The Holinger branch of the family begins with my great-grandmother Emily HOLINGER(16). Much work on this branch of the family was been undertaken by the late Jack GILLESPIE, a Holinger descendant. What he called the core pedigree was extracted for him in 1984 from records held at the Basel-Landschaft Archives in Liesthal, a small town 17 km south of Basel, and the capital of the canton Basel-Landschaft. This material is believed to be correct as the archivist worked backwards from Johannes (John) HOLINGER, who went to England. The information used by the archivist was:

  1. Bennwil Kirchenakten (Bennwil Church Files)
  2. Familienbuch von Bennwil (Bennwil Family Book)
  3. a record of wills, not seen by Jack Gillespie, and
  4. a reference to legal sources, also not seen by Jack Gillespie.

This happened when Jack Gillespie went to Switzerland in 1984 and visited the archives at Liesthal. There are many possible Johannes or Hans HOLINGERS in the Swiss records, but based on the indication that John HOLINGER was born near Basel and that his father was listed on John HOLINGER's marriage certificate as James HOLINGER, farmer, the archivist thought the most likely candidate was a Johannes HOLINGER, born in 1826 in Basel and baptised there in the St. Leonhard church, but a citizen of Bennwil.

To this core pedigree other material was later added by Jack Gillespie in about 1997/98, by examination of Bennwil church registers on LDS FHL microfilm.

Clearly the identification of the Swiss born individual who emigrated to England is a key step, and the information which led to the line taken here is examined in more detail in the page on John HOLINGER.

Holinger generations

Generation Holinger ancestor Spouse Date and place of marriage
P Emily HOLINGER(16)
James RIDDEL(15)
22 Apr 1875 at Brunswick St. U.P. Church, Manchester
O Johannes/John Holinger(17) (1827-1883) 1) Jane Townsend(16)(1823-1857)
2) Mary Robb Watkins(247)
1) 21 Jul 1849 at St. John's Church, Wakefield. The marriage certificate describes John Holinger as "Chymist", and give's his father's name as James Holinger, farmer. Jane's father is given as David Townsend, Salesman. The marriage was by licence.
2) 30 Apr 1860 at Manchester.
N Hans Jakob Holinger(786) (1791-1836) Anna Maria Schweitzer(787)(1800-1879) 04 Mar 1822, St. Jakob, Basel, Switzerland.
M Hans Jakob Holinger(981) (1754-1831) Elisabeth Gröfli(982)(1765-?) About 1789, Switzerland. Hans Jakob's 2nd marriage.
L Hans Jakob Holinger(988) (1723-1771) Anna Tschudi(989)(1730-1809) About 1752, Switzerland.
K Hans Georg Holinger(992) (1680-?) Anna Jauss (Jausslin)(993)(1685-?) About 1706, Switzerland.


John Holinger, known to Aunt Norah Riddel as "Grosspapa", is said to have been born in Switzerland, near Basel, in 1827. Based on this information, on the fact that he emigrated to England, and that his father is named as James Holinger, farmer, on his marriage certificate, the archivist in Liesthal advised Jack Gillespie that the most likely candidate was a Johannes Holinger, born in Basel on 08 Sep 1826, and baptised at St. Leonhard, Basel on 17 Sep 1826. Through his father Hans Jakob Holinger(786) Johannes was a citizen of Bennwil, Jakob being the German version of James.

There is indeed an entry in the baptism and marriage register of St. Leonhard, Basel with the dates above, where the parents of Johannes are listed as Jakob Holinger of Bennwil and Anna Schweizer of Reigoldswil. Three godparents are also listed, only one of whose names I have so far been able to decipher, and that is Johannes Grüblin of Höllstein. This baptism is also recorded in the Bennwil church files in the section on Auswärtige Taufen, or baptisms which took place outside Bennwil parish.

A further indication that the family were citizens of Bennwil is the mention of that commune in the notes collected as part of an investigation into Holinger (Hollinger, Hullinger) migrants to the USA by Henry Kline Hollinger. The information he assembled has been described to me by Jack Gillespie and is summarised on a separate page. As part of this exercise it appears that Henry Kline Holinger corresponded with either or both of Charles Henry Holinger(169), John Holinger's eldest son (see below) and also Charles's son John Charles Holinger(827), probably living in Philadelphia, and from them obtained the information that John Holinger(17) was supposedly born at Bennwyl (no date given) and that he was a cotton broker in Manchester.

