William Holland

1802 Wednesday


Still snow, a vast quantity fell last night and now it continues to snow… What terrible weather this is for all kinds of birds, no food to be found anywhere and man, cruel man, adding to their calamity by hunting after their lives in every quarter, the whole region resounds with pops and explosions.

From Paupers & Pig Killers: The Diary of William Holland, a Somerset Parson, 1799-1818 edited by Jack Ayres

Jack Ayres says in his Introduction that William’s family can be traced back to John Holland, Duke of Exeter, d. 1446. FamilySearch does not take you back that far. The Y- line begins to lose its way at Pirs HOLLAND [KCWB-RVH] (1501-1553) and his wife Catrin ferch RICHARD b. 1501.Other lines have some high ranking individuals and an idle wander through William’s pedigree took me at least as far back as Roger CONIAS [MVD9-YFK] of Richmond, Yorkshire born 1110. (Your mileage, if you take the journey, may differ depending on the generation leaps you take.)

Start with William.

William Holland

A few days ago I finished reading Paupers & Pig Killers: The Diary of William Holland, a Somerset Parson, 1799-1818. I bought the book about fifteen years ago but failed to engage with it. Now that most of my daylight hours are spent looking at local and family history I had no difficulty following William’s progress to the end of his days. Editor Jack Ayres added some pointers in endnotes to the identities of the people the Parson loved and loathed but there’s still a large cast of characters about whom I want to know more. It is a small step to wondering how many I might find on the FamilySearch Tree.

Editor Jack begins his introduction –

William Holland was the second son of John Holland of Teyrdan, Llaneillian Denbighshire and grandson of Thomas Holland and Mary (nee Kinaston, of Ruyton, Salop). The family can be traced back to John Holland, Duke of Exeter, d.1446.

Our diarist was easily found on FST but without his wife or any of their six known children. (I say “known” – the four children who died within a fortnight of scarlet fever in 1795 are not named and the survivor of the outbreak, Mary, seems to be the Margaret who plays a leading role in her father’s life. Two years after the family tragedy, when his wife was forty-seven, “little William was born”. The boy survived a nasty fall from his horse when just seven years old but lived out his allotted span, dying on the first of December 1867. He had been Rector of Cold Norton for 43 years. There is a painting by Sir Francis Grant, dated 1851, of the Reverend William Holland, Rector of Cold Norton, Essex who died in 1878. The deaths of two William Hollands were registered in Maldon, one in 1867 and the other in 1878.  A little mystery to be explained!

Young William married twice but died without issue. His second wife, Matilda Bullock, experienced five years of the 20th century.

Saint Stephen’s church stands on the hill beside Norton Hall. The present building replaces the 12th century church which fell into disrepair, and was built at his own expense in 1855 by the rector, William Holland. (He was fortunate in having a wealthy wife!) Portraits of William and Mathilda Holland can be seen in the church. That of Mathilda shows Cold Norton church in the background. The rebuilding must have taken place with some urgency as the last service in the old church was at Easter 1855 while the new church was dedicated in time for Christmas the same year.


The Holland Y-DNA line on FamilySearch doesn’t go back to John, Duke of Exeter. It loses its way in a flush of red warning exclams. Another line, though, take us into the 11th century, to Cynfyn (Prince of Powys) and his wife Angharad (Princess of Wales). There are no dates for the couple but their son, Rywallon ap Cynfyn was “slain in battle” in 1070.

If you want to explore the William Hollands’ connection with this Welsh Prince on FamilySearch begin your search with ID 934Y-K67. William Snr died 17 April 1819, aged 72.