Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When We Were English, Part XXIII

by Glenn N. Holliman

Before We Leave England (for a while anyway)

As readers of this blog know, I have been writing of English Holymans (aka Holliman, Holloman, Holleman, etc.) for the past twenty-three articles, often from my research on-site in the Tring, Hertfordshire area. These articles owe much to the work of others who 'plowed ground' before me.

In this space, it is time to return to the Holliman story in the North American Colonial period, the 17th century when our ancestors arrived in Virginia. Before doing so, I want to sum up my findings (responsibility for errors and incorrect interpretations are mine) and suggest where more work is needed. (Above the parish church of St. Peter's and St. Paul's in Tring, Hertfordshire. Photo 2010 by Barbara Holliman.)


1. I have not found evidence that John Holyman (1572 - 1650) who died in Virginia is our great grandfather, nor have I found information that this elusive, but widely reported fore bearer of our family name, is from the Tring, Hertfordshire area. This person is recorded in a widespread web site as the 'founder' of the American Hollimans, and the father of Christopher Holyman, Sr. (1630 ca - 1691).

2. In and around the Tring area were many Holymans in the 15th to 17th centuries, some such as Ezekiel Holliman who immigrated to Massacusetts and helped found the American Baptist Church. Another Holyman was the Roman Catholic Bishop of Bristol (1495 - 1558) during the reign of Queen Mary Tutor. The 'manor' farm of The Rt. Rev. John Holyman still exists in Cuddington, Buckinghamshire and can be visited. I think it probable that these persons are distant cousins and great uncles and aunts.

3. Research by Joe Parker, Maxine Wright and others (LDS records i.e.) reveals that a Holyman family lived not far from Tring in Bedford, Bedfordshire in the late 1500s and 1600s. As I expounded in my last posting, these names - John, Thomas, Christopher and Judith - are the names that show up in recorded records in Virginia from 1630s to 1650s. I join Joe and Maxine in believing it highly probable this is our 'Founding Family'.

4. DNA testing conducted through Tina Peddie's good offices this summer revealed I and others are descendants of Christopher Holyman, Sr. (D 1691) of Virginia who immigrated from England in 1650 with his probable sister, Judith.

Work to be Done

1. Continue to research the Tring records in the 16th and 17th centuries looking for this John Holyman. There are more files and registers to explore.

2. Dig deeper into the family history of the Thomas Holyman family of Bedford (this Thomas was born in 1576). This can be done on-line and on-site at the Bedford-Luton Archives. I have plans to visit these archives in the spring of 2011, Good Lord willing. I note an LDS record lists Thomas Holyman's father as a John Holyman. As a wealth of information was found in the Hertfordshire Archives and Tring library, I strongly suspect a richness of material awaits a Holliman researcher in Bedford and at the National Archives in Kew (a suburb of London).

3. Establish relationships with Holyman's in Bedford and Tring and kindly ask for DNA testing.

4. Explore what ties exist between Bedford Holymans and Tring Hollimans. Geographically speaking, these communities are only twenty five to thirty miles apart, but in the 1500s, this was a two day walk. It is possible (probable?) that a Holyman from Tring moved to Bedford in the 1400s or 1500s and established a family.

5. Do not ignore other Holymans in England in the 17th century. A recent researcher on the Tina Peddie Hollyman chat room noted a Christopher Holyman was born in the early 1600s in Worchestershire, England. As with all genealogical research, be open minded and willing to change interpretations based on the evidence and critical inquiry.

To Summarize

Whether Tring or Bedford, the Holliman line is English, no ifs, ands or buts. Our great grand parents brought to Virginia the customs and culture of England - its forms of government, justice, religion and social mores. Of course, this culture was modified in a new environment that was, ironically, both hostile and welcoming.

To know from whence you come, study the history of England - it is our story. The Stuart, Tutor and Plantagenets - these are the monarchs of our family. The Normans, the Vikings, the Angles and Saxons, the Romans and Celts - these peoples too are part of our DNA, our genetic code, our human family.

Next posting, this story returns to Colonial America and the founding of a new nation.

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