Gabriel Holland of Jamestown, Virginia
By Jeannette Holland Austin
Gabriel Holland was born ca 1597 into a London family who had enjoyed wealth and titles from the royalty. The last person to hold title was John de Holland in the 15th century. So, only two or three generations had passed when Gabriel was born in 1596. He was christened at Westminister, St. Martin-in-the-Fields Parish, in London, which is located in the heart of the city. His grandfather, John Hollande, died in London during the 16th century.
This tracing has been my life's work. Throughout, I have always been told that one of my near ancestors was illegitimate. Yet, I traced century after century and established legitimately proven lineages. My trail stopped with Gabriel's grandfather. Here is the rub: If you resided in Great Britain during the medieval period, a great distinction separated the classes. There were the common folks, the gentry (working class), the aristocrat, and the royals. You knew which one you were and social customs dictated that you remain within the confines of your class.
The last of the titled Hollands was John Holland (1397-1447), Earl of Huntington, the second son of John Holland, Knight of the Garter. He had an unhappy marriage with Anne, a daughter of Edmund, Earl of Stafford and had no children by her. However, the published rumor is that he had an affair with another woman and by her had two children, Thomas and William, illegitimate. The scant records in London establish this illegitimacy, but I have never found anything on Thomas and William. Either of these persons could be the father of Gabriel's grandfather, John Hollande.
The common sense approach is that Gabriel Holland knew that he came from an illegitimate line of Hollands and this message polarized the family. When the opportunity came to join the Jamestown settlement in Virginia, Gabriel came on the Supply ship in 1620 (Records of the London Company, pp. 405, CCLIL). He was elected a Member of the House of Burgesses in that colony, and between the years of 1620 and 1635 was sent to London with various petitions to King Charles II.
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