Monday, August 29, 2011

When We Were English, Part XXVIII

by Glenn N. Holliman

Cousin Jeanette Holiman Stewart pointed out in 2010 that there were numerous Hollymans living in Worcestershire, England in the 1500 and 1600s, according to the International Genealogical Index. Could one of these Holymans be the origin of our Christopher Holyman, Sr., founder of the American family?

Could one be Thomas or John Holiman  who lived in Virginia in 1636 and 1650 respectively?  Or other Hollymans who appeared in the 1650s and 1660s?

Worcester is located 40 miles or so east by northeast from our cottage near Stow in the Wold, so we took a day and motored over to the Family Heritage Centre there.

Above on the corner of this Worcester photograph stands the Heritage Centre of Worcestershire which holds many family records.  We spent several hours exploring the files and local histories. Unfortunately the parish records were not indexed as in Bedfordshire, which means one must go through reams of microfilm, time which we did not have on this trip.  Yes, there is more investigation to do in Worcester, but we found considerable Holyman information which I share in the next post.

The Tutor building in the foreground (above) is one of the oldest structures in the shire, dating back to the 1400s.  Did some of our ancestors enjoy a pint of ale in that former inn, now preserved in a historical trust?

 Oh, yes, many Hollimans lived in Worcestershire in previous centuries!  They left many wills.  Would we find evidence that this area, 80 or so miles west of Buckingham and Bedford Shires, could be the origin of the American Hollimans, or at least some of them?

Just a few miles from the centre of Worcester, one encounters a countryside still providing pasture of the sheep.  Wool was and is a source of wealth for the English farmer.  This particular pastoral scene  (photo above) is in Leigh, Worcestershire.  Many Holymans lived in and around this village in the 1500s.  

My search of the various archives of England made very evident to me that groups of Holyman families lived in several parts of the country in the 15th to 17th Centuries.  From where did they originate and why were they scattered?  

Distant cousin Jim Maule of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shared a theory with me recently as to why there are several locations where obviously dozens of Holymans lived. He believes the 14th Century Black Death and the decrease in available labour led many persons to move about the country, financially bettering themselves.  Hence pockets of Holymans in several parts of England.  Makes sense.

Next post, a listing of Holymans found in Worcestershire - they left many wills!

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