Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Hollimans of England, Part 1

by Glenn N. Holliman

Recently, this American writer along with Lindsay Holliman, an Englishman with whom most Hollimans (various spellings) in the United States share the same 15th and 16th Century great grandparents, visited common ancestral sites in Long Crendon and Cuddington, Buckinghamshire, England

As best we can research, my ancestors moved from Cuddington in the latter third of the 1500s, via Sherington in Buckinghamshire to Bedford, Bedfordshire. Then in the middle 1600s Christopher Holyman emigrated to Isle of Wight County, Virginia where he died in 1691, a successful planter.   

While my branch of Holymans were crossing the Atlantic and then progressing from Virginia and the Carolinas, trekking ever westward and approaching the Civil War, Lindsay's ancestors remained in Cuddington before moving to a neighboring village of Long Crendon in the late 18th century. As with most Englishmen away from the towns and cities, they were striving to earn their daily bread and raise families by working the land.  Lindsay kindly shares of his knowledge and research.  GNH
Where else would an Englishman take an American cousin to discuss family history?  Why to the local pub!  Glenn, left, and Lindsay right, January 2014.

My Ancestors by Lindsay Holliman

Unlike in the States, where land was plentiful, from medieval times up to the 18th and 19th centuries, much of English land was under cultivation under the manorial open field system.   

Around villages or small towns the land was divided into three huge fields with two sown with crops and the third left fallow each year. Each farmer owned or rented some strips of land in each field and the ploughing of the strips moved soil towards the center.  Over many years the strips became ridges, and their edges, together with the ground between strips, became furrows. 
The diagram below shows  a typical manorial layout. The yellow areas were retained and farmed by the lord of the manor, whilst the white areas were cultivated by the remainder of the local farming hierarchy. As the name implies the green common areas were available to all for grazing livestock.

Significant areas of ridge and furrow still exist in parts of England in places where the land has been continually used for grazing and thus has never been ploughed since enclosure in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Enclosure divided the land in to fields surrounded by a fence or hedge – field boundaries which exist to this day.

Below is a Google Earth image of fields just outside Cuddington, Buckinghamshire. The grassed-over ridges and furrows can be seen clearly at center-left and it is almost certain that members of the Holyman family worked some of these strips. Cuddington Mill is top right, straddling the river.

Below is a map of Cuddington in 1900 showing the general layout of the village, location of Holyman’s Farm and Cuddington Mill in which, during the mid 1500s,  the Holyman family had interest.  Click to enlarge the map.  Study closely the village of Cuddington and one will find the Holyman Farm noted and located.

And now the Ancestors of Lindsay Holliman....

Thomas Holyman (ca 1500 - after 1557) – my 12th great grandfather
Little is known about Thomas, and the only reference to him found so far is in the will of his son, William, which was dated 1557. At the time of the writing of the will, Thomas was still alive and in possession of some small plot which William bequeathed to his son Thomas after the death of his grandfather.  My Thomas, in addition to being related to Glenn’s ancestors, would have been well known to them personally before they moved away from Cuddington.  
William Holyman (  - 1557) – 11th great grandfather
William of Cuddington was a husbandman (a free tenant farmer or small landowner, in social status just below yeoman).  It is evident that William was fairly young when he died because all three of his children, Laurens, John and Thomas, were below lawful age and his father was still alive. Insofar as I can read it his will was:
In the name of god Amen I Wylliam Holliman being hole and good and perfect of mynd and fitte in body dothe make this my last wyll and testament in the year of ower lord god 1557 and in the day of aprill and in the iii and for the yeare of the rayne of king Phi and quene mare king and quene of England france Eirland Defenders Napelles Jerusalem defenders of the faythe princes of Spayne and Sisselle archdukes of Styria dukes of   Mylane Burgandey and Brabant Countes of Has...r... Flanders and Tyrole that I, Wylliam Holliman of Codingtonne in the Countey of Buckinghame husbandman  ..ri..   bequeathe my sole unto almighty god and to ower blessed ladey Mare and to all the holli compa nye of heven and my bodey to be buried wt  in the church yarde of Codingtonne. It I gyve to the mother Churche of Lincoln iiid. It I give Annis my wyffe halfe my goods  the other halfe I doo give my three children, Laurens my oldest sonne to have the house and one yards land called  .....,  John my sonne to have ..ods some wt ..e yards land, Thomas my sonne shall have  .are.  wt  ..e  and halfe yard land after the desese of his grand father Thomas Hollyman, and Annie my wyfe to have the house and land in possession and occupying untill the children be of lawful aege and here I make my wyfe executor.

William would also have been well known to Glenn’s ancestors.

