The Holland family
Robert Holland was an ironmonger who had a shop in Newgate market from around the 1610s onwards. He and his family lived and worshipped in the parish of St Bride’s Fleet Street, just outside the City walls across the river Fleet, and about 15 minutes’ walk from Robert’s shop.
Robert was married to Mary, and they had nine children. All but two of them died in early childhood:
- Dorothy: born 29 June 1619, died of the plague in August 1636.
- Daniel: born 3 May 1622, died 6 May 1622.
- Walter: born 20 September 1626, died 6 January 1627.
- Frances: born 18 November 1627, died of the plague on 25 August 1636.
- Thomas: born 9 November 1628, died 1 March 1630.
- Peter: born 7 February 1630, died of the plague on 7 August 1636.
- An unnamed daughter: stillborn on 12 January 1631 along with a living twin, Richard.
Only Richard, born on 12 January 1631, and Ann, born on 26 February 1632, seem to have survived to adulthood. Researching this family, particularly the three deaths in quick succession during the plague year of 1636, has upset me more than anything I have studied for quite a while.
What happened to the parents? did they survive the plague in 1636?
This is interesting also because not much notice is taken now of the 1636 plague. This snapshot of one family suggests it was a very great disaster in London. Was it worse than 1625?
Robert survives until 1653: his will is in the PCC archives. At some point he moves out to St Alfege in Greenwich: his will says that he wishes to be interred in the church with his wife’s remains, but I can’t find Mary’s burial in the parish register. But I don’t think they move until the 1640s, so she at least survived the plague year from the looks of it. I just keep imagining how dreadful the August of 1636 must have been for them.
Richard is the executor of his father’s will. Ann doesn’t seem to be named there so may have died or else received her portion of the estate already.
That’s really interesting that the father survives until 1653, the year of Marvell’s ‘The Character of Holland’. I cannot recall any obvious connection in the poem, which is ostensibly about the first Anglo-Dutch War, but no coincidence doesn’t merit a second glance, and this is one I would otherwise never have had any reason to know about. Marvell’s attention to family life is particularly sensitive after his time at NunAppleton, 1650-52, and I’m betting that even if he heard mention of the Holland family name, there’ll be a subtle reference to be found. Thanks!
It’s just possible I suppose that Marvell may have known him – he was Henry Walker’s master when Walker was an apprentice ironmonger, so may have been known in publishing circles possibly. Walker remained involved in the Ironmongers’ Company even after moving to bookselling then writing, and went to livery dinners throughout the 1650s – while Holland served for a time as a Warden if I remember correctly (haven’t got my notes with me). So they would have remained in touch. Not sure whether Walker knew Marvell at all: he was certainly part of that world of public/private publishing focused on the Council of State during the early 1650s along with Milton and Nedham.