Phil's Family History - Holt


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My father's grandmother was Susan Rebecca HARPER nee HOLT whose father had what we would now view as an unfortunate name - Richard Head HOLT (imagine going to school with that name these days). Richard farmed at Grendon Underwood in Buckinghamshire and was born according to census data in 1812. What could be easier to find than a name like that in an area that had been home to the HOLT family for many generations?

Naturally things were not that easy. Inspection of the parish registers for Grendon Underwood showed two baptisms in 1812, two Richard Head HOLTs! The second RHH was then easy to find in the censuses, living in the neighbouring village of Edgcott, even having a son - Richard Head HOLT. An unusual name was becoming ridiculously common in this small area. Now my problem was to identify which of the two baptisms was my great grandfather. The choice was between one child born to parents Richard Head HOLT (yes - another one) and his wife Sarah or a fatherless child born to Anne HOLT.  Naturally there is a suspicion that the father is the same in both cases but Anne's child might have been named after a favourite cousin.

The resolution of this issue came as a result of the Buckinghamshire Record Office's card index of names. In this I found references to my great great grandfather Richard and his children (including Susan Rebecca HARPER) and many other HOLTs. Most of these referred to the same document, a deed of release issued in closure of the probate of the  estate of Sarah TURNER of Buckingham, of which Richard was executor. This amazing document (transcript) is a family historian's dream, giving relationships and addresses of Sarah's various nephews and nieces all over the world. As Sarah was my Richard's sister - as shown by her bequests to his children as her nephews and nieces - this ties Richard in with the family born to Richard Head HOLT and Sarah (nee BADRICK).

Richard Head HOLT sen was the son of Andrew HOLT and Mary nee HEAD and was baptised in Edgcott on Nov 3, 1774. His mother Mary has proved to be another difficult person to trace but that is the HEAD story and is told elsewhere.

From Andrew the line traces back to the baptism of Pearce HOLT son of Thomas at Grendon Underwood in 1623. Few of my lines have been traced back so many generations (13 including myself and Thomas in 1623). However, I have been fortunate as a family historian to be descended from many farming families. Farmers tended not the migrate far: eldest sons would be tied to a place by the farm they would take over from their fathers; younger sons would either set up a local business or, more often, take on a nearby farm.  This has gone on to the present day, one of my 1st cousins lives at the farm our great grandfather took on in the 1870s, his brother lives in an adjacent farm and the two operate the pair of farms as a modern dairy farm business. They regularly meet fellow farmers from nearby villages a good proportion of who are related in some more distant way to our family.