HOLLAND, Thomas (-d.1618), of Dartmouth, Devon

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

1st s. of Robert Holland of Dartmouth, merchant, and his w. Anne. m. by 1587, Elizabeth, 5s. (4 d.v.p.) 7da. (2 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1592. bur. 14 Nov. 1618.1 sig. Tho[mas] Holland.

Offices Held

Freeman, Dartmouth 1585,2 mayor 1597-8,3 alderman by 1604.4


Holland belonged to a family prominent in Dartmouth by the early sixteenth century, one of whom represented the borough in three of Henry VIII’s Parliaments. A successful local merchant, he periodically advanced money to the corporation, and also supplied some of the powder and shot employed against the Armada. Holland first sat for Dartmouth in 1593. His subsidy rating of £6 five years later confirmed that he was now one of the town’s wealthiest residents.5

Re-elected to Parliament in 1604 as Dartmouth’s senior Member, Holland attracted just one appointment during the first two sessions, being named on 14 Apr. 1604 to attend the opening conference with the Lords about the Anglo-Scottish Union.6 In the third session, however, he received four nominations. Added to legislative committees concerning Southampton’s charter and leather manufacture (11 May and 2 July 1607), he was also named to scrutinize bills to facilitate merchants’ credit, and to prevent the subdivision of tenements (15 May and 5 June). Dartmouth’s corporation had identified the latter as a special problem two years earlier when it passed a new by-law against disorderly sub-letting.7 During the fourth session Holland was appointed to committees for bills to prevent the export of ordnance and to relieve three debtors imprisoned in London (17 Mar. and 2 July 1610). He probably also helped to supply the corporation with its records of this session’s debates on impositions. Despite this slender performance, he is known to have received parliamentary wages for the second and fourth sessions, and presumably also did so for the other three.8

When Henry Hudson made landfall at Dartmouth in October 1609, upon returning from his third voyage of discovery, it was Holland, rather than the serving mayor, who notified lord treasurer Salisbury (Robert Cecil†), an act which affirmed his local prestige.9 In 1614 Holland signed the letter from the corporation which rejected the earl of Northampton’s request to nominate a parliamentary candidate, and stated the borough’s preference for local men. He was promptly re-elected but left no trace on the records of the Addled Parliament.10 In the following year he was dispatched to seek the bishop of Exeter’s approval for additional sermons at Dartmouth.11

Holland drew up his will on 10 Nov. 1618, providing £5 for the local poor. He bequeathed houses in Dartmouth to two of his children, and left careful instructions to his wife concerning the future education of his son William. He died shortly afterwards, and was buried at St. Saviour’s, Dartmouth on 14 November. William subsequently attended Oxford University, in accordance with his father’s wishes, but no further members of the family sat in Parliament.12

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: George Yerby / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. PROB 11/80, ff. 334v-5; Devon RO, DD61573; St. Saviour’s, Dartmouth par. reg.
  • 2. J.C. Roberts, ‘Parl. Representation of Devon and Dorset, 1559-1601’ (London Univ. M.A. thesis, 1958), app.
  • 3. Dartmouth Corporation, Provisional List of Mayors.
  • 4. HMC Hatfield, xvi. 128.
  • 5. HP Commons, 1509-58, ii. 376-7; Devon RO, DD61552(A), 61573, 61619, 61621, 61627.
  • 6. CJ, i. 172a.
  • 7. Ibid. 372a, 374a, 379b, 389b; Devon RO, SM2004, f. 3.
  • 8. CJ, i. 412b, 445a; Devon RO, DD67721, 67723-5; J.J. Alexander, ‘Dartmouth as a Parl. Borough’, Reps. and Trans. Devon Assoc. xliii. 352.
  • 9. Henry Hudson the Navigator ed. G.M. Asher (Hakluyt Soc. xxvii), pp. ccii, 93; HMC Hatfield, xxi. 152.
  • 10. Devon RO, SM1989, f. 20.
  • 11. Ibid. DD61873.
  • 12. PROB 11/133, ff. 223v-4; Devon RO, St. Saviour’s, Dartmouth par. reg.; Al. Ox.