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JOHN HOLCOMBE

His Descendants Who Settled in NJ and PA

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Compiled by: 

Jon K. Holcombe

47206 Oak Place

Wellesley Island NY 13640-3129

315-482-9218

holcombe1@gisco.net

Designed by: 

Jenifer (Holcombe) Soykan

 

        

THE HOLCOMBES

OF ANCIENT ENGLAND 

AND THEIR DESCENDANTS

 

Records in the College of Arms, in London And elsewhere indicate that the Holcombe family is one of the most ancient in England.   It is reported that a Holcombe soldier in the Battle of Hastings bore the Standard of Britiric Aldorman, of Devon.

           There is a very old cemetery in Devizes, Wiltshire, with tombstones bearing the name of HoIcomb and Holcombe, and the church records of Canterbury Cathedral bear the name of Samuel Holcombe,  There is a very old town in Lancashire, near Liverpool,  called "Holcombe," and another place known as "Holcombe Brook,

            It is in Devon, however, that the family became permanently established. Herald's Visitations of 1680 giving a list of seven generations of Holcombes who had lived there.  A Papal letter, #1., 1138-1304, p. 417 (N.Y. C. Library), says: "The Pope, having ordered the Bishop of Exeter, on Richard's resignation of Holcombe, to make provision for him, etc."

            Feudal Aids, Vol. I, p. 545, we find "Devon of 1303" Stundredem de Wonford," Stephamos (?) de Hoccomb", Hamfredus call tenet in Holcombe", p. 346- Uprecote (?) Cum Holecombe in Exministre quartum partem".

            "In Devonshire Wills "index" p. 773, appears the will of Thomas Holdomb, St., Sidwell 1649 - Thomas Holdombe 1705, Halberton, Elizabeth 1628, Elisabeth 1664, John 1620, John 1622, John 1665,  Thomas Holcombe 1622 at Okahampton."

            In the catalogue of "Ancient Deeds, Calander of State Papers of Great Britain, #1 (p. 490) on December 26, the 12th year of Edward IV" is a grant by Richard Cach of Cokefield to John 0nstye alias Holcombe, the Elder.

           Also in "Catalogue of Ancient Deeds in the 16th year of Henry III, grant in frank by Walter, son of Amfrid de Bereford of Land in Holcombe, etc."

           Also p. 485-Grant of Thomas Alisander of Dorchester to Nicholas de Noble over headland. ......... .extending to. . . .and adjoining to highway leading to Holcombe (signed) Friday after St. John , the Baptist, 1st year of Edward III.

            In Victorian History of County of Devon, p. 390, "These lands were the dower which Henry I bestowed on his natural son Robert, on his marriage with Maud (eldest daughter of Robert of Tar of Hamen).  ln l241 those manors were included in the honour (?) of Gloucester,  Followed by description of Holcombe Burnell.  P. 400 describes salt wells (saltum) at Hollacomb and Tower Holcombe...p. 455 savs "Baldu in Sheriff has a manor called Holcoma (Holcombe).

             In the Domesdav Book in Exminster Hundred Lower Holcombe in Drewlish is noted - p. 480 (Victorian History) says "Ralf has a virgate (?) called Holcomma (Holcomb).

             There was a Holcombe Hall and a Holcombe Monument, in an old church on an old Holcombe estate at Bainscombe, Devon.  The house used by the Holcombe families, for many generations still stands and is used as a farm house.  Holcombe Rogus (see photot) lies on the line between Devonshire Somerset, the boundary line running down the central aisle of the church, the architecture on each side of the aisle being the architecture of that county in which it lies.  Inside the church there are tombs in "the alcoves which open on each side of the pulpit, The village of Holcombe is very beautiful, lying between two hills  ("a valley between two hills"). The adjacent country is fertile and there are groves and beautiful drives in abundance.  It was here that Sir Walter Raleigh was born and it is reported that his mother was a Holcombe,  For many years and until recently a magazine was regularly published called "The Holcombe Parish Almanac."  The village is located about seven miles west of Exeter and about fifteen miles northeast of Dartmoor Forest.  Some fifteen miles away are located Tiverton and Dulverton from whence John and Jacob Holcombe (p. 110) emigrated to America in 1700.

           Among the manuscripts in the possession of Sir Thomas Philips, Baronet, was one from which a part of the following chart is taken (Sir Thomas, himself, was connected by marriage with the Holcombes of Devon).

