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Holt Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
This is an English, Danish, Norwegian, and Northern German locational or habitational last name meaning “the the holy” denoting a person who lived or resided thereby, meaning a grove, wood, or shaw, or a person who was from a town, diocese, or parish that was named Holt due to its location near a small woods (examples include places in counties Norfolk, Essex, and Kent). The name may derive from the German word holz, meaning a wood, or from the Dutch word hultz, a peaked hill covered with wood or a grove of trees around a house. It is interesting to note that the first recorded resident in James City, Virginia was one Randall Holt in 1623, who came aboard the George in 1620. The earliest known ancestor of this family was a man named Hamo I, Viscount of Alet, France who was born between 963-1023 AD. Eleven generations down the family tree from him came Richard Wyesham, also called Richard Holt, who was Holt, Worcestershire, England in 1370. The book A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis states the following: “A family named Ashworth was seated here as early as the 13th century, and appears to have been succeeded by the Holts: Richard Holt, an actrive supporters of the royal cause in the civil war, had his estate sequestrated in 1643; but it was afterwards restored”. He also states “The manor was purchased in 1366 from the heiress of de Maidenhach by John atte Holt or Birmingham, and remained for many generations in the possession of his lineal descendants, of whom several were distinguished for their talents and for the important stations they occupied in society”.
Some spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include Holte, Holts, Hoult, Holdt, Holty, Hohlt, Hoalt, and about one hundred others. German/Scandinavian spellings include Holzer, Holting, Holtmann, Holdt, Holten, Hultberg, and Holeberg. It can also be a shortened version of the Dutch surname van Holt in some instances.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Holt ranks 329th in popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following five states: Tennessee, Arkansas, Utah, Alabama, and Oklahoma. The surname Holt frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (283rd), Scotland (815th), Wales (350th), Ireland (1,508th) and Northern Ireland (1,439th). In England, it ranks highest in counties Lancashire and Cheshire. In Scotland, the surname ranks highest in Dumfriesshire. In Wales, it ranks highest in Montgomeryshire and Caernarfonshire. In Ireland, it ranks highest in counties Wicklow and Kildare. In Northern Ireland, it ranks highest in county Tyrone. The 1890 book Homes of Family Names by H.B. Guppy, states the following in regard to this surname: “The Holts, of Bucks, are, for the most part, gathered together in and around Aylesbury. The name occurred as Le Holt in the county six centuries ago, and also in the eastern counties of Norfolk, Essex, and Kent. Lancashire is also another great home of the name of Holt, which also extends into Cheshire. The name of Holt has been for centuries associated with dignity and opulence in the parish of Rochdale. Stubley House was an early residence of the family, but from 1640 to 1713, when they were warm adherents of the Stuarts, the Holts lived at Castleton Hall; the Holts of Holt Farm, Standish, in the 17th century, may have been a branch. Thomas Holt and Robert Holte, whose respective estates were valued at £1,000 per annum, were amongst the Lancashire gentlemen selected for the Knighthood of the Royal Oak by Charles II., an Order, however, that was never founded. The Holts of Bucks are referred to under that county. Holt is a common place - name in England, especially in the midland counties”. The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (1,205th), New Zealand (615th), Australia (402nd), and South Africa (2,784th).
Early Bearers of the Surname
Hugo de Holte was recorded in the records of the Knights Templar of Kent, England in 1185 AD. The Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, a census of Wales and England, known in Latin as Rotuli Hundredorum lists three bearers of this surname: Henry de la Holte (Worcestershire) and William del Holt (Yorkshire). Kirby’s Quests lists two bearers in county Somerset, England in 1328 AD: William atte Holte and Walter atte Holte.
Holt Family Tree & Holt Genealogy
Holt of Stubbylee
The lineage of this family begins with an offshoot of Holt of Grizzelhurst. A one John Holt settled at Stubbylee about the middle of the 18th century. He married Alice, daughter of Mr. Pilling, of Bury, count Lancaster, and was succeeded by his son, James. This James Holy was an Esquire of Stubbylee born in 1775. In 1790, he marriest Jenny, daughter of Timothy Hoyle of Lee, and later Anne, daughter of James Heyworth of Greensnook. He had one child, a son named John. John Holt, Esquire of Stubbylee, was born in 1804 and was a Justice of the Peace. In 1828, Judith married, daughter of James Madden of Greens, and had three issue with her as follows: James Maden, Julia Anne Elizabeth, and Emily Sarah. His son James Maden Holt was an Esquire of Stubbylee, county Lancaster, was an M.A., Justice of the Peace, and Member of Parliament for North East Lancashire who was born in 1829. In 1870, he married Anna, only surviving daughter of Reverend John Haworth of Penistone. The Holt Coat of Arms (erroneously called the Holt Family Crest by those unfamiliar with heraldry and genealogy) is blazoned in heraldry as follows: Argent, on a bend engrailed sable three fleurs-de-lis of the first. Crest: A dexter arm embowed in armour proper garnished or, holding in the gauntlet a pheon sable. They were seated at Stubbylee, Bacup, near Manchester.
