Isaiah and Thomas Holland

In January 1907 a local newspaper reported a terrible accident at Hartshill in Warwickshire:

The 11-year-old son of Isaiah Holland of Coppice Lane was lighting the fire in the early

hours of the morning when the flames caught his nightshirt, which immediately blazed up.

The lad screamed and his uncle, who was in the house  . . . rolled a carpet round him,

thus extinguishing the flames.  Dr. Torbitt was called in and attended to the lad’s injuries,

which were of a very serious nature.

Isaiah Holland, the son of Isaiah Holland and Matilda Sherriff, was a well-known Gypsy locally, as was his wife, Sophia Smith, sometimes finding herself in court for fortune telling.  Isaiah and Sophia had lost their eldest son, Ernest, just a year earlier when he, too, was 11 years old; having suffered with appendicitis for six days, his appendix finally burst, resulting in peritonitis.  His father, Isaiah, gave notice of the death on 3rd January and made his mark as being present at the death. The boy was buried at Atherstone cemetery, with a memorial marked simply ‘in loving memory of Ernest Holland, died January 3rd 1906, aged 11 years.’

The tragedy of losing their second son, Everett, was averted thanks, principally, to the quick thinking of an uncle. Since Isaiah often travelled with his brother Thomas and his family, and they can be found baptising their children at the same church within a few months of each other, it is quite possible that Thomas was the uncle who saved Everett, who was to eventually become his son-in-law when he married his first cousin, Thomas’s daughter, Mary Ann Tracey (baptised, and probably known within the family, as Scenterania or Sennie).  

Isaiah and Sophia were already parents to four other children: Isaiah, Lily, Thomas (named after his brother) and John and, in October 1907, they welcomed another son, Jonas. (Subsequently, two daughters were born, Sybrana in late1909 and Matilda in 1912). The siblings and their children were very close and there were to be other connections.  Thomas Holland’s wife, Violet Annie, had been a Haywood before her marriage, and Isaiah’s daughter Lily was also to marry into the Haywoods, wedding George Haywood at Atherstone, Warwickshire in 1920, a year after her brother had married Mary Ann Tracey.  Lily and George Haywood were to have a daughter, Elizabeth, who would continue these close family ties when she married John Holland in 1939, at the age of 19.  Seven years before, at Burton on Trent, Isaiah’s son Jonas had also married into the Haywood clan, when he wed Alice May Haywood, and the connections go rather deeper, as Alice’s mother had been a Holland prior to her union. 

Isaiah and Sophia lived long lives; they were buried in the same cemetery as their son Ernest, their headstone inscribed ‘Isiah (sic) Holland, died March 17th 1955, aged 80 and Sophia Holland, died June 2nd 1957, aged 82.’  Unusually, Isaiah’s age was underestimated; he was baptised at Cavershall, Staffordshire on 23rd July 1871, and was really around 84.