            The earliest ancestor (through intermarriage) of the Holcombe family was WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR.  He was born 1027 (or 1028), the son of Robert, duke of Normandy,  Robert started on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and induced Noman Barons to accept William as his successor.  His early years were spent amidst the dangers and conspiracies of his enemies.  He was a great warrior with great aptitude toward government; when twenty years old he stamped out alone a serious uprising in two of his districts.  In 1051 he visited England and probably received a promise of the throne of England from his kinsman, Edward the Confessor,  He married Matilda, daughter of Baldwin V of  Flanders, who traced her descent in female line from Alfred the Great.  This marriage was politically, and in the eyes of religious beliefs of the day, inadvisable.  However, Pope Nicholas II granted the needful dispensation in 1059. In penance, William and his wife established the Abbies of St. Stephens and the Holy Trinity at Caens.  He became King. of England after the treachery of Harold (who had seemingly promised him tne throne) and the winning of the Battle of Senilac (or Hastings) (14 October, 1066) on Christmas Day, 1066.  He overcame North England; in 1072 he conquered the Scots under King Malcom; invaded Brittany, 1076;  was wounded in campaign against his son, Robert; left England in 1086 and never returned.   In 1087 he invaded French Vixen and was killed after a fall from his horse. He was buried under a plain slab at St. Stephen's at Caen (His bones were scattered by Hugenots in 1562).  He was noted, in a profligate age, for the purity of his married life and temperate habits, powerful physique, a.nd close-cropped hair.  He expelled many English Church dignitaries and installed Normans;  refused homage to Pope Gregory VIII; did not allow English prelates to attend Gregory's general council; consented to levy of Peter's Pence; instituted the Domesday Book.  His children were:  Robert, Duke of Nornamdy; Richard (killed while hunting); William II and Henry I (future Kings); five or six daughters  (including Adela  who married Stephen, Count of Blois).

 

        1~  HENRY  I  (Youngest  son of William  (1)  the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders, born 1068 on English Soil) was nicknamed Beauclerk; Knighted in 1086; he is reported to have "an unlettered King is a crowned ass".  He lived two years in great poverty in French Vexin.  By choosing the Anglo'-Scottish princess, Edity-Matilda, daughter of Malcolm III,  King of the Scots, as his future queen he cemented that alliance with the native English which was the foundation of his greatness.  He crushed the revolt of the Montgomeries in 1102 .  He was feared by  the  Baronage  "out  popular  with  the  non-feudal classes; a conservative legislator;  issued few ordinances. He married, after the death of Matilda in 1118, Adelaide (daughter of Godfrey, Count of Louvan), He died in 1135 and was buried in the Abbey of Reading which he founded. Empress Matilda (who had married Henry V and thus saved Normandy to the King) was designated his successor and received the homage of English Baronage in 1126 and again in 1131.i;  (woc, wod).  His son, Reginald, Earl of Cornwall, had a son Henry, also a daughter, Beatrice de Valle, who married Lord William de la Bruer  (below).

            Sir Geoffrey de la Bruer had two children, the youngest of whom was Anthony de la Bruer whose son. Sir William de la Bruer, married. Isabel de la Bruer (his cousin, she being a daughter of Lord William de la Bruer, brother of Anthony de la Bruer).

           Lord William de la Bruer (son of Sir Geoffrey) was one of the most powerful noblemen of his day and enjoyed the singular good fortune of being the favorite of Henry II, Richard (the Crusader), John and Henry III.  Upon Richard's going to the Holy Land he was (with the Bishops of Durham and Ely) appointed to the government of the realm.  King John granted him many manors, and Henry III made him sheriff of twelve counties. His sons dying without issue, his daughters succeeded to his vast inheritance.  The La Bruers were of Norman decent and came to England with William the Conqueror.  Isabel, daughter of Isabel de la Bruer, married Sir Ralph Downe (born *1255; son of  Isabel of Bartholomew de Mosa, born 1230*; and of Sir Ralph Downe). Their son. Hugh Downe, Esquire of Down, born 1280*, had three children, Isabel (born 1320 (?); married SIR JOHN HOLCOMBE,  (next p.) and Amy (who married Henry Ledred.).

