Holborow Scrapbooks!

Do you ever watch programmes like WDYTYA? and silently curse the good fortune of those who say “My sister has all this information collected by our great-aunt Lydia who sadly went a bit doolally and put bricks down the loo and had to go into a home” and it turns out to be all these old scrapbooks of letters and clippings and notes and things? Me too.

I’ve spoken of the generosity of the genealogical community before, and this has recently come home to roost. Last week I received an email out of the blue from a gentleman saying that, whilst perusing a boot sale (think flea market, dear American readers) he found a pair of scrapbooks that were very Holborow-centric. Wanting to get them back in the hands of interested (if not related) parties, he had a Google and found this blog, thus the email. He kindly posted them to me and they arrived on Wednesday (thankfully on my day off!) and I was able to spend some time going through them.

The author (do you ‘author’ a scrapbook?) … the curator of these scrapbooks is unknown, although presumably they were of close connection to Daniel Holborow, mayor of Ashfield, New South Wales. There are many articles surrounding his death in 1896 (some repeated in both – perhaps indicating that these belonged to two different people?). Also included are a few marvellous letters – including one written to Daniel on behalf of the municipal council expressing regret on his stepping down, and wishing him a return to health. There is also one from the same to his widow following his death. Quite touching.

“Mr. D. Holborow, J.P.”

There are also a number of clippings relating to Daniel’s son, William Hillier Holborow, as well as one of William’s sons Grantley Andrew Hillier Holborow and one of Grantley’s daughters, Pauline.

However, the most amazing thing were 2 lists of children (1 in each scrap book). One is a seemingly simple pedigree and list:

Obviously I wish the bottom paragraph hadn’t been torn off! William born 1671 on that list is my 7 x great-grandfather, with my 6 x great-grandfather being Joseph.

The William died 1830 doesn’t seem to be attached to the children listed above him, nor does my research connect them closely (that may be on me), however, the name of his wife is known – Betty Mill. The author lists 4 children of this William, including one just called “sister”, who married “R. Allen.” In fact, this was a Judith Holborow marrying Richard Allen in 1796. Judith also being William’s mother’s name. Sarah married John King in 1809.

Daniel is annotated with “This is your father’s line”. Daniel married, as can be seen on the lower section and “had issue”. Well, he had two children, only one of whom Daniel Bennet Holborow had children – two sons by his first wife. Perhaps it was one of these who was the intended recipient’s father?

Then we come to the children of William – the exciseman. This includes a Daniel who married a Miss Hillier and a Henry who married a Miss Bell and moved to America (I will come back to Henry’s family at a later date as part of my Holborow in America series as they’re a lot of fun). There is also another Judith who apparently married a Mr Robinson. In fact, this was Mr. Robertson in 1831.

We will now turn to the second list for a moment:

It is a list of children born to William Holborow and his wife, Jane. What is amazing is that the author of this paper has recorded not only the date and place of birth, but also the time of the births.

Here is a close up of a couple of them – the aforementioned Henry and Daniel:

Henry Holborow born 11th of June 1815 Sunday [morning] about 6 o’clock in the morning.
These three was born at Cwmgre in the parish of St Michael Cwmdu [Llhanfihangel Cwm Du] in the county of Brecon, Wales.

Daniel Holborow was born March the 12th 1818 Thursday morn 10 o’clock at Cromhall Gloucestershire.”

Well hang on … One of the death notices for Daniel in Australia gives his birth as 12 March 1818 in Cromhall. This means I had this Daniel plugged into the wrong parents and therefore he had been duplicated in my research! Daniel had, indeed married Mary Jane Hillier. His marriage certificate lists his father as William – whereas the other children of the incorrect father all give their father’s name as a variant of William Wraxall Holborow, a difference that can be accounted for and corrected!

The list also names a brand new child – Isaac – who was born on Christmas Eve 1820 in West Malling, Sussex. He is the 18 year old Isaac who dies in Sherston of consumption and is buried back in Oldbury in 1839 aged 18. I have this death certificate which lists his brother Henry as the informant. (I had hoped he might have been the true identity of my mysterious John Isaac Holborow! but sadly not.)

One of the articles – a somewhat unflattering written portrait of William Hillier which included a caricature – includes a couple of bizarre theories expounding on the origin of the surname:

The Holborows are cornstalks of the cornstalks, – and along the banks of the Hawkesbury, in the fat “bottoms” of Richmond and Enfield, and on the Hills of Kurrajong, is their name one that carries with it no little weight and influence. The original Holborow is said by some to have come over with the conqueror, and to have earned his “monniker” from the circumstance of his having “collared” at the division of the spoil a whole borough “to his own cheek”. Another account is that the first historic Holborow took his surname from the proud fact that he never peddled retail, but invariably went the whole barrow.

From “Our Public Men. William H. Holborow, M.P.” by Terence O’Croquis, published 13 May 1886 in The Express.

I haven’t yet gone through all of the articles in detail, but there are a few dealing with Burden Court Farm near Tresham, which is described as “home of the Holborows for over 200 years”, but I should like to point out that they are not my Holborows, but another line. And it was also here that my 2x great-grandfather, Alfred William Hurcombe, worked as a shepherd for a Dick Holborow before they moved to Nether Street near Devizes. I am sure that these scrapbooks will be referenced again in upcoming posts, but the curator(s) remain a mystery.

For now at least.


  1. Oh my goodness! What a treasure! I would be lost in those books for days. I had a pay it forward moment a few years back when a fellow genealogist came into possession of a box from the attic of a house with papers of a distant ancestor. It contained the maiden name of the immigrant mother. Something I never hoped in a million years to ever know. And it was Smith! LOL. It’s still my favorite “find”. Jealous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha what a find – even if it did lead to a Smith! Yes, they have already proven their worth, and will be treasured accordingly! It is a shame that I have no idea who was responsible for collating them all – or how they ended back in the UK in Kent!


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