William Holder, SV/PROG

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William Holder, SV/PROG

Birthplace: Newland, Gloucestershire, England
Death: April 2, 1855
Harrismith, Thabo Mofutsanyane, Free State, South Africa (Killed by a Lion whilst hunting in Witzieshoek, Harrismith)
Place of Burial: Harrismith, Free State, South Africa
Immediate Family:

Son of William Holder and Elizabeth (Betty) Holder
Husband of Sophia Holder, SM/PROG and Mary Thomas, SM/PROG
Father of Jane Sophia Boardman; Eliza Ann Harvey; Emma Style; William Henry Holder; Francis Holder and 3 others
Brother of Thomas Holder; Betty Holder; Mary Holder; George Holder; Sophia Holder and 1 other

Occupation: Yeoman (UK) Settler (South Africa), Farmer
Managed by: Byron Holder
Last Updated:

About William Holder, SV/PROG

  • Holder, William
  • Last Name: Holder
  • First Name: William
  • Date of Birth: 1789
  • Place of Birth: Gloucester, England
  • Parents – Father: Lord Holder of Holder House
  • Parents – Mother:
  • Spouse: Sophia Clarke b. 1794 d. 6 Nov 1830 age 36 at Mill Farm, bur. at Port Frances, Cape
  • Marriage Date: 1815
  • Marriage Place: Bristol, Gloucester.
  • Date of Death: 31 Mar 1855 (killed by a lion while hunting)
  • Place of Death: Cape

Notes: Holder’s party of 1820 settlers (he was the party leader). DN 9792/1873, 100/1889. Children:

  • Jane Sophia 1816 m. Boardman and d. 2 Oct 1873 age 56y 6m Aliwal North (6 children)
  • Eliza 1818
  • Emma b. 28 Dec 1820 m. 21 Jun 1839 Grahamstown to James Slyte
  • William James b. 2 Jan 1823 Bathurst m. 3 Jan 1849 Grahamstown d. 25 May 1889 age 69y 5m Aliwal North (several children)
  • Francis b. 15 Jul 1825 m. Elizabeth Catherine Butler
  • Mary b. Feb 1828
  • Joseph b. 6 Nov 1830.




No. 44 on the Colonial Department list, led by William Holder, a yeoman of 7 Nelson Street, Bristol. This was a joint-stock party recruited in Bristol and consisting almost entirely of small tradesmen, although their leader assured the Colonial Department that 'all understood agriculture'. Only two of the names on the first list submitted - Holder himself and Webb - appeared on the party's final sailing list. Powell and Roberts were originally members of a party formed by John Staples of Bermondsey, London, who was unsuccessful in his application to emigrate; they were both Bristol men, and after Staples' party was rejected they joined Holder in place of drop-outs from his early list.

Deposits were paid for 12 men, one of whom did not in the event emigrate. Two of the party, Holder and Powell, were accompanied by servants (Currier and Woods; the latter's age was given as under 18 in order to avoid paying the full deposit).

The party sailed from Bristol on 10 January 1820 in the regular transport Kennersley Castle, reaching Table Bay on 29 March and Algoa Bay on 29 April. Eighteen children died on the voyage, many from measles; four children of Holder's party appeared on the London list but not in the Agents' Return, and may have been among those who died. In writing about his fellow passengers on the Kennersley Castle, Thomas Philipps described the party as 'mechanics from Bristol, we like all but the head, he and the Lieut (i.e. the Agent of Transports) often quarrel ...' This opinion of Holder was evidently shared by his people, who complained that they were 'dissatisfied with his general conduct and behaviour as also of his Gross ignorance and uncouth manner', and requested permission soon after arriving in Albany for Shepstone to take over the direction of the party. Their location on a tributary of the Bush River was named New Bristol.


CURRIER, William 24. Labourer (servant of W Holder).

GUEST, Edward 34. Mason. w Ann 40. c John 8.

HANCOCK, John 23. Tailor.

HILES, Frederick William 38. Sawyer and army pensioner. w Mary (or Elizabeth) 35. c William 11,

George 9, Ann 6.

HOLDER, William 30. Yeoman. w Sophia 25. c Sophia 3, Eliza 2.

KIDWELL, Alexander 38. Labourer. w Phoebe 32.

POWELL, James 32. Smith. w Sarah 32. c Priscilla 9, Sarah 5, Philip 3.

ROBERTS, William 25. Carpenter. w Maria 24. c John 3.

SHEPSTONE, John William 24. Mason. w Mary 20. c Theophilus 3.

TAINTON, Richard 24. Carpenter. w Ann (or Mary) 22.

WEBB, John 34. Pump and engine maker. w Sarah 30. c Eliza 7, Frederick James 5, Henry 3, Sarah.

WOODS, Samuel 17 (servant of James Powell).

Main sources for party list

Agent of Transports' Return of settlers under the direction of William Holder (Cape Archives CO 6138/2,67); Special Commissioner William Hayward's notes (Cape Archives CO 8542). The first names of the women given in the Agent's Return differ in several cases from the names set down in the London sailing list.

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"South Africa, Church of the Province of South Africa, Parish Registers, 1801-2004," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-23580-59377-39?cc=1468076&wc=MCM6-QWB:44975801,44975802,49887301,49891401 : accessed 12 Jul 2014), South Africa > Cape of Good Hope > Grahamstown, Bathurst, St John the Evangelist > Baptisms, marriages, burials 1829-1849 > image 34 of 108; citing William Cullen Library, Wits University, Johannesburg.

Head of 1820 Settler party from Bristol. First wife died abt Nov1830. He married Mary Thomas (Laskey or Lesley) after her husbands death in 1829. Declared insolvent in 1835 and his house on Market Square,Grahamstown was sold to pay his creditors. (MOIB 2/487 no. 6).He became an itinerant trader after the 1834-35 war, and ended up living beyond the Orange River over the Cape boundary.According to E Morse Jones he farmed at Glen Lennie in the Harrismith District, and was killed by a lion while hunting....

Walter Holder wrote on 16 Feb 2015: I went to Harrismith and Glen Lennie where he had his last farm. There is no grave there, and i could find nothing to indicate that his body was recovered after the lion attacked him. I think we can safely assume that he was eaten by the lion in the vicinity of this mountain, which is at Phuthaditjaba. The dates of death is variously given as 31 March and 2 April 1855. I think he died on 31 March, but who-ever made the report had some distance to cover before he could get to authorities to report the incident.

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William Holder, SV/PROG's Timeline

March 1, 1789
Newland, Gloucestershire, England
March 1, 1789
Newland, Gloucestershire, England
March 6, 1816
Age 27
Bristol, City of Bristol, England
Age 28
United Kingdom
December 28, 1820
Age 31
January 2, 1823
Age 33
Port Alfred, Lower Albany, Eastern Cape, South Africa
July 15, 1825
Age 36
February 1827
Age 37
February 1828
Age 38