Home > Prominent People
Amongst the thousands of individuals identified in the One-Name Study, a few will stand out from the crowd and often will have left more information on their lives and works. Here are a few of these notable people.
Thomas was born in Coventry in 1609 and from 1629 trained in London as a surgeon, or chirurgeon as it was often then called. He worked at both Barts and St Thomas’s Hospitals, the latter for 53 years. He is famous for operating on Samuel Pepys for the removal of a large bladder stone in 1658. This was in the days when such surgery without anaesthetics or antiseptics often led to death. In 1662, Thomas did 30 consecutive stone operations without losing a single patient. He became a close friend of Samuel Pepys and Robert Boyle. He is one of two Holliers known to have his own Coat of Arms. Five generations of Hollier descendants are known, down to the late 18th century, but after that, the trail goes cold. An article by Charles Morris about Thomas Hollier's life is reproduced in my third booklet. His portrait, left, hangs at the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
John Hollyer (c1723 - bef 1790) was one of the 'Coventry Hollyers' and corresponded on a number of occasions with Samuel Johnson. This story is described here.
Richard was the 'father' of what I call the 'City Hollyers'. He was born in Coventry, the son of Joseph Hollyer (1691-1734) At the age of 14, in 1742, he came to London and was apprenticed to a Mr J. Blakey, a blacksmith trading as a glazier in the City. Blakey died and Richard was transferred to Matthew Jarman to complete his apprenticeship. Matthew Jarman was very prominent in the trade being Master of the Glazier’s Company in 1746. On completing his apprenticeship, he was admitted to the freedom on 25th April 1750, meaning he became a Freeman of the City of London. Later the same year, on 30th August, he married Matthew’s daughter Sarah. He was admitted to livery in the Glazier’s Company on 7th September 1753 and eventually followed in his father-in-law’s steps by becoming Master in 1775. During his year as Master, he admitted his son Matthew to the Company. Towards the end of his life, working with his son Matthew, he carried out essential repairs to St Paul’s Cathedral. Richard and his descendants carried on their builders & glaziers business from their premises at 2 Warwick Lane, which coincidentally had been the home of Thomas Hollier the surgeon (above) in the previous century. Many of his descendants also became builders, plumbers and glaziers.
Henry was born in Hagley, Worcs, but his ancestors were from the extensive Hollier family from Barton under Needwood in Staffs. His father at one point worked in India but ill-health forced his return to England in 1784. It is not known if Henry also went to India. Around that time (c1785), he married and moved to Cardiff where his two children Fanny and Henry were born. Henry had been appointed as Steward to the 1st Marquess of Bute (Lord Cardiff), who was notable for restoring Cardiff Castle from ruins. Henry was well connected and went on to hold a string of public posts in Cardiff in addition to looking after the Marquess’s affairs. He was admitted a Burgess in 1783, became the Town Clerk of Cardiff (1786-1789), Bailiff (1786-1814), Clerk of the Peace (1795-1797), Clerk of the General Meeting (1802), Collector of Customs (1797), and Alderman of Cardiff.
Son of Henry Hollier of Cardiff, above. I think it was Henry Hollier, junior who became Receiver General [of Taxes] of the County in 1813 and followed his father by being admitted a Burgess in 1815. However, Henry junior appears to have embezzled the taxes and in 1818 his estates were seized by the Crown and sold off to repay his debts. The famous bankers Coutts & Co have surviving correspondence with Henry and his father and it appears he was always giving excuses for being in debt.
In 1823, Henry married Mary Ann Babbage in St Marylebone, she being the sister of Charles Babbage, the famous mathematician, polymath and inventor of mechanical computing engines. Henry and Mary Ann had 6 children. Two became solicitors while Thomas Henry was Rector at Priston, Somerset from 1863 to 1899. Almost all the children married ladies with a connection to the church.
The extensive Hollier family at Llanelly, and later Canada, descend from Henry.
Frederick Hollyer was born into a family with many artistic talents, his father Sameul being a fine-art collector and his two of his brothers became engravers. He too trained as a mezzo-tint engraver and produced a couple of engravings of Landseer paintings, but it was the newer art of photography that Frederick excelled in. He was elected a member of the Photographic Society of London in 1865. In 1871 he moved from the family home in Kentish Town to the fashionable district of Kensington, where he set up his studio in Pembroke Square. He excelled in the technique of high quality platinum prints. After photographing the works of Frederic Leighton, he was introduced to the Pre-Raphaelite painters and did work for Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and G. F. Watts, thereby bringing these artists and their work to a wider audience. He was friendly with many of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, including the designer William Morris. He was also in demand for his studio portraits and his sitters encompassed the aristocracy and leading figures in politics, the arts, the sciences and of London 'society'. A fuller biography of Frederick can be found in the Hollyer Art Gallery.
Brother to Frederick above, Samuel emigrated to the USA and was a well-known engraver, producing work over 60 years. His Views of Old New York is particularly valued for its antiquarian interest. There is a longer biography of Samuel in the Hollyer Art Gallery.
It is worth mentioning that Samuel Hollyer (1797-1883), father of Samuel and Frederick, was himself an engraver and art collector. Until abolished by Act of Parliament in 1853, he was also Deputy Sealer in the Court of Chancery. This post seems to have been a sinecure and the related post of 'Deputy Chaffwax' was caricatured by Charles Dickens in his novel Bleak House.
A noted 19th century painter of animals, especially Scottish scenes. As with the other artists, a longer description can be found in the Hollyer Art Gallery. What is also remarkable is that 5 of his children also became artists: Eva, Maud, Gregory, William Stanley and Olive.
Despite his love of Scottish scenes, there is no evidence that he actually went there. But he did move around the country, bringing up some of his family in London and some in Liverpool. After returning to London, he moved to Huntingdonshire and finally retired to Faringdon in Oxfordshire.
With the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, there has been renewed interest in the story of 'Wendy' Hollyer, who was awarded the George Medal. Read about Wendy here.
Beatrice Hollyer in her TV-AM days
It's not possible to do justice to all the family members here. Many Hollyer/Holliers were farmers, butchers, innkeepers and hotel keepers. One family were lock-keepers on the Grand Junction Canal over many generations. One was an Ironmaster in an industry that provided lesser jobs for many other Holliers down the years. Some became prominent in their communities. A few were in the clergy (Aston, Cannock, Colwich, Hungerton, Carshalton and Priston). A few were in the police. Several became mayors of their towns (Shrewsbury, Dudley), or served on the council (Dover, Cardiff). Many of my family were Artists on Glass. Let's also spare a thought for those who toiled for a lifetime as Agricultural Labourers.Back to top