Level: Category
Parish history
Level: Fonds
Scope and Content:
In a draft letter included with the Hinckford Hundred parishes (T/P 195/12) Holman states 'I have quite finished my perambulation of Essex and am digesting my collections for the press as fast as the nature of so vast an undertaking will give me leave'. However, only Halstead parish appeared in print, prepared for the press by T.G. Gibbons and published in 1902 under the title 'Holman's Halstead'.

The manuscript parish books appear to have been written at two different periods, since two distinct versions of Holman's handwriting occur. In Barstable Hundred (T/P 195/4) several parishes are covered twice, once at each period, with the wording or arrangement, though often not the information, being different. The books of what is probably the earlier group have on the covers Holman's notes of the dates when they were begun and completed, and completion dates have been noted in this catalogue.

The usual arrangement of the parish notes is given by Sperling (Essex Review 3. pp. 264-265), the main sections being devoted to the Domesday extract, manorial descents, parish charities, and the church and its monuments. The sources of information are frequently marked in the margin. All Holman's Domesday extracts were later checked by John Booth of Barnard's Inn (see the preface to Philip Morant's History of Essex ) and his corrections occur in many of the books together with his note, usually dated in 1747, that the passage has been examined. A letter from Booth to Morant is pasted into the book for Tendring (T/P 195/8/12), and the Roxwell book (T/P 195/9/17) includes copies of monumental inscriptions endorsed 'For Mr Booth'.

Additions by Morant are frequent and often include material later than any Holman could have supplied (e.g. in the Tendring Hundred books, T/P 195/8). The Thaxted book (T/P 195/15/4) includes a description of glass and carvings in the church in Morant's hand, and pasted in the book for Little Baddow (T/P 195/9/5) is his draft of a letter, August 1761, to Lord Barrington [2nd Viscount Barrington, Chancellor of the Exchequer at this date] submitting the account of that family for approval and referring to Barrington's father 'whom I had the Honor of knowing whilst I was Curate to Mr Tindal at Great Waltham.

Papers from many sources are stuck into the books (see also the note on Holman's sources below). Those with evidence of assistance given to Morant include: letter from P. Gurdon, vicar of Mount Bures, 1763, in answer to specific enquires by Morant about the history of the parish (T/P 195/11/21), many dated notes on the parishes in Chafford Hundred (T/P 195/2) supplied to Morant by Lord Dacre of Belhus in Aveley (for this co-operation between Lord Dacre and Morant see Nancy Briggs, 'Lord Dacre and Morant's History of Essex' in Essex Journal 2 (1967), pp. 6-12; see also ERO D/DL Z31), and letter from Henry Rooke at the Rolls Chapel to Morant concerning the tithes of Weeley (T/P 195/8/12).

Also, many of these additional papers, whether dated or not, must have been added after Holman's death, e.g. copy of land tax assessment for East Donyland, 1758, signed by assessors and collectors (T/P 195/11/10), undated 18th-century rental of Pooles and Spains Hall estate in Great Yeldham (T/P 195/13/1), the drawings of coats of arms, possibly by Thomas Astle, interleaved into the books for Wakes Colne, Colne Engaine and Earls Colne (T/P 195/11/17-19). There are few original documents prior to 1700, but the book for Fordham (T/P 195/11/22) includes an order of the Committee for Plundered Ministers, 30 May 1646, signed by Harbottle Grimston, directing that Richard Pulley succeed John Owen in the living.

Holman's sources and his assistants:
In the Preface to his History of Essex Morant mentions that much of Holman's work was based on the collections of Thomas Jekyll of Bocking. Jekyll's own manuscripts included a copy of the Essex portions of Domesday Book, a copy of the return of the Commissioners for the survey of Colleges, Chantries etc., 1548, and copies of Essex inquisitions post mortem, 27 Henry III to 14 Charles I (Essex Review 3, p.33), on which Holman frequently drew. The Holman manuscripts in the Bodleian Library include Holman's catalogue (1715) of the Jekyll manuscripts then belonging to Nicholas Jekyll of Castle Hedingham (MS. Rawl. Essex 24) and some of Jekyll's own manuscripts can be identified in this collection (e.g. the copy of the 1548 return of Colleges and Chantries, MS. Rawl. Essex 3; for Holman's acquisition of the Jekyll manuscripts see Essex Review 3, pp. 33-34).

Holman also used the Symonds manuscripts at the College of Arms (see catalogue to ERO exhibition Heraldry in Essex, 1953, p.37), material from them being extracted e.g. in the book for Feering (T/P 195/11/3). Through Humfrey Wanley, Holman had access to the collection of Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford (Essex Review 3, p. 262) and pasted into the book for Wethersfield (T/P 195/14/7) is a copy in Wanley's hand of a Grant, c 1225, by Hugh de Nevill to William Poygnant of a farthing of land in the parish.