The other fact was that John Hollinger must have left Switzerland at some unknown date at least prior to his marriage to Jane Townsend in 1849, when he would have been about 22 years old. An archivist at Liesthal found reference in a legal document to a business failure and debts owing by the Johannes Holinger of Bennwil, and my reading of this document or notice is: Anyone who has a claim on account of debts, sureties or any other legal liability against Johannes Holinger, the merchant of Bennwil, who has removed himself from here on account of debts, and who is hereby identified, should, on pain of having their claim disallowed, submit their claim in writing and have it registered at the office named below within six weeks of this notice, that is calculated from 16 April 1847. The precise circumstances under which such a notice would appear are not known. However, on a visit to the then Public Records Office, Jack Gillespie found evidence of John Holinger's entry into Britain (PRO Kew HO3/43-46). The note made by Jack Gillespie reads:JOHN HOLINGER, Merchant, Switzerland, arriving at London 26 April 1847 from Hanse(?), Ship Name Columbine(?), Master J. Fife. We do not know how quickly he went on to Manchester, but a little over two years later he entered into the first of his two marriages.

  John Holinger thumbnail  
John Holinger(17)
His first marriage was to Jane Townsend(18). There is a GRO marriage index entry for a John Holinger registered at Wakefield in the third quarter of 1849 (vol.22, p.602) and I have a copy of the Entry of Marriage. It says that John's father was called James and was a farmer. John gives his occupation as chemist (chymist).

In England, John Holinger and and Jane Townsend had four children.

Children of John Holinger(17) and Jane Townsend(18)

Name Notes
Charles Henry Hollinger(169) Known as Harry. Born on 01 Jan 1851. It seems he went to the USA, and some further details of him and his descendants are given on a separate page.
Emily Holinger(16) Emily Holinger's birth certificate shows her to have been born on 03 Sep 1852 at 47 Albert Grove, Stretford, and her birth was registered at Barton in the 3rd quarter of 1852 (vol.8c, p.409). She married James Riddel(15) on 22 Apr 1875 and they had seven daughters. For information about this family see the entry for James Riddel.
Albert Holinger(171) His birthday was 21 Dec and his birth was registered at Chorlton in the first quarter of 1855, so his date of birth was probably 21 Dec 1854. In the 1881 census returns he was present, probably residing, aged 26, in his father's house Willow Bank, Withington, and his occupation is given as shirt manufacturer employing 15 girls. According to Norah Riddel, Albert lived in Africa and did not marry. If this is the case he must have emigrated after 1881. Possibly following his father's death in 1883.
Ada Jane Holinger(170) Born 12 Dec 1855. Married James Bennett Aitken(172) on 15 Sep 1880, the marriage being registered at Chorlton [GRO marriage idex, Sep quarter of 1880, vol.8c, page 1060]. They had no issue. The 1881 UK census has their address as Tatton Grove, Withington, Manchester and indicates that James Aitken, aged 34, was born at Wigtown, Scotland. He is described in the 1901 and 1891 census returns as a chemical manufacturer, in 1881 as a salesman in the drapery trade. There is an IGI entry for his birth on 26 Dec 1847, and baptism on 15 Jan 1848 at Leswalt, Wigtown, father Peter AITKEN and mother Elizabeth KERR. He died on 06 Jan 1934 [England and Wales National Probate Calendar, 1934] and His death, aged 88, was registered at Warrington [GRO deaths index, Mar quarter of 1934, vol.8c, p.180]. His will was proved on 16 Mar 1934 in London, with effects £30,944. He willed his house Southlands, Hall Nook, Penketh to the Salvation Army, allowing his widow to occupy the house free of rent for one year from his death. What happened to her thereafter is not recorded! She died in 1939, aged 83 [GRO deaths index, Runcorn, Cheshire, Sep quarter 1939, vol.8a, p.393].

