland in England is from an early place-name (of which there were many in England) and has nothing really to do with the country of Holland.  The root seems to have been the Old English hoh meaning “ridge” and land meaning “land.” 

The place-name of Up Holland in west Lancashire, which appeared in the 1086 Domesday Book, gave rise to the famous Holland family of medieval times

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Select Holland Ancestry

England.  The Holland name has been primarily a Lancashire name. although it has spread to other parts of the country.

  The progenitor of the medieval Holland family appears to have been Matthew de Holande, recorded as having acquired the Holland manor in Up Holland, near present-day Wigan, in 1202.  Holande or Holand was the spelling used by this family until the 14th century.  The township of Up Holland was at that time numbered among the market towns of Lancashire.  A castle and a priory adorned the place when the de Holandes were its masters.

These Holands rose to local and national importance in the 14th century, first through their association with Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and second through their exploits in the wars against the French.  Thomas and John Holland were half-brothers to King Richard II, although here it was said “he had companions of the worst sort - violent, dissipated, and cruel.”   Both Hollands perished after Richard II was overthrown in 1399.

The Hollands survived these catastrophes and remained a force during the Wars of the Roses.  But Henry Tudor’s victory at Bosworth Field in 1485 ended their time of prominence.  The family history was recounted in Bernard Holland’s 1917 book The Lancashire Hollands.

  There were subsidiary Holland lines – at Denton and Sutton in Lancashire, at Mobberley in Cheshire, and in north Wales.  Thomas Holland of Sutton was a Jesuit priest who was martyred for his beliefs in 1642.  From the Mobberley Hollands came:
  • the 18th century surgeon and doctor Peter Holland of Knutsford in Cheshire
  • his son Sir Henry Holland, a royal physician and later a travel writer
  • and his son  Henry Holland, known as Lord Knutsford, a British Colonial Secretary in the 1890’s.
The Norfolk Hollands claimed descent from the Lancashire Hollands, but this connection is questionable.  They held Wortwell House in Redenhall in the early 1500’s and later established themselves at Quiddenham.  Philemon Holland, the noted classicist, was a prominent member of this family.

Cornelius Holland from an Essex family allegedly drew up the death warrant for Charles I in 1649.  With the restoration of the monarchy and facing death by hanging, drawing and quartering, he escaped the country and lived in exile in Switzerland as John Ralfeson for the remainder of his life.

Baron Holland was the title given in 1763 to Henry Fox, an influential English politician of his time.  Holland House and Holland Park in Kensington, London take their name from him.  Meanwhile Jools Holland’s ancestry has been traced back to delivery men and hawkers in the Marylebone area of London in the mid-19th century.

.  Holland is also an Irish name.  Its principal Irish origin is one of the anglicizations of the Gaelic O’hOileian name.  This was a sept first found in Connacht but which later dispersed.

The 1890 census showed some Hollands in Galway.  Larger numbers were in the Beara peninsula in county Cork.  A number of the Hollands from Bantry in Cork emigrated to America and Canada in the mid-19th century.  John Holland, considered the inventor of the modern submarine, departed for America with his parents from Liscannor in county Clare in 1872.  There are plaques honoring him in the town today.  His father John was originally from Cork.

  There were early Hollands recorded in Virginia in the 1620’s, but none of them seem to have survived.  Captain John Holland came to Massachusetts around the year 1630.  As a ship captain he travelled frequently to Virginia and died at sea near there in 1652.  John Holland, possibly his son (but probably not), established himself in Nansemond county in the 1660’s and his family name became the name of the town where he lived.  In 1860 the Holland city commission was made up of 12 members, 10 of whom were named Holland.

A line from here is thought to have run to Edgecombe county, North Carolina and thence to Georgia where Wiley Holland was born in 1804.  He was a plantation owner and civic leader for many years in Wilkinson county, surviving the Civil War and Sherman’s march through Georgia.

Two Holland notables in Texas were:
  • Spearman Holland who, according to the family Bible, was born in Virginia in 1801 and died in Texas in 1872.  He had moved to the Piney Woods section of east Texas in 1842 where he established his plantation.  He was a Confederate Major during the Civil War.  Afterwards he gave over his plantation to his former slaves and it became known as Holland quarters.
  • and Rube Holland from Tennessee who came to Bell county, Texas in 1874 with “a wagon and horses, his wife and four children, and six dollars in cash.”  Five years later, the town of Holland was named after him, apparently without his knowledge.
Canada.  An early Holland in Canada was from Holland.  Samuel Holland had joined the British army in 1756 and eight years later was appointed Surveyor General of North America.  He is remembered in Prince Edward Island as a founder of the colony.  Holland College there was named after him and there is a Parc Samuel Holland in Quebec City.

.  Many early arrivals were convicts, such as Richard Holland from Liverpool, convicted in 1806 for theft.  After serving out his sentence he farmed at Windsor, NSW until his death there at 84 in 1867.  His son Thomas farmed there for a further fifty years before his death at 88 in 1913.

The Hollands were a pioneering family in Australia’s Northern Territories.  Cyril Holland took over the Lockerbie homestead in Cape York, Australia’s northernmost cattle station, in 1913.  He and his family were to spend thirty years there.  Their story was recounted in Ann Hall’s 1990 book The Holland Family.

New Zealand. 
Henry Holland came to New Zealand with his parents from a small farming village in the East Riding of Yorkshire in 1863.  He settled in Christchurch SI and served as its mayor and MP in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  His son Sidney followed him into politics.  He became leader of the National Party in 1940 and Prime Minister ten years later.

Select Holland Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Holland Names

John Holland, created Duke of Exeter, was a half-brother to King Richard II and a power behind the throne.  But he lost his position and his head after Richard was overthrown in 1399.
Sir Henry Holland
was physician to the young Queen Victoria and also a noted travel writer.
John Holland
is considered the father of the modern submarine, selling the first prototype to the US Navy in 1900. 
Sidney Holland
was Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1950 to 1957.

Select Hollands Today
  • 41,000 in the UK (most numerous in East Midlands)
  • 40,000 in America (most numerous in Texas) 
  • 22,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 1,000 surnames.

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