Holland Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Holland Surname
The origin of the surname
England is from an early place-name (of which there were many in
England) and
has nothing really to do with the country of Holland.
The root seems to have been the Old English hoh meaning
“ridge” and land meaning “land.”
The place-name of Up Holland in west
Lancashire, which appeared in the 1086 Domesday Book, gave rise to the
Holland family of medieval times.

Holland Resources on

Holland Ancestry

England. The Holland name has
been primarily a Lancashire
name. although it has spread to other parts of the country.

Lancashire The
progenitor of the medieval Holland family appears to have been Matthew
Holande, recorded as having acquired the Holland manor in Up Holland,
present-day Wigan, in 1202. Holande or
Holand was the spelling used by this family until the 14th century. The township of Up Holland was at that time
numbered among the market towns of Lancashire.
A castle and a priory adorned the place when the de Holandes
were its

These Holands rose to local and national importance in the 14th
, first
their association with Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and second through
exploits in the wars against the French. Thomas and John Holland
were half-brothers
to King Richard II, although here it was said “he had companions of the
sort – violent, dissipated, and cruel.”
Both Hollands perished after Richard II was overthrown in 1399.

Hollands survived these catastrophes and remained a force during the
Wars of
the Roses. But Henry Tudor’s victory at
Bosworth Field in 1485 ended their time of prominence.
The family history was recounted in Bernard
Holland’s 1917 book The Lancashire

were subsidiary Holland lines – at Denton and Sutton in Lancashire, at
Mobberley in Cheshire, and in north Wales.
Thomas Holland of Sutton was a Jesuit priest who was martyred
for his
beliefs in 1642.

the Mobberley Hollands came:

  • the
    18th century surgeon and doctor Peter Holland
    of Knutsford in Cheshire
  • his
    son Sir Henry Holland, a royal physician and later
    a travel writer
  • and
    his son Henry
    Holland, known as Lord Knutsford, a British Colonial Secretary in the

Norfolk Hollands claimed descent from the Lancashire Hollands, but this
is questionable. They held Wortwell
House in Redenhall in the early 1500’s and later established themselves
Quiddenham. Philemon Holland, the noted
classicist, was a prominent member of this family.

Holland from an Essex family allegedly drew up the death warrant for
Charles I
in 1649. With the restoration of the
monarchy and facing death by hanging, drawing and quartering, he
escaped the
country and lived in exile in Switzerland as John Ralfeson for the
remainder of
his life.

Holland was the title given in 1763 to Henry Fox, an influential
politician of his time. Holland House
and Holland Park in Kensington, London take their name from him.
Meanwhile Jools
Holland’s ancestry has been traced back to delivery men and hawkers in
Marylebone area of London in the mid-19th century.

. Holland is also an Irish name.
Its principal Irish origin
is one of the anglicizations of the Gaelic O’hOileian name. This was a sept first
found in Connacht but which later dispersed.

The 1890 census showed some Hollands
in Galway. Larger numbers were in the
Beara peninsula in county Cork. A number
of the Hollands from Bantry in Cork emigrated to America and Canada in
mid-19th century. John Holland,
considered the inventor of the modern submarine, departed for America
with his
parents from Liscannor in county Clare in 1872. There
are plaques honoring him in the town
today. His father John was originally
from Cork.

America. There
were early Hollands recorded in Virginia in the 1620’s, but none of
them seem
to have survived. Captain John Holland
came to Massachusetts around the year 1630.
As a ship captain he travelled frequently to Virginia and died
at sea
near there in 1652. John Holland,
possibly his son (but probably not), established himself in Nansemond
county in
the 1660’s and his family name became the name of the town where he
lived. In 1860 the Holland city commission
was made
up of 12 members, 10 of whom were named Holland.

A line from here is thought to
have run to Edgecombe county, North Carolina and thence to Georgia
where Wiley
born in 1804. He was a plantation owner
and civic leader
for many years in Wilkinson county, surviving the Civil War and
Sherman’s march
through Georgia.

Two Holland notables in Texas were:

  • Spearman Holland
    who, according
    to the family Bible, was born in Virginia in 1801 and died in Texas in
    1872. He had moved to the Piney Woods
    section of east Texas in 1842 where he established his plantation. He was a Confederate Major during the Civil
    War. Afterwards he gave over his
    plantation to his former slaves and it became known as Holland
  • and
    Rube Holland from Tennessee who came to Bell county, Texas in 1874 with
    wagon and horses, his wife and four children, and six dollars in cash.” Five years later, the town of Holland was
    named after him, apparently without his knowledge.

Canada. An early Holland in
Canada was from
Samuel Holland had joined
the British
army in 1756 and eight years later was appointed Surveyor General of
America. He is remembered in Prince
Edward Island as a founder of the colony.
Holland College there was named after him and there is a Parc
Holland in Quebec City.