The four children above ought to be in the GRO register of births, and I have found three of them so far. None of them has an entry in the IGI at present. John Holinger was said by Norah Riddel to have worked as a designer for the Beiths in Manchester. At the moment I do not know who the Beiths were or what they did. Norah Riddel talked about the author John Hay Beith ("Ian Hay", 1876-1952)), who was of this family. His father was John Alexander Beith, described as a merchant of Manchester (and of Altnacraig, Oban), and his grandfather was Alexander Beith (1799-1891), a well-known dissenting divine in Scotland. So it was presumably John Alexander Beith for whom John Holinger worked, at least some of the time.

Jane Holinger (née Townsend) died at 36 Warwick Street, Hulme, on 19 May 1857 of TB, and her death was registered at Chorlton in the second quarter of 1857 (vol.8c, p. 359). The informant was John Holinger, and he is described as Commercial Clerk. John Holinger married again, on 30 Apr 1860 at Manchester Cathedral (IGI based on parish records). His second wife was Mary Robb Watkins(247) who was born in Scotland on 13 June 1836, daughter of Alexander Watkins and Mary Robb. Details of Mary Robb Watkins' ancestry are being researched by Jack Gillespie.

At the time of the 1861 census John and Mary Holinger were living at 17 Mytton Street, Hulme, and his occupation was described as cashier in a shipping office. Also present were (Charles) Henry Holinger(169), aged 10, and Emily Holinger(16), aged 8, and Mary's mother Mary Watkins, aged 62 who is described as a fundholder. The transcript of the census available through 1837online does not mention the two yougest children by John Holinger's first marriage, so one wonders where they were. John and Mary Holinger had ten children. Many details of their lives are unknown. From Harold onward all of them were baptised into the congregation of the Lloyd Street / Brunswick Street Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Children of John Holinger(17) and Mary Robb Watkins (247)

