Philemon Holland bigraphy, stories - English translator

Philemon Holland : biography

1552 - 9 February 1637

Philemon Holland (1552 – 9 February 1637) was an English schoolmaster, physician, and translator. He is known particularly for having produced the first English translations of works by Livy, Pliny the Elder, and Plutarch, as well as for his translation of Camden's Britannia.

Marriage and issue

On 10 February 1579 Holland married Anne Bott (1555–1627), the daughter of William Bott (alias Peyton) of Perry Hall, Handsworth, Staffordshire, by whom he had seven sons and three daughters, including 'the poet Abraham Holland, the publisher and miscellaneous writer Henry Holland, the print publisher Compton Holland (d.1622), William Holland (1592–1632), a surgeon whose a treatise on gout, Gutta Podagrica, was published posthumously in 1633, and Elizabeth Holland, who married a London merchant, William Angell.


Philemon Holland, born at Chelmsford, Essex, in 1552, was the son of John Holland (d.1578), a member of the same Norfolk family as John Holland, 1st Baron Holland (1603–1701). According to John Considine's entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, the Norfolk branch of the family "claimed to be related to the rather grander Hollands of Up Holland, Lancashire ... but the connection is questionable"..Lee and Sharpe state that he was of the family of Holland of Denton, in Lancashire. Holland's grandfather, Edward Holland, was of Glassthorpe, Northamptonshire.. Holland's father, John Holland, was one of the Marian exiles with Miles Coverdale during the reign of Mary I, when Catholicism was reestablished. After the accession of Elizabeth I in November 1558 he returned to England, and in 1559 was ordained by Bishop Edmund Grindal. He was appointed rector of Great Dunmow, Essex, on 26 September 1564, where he died in 1578.


Philemon Holland was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford,It is said that more than three hundred years later, a house was named for Holland at the school; Philemon Holland, Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 2004, Retrieved 24 March 2013. before going on to Trinity College, Cambridge about 1568,. where he was tutored by John Whitgift, later Archbishop of Canterbury.; . Holland received a BA in 1571, and was elected a minor Fellow at Trinity on 28 September 1573 and a major Fellow on 3 April 1574. His fellowship was terminated when he married in 1579.

After his marriage Holland moved to Coventry, about twenty-five miles from the home of his wife's family at Perry Hall, where he became usherAccording to Considine, an usher was the junior of two full-time schoolmasters. at King Henry VIII School, founded in 1545 by John Hales, a position which brought him a house and £10 a year.

On 11 July 1585 Holland was incorporated MA at Oxford, and in 1597 was granted the degree of MD at Cambridge.

Holland was admitted to the freedom of the city of Coventry on 30 September 1612, and when King James visited Coventry on 2 September 1617, was chosen to make a speech in the King's honour. He wore a suit of black satin for the occasion, and his oration is said to have been 'much praised'. It was later published as A learned, elegant and religious Speech delivered unto His...Maiestie, at...Coventry.

As noted above, Holland was appointed usher of the free grammar school at Coventry after his marriage in 1579. In 1613 he was tutor there to George Berkeley, 8th Baron Berkeley.. On 23 January 1628, when he was 77 years of age, the mayor and aldermen of Coventry appointed Holland head schoolmaster; according to Sharpe, the order of appointment contains an original signature of Holland's. It appears the position was given to him at his advanced age out of respect for his talents and service to the city, and in the hope of ameliorating his financial situation. However he retained it for only fourteen months, formally requesting to be relieved on 26 November 1628..

On 24 October 1632 the mayor and alderman granted him a pension of £3 6s 8d for the ensuing three years, 'forasmuch as Dr. Holland, by reason of his age, is now grown weak and decayed in his estate'..

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