 

        (A) JOHN HOLCOMBE is the first to be mentioned in the Visitations of England.  He served in the War of the Crusades, to Palestine, indications being that he participated in two of the Crusades.  During the Third Crusade, while in battle, with one mighty sweep of his sword he severed the heads of three Mohammedans.  This explains the significance of the four heads on the Coat of Arms which was bestowed upon him when he was meritoriously knighted for this deed of valor by King Richard in the "latter part of the 11th Century."  The Heraldic Office describes the Holcombe Arms as follows: "Azure field; chevron, argent, between three Turks' heads in profile, couped at shoulders or, wreathed about the temples, sable and of the second. Crest - a man's head,  full faced couped at the breast proper, wreath around the temples or, and azure." The Motto  "Veritas et fortitudo",  in English is Truth and Courage. The effigy of the Knight Holcombe now rests in the old Abbey Church of Dorchester, England, one of the oldest abbies in England',  (xca) (see photo)

        *inasmuch as the dates  bearing" this sign are divisable by 5,  the author is of the opinion that they are arbitrary.  However, this statement does not apply to other dates.

        Excerpt from THE HOLCOMB (E) GENEALOGY; ..., by Jesse Seaver, American Historical- genealogical Society (Philadelphia, 1925). Lib Cong CS71 .H725.

 

JOHN AND JACOB HOLCOMBE 

AND THEIR DESCENDANTS

 

  (The following data is quoted from the manuscript of Dr. Richmond C. Holcomb, Commander, Medical Corps, U. S. Navy).

         "John Holcombe of Armwell was a son of John and Sarah Holcombe of Dulverton, Devonshire, England.  The Quarterly meeting of Bristol ana. Somerset (English Meeting Records) records the marriage of John Holcomb of Stogumber and Sarah Scott 9-11-1675, at Western and Middle Division monthly meeting.  The children of John and Sarah of the Withell and Dulverton meeting Western Division, are recorded as follows: Julian Holcomb: b. 8-5-1676. Julian Holcomb: b. 5-4-1678. John Holcomb: b. 5-29-1680. John Holcomb: b. 3-20-1682. Jacob Holcomb; b. 7-5-16S4.

            A memorial of Jacob. Holcomb prepared about 10 years after his death by a duly appointed committee of Buckingham meeting to collect memoirs 'of Deceased Ministers and Elders mentioned the place of his birth and the fact of his early death as follows: 'He was born at or near Tiverton, in Old England, being descendant of Friends; his father died while he was young and his mother brought him up to useful learning,  etc. (Collection of Memorials of Deceased Ministers published 1787).  After the death of his father, John Holcomb, his mother, Sarah, married John Hurford.  John Hurford came to Pennsylvania in 1700, from Tiverton and brought with him a certificate from Friends of Cullumpton Meeting, dated 2-29-1700 for himself and family, including his son John and his wife's daughter July Ann Holcomb.  Just what date John and Jacob arrived in Pennsylvania, is uncertain. The family first settled in Abington, Pa., or near there, as they were all members of the Abington Meeting.   The Hurfords continued to reside there until 1720 when they removed to BUCKS Co., Pa., to lands adjoining Jacob Holcomb.

             "Jacob Holcombe appears to have gone to Solebury Township about 1700.  Davis History of Bucks Co,, p. 244 mentions him as one of the original settlers of Buckingham.  John remained in Abington for sometime, probably residing with his mother and his stepfather, John Hurford.

             "The Old Yorke Road passes from Philadelphia., through Abington, and Buckingham to New Hope, where Jacob Holcombe owned land, crossing at Coryello Ferry into New Jersey the present site of Lambertsville.  Thence it passed through Mount Airy and Readville to New Brunswick and Newark.   It was one of  the  first  wagon  roads  opened  in  both  states  and followed an old Indian path.  In a deed for land at Ringoes, dated  8-25-1726, this road is described as the 'King's Highway that is called the Yorke Road'.  In one of JOHN HOLCOMB'S deeds from John Coate, 12-29-1732, the road is spoken [p. 111] to a post standing by the King's Road.  It was along the line of this road from Abington to Amwell that  the history of JOHN HOLCOMBE'S life is most concerned.

