Where did our ancestors come from?


In October, 2005 fifteen Harlan and Hollingsworth descendents crossed the pond to visit the ancestral homelands.  We started in Chester, then moved on to Hollingsworth Hall (demolished during WWII), to St Michael the Archangel church (complete with the HOLLINGWORTH WINDOW) and finally through Hollingworth (a village).   During our luncheon layover in Tintwhistle, we saw that an early owner of the pub was a Hollingworth.  Talk about drenched in history!  It was all perfectly delightful and we were all thrilled to visit the traditional home of our family.  Except … it appears it may not be our ancestral home, after all.


I had understood the DNA project was developed for people who did not have a clear paper trail for their lineage.  While it is useful to prove family connection in those circumstances, it also has other applications.  The first step is to develop an ancestral signature by testing people with paper trails.  Then those with “unfounded” lineage test their DNA to see if they match.  The ancestral signature can also be used to trace connections to earlier families.  Basically, we have Valentine’s ancestral signature and it does not match the Hollingworth Hall Hollingsworths.  Actually, it does not match any other lineage.


I had heard that Henry Hollingsworth, father of Valentine, came to Ireland during the Ulster Plantation.  I thought it might be beneficial to study that era to develop more hypotheses about our “ancestral homeland”.


Three great families ruled Ireland:  the O’Neills, the O’Briens and the O’Connors, with the O’Neills controlling Ulster.  The Rev. George Hill surmises, “… had Ireland been left to herself, as England and Scotland were, it is reasonably supposed that she would have risen above her sorrows. …giving up her provincial kings in succession, until some one of her great families, whether an O’Neill, an O’Brien, or an O’Connor, would have risen permanently to the throne.”  During the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, the English made inroads on the island and fortified an area around Dublin.  It was known as the “Pale” (from the Latin “palus”, meaning stake) and is the source of the expression “beyond the Pale”.


From this foothold on the Irish soil, the English made inroads, increasing their influence there.  The “great families” gradually lost their influence and finally, in 1607, the O’Neills and the O’Connors fled for the continent, recognizing the English were indeed rulers of the country.  “The flight of the Earls”, as it came to be known, left a power vacuum in Ulster, which gave rise to the idea of plantation.


The Plantation of Ulster’s goal was to pacify and civilize Ulster:  the counties of Donegal, Coleraine, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Armagh and Cavan.  For James I, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, it was a British venture

and at least half the settlers would be Scots.


The Munster Plantation (1580’s) failed since it “planted” settlers in isolated areas.  The Ulster Plantation was intended reconfigure the population in the six counties to develop a new community composed of loyal British subjects.   To this point, the new landowners were forbidden to take Irish tenants; they were to bring English or Scottish tenants.

The new landowners were called Undertakers, wealthy men from England and Scotland who brought tenants from their own estates.  To “plant” their 3000 acres, they were required to settle 48 adult males—who were both English-speaking and Protestant.   Servitors, veterans of the Irish wars, lobbied for land grants.  Since they did not have the capital required, they were subsidized.    

The Flight of the Earls took place in 1607 and  by 1609, the plantation was in process.  According to Wikipedia, there were 20,000 adult male settlers in Ulster by the 1630s, suggesting perhaps a total British population of 80,000.

Rev. George Hill’s series of books, The Conquest of Ireland, reviews the plantation of Ulster quite thoroughly.  Unfortunately, he does not mention the Hollingsworths.  I decided to tackle the problem from another angle, learning as much as I could about the Undertakers in the area.  The two clues we have are the name of Valentine’s townland—Ballyvickrannell—and the appearance of Henry Hollingwort’s name on a muster roll in 1631. In both instances, our ancesters are tied to County Armagh, the Barony of Onealand.  According to Hill, the Barony of Onealand fell (by lot) to the English.  It would thus appear unlikely our Hollingsworths accompanied from Scottish undertakers to Ireland.


Following are 4 undertakers and their consorts;


Sir Maurice Barckley’s consort:  Onealand or Liffer

Sir Maurice Barckley, Somerset             4,000 acres

Sir Dudley Digges, Kent                         2,000 acres   

Robert Dillon, Northampton                   4,000 acres

Willam Powell, Stafford                         2,000 acres

John Dillon, Stafford                              2,000 acres

Edward Russell                                       2,000 acres                                       

The above Undertaker requested either Onealand or Liffer.  I include him because William Powell was awarded Ballyvickrannell.  He was an equerry in the King’s stable.  Hill suggests he received the grant for arrears of salary.  He sold his interest almost immediately to Michael Obbyns (or O’byns), who died September 26, 1629. 


According to Pynnar’s Survey, done in 1618, Obbyns’ property had 3 freeholders, having 120 acres and 2 freeholders, having 100 acres.  There were also 15 lessees renting between 30 and 100 acres.  Was one of them Henry Hollinwort?  The 1631 muster roll indicates that Richard Cope and Mr. Obbins were undertakers of 2,000 acres. 