John Holyman (d ca 1600) – 10th great grandfather
John inherited some land from his father and, in his own will, he also described himself as a husbandman. His wife presumably predeceased him as she is not referred to in the will but he named five children – Robert, Thomas, Elizabeth, Charles and Jane. As was usual at the time Robert, the eldest son, inherited the “messuage”  (buildings and land associated with it). The younger children received the chattels.
Robert Holyman ( d 1638) – 9th great grandfather
Nothing is known of Robert’s wife, and he appears to have had only one child, Robert, who was a minor when the will was written in 1528. It is interesting that, in his will, Robert Sr.  charged his friend, William Longland, to bring young Robert up with “clothes in decent order ….  and fashion as he ought to be” and also that he be kept at school so that he learned to write. It is more than probable that he achieved this himself as he did not die for a further 10 years.
Robert Holyman (1620 – 1667) – 8th great grandfather
Robert Jr’s wife was Mary, and they had children Hester, Brightwell, Charles, Benjamin and Deborah. He inherited land from his father. There is little known about him as there is no surviving will. He died on 2 September 1667.
It is evident that the eldest son, took over the land and buildings.  Charles and Benjamin remained unmarried and the latter became a schoolmaster in Cuddington and the latter a carpenter. Benjamin held some land in his own right, and he left this to his nephew Robert Hollyman in his will dated 1735.  Charles also left his goods, chattels and personal effects to Robert.
Brightwell Hollyman (1650 – 1711) – 7th great grandfather
Brightwell was a yeoman who married Mary Wheeler in Ickford in 1694, and they had children Brightwell, Robert, Mary and John. All four children were under the age of 21 when he made his will, and he provided well for Mary for the rest of her life. Eldest son, Brightwell, inherited the buildings and land, but each of the children was left £100 with an additional £50+ when their mother died.
Brightwell was the first of four members of the Hollyman family to carry this forename. It is supposed, but not yet verified, that the name came from a Hollyman marriage to one of the Brightwell family of neighboring village of Chearsley. Possibly his mother, Mary, was a Brightwell.
Son Robert became a maltster in local village Chearsley. It was he who inherited from his uncles Benjamin and Charles above.

Brightwell Hollyman (1694 – 1761) or  John Hollyman (1700 - 1764)– 6th great grandfather.

Both of these were sons of Brightwell (1650 - 1711) and Mary Wheeler. They both had a son called John. Recent discussion has concluded that John is the most likely father of 5th great grandfather John (1725 - 1779).

Brightwell Hollyman (1694 – 1761) was christened in Cuddington  on 6 February 1694 and married Mary Gibbs in Hartwell, Buckingshire on 2 April 1719. The marriage resulted in four children – Brightwell, John, Mary and Hester.

John Hollyman (1700 - 1764) was christened in Cuddington on 27 December 1700.  He married Elizabeth West on 2 May 1731 in West Wycombe.  They had children - John (died age 4), James, Elizabeth, John, Robert and William.

John Holliman (ca 1730 - 1779) – 5th great grandfather
John married Sarah Steel at Waddesdon on 4 October 1762 following which they had six children Brightwell, James, Ben, Charles, Ann and Alice.  John, the second eldest child, does not appear to had much of an inheritance from his father and, similarly, had little to pass onto his children. His two eldest children were elderly agricultural laborers in the 1841 census – the second eldest, James, was my 4th great grandfather.

Next more on Lindsay's ancestors, their move away from Cuddington and prosperity before their later participation in the growing affluence of English life in the late 19th and 20th Centuries....

Have questions about Holliman family history? You are invited to join the Hollyman Email List at and the Hollyman Family Facebook Page located on Facebook at "Hollyman Family". Post your questions and perhaps one of the dozens Holyman cousins on the list will have an answer. For more information contact Tina Peddie at, the list and Facebook manager for Hollyman (and all our various spellings!).

There is also a massive Holyman and Associated Families Tree available for review.  For an invitation to this collection of over 18,000 individuals, please write

 GlennOn this matter there is no new information because it was already there in both versions. The difference was merely which of two possible fathers was the real father of John (ca 1730 - 1779). The two possible fathers were brothers Brightwell and John (1700 - 1764) both of who had a child called John.  I had gone for Brightwell as the father but Anne thought it was John. Her reasoning for it being John was given in her recent email on 30 August. Whilst we still cannot be sure, I was swayed by Anne's reasoning that John was the most likely candidate - and changed my tree accordingly.
Regarding the blog my 5th great grandfather remains John (1725 - 1779) and my 7th great grandfather remains Brightwell (1650 - 1711).In order to hedge our bets a possible alternative paragraph for my 6th great grandfather could be:


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