The items which exceed Holman's normal range of subjects and sources include:
Shenfield (T/P 195/4/1), plan of Fitzwalters
Hadleigh (T/P 195/5/3), extract, 1707, from Latin diary of William Derham, with plan of castle
Cressing (T/P 195/10/2), extracts from parish registers, chiefly relating to Smith and Musgrave families
Copford (T/P 195/11/13), verses by Hezekiah Haynes on death of John Green
Steeple Bumpstead (T/P 195/13/14), copies of petitions from country to King and Parliament, 1642, and of papers, 1647-1662, relating to embassy to Constantinople of Sir Thomas Bendishe, and including a copy of Articles of Treason brought against him by Parliament in 1653
Wethersfield (T/P 195/14/7), 'Plan of the Palace of Hugh de Nevill, Grand Forrester of England, at Blackmore Ende in Wethersfield'

Holman himself copied the majority of the monumental inscriptions included, and these are of particular value, since although he may have drawn on them for information, very few are printed by Morant. The notebooks give inscriptions in full, often laid out as they appear on the tomb, and with rough drawings of coats of arms sometimes included. In a number of books (e.g. Willingale Doe, T/P 195/15/11) the monumental inscriptions are in the hand of Samuel Dale of Braintree, and it is clear that Dale was the most active of those who helped Holman. Pasted in the book for Little Baddow (T/P 195/9/5) is a letter of 1720 from Dale returning the book to Holman with comments on the contents and stating that Dale has added the monumental inscriptions into the book.

Other letters from Dale are pasted into the books for Liston (Dec. 1724, on the Clopton family and including a reference to 'Our new Essex man' who 'placeth Camolodunum at Colchester'; T/P 195/13/5), Shalford (1715; T/P 195/14/8), Stisted (1718, with references to transcribing the monumental inscriptions; T/P 195/14/11), Great Saling (1715, with observations on Holman's manuscript for the parish; T/P 195/14/12), and Thaxted (unsigned and undated, returning the book to Holman with observations; T/P 195/15/4).

There is evidence in the books that Holman received other help from Nicholas Jekyll, the grandson of Thomas Jekyll (see also Essex Review 3, pp. 34, 254-261), apart from being given access to the Jekyll manuscripts. A letter from Jekyll to Holman critical of Silas Taylor's history of Harwich (later published as Taylor and Samuel Dale History and Antiquities of Harwich, 1730) is pasted into the book for the town (T/P 195/8/20). The book for the Chignals includes material by Jekyll, and letters from him to Holman written in 1716 and 1725 are pasted into the books for Castle Hedingham and Sible Hedingham (T/P 195/12/12, 13). The Bocking book (T/P 195/14/10) contains a life of Thomas Jekyll.

Holman is also known to have had help from John Morley of Halstead (Essex Review 3, p. 263) and William Derham, rector of Upminster (Essex Review 4, p. 195, and also Essex Journal 1 (1966), pp. 191-197, for a later co-operation between Morant and Derham's nephew). In 'Samuel Tufnell of Langleys' (1960), pp. 55-56, F.W. Steer quotes letters from Holman to Tufnell, and on pp. 26-27 he quotes detail similar to that in T/P 195/9/20 from a manuscript history of Great Waltham by Holman at Langleys.

The following, all pasted or sewn into the books concerned, give evidence of others with whom Holman corresponded while working on the manuscripts:
Sible Hedingham (T/P 195/12/12), letters 1714 and 1716 relating to advowson from M. Cooke
Ashen (T/P 195/13/13), notes on Elwes family endorsed 'for Mr. Wotton, Bookseller, at the Daggers in Fleete Street'
Great Dunmow (T/P 195/15/1), letter 1726 from Samuel Barnardiston of Liston Hall asking for the return of his pedigree
Little Bardfield (T/P 195/16/11), 2 letters, 1720, from Thomas Bernard of Earls Colne relating to the advowson.

Of subsequent Essex historians who had access to the manuscripts Nicholas Tindal, in his incomplete History of Essex [1732], copied closely from Holman, Nathaniel Salmon relied heavily on his work (compare for example the entries for the manor of Eastbury in Holman's manuscript book for Barking, T/P 195/1/1, and Salmon's History and Antiquities of Essex, 1740, p.21), as did Philip Morant for his History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, 1768.
Dates of Creation:
Admin History:
William Holman was a nonconformist minister in Halstead from 1700 until his death on 4 November 1730 at the age of 60. He was buried at the Old Independent Chapel in Halstead.

Holman began to collect material for a history of the Hinckford Hundred in about 1710. After his death Holman's manuscripts passed to his son who apparently sold them. By 1894 Holman's manuscript History of Essex was in Colchester Museum. For C.F.D. Sperling's notes on Holman's life and manuscripts see Essex Review 3 , pp. 261-266, 4, pp. 194-196, and 8, p. 47.
System Arrangement:
Holman's notes were written in quarto paper books of varying thicknesses, usually with one book devoted to each parish or group of parishes. These parish books were arranged by hundreds, each with a paper wrapper or fragment of wrapper titled in the hand of Thomas Astle (the wrappers were stored separately at the end of each hundred series when the collection was re-catalogued January-March 2010). Some of the books bear numbers which may be in Holman's hand, but at the beginning of each hundred there is a list in Philip Morant's hand arranging and numbering the parishes as for his History of Essex. Morant also numbered each parish on the covers of the books. Each parish book was stored in its own folder and re-boxed January-March 2010, and given its own distinct reference (this work was carried out with funds from the Newton Bequest).
Existence of Copies:
For typescript copies of the sections for some parishes in Thurstable Hundred see T/P 175/11.
Related Unit of Description:
For Holman's manuscripts including letters, notes and working papers for his history of Essex, sermons, and some original documents see D/Y 1.