Australia. Many early arrivals were
convicts, such as
Richard Holland from Liverpool, convicted in 1806 for theft. After serving out his sentence he farmed at
Windsor, NSW until his death there at 84 in 1867. His
son Thomas farmed there for a further
fifty years before his death at 88 in 1913.

The Hollands were a pioneering
family in Australia’s Northern Territories.
Cyril Holland took over the Lockerbie homestead in Cape York,
Australia’s northernmost cattle station, in 1913. He
and his family were to spend thirty years
there. Their story was recounted in Ann
Hall’s 1990 book The Holland Family.

New Zealand.
Holland came to New Zealand with his parents
from a small farming village in the East Riding of Yorkshire in 1863. He settled in Christchurch SI and served as
its mayor and MP in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
His son Sidney followed him into politics. He
became leader of the National Party in
1940 and Prime Minister ten years later


Holland Miscellany

Origin of the Holland Surname and Family.  The Holland
surname is generally thought to have come from Holland as a place-name.  There were numerous instances of this Holland
name – from the Orkney islands off Scotland to Cumberland, Westmorland,
Lancashire, Lincolnshire and Essex.
Their northern and eastern placement suggests that the name
might have
originally come from Norse settlers there.

There is the region of Holland in Lincolnshire and the town of
Holland-on-Sea in Essex.

However, the
main concentration of Holland as a surname in England has been in West
Lancashire.  There Matthew de Hollande
the name of Holland from the manor of the same name near the town of Up
Holland.  This Matthew was first recorded
in a 1202 lease deed.

this deed Uhctred de Chyrche released his right in fourteen oxgangs
of land in Upholland to Matthew de Holland. This would have meant about
acres of arable land together with rights of meadowing and pasturage,
the manor as a whole, under this form.”

From Matthew came the very prominent Holland
medieval family.  Holland or van Holland
also be a Dutch surname.  The name here
is said to originate from a small county that was named Holland in the
century.  It has its roots in the Old
Dutch holtlant meaning “woodland.”

Holland Machinations in the 14th Century.  Robert de
Holand, born around 1283, became a favorite knight of Thomas, Earl of
Lancaster, and was made Baron Holand.
After fighting for Thomas in the Banastre Rebellion, a civil war
by rival barons, he acquired large plots of land and was even given the
of becoming a member of the House of Lords.

Robert’s loyalties changed
at the Battle of Boroughbridge, a campaign incited by Thomas of
Lancaster to
overthrow the weak and vacillating King Edward II.
Robert secretly betrayed Thomas and defected
to the King’s army, which Lancaster deemed treacherous. After the
Thomas was beheaded by Edward’s forces.  In 1328, however,
Lancaster’s partisans
declared Robert a traitor, took him prisoner, and beheaded him.

Thomas and Otho, fought against the French in the 1340’s.
They were daring commanders of the English
army and both saw intense action at the Battle of Caen and the Battle
Crecy.  When they returned home to
England they were two of the founding knights of the Order of the
Garter.  Thomas and his son Thomas assumed
the title
of Earl of Kent.

the marriages of his children, the second Thomas
became a progenitor of many of the key figures in the War of the Roses.
Thomas himself was executed in 1400 after
revolt by him and his brother John against the new king Henry IV failed.  His headless body was entombed in Cirencester
Abbey until 1412.

The Holland Surname in Ireland.  In Ireland it is believed that in many cases Holland is an anglicization of
the Irish surname Mulholland,
Holohan, Houlihan, Holian or one of the many other variations of
surname.  The Irish Gaelic surname O’Maolchalláin,
meaning descendent of Callan or Calends,
is the root source of the
surname Mulholland.

The Irish Gaelic surname Ó hUallacháin,
meaning descendant of Uallachán (a personal name
from a diminutive of úallach that translates
as proud or
arrogant), appears to be the root source of all
the Holohan related surnames.

The Holland surname is most common
in county Cork.

Spearman and Bird Holland.  Bird Holland was a contradiction in antebellum Texas.

fathered seven children by a slave named Matilda, who
belonged to his half-brother Spearman. And from the record, we can
infer that
Bird loved his slave-born children.  In
1852, he moved three of his sons – William, James and Milton – to Ohio,
them free and paid abolitionists to raise them.
A fourth son was too young, but Bird kept him at his side in
after he turned 12, the age at which Spearman was likely to sell him as
a field

as a politician, Bird Holland supported continuing the institution of
slavery in Texas and signed onto a resolution that described
as inferior.  As Texas secretary of
state, it was Bird Holland’s signature that official bound Texas to the
Confederate States of America.

in 1864 during the Civil War leading the 22nd Texas Volunteer Infantry
in the
Confederate cause. Ironically his son Milton, the freed slave, fought on
Union side and became the first Texan soldier to be awarded the
Congressional Medal
of Honor.

secret covenant of Bird Holland’s will gave the cash in his estate
and debts he was owed to his son John and a slave-born daughter named
While the money did not make them rich, it was enough for them to buy a
and bring their mother to Austin from Spearman’s collapsed plantation