Name Notes
Mary Hollinger(248) Her birth was registered at Chorlton in the June quarter of 1861 (vol.8c, p.684). According to the pedigree compiled by John David Gillespie she married Adam Riddell (788), and there is an GRO marriage index entry for this marriage in the December quarter of 1888 (Chorlton, 8c, 1204). Adam Riddel died in 1889 aged only 31 (Chorlton, Sept 1889, 8c, 528), and was therefore born in 1857 or 1858. There is no English GRO record of a birth at an appropriate time, but an Adam Riddel was born in Edinburgh, son of another Adam Riddel and Ann Boyd Riddel (whose maiden name I cannot read), on 29 Jan 1858, the only Adam Riddel recorded as being born in either of those years. There is no record of any children of the marriage between Mary Holinger and Adam Riddell; they hardly had time. Mary Hollinger died in 1945, aged 83 (Mar 1945, Barton, 8c, 719), presumably without having remarried since the death was registered under Mary Riddel.
Anne Holinger(249) Born 1862 according to the data compiled by John David Gillespie. I have not been able to find a corresponding GRO births index entry. She died in childhood, and there is a GRO deaths index entry for the Dec quarter of 1865 (Chorlton, 8c, 448).
John Alexander Holinger(250) Born 1864. (GRO births index Q1 1865, Chorlton, 8c, 650). Went to Australia and married Lillie Blair Wilson(777). They had seven children, and there is a separate page with further details of his descendants.
Bertha Holinger(251) Born 1866 according to the data compiled by John David Gillespie. I have not been able to find a corresponding GRO births index entry. Bertha married Henry Augustus Higginbottom(789) (GRO marriages index Sep quarter 1887, 8c, 1072) and they had children. Norah Riddel remembered them as being Mary, Bertha, Agnes, Roy and Fred. The pedigree assembled by John David Gillespie names Robert, Mary, Bertha, Agnes and Frederick. The GRO births index does not enable the names and their birth years to be readily confirmed, and I hope that someone on that side of the Holinger family may be able to shed further light, or maybe I will have to shell out for a few certificates.
Harold Holinger(252) According to the birth and baptism register of the Lloyd St. /Brunswick St. Church, he was born on 08 Apr 1869, probably at home at York Terrace. He was baptised on 30 May 1869 at the Brunswick St. church. He is said to have disappeared and presumably to have died in Argentina
Ethel Holinger(253) According to the birth and baptism register of the Lloyd St. /Brunswick St. Church, she was born on 06 Feb 1871 and was baptised on 12 Mar 1871 at the Brunswick St. church. Her birth was registered at Chorlton in the Mar quarter of 1871 (vol.8c, p.87). She married Herbert Somerville Hope(1031) in Manchester on 19 Jul 1900 (GRO marriage index, Sep quarter 1900, Chorlton, vol.8c., p.1448), and they had two children (there will be a separate Hope page). Ethel died in 1938 in London (GRO deaths index, Kensington, vol.1a, p.129), and Herbert in 1941 in Somerset (GRO deaths index, Yeovil, vol.5c, p.1185).
Norman Holinger(254) According to the birth and baptism register of the Lloyd St. / Brunswick St. Church, he was born on 25 Feb 1873 and was baptised in May (possibly the 17th) at home in Oak Road, Withington. His birth was registered in the Jun quarter of 1873 (Chorlton, vol.8c, p.609). In 1881 he is a schoolboy, aged 8, living with his parents still at Willow Bank, Oak Road. By 1891 he is a commercial clerk, living with his widowed mother at 335 Moss Lane East. By the time of the 1901 census he is still at the same address, his name misspelt Hollinger, and now head of the household, with his two younger sisters, and a boarder. He is described as a printer's bookkeeper. He did not marry, and died aged 57 in 1931 (GRO deaths index, Jan quarter, 1931, Barton upon Irwell, vol.8c, p.886).
James HOLINGER(255) According to the birth and baptism register of the Lloyd St. /Brunswick St. Church, he was born on 13 Dec 1874 and was baptised on 16 Feb 1875 at home in Oak Road, Withington. His birth was registered in the Mar quarter of 1875 (Chorlton, vol.8c, p.628). He went to Melbourne, Australia, and in 1909 married Mary Jean ANDERSON(901) (1883-1956), presumably in Melbourne as there is no GRO record of this marriage in England. They had two sons, Norman Anderson (1909-1994) and James Andrew (Jim) (1913-1987), and one daughter. Norman Anderson Holinger's birth was registered in 1910, (Reg. no. 7542, at Williamstown, Victoria). James Anderson Holinger's birth was registered in 1913 (reg. no. 8478, also at Williamstown). According to Jack Gillespie, James Holinger(255) died in 1958.
Blanche Holinger(256) According to the birth and baptism register of the Lloyd St. /Brunswick St. Church, she was born on 02 Dec 1876 and was baptised on 09 Feb 1877 at home in Oak Road, Withington. (GRO births index Q1 1877, Chorlton, vol. 8c, p. 702). She married William Edmond Shelley in 1915 and they had one son, Brian Holinger Shelley(896). Blanche eventually went to Canada, possibly following her son, and lived in Toronto. According to a descendant chart produced by Tony Stephenson, Blanche died in 1973.
Marion Agnes Holinger(257) According to the birth and baptism register of the Lloyd St. /Brunswick St. Church, Marion was born on 16 Sep 1879 at Oak Road, withington, and was baptised on 02 Mar 1880 at home. [GRO births index Dec quarter 1879, Chorlton, vol. 8c, p. 632]. Some said she was an invalid. In 1901 she was living, aged 21, at 335 Moss Lane East with her older brother Norman, and her occupation is given a school dancing mistress, hardly the occupation of an invalid. She died, unmarried, in 1938 [GRO deaths index, Jun quarter 1938, Conway, vol.11b, p.555].

John Holinger was naturalized on 11 Nov 1862, the documents were prepared by Whitworth, Solicitors of Manchester, and Jack Gillespie has a copy of the documents obtained from the then PRO at Kew (HO 1/107).

Through this second marriage my generation of the Stowells is related to Alison Dixon who married Stephen Cruikshank. To Alison I am indebted for the Holinger/Riddel family tree which they sent to Norah Riddel in the 1970s, and from which much of the initial information on that side of the family came. This page has been extensively updated with information received from Jack Gillespie and Tony Stephenson, to whom I am very grateful.

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