Thursday, November 05, 2020

The Elusive Watson Holyer

After revisiting possible sources of data that have gone online since 2006, I have now added an article on the main website about Watson Holyer (1829-1891). Quite a character and apparently a serial bigamist...

Friday, May 25, 2012

The mystery of Eva Hollyer's husband

For some time I've known that Eva Hollyer, the accomplished artist, married her much younger cousin Joseph Richard Hollyer in 1906 in a Registry Office in Wales. But nothing seems to have come of the marriage - there were no children and she and her sister Maud lived together for much of their later lives and as we've seen 'doing up' cottages on at least two occasions. But whatever became of Joseph? In the 1911 census, he is shown as living in Richmond as a Chiropodist, married for 3 years with no children. After that he seems to disappear. No death or emigration records, remarriage or anything. Recently, I was triggered to review Eva's situation and realised that there are now online databases where one can search on first names only. So I looked for deaths for Joseph Richard and lo and behold came across a death in 1969 for a Joseph Richard D'Olier. Now I instantly recognised the surname D'Olier as a name that in former times was thought by some to be the origin of the Hollyer name. In fact, the D'Olier name related to a family of Huguenots who came over from France in the 17th century and then settled in Dublin, under an Act of Parliament encouraging Protestants to settle there. The date of birth quoted on this death record is exactly right for Joseph Richard Hollyer, but just one year exactly out - a common mistake. I then searched for any other records for a Joseph Richard D'Olier and found that he had served in the Scots Guards in the Great War. After all these years, it's good to pin down such 'missing' individuals, but it still begs the question as to why he changed his name somewhere between 1911 and 1916.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Randwick Hollyer mystery partly solved

After being contacted by Kerry Peacey, a descendant of the Randwick Hollyers, we have together apparently solved some of the mystery of why Louisa Cole and family emigrated to Australia in 1879 under the name of Hollyer. They went to become part of the family of Joseph Shallis Hollyer. You can find out more in the revised article on the Randwick Hollyers.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wayside Cottage

If you've read my website in depth you will recall the article in Woman's Magazine describing the conversion of Wayside Cottage by Eva and Maud Hollyer. But in 2007, I found that the property that Eva had converted was quite different, being Littleholme at Inglesham. But now it can be revealed that Wayside Cottage really does exist at Great Coxwell. It is now a Grade II listed building. The present owner found the 1927 article and recognised the property as his own. So Eva and Maud seem to have been 'serial property developers'!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thomas Hollyer of Shinfield, Berks

Yesterday, Kirsty Gray, Chairman of the Guild of One-Name Studies, sent me details of a plaque in Shinfield St Mary's Church:-

In a vault beneath this monument lie the bodies of Mr Thos Hollyer of this parish who died the 28th of April 1748 aged 60
And also of Sarah his wife who died at Chobham Surrey the 6th November 1776 aged 72
Also the remains of Maria Jeffery daughter of Robert and Francis Jeffery who died 17th February 1835 aged 9 months and a descendant of the Hollyer family

The "Shinfield Hollyers" are an important group in the county of Berkshire, but have not been researched thoroughly, mainly because they have no living descendants carrying the Hollyer name. More work needs doing!

"Leaving Woodchurch"

Last Saturday I attended the exhibition at Woodchurch, Kent, called "Leaving Woodchurch", which brought together stories about families from the village that had emigrated. Although I didn't exhibit this time, I had contributed a chapter to the book produced on the same subject. I told the story of George Holyer, last of the line of Holyer butchers in the village itself, who emigrated to the USA in 1854. You can read the story here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Hollier 8 Automobile

Readers of my website will be aware of the car made in the USA early in the 20th century called the "Hollier 8", manufactured by the Lewis Spring and Axle company of Chelsea, Michigan. See here. The origin of the car's name has until recently been unclear to me. One correspondent pointed out that the firm's address was 12 Hollier Street, but that then begged the question of why this street name appeared in Chelsea, Michigan.

