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Frederick Henry Hollyer (1825-1895)
There are two branches of the Lock-Keeper Hollyers. The first descends from John Samuel Hollyer (1814-1905), who was the Toll Clerk at Linslade Lock on the Grand Junction Canal for 61 years. The other descends from his younger brother Frederick Henry Hollyer (c.1825-1895), who worked at various locks including Braunston (above) and Brentford. They were the sons of Henry and Sarah Hollyer. But who was Henry and what was his ancestry?
In this short article, I will review the evidence that leads me to conclude that he must be the Henry Hollyer (1780-1825), the eldest son of John and Susanna Hollyer of the Coventry Hollyers. Their youngest son, Samuel, was the engraver and father of Samuel the engraver and Frederick the photographer.
On John Samuel Hollyer's marriage certificate of 1845, he states that his father was Henry Hollyer, a Toll Collector. One of the witnesses was Sarah Hollyer. On Frederick Henry Hollyer's marriage certificate of 1853, he quotes his father as Henry Hollyer, Gentleman. Sarah again was a witness. Nothing states that Henry was deceased.
In fact the 1851 census for Braunston Lock in Northamptonshire includes Frederic H Hollyer, Canal Clerk, aged 25, born Stepney in London, while his mother is shown as a 60 year old widow Sarah Hollyer born in Islington. The age 25 is significant, because it places Frederick's birth as around 1825/6. Later censuses show consistent ages for this birth date. However, Frederick's baptism seems to have been late. It took place on 8th May 1831 at St Dunstan's Stepney. The parents are described as Henry and Sarah Hollyer. Henry's occupation was shown as “Gent” and their abode was “MEOT”, which stands for Mile End Old Town. Everything suggests that Henry was still alive, but could the late baptism have been caused by it being put off by the death of Henry around 1825?
We now backtrack and consider the other children of Henry and Sarah. The first likely son is James, baptised 29th Sep 1813 in St Mary, Whitechapel and noted as born on 31st Aug 1812. Then comes John Samuel born in the Commercial Road, London in 1814. Between his birth, for which no baptism has yet been found, and that of Frederick Henry, the IGI shows two records of the baptism, on the same day, 16th Feb 1817, of Anne Maria and Sarah Anne Hollyer to Henry and Sarah Hollyer. While this took place at Gumley, in Leicestershire, well away from the east end of London, Gumley is the location of a lock on the Grand Junction Canal. Proof that this is the same family comes from Henry's occupation, described as “Clerk to the Wharf”.
The next child appears to be Catharine Susannah in 1820. Oddly the baptism was in the East End of London (St George in the East), but Henry's address was quoted as Kingston upon Thames, in Surrey. But of considerable interest and significance is the fact that Henry's occupation is shown as Silkman; the same as followed for many years by John Hollyer of Coventry, who had moved down to London and who, I conclude, was Henry's father.
The next Henry & Sarah baptism I have managed to find is for a Thomas Robert, baptised 22nd Dec 1822 in St George's, Bloomsbury. Not the part of London you'd expect and we must leave open the possibility that there were two couples with the name Henry & Sarah Hollyer. The final child was Frederick Henry, as described above.
Now if the earliest child was born in 1812, then it seems highly likely that the corresponding marriage was that at St Mary, Rotherhithe:-
Henry Hollyer, widower, of Deptford, Kent married Sarah Jones, spinster of St Mary, Rotherhithe, by licence (granted 19th Aug 1811) on 20th Aug 1811. One of the witnesses was Catherine Hollyer.
Henry, we presume, would have been of no great age - Sarah would have been around 20 - so for Henry to be a widower is unusual. However, wives could die in childbirth at any age. Might Henry have married only a few years earlier? There is an intriguing marriage that might fit the bill:-
14th April 1807 at Old Church, St Pancras: Henry Hollyer, bachelor of St Michael, Coventry married Eleanor Fullagar, widow.
Assuming this is the same Henry Hollyer, then this provides the link back to the Hollyers at Coventry. Hence, I conclude that Henry, the progenitor of the Lock-Keeper Hollyers was Henry Hollyer, the first son of John and Susanna Hollyer, who was baptised on 19th Sep 1780 at St Michael, Coventry. There is a slight snag. When A. A. Reade was writing his Johnsonian Gleanings, he spent a lot of time trying to establish a connection between the famous Dr Johnson and the Hollyer family, but to no avail. However, he did receive from Eleanor Mary Hollyer (daughter of Frederick the photographer), a list that she had in her possession of family dates.
The list starts:
And it goes on to the last:-
This is clearly a record of the family of John and Susannah.
The list continues:-
And down to Sister Anna Maria in 1848. All these dates tally with known burials and death registrations. As internal family evidence, this must be reliable, albeit transcribed by Reade. As the deaths have everyone except John and Samuel, it seems likely that Samuel, Eleanor's grandfather, compiled the list. The slight difficulty with the conclusion is that Henry appears to have died in 1825. Old enough to have fathered Frederick Henry, but he would have been dead at the time of his baptism in 1831.
That is the evidence. Not fully proved by any means, but fairly strong. With a One-Name Study there is also the fact that when you collect all occurences of the name, you can often conclude on 'negative evidence', that is, there wasn't another known Henry Hollyer who could fit the evidence. We do know from family evidence that John sold his Coventry silk business and came to London where it is said he invested in dock building in East London and lost all his money - so there is a link to East London. However, it appears that he might have lost his money before leaving Coventry, as there is a record in The Times of a J. Hollyer of Coventry, ribbon manufacturer (i.e. Silkman), being declared bankrupt in 1808.
John Samuel Hollyer's gravestone at Linslade Old ChurchBack to top