Holder, William (DNB00)

HOLDER, WILLIAM (1616–1698), divine, was born in Nottinghamshire in 1616. He matriculated at Cambridge as a scholar of Pembroke Hall on 4 July 1633, and after proceeding M.A. in 1640, was elected a fellow of his college. About 1642 he obtained the rectory of Bletchington, Oxfordshire, and on 21 March 1643 was incorporated M.A. at Oxford (Wood, Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 59). On 25 June 1652 he was collated by Bishop Wren to the third prebendal stall in Ely Cathedral, but was not installed until 22 Sept. 1660 (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, i. 357). He gained considerable reputation in 1659 by teaching a deaf-mute, Alexander Popham, son of Colonel Edward Popham, to speak. Popham afterwards relapsing into dumbness was sent to Dr. John Wallis, who restored his speech. At the Restoration Holder proceeded D.D. at Oxford, and on 27 Jan. 1662 was presented by Bishop Wren to the rectory of Northwold in Norfolk (Blomefield, Norfolk, 8vo ed. ii. 220), and also to that of Tidd St. Giles's in the Isle of Ely. On 20 May 1663 he was elected F.R.S. (Thomson, Hist. of Royal Society, App. iv. p. xxii). To the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ for May 1668 (iii. 665–8) he contributed ‘An Experiment concerning Deafness.’ In 1669 he published ‘Elements of Speech, an Essay of Inquiry into the natural production of Letters; with an Appendix concerning persons Deaf and Dumb.’ Burney (Hist. of Music, iii. 598–9) commends the book to the perusal of lyric poets and composers of vocal music as pointing out harsh combinations of letters and syllables. In the appendix Holder relates how he taught Popham to speak. As a supplement to the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ of 3 July 1670 he wrote ‘Reflexions on Dr. Wallis's Letter to Mr. Boyle concerning an Essay of Teaching a person Deaf and Dumb to speak and understand a Language.’ Wallis had claimed the merit of having taught Popham. Holder was also eminent in music. An evening service in C and two anthems by him are in the Tudway collection (Harleian MSS. 7338 and 7339). He was installed prebendary of Isledon in St. Paul's Cathedral on 16 Nov. 1672, and was also one of the canons residentiary of that Church (Newcourt, Repertorium, i. 168). On 2 Sept. 1674 he was sworn sub-dean of the Chapel Royal (Old Cheque Book, Camd. Soc. p. 16), and was chosen sub-almoner to the king. He was a great disciplinarian. Michael Wise [q. v.] used to call him ‘Mr. Snub-Dean.’ For the gentlemen of the Chapel Royal he wrote a very able work entitled ‘A Treatise on the Natural Grounds and Principles of Harmony,’ 1694 (another edition, with additions by G. Keller, 1731). He was, however, compelled to resign his sub-deanery, according to the ‘Old Cheque Book’ (p. 19) before Christmas 1689. Luttrell (Brief Historical Relation, i. 425) writes that he was ‘to be displac't’ in December 1687. On 25 May 1687 he was preferred by the dean and chapter of St. Paul's to the rectory of Therfield, Hertfordshire (Clutterbuck, Hertfordshire, iii. 589), and during his incumbency he gave the treble and saints' bell, and built the gallery in the belfry (Salmon, Hertfordshire, p. 349). His last work, ‘A Discourse concerning Time, with Application of the Natural Day, and Lunar Month, and Solar Year as natural; and of such as are derived from them, as artificial parts of time, for measures in civil and common use; for the better understanding of the Julian Year and Calendar,’ appeared in 1694 (other editions in 1701 and 1712). Holder died on 24 Jan. 1697–8 in his eighty-second year, at Hertford (Probate Act Book, P.C.C. 1698, f. 36b), and was buried by his wife in the undercroft of St. Paul's, where there is a monument to his memory (Bentham, Church of Ely, p. 248). He married in 1643 Susanna, only daughter of Christopher Wren, dean of Windsor and Wolverhampton, and sister of Sir Christopher Wren (Wood, Fasti Oxon. i. 393). She died on 30 June 1688. Holder had a considerable share in the education of Sir Christopher Wren.

[Wren's Parentalia, pp. 141, 181; Ward's Lives of Gresham Professors, p. 109; Warton's Life of Bathurst, pp. 154–5; Addit. MS. (Cole) 5871, f. 49; Burney's Hist. of Music, iv. 3; Wood's Fasti Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 245; Grove's Dict. of Music, i. 743; Hawkins's Hist. of Music, iv. 504, 541; Letters from Bodleian Library, &c., 1813; Will registered in P.C.C. 39, Lort.]

G. G.