Home > Sydenham Holliers
I probably have more contacts from Australian members of the Sydenham Hollier family than any other. There are many descendants living today in Australia and I would like to hear from anyone in the family as there are still some modern 'branches' that I have not yet connected to the 'tree'.
I have now added a complete family tree of the Sydenham Holliers which you can browse here.
Thomas & Mary Hollier, one of the families from Sydenham who emigrated to Australia
Sydenham is a small Oxfordshire village close to the County border with Buckinghamshire. Lying on the Oxfordshire plain but close to the Chiltern Hills, Sydenham has always been an agricultural community. In the 18th and 19th centuries, its population would have been higher than today, as the land needed the attention of many agricultural labourers. Such employment meant a lifetime of hard work and brought few material rewards. Today, a walk round the overgrown churchyard reveals no less than 6 gravestones with the name Hollier, but its importance to the Hollier story lies not here, but on the other side of the world, as two separate Hollier families emigrated from Sydenham to Australia and flourished, so that today many can claim descent from these intrepid emigrants. Indeed more researchers have contacted me about this group of Holliers than any other.
To help readers understand this family, I have produced a 12 page tree of the Sydenham Holliers (in PDF format) which covers the first 4 generations of the family.
The story starts with Richard Hollier who may have been born around 1749. There had been Holliers elsewhere in Oxfordshire for well over a century, perhaps much longer. There are some Holliers in nearby Lewknor around this time. It is not clear where Richard was born. His first marriage to Ann Quartermain was in 1774 at Speen in Berkshire and from this I believe he had two sons: William c.1779 (no baptism found) and John born c.1781 but baptised in Sydenham in 1784. Although no baptism for William has been found, there seems little doubt about this connection, as William had a grandson with the unusual name Eden (1839-1921). William's brother John also had a son Eden (1822-1851) and their father Richard himself had a son Eden (1803-1803) - the youngest of the family from his second marriage. From this, I feel confident that Richard did have two sons William and John from his first marriage.
The first son William married Damaris Taylor in 1806 and had two children Richard and William. Like his father, I can't find Richard's baptism. He married Amelia Rymills in 1832 and had 10 children between 1833 and 1860. The second son William, baptised in 1807 doesn't seem to have married and died in 1865.
Richard's second son John married Ann Sewell in 1804 in Tetsworth and had 9 children at Sydenham between 1805 and 1829. Of these 9, the descent of 4 are known, in particular, their 8th child Eden (1822-1851) married, in 1841, Ann Rymills, the sister of Amelia, mentioned above. Eden was one of the family members who emigrated to Australia.
Richard's first wife Ann died in 1787 and was buried in nearby Lewknor. Richard remarried quickly. Richard Hollier, shown as a widower, married Susannah Hawes in Oxford later in 1787.
Richard and Susannah had 10 children at Sydenham between 1788 and 1803. At least 3 children died in infancy. Three of the girls are known to have married but of the remainder of the children, only the descent of Thomas (1790-1866) and Richard (1796-1871) is known. Thomas married Amelia ('Pamela') Croxford in Aston Rowant in 1811 and had 8 children. Most importantly, Thomas's second child Thomas was one of the Holliers who emigrated to Australia and Thomas, the father, later emigrated to join his son.
Study of the censuses for Sydenham and nearby villages provides evidence of how some of the Sydenham Hollier families continued down the years, but the main story continues in Australia. There were many reasons for families choosing to emigrate to Australia. After the loss of Britain's American colonies, Australia had been the favoured destination for the transportation of criminals. But once they had served their time, few chose to return, since the life of farming in the new colony was far preferable to the conditions they had left in Britain. In Britain, many could look forward to little more than a lifetime as a farm labourer, but Australia offered the prospect of being able to be a farmer in one's own right. Gradually, this led to people voluntarily choosing to emigrate to Australia and that is what must have crossed the minds of the two half-cousins Thomas and Eden Hollier who around 1843 decided to take their families on the dangerous voyage 'down under'.
Eden and Ann had one daughter Martha when they set out on the ‘Wallace’, arriving in Geelong, Victoria in 1844, after a difficult journey of 4½ months. It appears that such voluntary emigration was assisted as they received a bounty of £27 11s 3d for the family of three and are recorded as leaving the ship 'on their own resources'. They had another four children in Australia: Emma in 1845 at Collingwood, Vic; Betsy in 1847 in Heidelberg, Vic; Frederick in 1849 in Brighton, Vic and finally Eden in 1851, also in Brighton, where Eden had now acquired his own land to become a market gardener. But sadly, Eden died the same year, leaving Ann with 5 young children.
Ann remarried another gardener Thomas Collins in 1853. He came from Kingston in Oxfordshire on the same voyage on the ‘Wallace’ as Eden and Ann. It is likely that they had known each other in England and had kept in touch. Thomas acquired his own first plot of land in 1854. Ann and Thomas went on to have 6 children, though three died in infancy.
