Select Holt Miscellany
accounts over the years:
- Holt Origins
- Sir Thomas Holte and the Cook
- The Holts of Gristlehurst
- The Holts of Balderstone
- Alfred Holt and the Blue Funnel Line
- Holt Places in America
- Edwin Holt’s Cotton Mill
- Henry Holt the Brick Collector
Scandinavian languages as a word meaning wood or copse.The Holt name can also be found in Viking history. “Holt the axe”
was a Viking king, said to be cursed to remain immortal until he had
physically died twenty one times and been reborn twenty one times (this
number representing the number of priests he had slaughtered when he
was king). He appeared in different decades always as the same
man, aged 40 and wielding the same axe.
Sir Thomas Holte and the
In 1608 Sir Thomas Holte of Aston obtained damages against
William Astgrigg for a slanderous statement which alleged:
took a cleever and hit his cook with this cleever upon the head, and
head, that one side thereof fell upon one of his shoulders and the
on the other shoulder, and this I will verify to be true.’
On appeal, however,
it was ingeniously argued that although it had been stated that the
the cook’s head had fallen on either shoulder, there was no statement
cook had in fact been killed. The
judgment of the King’s Bench was consequently given in favor of the
This slander gave rise to the curious local tradition that Holte
murdered his cook in a cellar at Duddeston ‘by running him through with
and was subsequently compelled by way of punishment to adopt the red
his coat of arms.
The Holts of Gristlehurst
Ralph Holt obtained the estate by marriage in 1449. Gristlehurst
Hall was a large half-timbered house with thirteen hearths. The
high fireplaces had chimney place beams that were carved with armorial
crests. The house itself had gable ends and long casements and
was set in seclusion in 127 acres.
These Holts married well and this gave them a prominence and rank above
other Holts in the area. However, the estate was squandered away
by Thomas Postumus Holt in the late 17th century.
The Holts of Balderstone
The Balderstone land lay in the manor of Rochdale in the
county of Lancashire. Henry Holt lived in a Hall of some
pretension there, but died without issue in 1520. Balderstone
then had several owners until the Holts of Stubley acquired it in 1582.
This Holt family were farmer-weavers. The wool
would probably have been fulled by hand or foot and stretched out on
tenter frames to dry. Charles Holt farmed thirty acres around the
Hall in the early 1600’s. He built himself a water-powered cornmill
sometime before his death in 1628.
The Holts sold the mill along with the estate in 1713.
Alfred Holt and
the Blue Funnel Line
The history of Alfred Holt’s Ocean Shipping Group began
in 1865 when Alfred and his brother Philip set up this company and its
famous shipping subsidiary, the Blue Funnel Line. Its purpose was
to provide a regular steamship cargo service from England to China, at
first via the Cape of Good Hope and then via the Suez Canal.
At that time the steamship was not considered an economic
long-distance cargo carrier. But Alfred, who had studied as a
marine engineer, came up with a new design for a compound engine and
screw propellor in an iron-clad ship which would result in a
competitive long-haul steamer.
Three Blue Funnel ships using this new design had been
built for the Holts by Scotts of Greenock: the Agamemnon, Ajax, and Achilles. These ships began
sailing to China in 1866. More ships were added to the fleet over
the years as the trade and competition increased. In 1935 Blue
Funnel acquired the Glen Line, a company that had traditionally been a
great rival in the China tea trade.
The trade with the Far East continued until the late
1980’s when the company’s traditional ships gave way to
containerization. But the Blue Funnel ships – with their familiar
tall vertical blue funnel and black top – will always be remembered
with affection by those who served in them.
Holt Places in America
|Holt county, Missouri||1841||local politician Dr. David Rice
|Holtsville, New York||1860||Postmaster General Joseph Holt|
|Holt county, Nebraska||1862||Postmaster General Joseph Holt|
|Holt, Michigan||1865||Postmaster General Joseph Holt|
|Holtville, California||1908||city planner and community
founder W.F. Holt
Edwin Holt’s Cotton Mill
Edwin Holt built his home Locust Grove in the 1830’s on the
plantation where his ancestors had fought the battle of Alamance in
North Carolina. His sister married a man named Carrigan and he
and Carrigan started a cotton mill in Alamance. When Carrigan
left North Carolina for Arkansas in 1851, Edwin wrote to his son
Thomas, who was then living in Philadelphia, to return to Alamance to
help him manage the mill.
Thomas Holt later recalled:
business on Alamance Creek a Frenchman who was a dyer and was hard up
and out of money. He proposed to teach me how to color cotton
yarns, that is if I would pay him the sum of one hundred dollars and
give him his board. I persuaded my father to allow me to accept
the proposition and he immediately went to work with such appliances as
we could scrape up (including a large cast-iron washpot and an eighty
gallon copper boiler which my grandfather had used for boiling
potatoes).As speedily as possible we built a dye house and acquired the necessary
utensils for dyeing. The Frenchman remained with me until I
thought I could manage by myself. I got on very well, with the
exception of dyeing indigo blue. Afterwards an expert dyer in
blue came from Philadelphia and he taught me the art of dyeing in that
color. He then put two negro men to work with me.”
Henry Holt the Brick
Henry Holt accidentally found a brick marked “E.H. & Co.
Accrington” in 1963 and it generated an interest. In 1964 he
found another marked “E. Holt & Co. Rosendale” and he was a convert
to brick collecting! By the end of 1977 he and his wife Mary had
a collection of over nine hundred bricks. They were to be
involved in cataloguing them for nearly thirty years. In the
spring of 1996 Henry (by then a widower) moved part of his collection
out of a rented garage into his own back garden and greenhouse.
He died at the end of that year.
Henry seemed to have been primarily interested in the bricks themselves
and where they were made. His interest in the buildings from
which they were removed was apparently very high for many of the local
and Lancashire sources, but less so for sources out of the area.
He would make several visits to some big demolition sites,
photographing them and adding bricks to his collection in the process.
Mary was primarily responsible for writing up the catalogue enties
whilst Henry sought out the bricks and the information about
them. The catalogue of the collection was handwritten onto both
sides of a mixture of A4 and quarto feint ruled sheets filed in ring
and lever arch files. The bricks were numbered sequentially
according to the order the bricks had come to hand. Each brick
was given a unique number applied to it, using yellow Harbutt’s
waterproof marking crayons. The numbering sequence ran from one
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