The Death of Wiley Holland.  The following obituary appeared in The Advance, a local Wilkinson county,
Georgia newspaper in June 1884:

Holland died in Wilkinson county at
his home near Irwinton on June 3rd in the 80th year of his life. He was
born in
Hancock county and moved to Wilkinson county when he was six years of

men have lived a more honorable life than he did.  He
was the genuine type of manhood, twice
married, the father of eighteen children, sixteen boys and two girls,
reflect honor upon their parents, both in their business capacities of
life and
their hospitable nature, for whom he was so well known.

was the stranger’s
home and no one was under necessity to complain of ill treatment with
whom he
met, whether at home or abroad.  He
served his county as Tax Collector for the long term of eight years in
good old antebellum days when there was honor connected with the
office, when
the man was sought and not the office.
He joined the Missionary Baptist Church at Liberty on April
25th, 1845,
was baptized by Reverend W.B. Steely; since which time he lived a most
consistent Christian life, walking honorably, dealing justly, having
modest and retiring, he quietly moved in his sphere of life.

knew him but
to do him honor and those who knew him best were constrained to love
him.  Though dead, he yet speaketh, though
we shall
not again greet his cheerful face in our gatherings in the earthly
courts. We
rejoice in hope that beyond the river we shall grasp his hand again. We
our condolence to the bereaved family circle, hoping that he who
tempers the
wind to the shorn lamb, will shield them from the storm and tempest of
life -beyond
the dark cloud there is a silver lining of joy beneath their blackness.” 

Holland from Holland in Canada.  Samuel Johannes
Holland was baptized in 1729 in a small Lutheran church in the Dutch
town of
Deventer in the province of Overjissel.  As
a youth he joined the Dutch army where his engineering and cartographic
were much appreciated.  However, the pay
was poor and in 1756 Holland saw an opportunity to improve his fortunes
joining the British army which was then preparing for a major campaign
in North

the French and Indian Wars, Samuel Holland drew up charts of the
Gulf of St. Lawrence and Saint Lawrence river in preparation for a
attack on Quebec.  He was promoted to
captain in 1759 and participated actively in the siege of Quebec,
escaping death on one occasion when his boats were nearly run down by a

the war was over, Holland was appointed Surveyor-General of
North America.  He moved to Quebec in
1762 and he and his French wife Marie-Joseph Rollet were to raise a
family of
ten there.

was described as follows in the Dictionary of Canadian

Johannes Holland holds an
important place in the history of Canadian science and technology for
his role
in setting high standards of accuracy in land measurement and mapping.  In Prince Edward Island he is remembered as a
founder of the colony and revered by some as an ancestor, his son John
Frederick (and from about 1802 his widow, Marie-Joseph) having taken up
residence there.  In Quebec as a
politician he was a reliable, well-read defender of conservative values.”

A Chinese Holland Family.  The man
who became William Holland was born in Guangdong province, China around the
year 1827.   Being
educated to read and write Chinese set
him somewhat apart from the hundreds of thousands of Chinese laborers
who began
coming to the United States in the 1850’s.

about 1860 he was living in New
York where he had met and married Ellen Holland from Ireland. Since New
had never enacted the anti-miscegenation laws common to states in the
South and West, it was legal for Chinese men there to marry outside
race.  Probably for practical reasons, he adopted the name William

the late 1870’s William Holland had prospered enough that they had a
little money to invest.  The
Hollands had by that time moved to frontier Arizona and purchased land
in the
new Phoenix townsite.  William signed the
deed with his English name written phonetically in Chinese characters.  After William died around the year 1890, his
son Joseph and wife Yit Sen (whom he had married in his
remained in Phoenix.

a patriotic holiday these Hollands attended a parade in
downtown Phoenix and were asked to ride on one of the floats.  A
photograph taken that day showed Yit Sen and her youngest daughter Dora
Chinese attire, while the rest of the children were in school
uniform.  Judging
from the ages of the children, this image must date from about 1903.

Holland family broke up.  Sometime
between 1906 and 1910 Yit Sen and her four American-born daughters
sailed for
China.  Her husband Joseph and one son,
also named Joseph, remained.  This son
was electrocuted in an industrial accident in 1919.
The father died eight years later in 1927.  

of his daughters, Cecilia and Dora, did return from China to America,
first to Phoenix and later settling in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  They lived there until the 1970’s.


Holland Names

  • John Holland, created Duke of Exeter,
    was a half-brother to King Richard II and a power behind the throne. But he lost his position and his head after
    Richard was overthrown in 1399. 
  • Sir Henry Holland was physician to the young Queen
    Victoria and also a noted travel writer. 
  • John Holland is considered the father of the modern submarine, selling the first
    prototype to the US Navy in 1900. 
  • Sidney Holland was Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1950 to 1957.

Select Holland Numbers Today

  • 41,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in East Midlands)
  • 40,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 22,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia


Select Holland and Like Surnames

Many surnames have come from Lancashire.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.




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