Valentine Hollingsworth

A different world.  One of the challenges of doing family history is that almost all my ancestors lived in another world–not another nation, not another place, but a different world.

Life has changed so much over the past decades and centuries.  The farther you go back in history, the more unrecognizable things become.  I’ve found that even looking at the lives of my grandparents and great grandparents can be disorienting (what was it like before TV and the internet, anyway?)

When Valentine Hollingsworth came to America, sailing on the ship “Antelope” in 1681, the land looked nothing like today.  A handful of colonies scattered along the eastern coast of an uncharted land were slowly being organized and settled by Englishmen.  The French, the Dutch and the Spanish still claimed parts of North America.  The idea of an independent United States of America was yet inconceivable.

Valentine Hollingsworth's signature on a 1674 deed.

Valentine’s family was English or Scottish, but they had located in Ireland during one of the resettlements of the late-sixteenth or early-seventeenth century.  In that period, the Tudors and Stuarts who were ruling in England were trying to assert supremacy over Ireland.  One of their methods was to send Englishmen who were loyal to English Crown to settle there.  The Hollingsworth family acquired land in County Armagh and were living there when Valentine decided to come to America.

Upon arriving in the Delaware Valley in 1681, Valentine immediately became involved in civic affairs.  He settled in Penn’s New Castle County (which would eventually lie in Delaware).  In 1682-3, Hollingsworth served on the first Provincial Assembly in Pennsylvania and signed Penn’s Great Charter (also known as “The Frame of the Government of the Province of Pennsylvania”).  He would go on to serve on the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1687, 1688, 1689, 1695 and 1700.  He was also Justice of the Peace in New Castle County from 1685-1688.

Another document signed by Valentine Hollingsworth

It’s hard to imagine how different life was in the 1680s and 1690s.  Native Americans still possessed most of the land that is now part of the United States.  Government organizations were still forming and being shaped into what they would some day become.  Money was different.

Some colonies either issued, or allowed to be issued under their authority, various coins of copper and silver.  Pennsylvania did not issue money or allow it to be issued.  But Charles Pickering, who was an attorney who came from England at Penn’s invitation, was caught up in a coinage scandal in 1683.

Pickering had found silver in the valley of the Schuylkill River, on land granted to him by Penn.  It was said that he and two partners were coining New England shillings and Spanish silver pieces, but not using the proper alloy of silver and copper.  Pickering and his partners were called before Governor Penn and the Provincial Council on October 24, 1683.  Valentine Hollingsworth was on the grand inquest that was “impanneld and attested” the next day to hear the case.  On October 26, the inquest found a true bill against Pickering for a “heynous and grievious crime.”

Upon conviction, Pickering had to make good on the losses that people had incurred from his bad money.  Anyone who brought in the “false, base and counterfeit coyne” within a month would be reimbursed by Pickering.  He was also required to pay forty pounds toward the building of a new courthouse.  One of his partners was forced to pay ten pounds toward the courthouse.  The other partner, who was a servant of Pickering and had confessed the crime, was merely required to sit in the stocks for an hour.

It must have been an exciting time.  As William Penn established his colony, putting forth his values and ideals in the charter and setting down laws in the assembly, my nine-times-great grandfather Valentine Hollingsworth was there.  He added his voice.  He helped create a fair and just system of government in the colony of Pennsylvania.  He helped advance a provincial culture that would ultimately issue in a new country.

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19 Responses to Valentine Hollingsworth

  1. doug hollingsworth says:

    I find it fascinating that you could write an essay about Valentine Hollingsworth and not mention his Quaker faith, which very well may have been the most important aspect of his life.

    • Doug,
      Thanks for reading and commenting! There are so many things I could have written about Valentine Hollingsworth. I try really hard to keep my blog posts under 750 words (I don’t always succeed) and so I focus on certain things. Most of my ancestors are Quaker and I have written about their Quaker faith in some of the posts. But in many cases, I have simply chosen to focus on other things.

      My hope is that I will keep writing and expanding on what I’ve started. I hope to write more about Valentine in the future. If ever you have anything to add to this post or any other that I write, you can always add it in a comment.

      I am always glad to dialogue about family history. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  2. Julia says:

    If I knew that the only punishment I would get for doing something illegal would be to sit in some wooden shackles for a brief spell, I’d be a lawless, feckless lass. The life of crime is only a bad one when you suck at it and get caught all the time.

    Fitting post for today. Nine-times great, does that mean you’ve only got about 2 protein tags worth of this guy’s DNA in your system?

    • I definitely would rather have an hour in the stocks as opposed to a forty pound fine. I’d take public shame over financial loss any day.