Captain Joseph Holt (1881-1915)
Holt of Cheetham
This branch of the Holt family tree begins with James Holt who had a son named Joseph. Joseph of Manchester married Catherine. He had a son named Edward. This son was Sir Edward Holt, 1st Baronet, was a Justice of the Peace for Westmorland and for Manchester, as well as an Alderman and Lord Mayor of Manchester, who was born in 1849. He was created a Baronet in 1916. In 1879, he married Elizabeth, daughter of Joseph Brooks of Cheetham Hill, Manchester and had the following issue with her: Captain Joseph (6th Baronet Manchester Regiment, killed in action in Gallipoli), Sir Edward (2nd Baronet), Kate (married Charles Dempster of Colshaw Hall, Over Peover, county Chester), Marjory (married Frederick Craven Moore of Duckyls Park in 1913). He died in 1928 and was succeeded by his son, Sir Edward Holt, 2nd Baronet, of Cheetham, in the county palatine of Lancaster, born in 1883. In 1931, he married Margaret, daughter of T. S. Lupton of Runswick, Cheadle Hulme. Arms: Per chevron argent and or two fleur-de-lis in pale sable as many mountain ash trees fructed and eradicated proper. Crest: Two arms embowed in armour sable each charged on the forearm with a fleur-de-lis or and holding in the hands gauntleted also sable a mountain ash tree as in the arms. Motto: Vinvere est vivere. They were seated at Holmacre, Alderley, county Chester.
Other Holt Pedigree & Family Trees
The earliest known person the lineage traces back to was a man named Hamo I, Viscount of Alet, France who was born between 963-1023 AD. The following is a pedigree from him:
Caradoc (or Caragod) de la Boussac (born in Boussac, Ille-et-Vilaine, Bretagne, France in 1035 AD)
Baderon Lord of Monmouth (born in Dol, Bretagne, France in 1060 AD)
William FitzBaderon, Baron of Monmouth (born in Monmouthshire, Wales around 1087 AD)
Fitzwilliam Baron of Monmouth Baderon (born in Monmouthshire, Wales in 1100 AD)
Gilbert FitzBaderon, Lord of Monmouth (born between 1105-1163 AD)
John FitzGilbert, Baron of Monmouth (born in Monmouthshire, around 1182 AD)
Richard, Lord of Wyesham (born in Monmouth Castle, Wales around 1223 AD)
Sir Ralph de Wysham (born in Wyesham Village, England in 1260 AD)
Sir John de Wysham (born in 1288 AD)
John de Wysham, Baron of Clifton (born in Woodmanton in 1320 AD)
Sir Richard de Wysham (born in 1350 AD). His son, Richard Holt, also known as Wysham Holt was born in Holt, Worcestershire, England in 1370. He married Cristine Coldrey and had a son with her named Richard. This son Richard was born around 1420. He married Joan Collingbourne (Darrell) and had two issue: Christian (Berkeley) and Elizabeth (Pownde).
Thomas Holt was born in Romsey, Hampshire, England in 1576 AD. He married Annis Bowden and had a son with her named Nicholas. This son Nicholas was born in Ramsey, England in 1602. He married three times: Elizabeth Short, Hannah Bradsteet, and Martha Towne. He went to colonial America (Massachusetts). He had the following issue: Edith Browne, Hannah Gray, Elizabeth Farnum, Mary Johnson, Sarah Holt, Samuel Holt, Henry Holt, Nicholas Holt, John, James, Priscilla, and Sarah (Marks). His son Henry Holt Sr. was born in Andover, Essex, Massachusetts. He married Sarah Ballard and had the following issue with her: Elizabeth Harnden, Oliver, Henry Jr., James, John, George, Sarah (Cram), Josiah, Dinah (Pierce), Paul, Hannah, Zerviah (Abbot), Keturah, Humphrey, and Benjamin. His son Henry Holt Jr. was born in Andover, MA in 1672. He married Martha Marston and had issue with her including Benjamin and Ephraim. His son Ephraim was born in Andover, MA in 1713. He married Phebe Russell and had a daughter with her named Phoebe who was born in 1735 and married James Houghton.
Sir John Holt (1642-1710)
Sir John de Beauchamp, also known as Holt, as he was born in Holt, Worcestershire England, son of John, was born in the early fourteenth or late thirteenth century. He was the 1st Baron Beauchamp of Kidderminister, and belonged to a cadet branch of the great family of Beachamp that was headed by the Earl of Warwick.
Early American and New World Settlers
The book Genealogical Guide to the Early Settlers, mentions three bearer of this last name: The first was Nicholas Holt of Newbury, a tanner by trade from Ramsey in Huntingdonshire, England, who came to colonial America aboard the James in 1634, likely arriving in the city of Boston, Massachusetts. He came with his wife and was a freeman in 1637. He had numerous issue including: Elizabeth (1636), Mary (1638), Samuel (1641), Henry, Nicholas, James, John, and Priscilla.His wife passed away in 1654 and in 1658, he married Hannah, widow of Daniel Rolfe and daughter of Humphrey Bradstreet, who died in 1665, and he married, in 1666, widow Preston. He bore the following arms: Azure, two bars, or, in chief, a cross, farmee fitchee, of the last. Crest: A squirrel sejant or, holding a hazel branch, slipped and fructed: all proper. Motto: Exaltavit humiles. The second was Nicholas Holt of Andover, a freeman in 1691, the son of Nicholas. The third was William Holt of New Haven, Connecticut, who was recorded (came?) in 1653. He married Sarah and had children as follows: John (1645), Nathaniel (1647), Mercy (1649), Eleazur (1651), Thomas (1653), Joseph (1655), Benjamin (1657), and Mary.