Thanks to research by Elliott Hollier who works for General Motors in Warren, Michigan, the problem has been solved. In fact the Hollier connection has been sitting in my master database all this time. Charles Lewis, the founder of the company - himself born in Somerset, England, married Elizabeth Hollier in 1874 in Auburn, Cayuga County, NY. She has been born in Auburn, but was the daughter of William Hollier and Mary Ann Lewis who had emigrated from Somerset, England, see here. They were part of the "Somerset Holliers".

The Lewis family was researched in depth by another correspondent, Chuck Lewis, but I seem to have misplaced the extensive Gedcom he gave me of that family.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

William Josiah Hollyer - Freemason

A couple of years ago, I came across this extract:-

Freemasons Quarterly Review 1844

DOVER.—The Festival of St. John was celebrated by the Brethren of the Lodges 235 and 700, who met together on Thursday, at the London Hotel; the Worshipful Master of Lodge 235 being in the chair. About thirty of the Brethren sat down to an excellent dinner, which reflected great credit upon the new host of the above hotel, Brother Hollyer. After the cloth was removed, the usual Masonic and loyal toasts were proposed and drank with due honours. The conviviality of the evening was much enhanced by the vocal powers of Brothers Doorne, Hollis,Reuben, Johnson, and others.

I assumed that this extract related to Josiah Hollyer (1799-1864) who was a Hotel proprietor at various times in Rye, Dover and Cliffe. Knowing that the United Grand Lodge of England hold very good historical records of Freemasons, I was able to get this infomation but it's clear that it relates not to Josiah but to his son William Josiah Hollyer (1821-1857) :-

William J Hollyer
Lodge of Faith, Hope and Charity No 700, Dover
Initiated: 2nd August 1843
Passed: 23rd October 1843
Raised: 22nd November 1843
Age: not stated
Address: Dover
Occupation: Hotel keeper
Remained a member until the lodge closed in 1850

Lodge of Peace and Harmony No 235, Dover
Joined on 12th June 1844
Membership ceased 1849


William Josiah Hollyer later ran the New Steine Hotel in Brighton before his early death in 1857.

Verna Hollyer's Portrait by Eva Hollyer

William Templeman wrote to me:-

"In the 1960's my father was a general medical practitioner in the village of Lea near Malmesbury in Wiltshire. Two old ladies lived in a cottage in the village. The younger one looked after the older one. Eventually the the younger one, who was I believe was in her seventies, could no longer manage and they both went into a home. The cottage and its contents were sold. Before the sale, my father was asked if he would like to look around and see if there was anything he would like. Above the fireplace was a picture of a young girl who we were told was Verna Hollyer painted by her elder sister Eva in 1887. The painting has lived with my family for just over forty years and is a great favourite.

The house stood in Little Badington Lane (since incorrectly named Badminton Lane), Lea, Malmesbury and was a classic labourer's cottage built of Cotswold Stone. It had a pump with a trough at the door and one stepped down from the front door into the front room. This meant that as you walked by the ground floor windows were lower than head height. Upstairs was divided by a partition into two rooms. On the stairs was another painting of a young lady holding her hat on a windy day. We could have had that painting as well but my then fiance, now wife, said we would have nowhere to put it. We have many times bitterly regretted this decision. The property and its contents I was told was left to a niece who wished to dispose of it entirely. Several house clearers entered the property and made bids for the contents. One of these put several small items of jewellery in a tea caddy and covered them in tea. Luckily someone saw him. I have in my possession that very tea caddy and a book. The house was sold to an RAF officer at nearby RAF Lyneham who converted it into a modern house and, other than the odd wall, nothing now remains.

It is funny how after forty years I remember the cottage so clearly. It was a dream place rather like those painted by the family. Yet at the same time, with no running water or central heating, it must have been desperately uncomfortable in the winter. From the house you could see the River Avon and the ruins of Malmesbury Abbey."

Research indicates that the two old ladies were Maud Hollyer and her sister Olive E. M. Bowman (nee Hollyer). I already knew that Maud lived to a great age and died in a nursing home in Devizes in 1970 at the age of 102. Subsequent research shows that Olive died in Devizes in 1968, aged 83, so would have been the younger of the two old ladies. Verna often sat for Eva as subject for her paintings, but this image must be more lifelike. Verna herself (by then Verna Eyles) died in 1958. Eva, the eldest daughter of the family and the artist of Verna's painting had died in 1943.