Sir Francis Anderson’s consort:  Onealand

Sir Francis Anderson, Bedford                   2,000l. per annum

Sir William Powell, Kent                            2,000 acres

John Fish, Bedford                                      2,000 acres

John Allin, Bedford

Edmund Anderson, Bedford                        1,000 acres                    

Francis Sachinwell, Leicester                      2,000 acres

John Brownlowe, Nottingham                     2,000 acres


Sir William Monson’s consort:  Onealand

Sir William Monson                                      1,000 acres

John Barnewall, Gray’s Inn                           1,000 acres

Matthew Southwell, in behalf of Thomas St. Law 2,000 acres

Richard Dawtry, Suffolk                                2,000 acres

James Matchett, clerk and preacher               1,000 acres

William Brower, Suffolk                                1,000 acres

Nicholas Howarde, Suffolk                            1,000 acres                    

Edward Rivett, merchant, Suffolk                  1,000 acres

Richard Wright, merchant, London                1,000 acres


Lord Saye’s consort:  Onealand only

Lord Saye                                                        4,000 acres                                                       Edward Warde, Suffolk                                  1,000 acres

William Stanhowe, and Henry his son, Norfolk   2,000 acres

Joseph Warde, Norfolk                                   2,000 acres                    

William Warde, goldsmith, London               1,000 acres

Michael Saltforde, for himself and Nicholas Whiting   1,000 acres

James Matchett, Norfolk                                 1,000 acres

Richard Rolestone, Stafford                            1,000 acres

Jeffrey Money, Norfolk                                   1,000 acres

Richard Matchett, Norfolk                               1,000 acres

Williams Banister, Southwarke, Grocer, London  1,000 acres

Edmund Caston, London                                  1,000 acres


Sir Anthony Cope received 3,000 acres from Lord Say, the first patentee.  Upon his death, around 1630, he was succeeded by his son Henry, then by Anthony, who then died in 1642.  The only mention I find of Richard Cope is in connection with John Dillon, listed as part of Sir Maurice Barckley’s consort.


I don’t know who “planted” the grant that Powell received.  It seems he had no interest in it, so the “planter” would be Obbyns.  Where did his tenants come from?  The  Copes as a family were very active in the plantation—where did they come from?  And how active were they in the Hollingsworth’s world? 


Another line of inquiry is County Down.  There is a Hollingsworth family there, even now, but apparently there is no DNA match.  County Down was not part of the Ulster Plantation, but it might be worth seeing what it has to offer.  Someone suggested I look at the familes that Valentine’s wives came from, to see where their home lay.  I found nothing on the Calverts, but I did see that Rea is considered a County Down name.


There are those who believe that Henry Hollingwort was born in Ireland—around 1600, which would imply he was not brought over for the Ulster Plantation.  I have no opinion on that, at the moment.  I do note that the Harlan genealogical group says the Harlans spent two generations in Ireland before emigrating to the U.S.  We have some historical parallels with that family—is this another one?




Jo Hollingsworth

June 2007




Two comments

1. The descendants of Valentine Hollingsworth do match one other family genetically--those of counties Wexford/Wicklow. You may want to change the wording of your report to say that they do not match any other family in England.

2. The following is an e mail that I received on 6/4/07 from Simon Hollingworth, genetic kin of the descendants of the "Old Hall" at Mottram, opening the possibility that some of the Irish family might be descendants of the family at the "Nearer Hall". I don't think that this is a serious possibility, at least as far as Valentine's line is concerned, but it probably means that we have to keep using all of the appropriate "may be" and "possibly" words.


Doug Hollingsworth


Hi Doug,

The Nearer Hall family were a junior branch of the Hollingworths of 
Old Hall until Hugh de Holynworth. Please note it is the 'original' 
Mottram Hall (DNA) line that we find represented in Manchester until 
at least 1650.

I have evidence that proves that until 1440, the Hollingworths of Old 
Hall, the Hollingworths of Nearer Mottram Hall and the Hollingworths 
of Manchester were all the same bloodline. HOWEVER, I believe that 
'Old' Hugh de Holynworth of the Nearer Hall left the estate to a 
possible nephew (or surrogate son) called Alexander Hepworth de 
Holynworth, who upon inheriting the estate took the family name: 
Alexander de Holynworth de Hollingworth, son in-law to Sir John 
Radcliffe of Ordsall Hall.

In short, I do believe that the 'modern' Mottram Hall line do 
represent a completely different DNA to John M and myself.

Please note: I have found another distant arm to our family line in 
Standon Massey in Essex. It appears that another Reinold de 
Hollingsworth was Lord of the manor there, with the estate finally 
ending up in the ownership of William Bird by way of John 
Hollingworth Gent. (m. Phillip Angels) of Hollingworth Hall.

I have managed to work out many of the Hollingworth Hall connections 
with my family in Spondon, and it would appear the connection is with 
the brothers of John Hollingworth de Hollingworth who married Anne 
Greene de Thurgaland. Anyway, I will write all of this up at some time.

Best wishes with your hunt Doug. Any more I can help you with do let 
me know.




(2) Descendants related to the lineage of THOMAS de HOLYNWORTH b. c1200's of the HOLLINGSWORTH HALL lineage.

John M. Hollingworth of the Hollingworth Hall lineage of Cheshire, England descendant of Thomas de Holynworth b. c1200's (37 markers) assumed ancestral signature.

Simon Hollingworth descendant of Joseph Hollingworth (b. 1748) of Dale Abbey, Derby, of William Hollingworth (b. 1705) moved to Dale Abby, of William Hollingworth, Jr. (b. 1668) of Breadsall Old Hall, of William Hollingworth, Sr. (b. c1640/45) of Breadsall Old Hall, England (12/12) (23/25) (35/37).