Randall Holt, age 18, came to Maine board the George in 1620.
William Holt, age 19, came to Bermuda aboard the Truelove in June 1635.
Humfrey Holt, age 18, came to Bermuda aboard the Dorst in September 1635.
Rowland Holt came to the New World aboard the Honor in April 1679.
Joseph Holt came to the New World (Antigua?) aboard the Hopewell in October 1679.
Other early settlers in colonial America bearing this surname who came in the eighteenth century include Henry Holt (Virginia 1701), Ismaell Holt (Virginia 1704), Joseph Holt (Barbados 1712), Mary Holt (Virginia 1714), and George Holt (Virginia 1717). In Canada, Benjamin Holt and Berry Holt came to Nova Scotia in 1749 and 1750, respectively. In Australia, one of the earliest bearers of this last name was James Holt, a convict from Middlesex, England who came aboard the Almurah in 1817, arriving in New South Wales. In New Zealand, one of the first settlers with this surname was Robert Holt, who came to the city of Auckland aboard the William Watson in 1859.
Ryves Holt House, Lewes, Delaware
Early Americans Bearing the Holt Family Crest
Charles Bolton’s American Armory (1927) contains three entry for this surname:
1) Argent on a bend engrailed sable three fleurs-de- lis argent. Crest: an arm erect, holding a pheon. Seal on deposition before Ryves Holt and others, 1743, Lewes, Del. Seen by M. Ljungstedt at Eastville, Va.
Crozier’s General Armory (1904) contains one entry for this name:
1) Nicholas Holt of Newbury, Massachusetts of 1635, from Warwickshire, England. Arms: Azure, two bars or; in chief a cross formee fitchee of the last. Crest: A squirrel sejant or, holding a hazel-branch, slipped and fructed; all proper. Motto: Exaltavit humilies.
Matthew’s American Armoury and Bluebook (1907) does not contain an entry for this name.
I have identified three Holt family mottoes:
1) Exaltavit humiles (Exhalted and humble?)
2) Quod vult, valde vult (What he wishes, he wished fervently)
3) Ut sanem vulnero (I wound to heal)*
*This is likely an allusion to the spear in the crest of the family arms, the spear of Achilles, which according to Greek mythology and folklore, had the power of curing and inflicting wounds.
We have 18 coats of arms for the Holt surname depicted here. These 18 blazons are from Bernard Burke’s book The General Armory of England, Ireland, and Scotland, which was published in 1848. The bottom of this page contains the blazons, and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it.
There are hundreds of notable people with the Holt surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include: 1) Lester Don Holt Jr. (1959) who is an American journalist who anchors NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC, born in Marin County, California, 2) Marjorie Sewell Holt (1920) who was a Republican member of the US House of Representatives from Maryland from 1973-1987, born in Birmingham, Alabama, 3) Benjamin Leroy Holt (1849-1920) who was an American inventor born in Concord, New Hampshire, who patented and manufactured the first crawler-type tread tractor, and founded Holy Manufacturing Company, which eventually merged into Caterpillar Inc. along with C.L. Best Tractor Company, 4) Anders Nikloai Holte (1849-1937) who was a Norwegian sea captain and navigator born in Trondenes, 5) Gary James Holt (1973) was a former Scottish football (soccer) player who plated from 1994-2010 for seven different teams, and played for the national team from 2000-2004, later becoming a coach of the Falkirk team, born in Irvine, Scotland, 6) Harold Edward Holt (1908-1967) who was the 17th Prime Minister of Australia from 1966-1967 who was born in Stanmore, New South Wales, 7) Henry Holt (1887-1944) who was politician born in Elgin, Illinois who was the 21st Lieutenant Governor of North Dakota, 8) Sir Herbert Samuel Holt (1856-1941) who was the President of the Royal Bank of Canada and other companies, born in Geashill, county Offaly, Ireland, 9) Henry H. Holt (1831-1898) who was the 20th Lieutenant Governor of Michigan and Republican member of the US House of Representatives, born in Camden, New York, 10) Joseph Holt (1756-1826) who was a United Irish general and guerilla force leader who fought against Britain, born in Balldaniel, Wicklow, Ireland, 11) Sophia Holt (1658-1734) who was a eighteenth painter born in Zwolle, Netherlands known for her painting of Cleopatra, 12) Orrin Holt (1792-1855) who was a member of the US House of Representatives from Connecticut from 1837-1839), and 13) Rush Dew Holt Sr. (1905-1955) who was a United States Senator from West Virginia from 1935-1941.
Marjorie Sewell Holt