Wednesday, June 16, 2010

When We Were English, Part I

Some First Thoughts on Our English Roots
by Glenn N. Holliman

This map is somewhat dated, but in the upper left hand corner is Tring, Hertforshire, England. Just to the east of it is the little village of Aldbury and south is Cholesbury. To the west of Hemel Hempstead is Berkhamsted. Toward the lower right hand corner is the tiny village of Chipperfield. In left center is Wendover, and to the west, but not on this map, is Cuddington. London is off the map to the southeast. There is evidence that Holymans and Hollimans lived in these villages and towns.

I have had the pleasure of traveling to England numerous times in my life. As I have become older, my interest in family history has grown. Recently, my wife and I invested a number of days researching Holliman history in an area approximately 25 to 30 miles from the center of London. These towns and villages were Tring, Aldbury, Cholesbury, Cuddington, Chipperfield and Berkhamstead in both Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

In graduate school, (gasp 40 years ago!) I studied history and know that primary evidence is crucial to any research. There is a popular and evidently well-researched Holliman family tree website that lists John Holyman (1572 - 1650) as the direct line of our family, born in Tring, Hertfordshire and died in Southampton, Virginia. Unfortunately, no one has yet shared with me the hard evidence of this birth and death date or the fact that the gentleman ever existed. This does not mean that facts do not exist somewhere; it is just that I have not seen such or discovered it in my research.

Let me quickly say that hard primary evidence exists for our first American Holliman, one Christopher Holliman, Sr, who died in Isle of Wight County, Virginia in 1691. We have his will and many legal records. Unfortunately his birth place and date are still a matter of conjecture.

You might want to review the map above because in our next post we will explore our English roots. Internet sites suggest this is not the only part of England where Hollimans may have lived in the 17th century, but I'll begin our journey in the Chiltern Hills around Tring. More on this subject soon.

High Street in downtown Tring, Hertfordshire, a town over 1,000 years old.

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