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HOLLES, GERVASE (1606–1675), antiquary, born at Great Grimsby, Lincolnshire, on 9 March 1606, was the only surviving son of Frescheville Holles by Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Kingston of the same place (Addit. MS. 5531, ff. 56, 78). He was brought up by his kinsman, John Holles, earl of Clare, was admitted of the Middle Temple on 3 May 1628, succeeded in 1630 to the family estate, and on 17 June of that year married Dorothy, daughter of John Kirketon of Great Grimsby. For the next four years he resided quietly at Grimsby, where he busied himself in rebuilding his house and collecting materials for a history of Lincolnshire. He removed on 20 Sept. 1634 to Mansfield in Sherwood, Nottinghamshire, where, on 18 Jan. 1634–5, he lost his wife and infant daughter (tomb in Thoroton, Nottinghamshire, ed. Throsby, ii. 316). His only son, George, died on 10 Aug. 1635. Holles returned in Michaelmas term to the Middle Temple, and at Christmas was chosen comptroller of that society. To the expenses of the Christmas festivities, which lasted until the end of February, he contributed about 250l. During the same year he was elected mayor of Grimsby, and endeavoured to enforce payment of ship-money (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1637–8, p. 2). On 26 March 1640 he was elected M.P. for Grimsby, and again on the ensuing 14 Oct. (Lists of Members of Parliament, Official Return, pt. i.). In parliament he strenuously asserted the royal prerogative. He denounced the Scots propositions in a vigorous speech (Lansdowne MS. 207 (f), f. 58), for which, on 26 April 1641, he was ordered to be suspended during the remainder of the session (Commons' Journals, ii. 128). Though the order was rescinded on 2 Dec. following (ib. ii. 329), Holles refused to return to the house, and disregarded a peremptory summons for his attendance, dated 18 April 1642 (ib. ii. 533). The house thereupon declared him disabled from sitting, and a new writ was issued for Grimsby on 22 Aug. (ib. ii. 730). In the meantime Holles had brought 117 men to Charles at Nottingham, and raised a foot regiment at his own cost (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–1, p. 112). After taking part in the battle of Edgehill, he attended the king to Oxford, and on 1 Nov. 1642 was created M.A., being then sergeant-major of the army. In the next year he took his place in the parliament which sat at Oxford (Wood, Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 29). On 6 April 1644 he was appointed by the king governor of Lynn-Regis, Norfolk (Addit. Charter, 2015). As colonel of a foot regiment he fought at the battles of Banbury, Brentford, Newark, Atherton, Bradford, and Newbury. He was also present at the siege of Colchester, where he was taken prisoner, and his estate confiscated. After suffering a long imprisonment he was allowed to retire to France at the end of 1649, and in March 1650 was admitted of the king's council (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650, p. 25). Charles II rewarded his services by giving him an additional grant of arms on 4 Dec. 1649, and would have made him a baronet had he cared for the honour (Cal. Clarendon State Papers, ii. 279). He settled in Holland, where he was active in promoting the king's return (Egerton MS. 2542, f. 26). In March 1657 he bought at Middleburg, as ‘commander of the English under Ormond and Lord Wilmot,’ a thousand muskets and other arms (Cal. Clarendon State Papers, iii. 256; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1656–7, pp. 293, 340). In July 1659 he informed Sir Edward Nicholas that he had resided at Rotterdam for the past three years, wholly dependent on the hospitality of a ‘good woman who had kept him from starving,’ and that he could not quit the city for want of money (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1659–60, p. 22). After the Restoration he was made master of requests, with an annuity of 100l. (ib. 1660–1, p. 496). On 8 April 1661 he was returned M.P. for Great Grimsby, which he represented until his death on 10 Feb. 1674–5. He was buried at Mansfield. He married as his second wife, on 4 Oct. 1637, Elizabeth (1606–1661), daughter of Lieutenant-colonel William Molesworth of Great Grimsby, by whom he had a son, Sir Frescheville Holles [q. v.] (Chester, Westminster Abbey Registers, p. 176). He died intestate (cf. Administration Act Book, P. C. C. 1675, f. 19 b).

When Holles's house was plundered by the parliamentarians, many volumes of his collections perished; the remainder he contrived to have sent over to Holland. Finding it impossible to compile his history of Lincolnshire from such imperfect materials, he drew up in 1658 an account of his own family, which Arthur Collins afterwards transcribed (Collins, Noble Families, p. 50). Six volumes of his Lincolnshire collections, transcribed by himself and persons in his employ in 1638 and 1639, are in Lansdowne MS. No. 207, a–f. A seventh volume, entitled ‘Trusbut,’ and dated 1642, was presented to the British Museum in 1812 by Sir Joseph Banks; it is Additional MS. 6118. A volume of Lincolnshire pedigrees is Additional MS. 5531, and a list of Lincolnshire royalists is contained in Egerton MS. 2541, ff. 362–76. His registers of petitions while master of requests (1660–74) are Additional MSS. 5759 and 15632 (cf. Addit. MSS. 15632 f. 41, 23120 f. 87).

[Collins's Noble Families, p. 71; Thoroton's Nottinghamshire (Throsby), iii. 358–9; W. H. Black's Cat. Ashmol. MSS., Index, p. 80; J. de Trokelowe's Annales (Hearne), pp. xii, 275; Cat. Lansd. MSS. pt. ii. pp. 74–7; Egerton MSS. 2536 f. 408, 2550 f. 51; Addit. MS. 6118, f. 859; Commons' Journals, iv. 468; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650 p. 271, 1651–2 p. 552, 1655–1656 p. 395, 1657–8 pp. 300, 311; Cal. Clarendon State Papers, iii. 391; Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 24489, ff. 308–9.]

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