The Holliday name.

There is usually difficulty in establishing the exact origin of surnames, and Holliday is no exception. The most persuasive and widely accepted of the origins put forward, is that the name Holliday - like the name Foster - originated in the border country between Scotland and England. It derived from the belief of the people of Annandale that every day spent attacking the Saxon Border was a Holy Day - or Halig Daeg in old English. The local chieftain who first adopted the word as a surname had his fortified tower at Corehead near the source of the River Annan. It is said that, of the 1,000 men from Annandale who later accompanied Richard the Lionheart on the Crusades, almost all were Hallidays.

In a time before there was wide-spread literacy - and spelling became standardised - words were written down as they sounded to the writer. Names were no exception, and Halliday soon became Holliday and a number of lesser-known variants.

The earliest of our Holliday ancestors for whom we currently have documentary proof is Charles Holliday, born around 1740, who lives in the Parish of St. Botolph, Aldersgate, City of London. There is some evidence to suggest that Charles has a brother, Marcus, and a sister, Mary.

On 17 April, 1763 - at the Parish Church - Charles marries Mary Archer, a local girl, and in due course the couple have a son, William.

William Holliday 1766-1841

William is born 29 May, 1766, and baptised at St. Botolph on 19 June. He marries a widow, Jane Brown, at the same church, on 24 November, 1793. Sadly, Jane dies, and William returns to St. Botolph on 29 May, 1808, to marry Esther Jane Roberts.

St. Botolph's Church, Aldersgate


William and Esther set up home at 6, Fann Street, Aldersgate, where they have at least 4 children: William Francis (1809), Esther (1816), James (1818), and James Lock, born 16 July, 1811, who dies, aged only 19 months, in February, 1813. In turn, William Snr. dies at home aged 74, in 1841, and is buried at St. Botolph on 21 February. His widow, Esther, continues to live at the Fann Street address with her daughter Esther and son James, until she dies almost 7 years to the day after William, and is also buried at St. Botolph - on 20 February, 1848. Her daughter is believed to have gone off to Bideford in Devon, where we lose track of her, but the two boys get married and found their own families. The family of James is detailed in the section 'Hollidays - Extended family', whilst that of William Francis - our direct antecedent - is recorded below.

William Francis Holliday 1809-1869

William Francis is born at Fann Street on 1 October, 1809, and christened at St. Botolph on 1 November. After a lengthy apprenticeship, William qualifies as a Journeyman Paperhanger, and on 11 September, 1836, marries Elizabeth Gibson, a School-mistress from the Rotherhithe area of London, 5 years his senior. They have 4 children: William (1838), and Charles (1839), both born in Deptford; James, born in Wimbledon (1842); and Edmund born in Stepney in 1844.

Intriguingly, when Elizabeth registers the birth of Edmund, she gives the profession of William Francis as Artist - but in 1851 he is again a Paperhanger, so Elizabeth may have been using 'artistic license'.

William Francis and Elizabeth take a house at 2, Bridge Street East, in Mile End Old Town, London, where they bring up their children and live for a quarter of a century until William Francis' death in 1869. Elizabeth then leaves the house, and lives out her days lodging with the White family in nearby Silas Street.


William Holliday 1838-1923

William, the next in our direct line, starts his working life as a Messenger, but soon follows his Father and brothers into the decorating trade and, like them, becomes a Paperhanger. In the mid-1860s he meets a girl called Kezia Hughes, who has moved to London from her birthplace of Lilley (Catmore) in Berkshire, and is working in Camberwell. They are married by the Rev. Charles Marshall at St. Brides, Fleet Street, on the 21st of June, 1866.

(Interestingly, Mary 'Polly' Nichols, who was to become the first victim of Jack the Ripper, had been married at the same church, by the same vicar, two years earlier.

The St. Brides in which they all married is no longer there. It was destroyed in a massive German bombing attack on 29 December, 1940, along with much of the area historically linked to the Holliday side of our family. The present St. Bride's is the eighth built on the site - the first having been erected in the 6th Century. Prior to that, there had been a Roman building, built beside a Roman road laid in the 2nd Century. 19 centuries of almost continuous occupation, all of which is preserved in the crypt of the present church.)

St. Bride's in the 19th Century














The couple take up residence at 171, Cherry Lane, St. Giles in the Fields, and the following year their first child, Emily, is born. They have two more daughters, Alice in 1876, and Lydia in 1878; followed by two sons, William and Charles, in 1881 and 1884. In the meantime they have moved to a house at number 7, Kennington Oval - directly opposite the famous cricket ground.


A cricket match at the Oval, around the time our ancestors first lived there. It seems that only a daring few removed their jackets to play.














Living with the family is William's Cousin, also William, but known to the children throughout their lives as Uncle Skipper.

In the late 1890s the entire family move next door to number 8. William now has his own business as a Decorator, specialising in high quality gilding of cornices and other architectural mouldings. Charles, now 20, is a Stockbroker's Clerk; William, 17, works in a Bookshop, and Lydia, 21, is a Stage Artist. Uncle Skipper is a highly skilled Cooper.

Sadly, Kezia dies in 1911. The children have moved away, and although the house is kept on for some time, William eventually moves into Residential Care, and Uncle Skipper moves round the corner to live in Fentiman Road.

William dies in 1923.


Lydia Hughes Holliday 1878-1954

Lydia - William and Kezia's daughter - is next in our line of direct Holliday ancestors. She is born on the 8th of October,1878, at 101, Vauxhall Walk, Lambeth. The rest of the family are at Kennington Oval but - as Uncle Skipper's family live at the Vauxhall Walk address - it is possible that Kezia wants to be away from her family home, and with female relatives for the actual birth.
(Note: Vauxhall Walk was an interesting road that seemed to attract entrpreneurs. Of the numerous businesses that grew up there, two that were originally started in small premises in the road would later become nationally famous - Myers Beds, and Royal Doulton.)


A sight that would have been very familiar to a number of our ancestors - the Head Office of Royal Doulton in Lambeth High Street, seen here in 1876.














As Lydia grows up, so she becomes drawn to the stage. Family legend has it that Charlie Chaplin as a boy would call after her and cheek her with his friends, as she walked grandly down the street. It could well be true, as Chaplin's childhood years were spent close by.
(Note: There were numerous famous residents in the immediate area over the years, from Vincent van Gogh to Captain Bligh of the Bounty, whose family tomb is at the nearby St. Mary-at-Lambeth Church.)

Little is known about Lydia's career, but she certainly appeared in production's featuring the Flying Ballet of William Neale. William was married, but had been estranged from his wife for some time, and he and Lydia set up home together - however they were not able to get married until 1919, the best part of two decades after they first met. Lydia was by now a home-maker with 7 children; Pearl, born in 1902, Cyril (1905), Roy (1907), Ruby (1909), Sylvia (1911), Noreen (1912), and Cherry (1918). The family lived at 161, Clapham Road, and most of the girls followed their Mother onto the stage.

In their later years Lydia and William lived at 100, Addison Road, London, W14, and it was here that William died in 1932. Lydia moved to 6, Newark Way, Hendon, and lived there until her death at the age of 76, on the 5th of March, 1954.