All of Eden's 5 children went on to marry and have large or even very large families. Consequently, there are many descendants today from Eden Hollier of Sydenham. Down some branches the name Eden has been continued. Ann's second husband Thomas died in 1889 and Ann herself lived to the age of 82, dying in 1902.
We now turn to the other branch of the Sydenham Holliers who descend from Thomas. Thomas was the second child of Thomas and Amelia Hollier, born in 1815 in Sydenham. Thomas senior was, as mentioned above, the second son of Richard and his second wife Susannah. In 1834 at nearby Chinnor, he married Mary Bunce, a girl who like many others in Oxfordshire at that time was a lacemaker. They had 4 children between 1835 and 1841 in Sydenham, before making the long journey from Liverpool to Australia aboard the ‘United Kingdom’, leaving on 23rd December 1843 and arriving on 29th April 1844. The journey was especially difficult for Mary as she was pregnant with her 5th child James who was born the month after arrival, but sadly he died the following year, 1845. But Thomas and Mary went on to have another 8 children, 7 of which survived. So in all, Thomas and Mary had 11 children who themselves went on to have large families and many more descendants down to the present day. Thomas and Mary raised their family in the Prospect/Parramatta district of Sydney where Thomas owned his own farm. Things worked out well for Thomas and this persuaded his parents to join him. For some time I had not known what had happened to the parents Thomas and Amelia, as they were not in Oxfordshire in the 1841 and 1851 censuses. It now transpires that they had moved to Duckinfield, Lancashire, where the family's weaving skills were used in the cotton mills. Thomas and Amelia arrived in Australia on the ‘Kate’ on 4th December 1855 when Thomas was 65. Thomas and Amelia were however accompanied by their daughter Eleanor, who until that time had worked in the cotton mill. She later married in Australia to John Palmer. All their other children had, as far as I know, died. Thomas and Amelia died in 1866 and 1873 respectively.
Their son Thomas died in 1895 and Mary in 1901
In later generations, some of this Hollier family moved further afield to New Zealand. They were not the only Holliers in New Zealand, however. We know of several other families in New Zealand, as described here.
An impression of life in Australia in the 19th century can be gleaned from the obituary of William Hollier (1851-1927), son of Thomas and Mary:-
Extract from Nepean Times 13 August 1927
What happened to the Sydenham Holliers back home in England? The 1881 census gives the most comprehensive picture of this group of Holliers.
Still at Sydenham itself were:-
At Brookstone Cottage: Richard, his wife Amelia and son Eden.
At an un-named private house: James & Mary, with children Lizzie and Fred. James was the son of John Hollier & Ann Sewell, mentioned above.
At Manor Farm: John & Elizabeth, with children Emma, John and Ambrose. John was the son of Richard and Amelia.
At Bickenhill, Warwickshire: James, a Miller, and Sarah his wife with their 5 children: Elizabeth, John, George, Frederick and Helen. Their eldest son John was a Confectioner in Aston, Birmingham. Father James was the son of John Hollier and Mary Vear. In turn, John was the eldest son of John Hollier & Ann Sewell.
At Dawley Field, Harlington. Middlesex: Jabez Hollier, a Foreman, and wife Ann and their 4 children Helena, Edith, Minnie and Esther. Jabez was another son of Richard and Amelia.
Close by, also in Dawley Field was Jabez's brother Ambrose, a Groom, with his wife and two young children Edith and Charlie.
At Aylesbury, Bucks: Jane Hollier, widow of William Hollier (formerly a farmer of Portobello Farm, Shirburn, Oxfordshire and second son of John Hollier & Ann Sewell). She was a housekeeper with after her two grown up daughters Susannah (handicapped) and Mary Ann. Also there was a Granddaughter Emma Elizabeth Brazell Hollier. It's not yet known who her parents were.
Finally, at Reigate in Surrey, a Pattie Hollier, servant aged 32, was working for Charles Bailey, a silk manufacturer. There's no Pattie (or similar) in the birth indexes, though there is a Charlotte born at about the right time (1849) though her parentage is also unknown. No child of the right age appears in the 1851 census either.
Many Holliers were buried in the churchyard at Sydenham, but only 6 have stones that are still readable. These are:-
Mary Hollier, née Vear, wife of John died 17th July 1869. It is likely that John is also buried in same plot.
Sarah Chanot, née Hollier, died 17th Dec 1894, daughter of John Hollier and Mary Vear
William Hollier, of Portobello Farm, died 6th April 1878 in Aylesbury.
Jane Hollier died 26th March 1900, wife of William of Portobello Farm.
Susannah Hollier died 19th Feb 1897 in Aylesbury, the handicapped daughter of William & Jane Hollier of Portobello Farm.
Richard & Amelia Hollier died 6th Dec 1884 and 18th Sep 1883 respectively.
It is known that William and Damaris Hollier were buried at Sydenham and had a stone that was previously recorded, but it is now either unreadable or lost.