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Gervase Holles

There were not many Royalist men who witnessed and survived  the disasters of the short parliament; the raising of the Standard; the end of the first Civil War; fighting with France against the Spanish; the second Civil War; Charles 2nd’s foreign court and the restoration.

Gervase Holles was one of the few.


Gervase Holles 1607-75

Gervase was one of the foremost antiquaries of his own time and a prominent member of Parliament for Grimsby.

He was mayor for the town in 1636, again in 1638 and was one of the’ Burgesses of that corporation’ to the short Parliament in April 1640.

In parliament on April 26 1641 he gave such offence by a speech, attacking the propositions advanced by the Scots for a treaty, that he was called to the Bar and suspended.

By April 18th,  1642 he was busy raising levies for the king in Newark and Lincolnshire. On the 13th of that month he was commissioned by the Earl of Lindsey to captain a company in Sir Lewis Dives regiment.

Gervase bought 117 men to Nottingham when the Standard was raised,  and  on Sept 16th  was promoted to Sergeant –Major of his regiment after serving at the battle of Edgehill, the capture of Banbury and Brentford.

December 7th 1642 he raised a regiment of 1200 foot and moved from Oxford to Newark where he participated in the capture of Belvoir Castle and the defence of Newark against the Lincolnshire Roundheads on Jan 28th .

He gives a good account of the fight at Muskham Bridge 6TH March 1643 at  Newark (while Gervase was in Oxford) where his beloved nephew William a captain in his regiment was killed.,

( The rebels make a bridge of boats over the Trent, between the town and my soldiers. They pass over about 1000 horse and 2000 foot. Upon discovery, George Porter commanding 1200 horse on the island,  basely runs away over Muskham bridge leaving my foot exposed who were in two squadrons, one commanded by Capt Benson. The rebels fast upon Benson, who received a shot through the body and was carried off. Baroughby who was with Benson troubled by the storm was got in the rear of their soldiers. William who noticed this, left his troop with Gardener and hastes to Maxwell  cudgeled him for his cowardice, then telling his men he was now their Captain. Rebels still powered over the bridge and William taking a large musquet shot that shattered his thigh which he fell and could not be carried, Upon capture he  asked to speak with Mr Edward Rossiter a captain with the rebels horse who he new was a friend of his father. Shortly after he expired and Mr Rossiter  caused him to be buried at Winthrop church.

Moving to Yorkshire under the Earl of Newcastle he had a large say in the battle of Adwalton moor and the capture of Bradford, during that winter of 1643 he attended the Kings Parliament at Oxford.

Apart from the battles at Newbury little is known of his later Action.  In December 1645, when he was tried  he stated he had voluntary laid down his commission  to Manchester in 1644, this is very doubtful  unable to pay his fine £738,  he crossed the Channel taking command of a English infantry company fighting with the French against the Spanish in the low country’s

In 1648 he’s back in England for the second Civil War being among the prisoners taken at Colchester eventually released he joins Charles the 2nd on the Continent to wait for happier times all but, in poverty.

Keeping in touch with prominent Royalist such as Edward Rossiter a leading Lincolnshire Presbyterian , the Earl of Clare and Edward Hyde  on the death of Cromwell,  Hyde  wrote to him to hasten to London to use his influences with the Earl of Clare to raise an army in Lincolnshire in the name of the the king but he would not leave Rotterdam until he could pay his debts .Upon the restoration in 1660 for his unflinching loyalty was sworn in by the king as master of Requests  granting him a pension of £100 a year for life in 1661 he was back in parliament as Burgesses for Grimsby and Mayor again in 1663.

Gervase was bured in Mansfield in 1675 not before his only surviving son Freschville  was killed when captain of the Coventry, a man of war at the battle of Solebay against the Dutch in 1673.

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