             "On November 16, 1705 he made his first purchase of land in New Jersey.  This was tract of 350 acres of land formerly belonging to Richard Bull and Gilbert Wheeler.  The title being a Deed of Lease and Release, and the sum of 5 shillings is  given for the lease and 100 pounds for the release.  The witnesses to this document were John Clark, Andrew Heath, Jacob HOLCOMBE, and John Reading.  In this deed he calls himself  'JOHN HOLCOMBE of Abington, in ye County of Philadelphia.'

             "After this purchase JOHN continued to reside in Abington, Pa., and in 1707 he married Elizabeth Woollrich.  The following is an extract from the minutes of the meeting:

              'At our monthly meeting held 26 of ye second month 1707--

              'Whereas JOHN HOLCOME and Elizabeth Woolwich having declared their Intentions of Marriage with each other before two monthly meetings. Enquiry being made by persons appointed and found Clear from all others on account of marriage, Did accomplish their marriage in ye unity of Friends as signified by their marriage certificate. '

              "Elizabeth Woolwich having been the daughter of Thomas Woolrich who made the first purchase of lands in Bucks Co. from William Penn.  His deed is dated 4-1-1681 and is for one thousand acres.  He calls himself Thomas Woolrich of Shalford. Co., Shalford.   This purchase was made before Penn came to Pennsylvania.

             "Soon after his marriage he removed to his plantation in New Jersey.   January 7,1709 he purchased from Samuel Baldwin a tract of 260 acres of land which Baldwin had previously purchased from William Biddle (2-23 & 24-1707).

             From 1709 -bo 1714 Amwell was one of three towns which constituted Burlington.   The Act of the Assembly 3-15-1713-14 setting, off and creating Hunterdon County, made the Assunpink the southern boundary and left Amwell one of four townships which lay north of it.

            "The  first  court  of  the  new  county was  held  at  Maidenhead (now Lawrence) on Tuesday, 6-14-1714.  The Magistrates sitting were John Bainbridge,  Jacob Bellergeau, Phillip Phillips, William Green, JOHN HOLCOMBE, Samuel Green and Samuel Fitch.  JOHN HOLCOMBE had been twice a Justice for Burlington Co. before the meeting of 6-14-1714.  As previously stated, before 1714, all of what is now Hunterdon County was a part of Burlington County. According to the miscellaneous index the Office of the Secretary of State at Trenton, JOHN HOLCOMBE was a Justice for Burlington County, 2-14-1710, and 3-17-1715. (Liber. AAA p. 133 and 156) There is another appointment for Hunterdon County, dated 1-21-1714 see same Liber, p. 167.

             "During the following years he held many positions in the Township among which may be mentioned the following: 1724, Freeholder; 1725, Collector; 1725, Overseer of Poor; Mar. 14 1726, Freeholder; 1726. Collector; 1734, March, Surveyor of Roads.

              All his life he was a consistent member of the Buckinghaml Monthly meeting, and he is frequently mentioned in their minutes. .Upon his death he left a legacy to the meeting.  During his life he enlarged his holdings of land in what [p. 112] is now West, Amwell and Delaware Township.

              On 8-4-1732 he bought  of  John  Coate,  for  15  pounds, a small tract of 30 acres..

             "May 29, 1733 he purchased of John Wey, of Newton, Queens County, Nassau Island in the province of New York for 210 pounds, a tract of 300 acres adjoining the Wilson tract, along the Delaware river and known as the Calow tract.   It having been purchased by John Calowe from George Hutchinson 3-17-1695.

             "Sept. 17, 1733 he purchased from Richard Armitt, agent for Elizabeth Bolton, widow of Robert Bolton, two tracts of land for 15 pounds, totaling 346 acres.  One is described as a tract of land 'in the rocks' totaling 227 acres, the other as a tract of 119 acres.

            "Sept. 18, 1734 he purchased from William Biddle, of Mansfield Township, Burlington Co., N. J., for fifty pounds, a tract of 200 acres, fronting on the Delaware and adjoining the Calowe tract purchased from John Wey. . The witnesses to this deed were Joseph Rockhill, Francis Hall and Joseph de Cow.  This is probably the tract  which Snell   (History  of Hunterdon Co., p, 183) says he purchased from William Biddle in 1705 whose father William Biddle, Sr., had purchased it in 1676 from Joseph Helsley it being described as the third division cf one fourth of the proprietary land of Helsley.  The copy of the deed, which  I have, however, reads: 'which said tract of land was formerly surveyed in the name of Edward Kemp and John Reading and sometime after was by them released by them to the said Wm. Biddle.'

