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The surname dictionaries usually reference a link between Hollyer and Hollier and variously describe its meaning as relating to Old English or Old French words meaning ‘Dweller by the holly tree’ - hardly surprising - or ‘Whoremonger’ which most of us would prefer to pass over quickly. Such dictionaries rarely give any proof of such assertions and so must be considered as speculative.
However, Gustav Fransson in his book Middle English Surnames of Occupation 1100-1350, with an excursion on toponymical surnames (1935) mentions that names ending in -ere or -iere denote someone who lives by a particular topographical feature, eg Bechere denotes someone who lives by a beech tree. He cites 4 examples of early names as follows:-
and explains that these names mean ‘dweller by the hole, cavity or hollow place’. I understand that names of this form are actually most frequent in Sussex and the adjoining counties. They are also found in Somerset and Worcestershire and occasionally in the East Midlands. I am grateful to Peter McClure for this information.
This may help explain why the name seems to be evenly and randomly spread across the southern counties of England and is never found in the northern counties. In contrast, if the name had originated only in the stronghold of North Warwickshire, a more even distribution of the name spreading out in time from Warks would have been expected. If true, it means that while the Warwickshire families seem to come from a common root in Shustoke, those in Southern counties probably arose independently.