      And, yes, me and the 10,000 other people that share Valentine Hollingsworth as a nine-times-great grandfather probably have very little dna in common. I bet you’d find people who were short, tall, blond, dark-haired–people of every physical description–among his descendants. And just think, he’s only one of my 1,024 nine-times-great grandfathers (one of my 2,048 nine-times-great grandparents).

  3. bronxboy55 says:

    You’re so lucky, Kevin. We all wish we had ancestors named Valentine Hollingsworth.

    Your blog should be a mini-series. Really. But make sure Julia gets the part of the lawless, feckless lass. I’d watch that.

    Thanks for another fascinating post!

    • I’d be surprised if you don’t have a Valentino somewhere in your family tree. It seems like every Italian would. Valentino Gulotta…I can see it.

      If I ever start a blog about my own life, Julia would definitely star as the lawless, feckless lass. She plays the role well and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. doug hollingsworth says:

    I am not an expert on Irish history of the seventeenth century, but as I mentioned Henry Hollinworth was part of the Ulster Plantation, which, I understand, was started about 1610, when James I, not Elizabeth I, was the ruler of England. So I think you may want to reword the reference to the Tudor era.
    Doug Hollingsworth

    • Thanks, Doug. I changed it to read “Tudors and Stuarts.” Do we have proof that Henry (Valentine’s father) was part of the Ulster Plantation? If so, maybe you could post a link to it here, so that anyone who’s interested can find it.

      Thanks for the input. Let me know if you see anything else that needs adjusted. I appreciate your help.

  5. Pingback: Sharing a Birthday | Arbor Familiae

  6. Greg says:

    Hello, Valentine Hollingsworth is an ancestor of mine, found your blog doing research on him.

  7. Robert Bruce Hollingsworth says:

    My family studies suggest that Robert Bruce Hollingsworth, born 1548 in England was settled in Ireland in the time of Elizabeth I. He and his wife, Mary, were killed in the troubles, circa 1600, leaving an infant son, Henry. He survived to raise a family from whom emerged Valentine ‘the Immigrant’ Hollingsworth, who migrated to the New World as a part of the Friends Church circa 1680. His line flourished, including my own, derived from his great grqndson, Samuel III, who resettled in the southern colonies, and two of whose children migrated in 1802 to Mississippi, then the far frontier. My family documents from the Civil War date back directly to that migration. The rest is based on the collections of others.

  8. Robert Bruce Hollingsworth says:

    As a postscript, the infant son who survived was named Henry. My older brother’s middle name. My own name was taken from my grandfather, Robert Bruce. His twin brother was named William Wallace. No idea where the Scottish name references emerged. Important to remember that a lot of women & their families were involved

  9. Traci Mullins says:

    Anyone know of William Bryant Hollingsworth of Gordo, Alabama? He was my grandfather and did reasearch back to Valentine also.

  10. Yvette McClure says:

    Valentine was also my 9th great grandfather.

  11. Valentine is also my 9th great-grandfather. I’ve read in several places that V.H. was a signer of Penn’s Charter, but I have not been able to find a copy of the text that includes his name among the signers. Any tips on where to find a transcript or an image that lists his name?

    • ArborFam says:


      Thanks for your comment. I know I have seen a copy with Valentine’s name among the signers. I think it was in the official documents of Colonial Pennsylvania or something like that. I can check my files and let you know. I’m in the middle of moving, so it may take me a few weeks to get back to you.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Thanks much! I have a blog called *The Kith and Kin Chronicles*, and I would like to write a narrative about Valentine. I like to document what I say, so any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.

  12. wgpublishing says:

    As a grandson of Valentine Hollingsworth, I’d like to say thank you for having this blog and doing the research. It’s awesome!

  13. Robert Bruce Hollingsworth says:

    I just now searched Valentine Hollingsworth on Wikipedia. Their listing included a link from his great-grandson Samuel to one of his sons, Issac; my earliest documented paternal ancestor. My Uncle made a genealogy from a Civil War diary record he had from his great-aunt. It traced my paternal line from my great-grandfather Dillon, to his grandfather Issac; listing all of Issac’s children and reporting that he and his brother Jacob migrated from Georgia to Mississippi in 1802. My documented list of Issac’s children mirrors the list on the Wikipedia citation, which fades in detail after that generation. It would seem that I have the link to tie the two together. I learned of this connection over a decade ago in an Internet search, but having only a single source, I was not completely confident of my direct link to Valentine (the 3rd Samuel as Issac’s father) sans documentation. But now, given two independent sources, I am more willing to cite the connection. Somewhere in my boxes of papers is the letter my Uncle Dean (Barney) Hollingsworth had from his great-aunt, and her handwritten list of all the children and their wives from Issac thru the Civil War, and some thereafter. The overlapping names & histories appear to be identical.

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