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Edward Holland


Early Years

My Gt Gt Grandfather Edward Holland was christened on 7th February 1819 at Edward Holland GravestoneSt James Parish Church in Holywell, Flintshire the son of Richard and Catherine Holland. Edward was one of 14 children of whom only 5 appear to have survived beyond childhood. A younger brother also called Edward was born in 1814 and died on 16th February 1818 at just 4 years old. He has one of the few surviving Gravestones (pictured right) which bear the Holland name in St James Churchyard, Holywell. There were three brothers all named Robert who died before their second birthdays together with twin girls Ellen and Jane who died  at just 6 months old.


The Workhouse

It's clear that Edward’s parents were not wealthy. When Edward's father Richard Holland, a Tailor, died in the Holywell Workhouse in January 1846 the funeral expenses were paid for by the Holywell Guardians (Poor Law union). It is interesting, but sad to see, that the Workhouse records identify a dispute by his fathers Parish of birth, Llanasa, who were asked to pay the cost of the funeral back to the Holywell Union. The workhouse records of those days show that irrespective of where a workhouse inmate died the “owning” Parish would be pursued for any debts owed to the final Workhouse a person resided in. The record below says " to allow paid for weeks being from Jan '46 (1846) to when he died as Llanasa Guardians objected to the settlement"

Holywell Guardians Register

Holywell Guardians Register of Outdoor Relief (Courtesy Flintshire Record Office)

The record also shows that Richard, who was at that time a widower living in New Road Holywell, suffered from Dropsy. The historical diagnosis of dropsy – which is now obsolete – indicated simply an abnormal accumulation of fluid. Since the mid-nineteenth century, dropsy was recognized as a sign of underlying disease of the heart, liver, or kidneys, or of malnutrition. Untreated dropsy was usually, as in Richard's case, fatal.


At Work

The Holywell census data between 1851 and 1881 show that Edward was involved in the Copper and Brass industry that was prominent in Holywell during the 19th Century. The west coast of Africa formed a major market for products made from copper and brass and it was to there that nearby Liverpool merchants traded to obtain slaves for the West Indies and America. Factories producing these goods were established in what is called the Greenfield Valley which extended from the north Wales coast at Greenfield up to the town of Holywell. There were several periods of building, particularly in the 1830s and 1870s. At the time Edward was working in the Greenfield Valley he would almost certainly have worked for a company called Newton Keates which had other factories at St. Helens (for copper smelting) and Glasgow. The factory employing Edward was called the Battery Works which took its name from large hammers raised by a cog on a rotating beam.

Battery Row Print

A print of the  Battery works c 1796 


At Home

Batter Row housesBeside the pool providing power for the waterwheels used in the Battery Works stood a row of terraced houses which are pictured left. They were built by the original Greenfield Copper and Brass Company to house its workers. Compared with the general level of housing in the 1780s when Battery Row was built, these were of a very high standard, with two rooms down­stairs, two upstairs and a broad landing. Some of the houses also had cellars. Altogether there were thirty-five houses associated with the battery works. The 1891 census and Edward’s death certificate from 1885 show that the family had moved into No 17 Battery Row and lived there at least until Edward’s wife Elizabeth died in 1898. The whole terrace was demolished by Holywell Urban District Council in the 1960s. 



Like his father before him Edward had a large family of five boys and five girls by his wife Elizabeth formerly Bagnall. Luckily the rate of infant mortality was considerably lower for Edward & Elizabeth as only their daughter Mary Jane Holland and son Thomas Bagnall Holland died before they were two years old. The next son to be born after Thomas Bagnall, who died in 1851, was my Great Grandfather also to be called Thomas Bagnall who was born in March 1856. Edward continued to work in the Battery Works until his death at the age of 66 on 21st October 1885. He is buried at Holywell.


I am indebted for the use of pictures from the Greenfield Valley above which are reproduced with the kind permission of the Greenfield Valley Trust Ltd.





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