HOLLES, Gervase (1607-75), of Mansfield, Notts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1640
Nov. 1640 - 22 Aug. 1642
1661 - 10 Feb. 1675

Family and Education

b. 9 Mar. 1607, 2nd but o. surv. s. of Frescheville Holles of Grimsby, Lincs. by 1st w. Elizabeth, da. and h. of John Kingston, merchant, of Grimsby. educ. Grimsby g.s. 1613; M. Temple 1628, called 1639; m. (1) 17 June 1630, Dorothy (d. 18 Jan. 1635), da. of John Kirketon of Grimsby, 1s. d.v.p. 2da.; (2) 4 Oct. 1637, Elizabeth (d. 21 Mar. 1662), da. of William Molesworth of Grimsby, 4s. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1630.1

Offices Held

Mayor, Grimsby 1636-7, 1638-9, 1663-4; j.p. Notts. 1641-4, commr. of array, Lincs. 1642, assessment 1661-3, 1664-9, 1673-4, (Lindsey) 1663-4, loyal and indigent officers 1662.2

Capt. of ft. (royalist) Aug. 1642, maj. Sept. 1642-3, col. 1643-4; gov. King’s Lynn 1644; col. of ft. (French army) 1646-8.3

Master of requests June 1660-d.4


Holles came of a cadet branch of moderate means long associated with Grimsby. His property, encumbered with annuities, brought him in only £114 p.a., probably owing to debts incurred in rebuilding his house. Although called to the bar, he did not practise, devoting himself to antiquarian pursuits. He moved to Newark in 1640, but represented Grimsby in both Short and Long Parliaments until disabled for royalism. He joined the King’s army early in the Civil War, and was commissioned colonel of foot in 1643, but laid down arms after a little over a year and surrendered himself to the parliamentary governor of Lincoln in November 1645. Unable to pay the composition fine of £738, he joined the French army, but returned for the second Civil War, when he was taken prisoner at the fall of Colchester. He lived in exile throughout the Interregnum, chiefly in Holland, but remaining in touch with the Court. Charles II gave him a commission in 1659, but shortage of money and the indiscretion of another Cavalier prevented him from leaving Rotterdam to take part in the royalist rising. On 21 Mar. 1660 Sir Edward Hyde urged ‘honest Gervase’ to proceed to London forthwith and use his interest with his cousin, the 2nd Earl of Clare, to dispose Edward Rossiter to the King’s service. But owing to his debts he was unable to embark till May.5

At the Restoration Holles was given a mastership of requests, with an annuity of £100 p.a. He regained his seat at Grimsby at the general election of 1661, but he was not active in the Cavalier Parliament, in which he was appointed to only 21 committees. On 7 May 1662 he delivered a message from the King recommending the plight of English slaves in the Turkish dominions to the consideration of the House. He helped to consider the petition of the loyal and indigent officers in 1663. Listed as a court dependent in 1664, it was presumably Holles who was included in the deputation from the Commons to thank the King and the City for preserving the honour, safety and trade of the nation against the Dutch, although by a clerical error it was the name of his flamboyant son Fres-cheville that was entered in the Journals. He was appointed to the committee to investigate the miscarriages of the war in 1667, and urged by the 2nd Earl of Strafford to attend diligently at the House and in committee to hasten on the private bill of Gilbert Holles; but he was not appointed to the committee. Unlike his son, who became the other Member for Grimsby during this session, there is no sign that he ever joined the Opposition. He was named to the committees for the continuance of the Conventicles Act and to receive information about seditious conventicles in 1669. He was included as a court dependant in both lists of 1669-71, and in an opposition pamphlet he was described as a ‘pensioner at Court, and two places there’, presumably in the expectation that he would succeed William Prynne as keeper of the records. But ‘his too much antiquated zeal against the delinquents in the House of Commons’ was not in vogue, and the post was given to Sir Algernon May. His name appeared on the Paston list, but he played little further part in Parliament. He died on 10 Feb. 1675 and was buried at Mansfield, the last of this branch of the family.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Mems. Holles Fam. (Cam. Soc. ser. 3, lv), pp. vii-xiv, 227-34.
  • 2. HMC 14th Rep. VIII, 290-1; HMC Buccleuch, i. 526, 528, 530.
  • 3. HMC Buccleuch, i. 526-7, 531-3.
  • 4. Ibid. 539-40.
  • 5. SP23/185/935-53; Keeler, Long Parl. 220-1; Cal. Cl. SP, ii. 257; iv. 667; HMC Bath, ii. 79, 144; CSP Dom. 1655-6, p. 395; 1659-60, p. 22; HMC Buccleuch, i. 539; HMC 5th Rep. 184.
  • 6. CJ, viii. 423, 568; HMC Bath, ii. 151, 152; Harl. 7020, f. 35v; HMC Hastings, ii. 313; CSP Dom. 1673-5, p. 473; C. H. Josten, Elias Ashmole, 1412, 1420.