Home > OXF Holliers
This article is still 'work in progress' but shows that the various Oxfordshire Hollier families may after all be connected to each other.
by Peter Walker and Carol Eden
For many years it has been clear that there were several groups of Hollier families in Oxfordshire, but little evidence to show whether or not they were connected. The Hollier families probably are part of the geographical expansion of the name from its heartland in neighbouring Warwickshire, although a separate origin cannot be entirely dismissed. Indeed, a William le Haliere is noted in 1279 as owner of two yards of land at Postcomb in the Parish of Lewknor. However, no further early references are known and 1279 is perhaps before hereditary surnames were common.
One of the earliest groups were the Holliers at Charlton on Otmoor, where references exist from the early 16th century. However, they seem to fade away during the 18th century and no hard evidence links them to the other early group at Deddington, though this remains a strong possibility for the origin of this latter group.
The Deddington families are recorded in the parish register from 1645 and descendants are known in a wide range of places both in the county and further afield, including Over Worton, Banbury, Duns Tew, Hook Norton, Chacombe, Burnham, Bushey, Harrow, Moreton in the Marsh, Shipston on Stour, Lighthorne, Newbold, Stretton on Fosse and Tredington. Branches also appear in Aynho, Barford, Steeple Barton, Mid Barton, while other families at Bicester and Launton are probably connected. However, we know that the Holliers were at Deddington much earlier. For example, there was a case for defamation made against Joan Hollier in 1592 who called Agnes Browne 'an old jade and a single soul gentlewoman' in the street. In Deddington these words were considered words of defamation and to signify an 'unhonest conversation'. In the 1641 Protestation Returns and Heath Tax Assessments, a Thomas Hollier and John Hollier were living at Deddington. Robert Hollier, another known resident of Deddington was not similarly listed, so maybe he was the Robert Holliard who died at Nether Worton in 1609. His wife Mary survived until 1645.
The other major group of Holliers are those at Sydenham and nearby Lewknor, which emerge towards the end of the 18th century. Because of the different geographic location in the south of the county, it has never been obvious that they were connected with the Deddington group further north. Instead, they could have come from Berkshire. Another family at nearby Thame might be connected too.
Recently, some new data has emerged which proves that the Deddington and Sydenham/Lewknor groups are indeed connected.
One of the breakthroughs comes from South Weston, a small village close to Lewknor. Only a few events are recorded in the parish registers there:
23 Jun 1784 Joseph Hollier, widower, by licence to Elizabeth Heritage spinster
10 Oct 1820 John Coles, bachelor, to Ann Hollier, spinster
8 Jan 1811 Jane Hollier, wife of William Hollier of Lewknor
10 Feb 1828 William Hollier, aged 80
31 Jan 1836 John Hollier, aged 56
Of immediate interest is the 1811 burial of Jane, wife of William; this couple being the progenitors of the Lewknor line. Originally, I had been confused by Jane being referred in transcripts as the widow of William, which would have meant he had pre-deceased her. But the original, now checked, does say 'wife'. From this we can conclude that her husband William died in 1828 aged 80 and had therefore been born c1848.
For some time, I have been aware of various lists of Oxfordshire wills, but the list currently held at the Oxfordshire Record Office, includes two wills from Holliers at South Weston which I had not seen before:
The first will is of immediate interest because Zachariah is a distinctive name from the Deddington group, so it doesn't take long to realise that Joseph must have been the 15th and last child of William Hollier and Anne Stilgoe of Deddington. Eight of Joseph's siblings seem to have died young. I have always speculated that Joseph would have been the one who married Sarah Manning at Deddington in 1757. A Sarah Hollier was buried at Deddington on 26th March 1784, so it would appear that Joseph wasted little time before marrying again at South Weston on the 23rd June. Joseph seems to have been buried in Deddington on 6th Jan 1790 and it seems likely that his second wife Elizabeth is the Elizabeth Hollier shown as being buried in Deddington on 11th April 1799, aged 59 being described as 'of Islop, South Weston'. This sequence of events seems to provide the long-sought-after link between the two main groups of Oxfordshire Holliers. A 1789 census of South Weston includes Joseph Hollier and his wife, describing him as Mr Cooper's farmer. In fact, 'Mr Cooper' was Thomas Cooper, Esq, Lord of the Manor of South Weston. Joseph was appointed as his gamekeeper in 1781.
The second will is clearly that of William of Lewknor. He must have had a daughter Ann, as it was her that married John Coles in 1820. We might imagine that this William would also have come from the Deddington group, so was there a William born c1748?
A good deal of analysis and speculation seems to have provided a probable solution. In 1788 we see a burial at Lewknor of a Martha Hollier. Could this be the former Martha Coles who married William Hollier in 1742 at Deddington? This William seems likely to be the son of William and Ann born 1720, an elder brother of Joseph, Zachariah and Robert described above. As William and Martha married in 1742, they would be the right age to have had a son William in 1748. One possible candidate is William born 1747 in Bicester, son of William. No mother is mentioned, but his younger sister was called Martha, so the mother might well have been as well. Another sister was called Anne. So she might match the Ann who had an illegitimate daughter Elizabeth Groves Hollier baptised at Lewknor in 1769 - the earliest Hollier event in that parish. The daughter Martha might also be the Martha Hollier who married William Tayler in Lewknor in 1777; the marriage being witnessed by William Hollier and Joseph Hollier. It all fits nicely, but the problem is that just outside Bicester is Launton, where a William Hollier married Tabitha Cross in 1768 and had children Mary and William. It appears that this William died in Launton in either 1797 or 1821 and Tabitha in 1833. If this Launton family is from William of Bicester, then William of Bicester cannot be the one at South Weston. Should this idea be rejected or not? On the one hand, Bicester and Launton are very close, but on the other, the names and dates of the family at Bicester link so closely to the family later at Lewknor, that on balance, this seems more likely. But we must keep an open mind if other evidence comes to light.