            "JOHN HOLCOMBE built the stone house which is till standing off the main street on the hillside at Lambertsville.  He died August, l743 and willed his home plantation 'I now live on' to his youngest son Richard Holcombe.  This house was occupied by Richard, and in turn by his son John Holcombe.  It was twice used by Gen. George Washington as his Headquarters. The first time from July 29, 1777 while watching the movement of How's Fleet, the second, time from 6-21-1777 to June 21, to June 22, 1778, en route from Valley Forge to fight the' Battle of Monmounth.  There are 17 documents in the files of the Library of Congress written from this house, including a receipt signed by Richard Holcombe for subsistence of the headquarters staff', etc. (See p. 125; see photo opp. p. 5).

             "He died Aug., 1743; his will is dated June 17, 1743 and was proved Aug. 31, 1743 and is on file with the Perogative Court of New Jersey, in Trenton, letters testamentory being granted the Administrators, Elisabeth Holcombe (his wife) and JACOB (his brother) by his Excellency, Levels Morris, Esq., Governor of New Jersey.                    .

             "JOHN HOLCOMBE was buried in Friend Burying Ground, Buckingham, Bucks Co., Pa. "; (as was his brother JACOB)

              The following is quoted from (xib p. 161):

             "He, JACOB, was one of the first ministers of the meeting, the first book of minutes was transcribed in his handwriting and he was one of the committee to build the second meeting house in 1729.  He was petitioner and later commissioner to lay cut the road now known as the Old York Road and also the road from Solebury along the Delaware.  He traveled to England; Connecticut: Rhode Island; Long Island, N. Y.; [113]  and Maryland on Missions to Friends meetings at those places.  JACOB married Mary Woolrich of Falls meeting 1712, and had eight children.

              ''He  (JOHN)  has  a  large  number  of  descendants,  now  scattered through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa and many other states.  The late Ruben Pownall Ely, of Lambertville, compiled, in 1886, a 500-page manuscript of over 1600 descendants of JOHN HOLCOMBE of the first six generations, not half  bearing the name of Holcomb(e), but through the female line, the names of many old and respected families of New Jersey and Pennsylvania."

             The .following is quoted from a manuscript of Mrs. Ada Holcombe Titus Pierson:

             "JOHN'S wife, Elizabeth (Woolrich) was an active and influential member of the Soc. of Friends.  Dr. P. A. Studdiford, in his History of Lambertville and vicinity, says she was a preacher, and went over to Buckingham meeting every 1st and 4th day.  He tells us on one of these occasions that the river was very high and the ferryman begged her not to cross it as it would be most dangerous.   'The Lord will protect me', said Mrs. Holcombe and went on.  She reached the meeting safely and addressed those present.  When the meeting was over, she was helped, on her horse, a powerful stallion of the old hunting stock, and, as was customary in those days, was strapped to the saddle.  As she started for home, the horse gave a powerful leap and sprang off on a full run.  Several of the Friends who had horses, quickly mounted and pursued, fearing Mrs. Holcombe would be killed.   They, however,  could not overtake her, but when near the river shouted to the ferry man to 'Stop the horse'.   This was of no avail, the horse plunging in the deep swift river.  Mrs. Holcombe had the presence of mind to head him a little upstream, thus breaking the strong current,  When they reached the other side of the river, the horse, merely shaking the icy water from his flanks, tore off again at the same wild speed, nor did he slacken his pace, until he reached the stable door, having in his mad hast to get there, jumped a four-rail fence.  This little escapade of Mrs. Holcombe's took place in December."

             The descendants of JACOB Holcombe "ran more to girls than to boys," the entire male line dying out in the early generations, (Though the  statement appears  on the Title Page that the genealogy contains his descendants, the Author has not identified any of the contributors as being his descendants).  It is said that some (?, only one is known) of his sons were soldiers in the Rev. War.  Children of JACOB and Mary:  Thomas (who m. Hannah Pownall 6-3-1741 (or 42),  Sarah (named after his mother; m. 7-6- 1736 Thomas Lewis), Rebecca, Mary (m. 3-1-1749 Jacob Walton), Elizabeth (m. 4-13-1745 Joseph Hallowell, of Phila.), Susanna (m. John Van Duren of Gwynedd), Hannah, Sophia.