Further evidence has come to light in the form of signatures. It does seem to be the case that the signature of William on his marriage bond to Martha Coles of 1742 is the same as that of William Hollier who signed Articles of Agreement in Lewknor in 1765 and indeed the witness signature on a Marraige record at Shirburn in 1755.
Another interesting record from South Weston is a marriage in 1781 at Ickford, over the county boundary in Bucks. William Hollier 'of South Weston' married Mary Fuller. It is not immediately obvious who 'William of South Weston' might be. For a long time, I though it might be the William who settled in Towersey and who married for a second time in 1801 to Mary Wootton. The first marriage was also a William and Mary as Mary died in 1797. William married again in 1801 at Kingsey to Mary Wootton. William was buried at Towersey in 1817 aged 62, while his second wife Mary died in St Pancras, London in 1829 but was buried in Towersey. This would suggest that William of Towersey was born c1755. The only William born around 1755 is William (1754) son of William Hollier and Mary Jackson at Over Worton. Given that this William's brother John is now know to have settled at nearby Thame (described below), this does look a possibility. But we do seem to have more William and Marys than we can completely identify.
So if William of Toweresey came from Over Worton, who was the William of South Weston marrying Mary Fuller at Ickford in 1781? We have noted above that Joseph Hollier from Deddington moved to South Weston to be the farmer of the Lord of the Manor. It seems a possibility that his son William born 1760 from his first marriage to Sarah Manning came with him to South Weston and that he is 'William of South Weston'. This seems the most likely candidate, altough we have no evidence of what became of this William and Mary, which is why the link to Towersey always seemed neat. There's always a possibility that William was indeed William of Over Worton and was at that time in South Weston, but he has no obvious link to South Weston aside from Joseph being his uncle.
The one key member of the Hollier family who we would really like to fit in the tree is Richard of Sydenham, born c1749 and progenitor of the large line of Holliers in Australia. The most likely candidate for his parents are William Hollier and Martha Coles. They married at Deddington and appear to have had family at Bicester and finally were at Lewknor. Given how close Sydenham and Lewknor are, it seems highly probable that the Sydenham and Lewknor families are connected. Indeed, soon after Richard's first marriage in 1754, there is an odd baptism entry in the Lewknor parish register on 13th April 1755 for Elizabeth, daughter of Richard and Elizabeth. Perhaps this is really Richard and Ann. If William and Martha did move around, Richard's baptism may be elsewhere than Bicester, perhaps in a parish where the records are lost.
So it seems that William and Martha were the parents of :-
Note that there were two William Holliers who married in 1781. William of Lewknor married Jane Messenger, while William of South Weston married Mary Fuller. According to Angela Carter, William of Lewknor's wife, Jane Messenger, was born in 1743, so about 4 years older than him, but more likely that the 10 years which would be implied had we accepted the 1753 date for William's birth.
Another Oxfordshire line was that at Thame. John Hollier married Mary Edoe at Watlington in 1781 and had 12 children, most of whom died young. John was a lawyer (his own obituary of 1820 and several obituaries of his children in Jackson's Oxford Journal refer to him as an attorney), as was his son John (1784-1855), frequently referred to as a solicitor. Recently, a marriage settlement of 1785 was brought to my attention. In this, the parties are described thus in the citation:
1) John Hollier the elder, Over Worton, yeoman
2) John Hollier the younger, Thame, gentleman, and Mary his wife
3) William Hollier, South Newton, County of Oxford, yeoman (son of 1 and brother of 2)
Property: messuage in Deddington
This shows that John of Thame was the son of John Hollier/Mary Jackson at Over Worton. The subject of the marriage settlement was John and it updates an earlier indenture of 1781, around the time he married. 'South Newton' appears to be South Newington, near Deddington. As mentioned above, the brother William is a candidate to be William Hollier of Towersey. (Of course, if South Newton was a transcription error for South Weston, then that reopens the issue of whether John of Over Worton was also John of South Weston who married in 1781!)
Finally, another early line not yet linked in is the family of John and Frances Hollier at Chalgrove, who had four daughters there between 1800 and 1808. John Hollier died at Chalgrove in 1821 aged 62, so would put his birth c1759. William of Towersey is recorded in a document of 1799 as leasing land in Chalgrove and the agreement, like so many others around this time, was witnessed by John Hollier (the elder), lawyer.
In 1755, a William Hollier witnessed a marriage at Shirburn, which pre-dates all the Hollier parish record events in this part of Oxfordshire. As mentioned above, the signature appears to be of William of Lewknor (senior).
The above facts and speculation must remain for now 'work in progress', but everything suggests that after all, the Deddington Holliers were the ancestors of all the Holliers in the south of the county.
Nov 2007, updated Sep 2008 and again Sep 2010.Back to top