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Thomas Holt (1786 - 1874)

  Thomas Holt was the older brother of Monica's Great Great Great Grandfather Joseph Holt. Both brothers were tailors like their father but by the early 1800s Joseph had moved to Liverpool and Thomas to London. Thomas developed a thriving business in London which became, in time, Holt & Plush and eventually Holt & Son. It operated out of Sackville Street, Piccadilly, very close to Savile Row. The company specialised in military tailoring and supplied dress uniforms and accessories to army and naval officers. The accessories included swords, hats and helmets. Thomas made his fortune and lived in a large villa in Maida Vale with his growing family and lots of servants. He died in 1874 and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery. His estate was valued at £25,000. The business was carried on by his son William, William's son Frederick and then Frederick's widow Harriet Emma Isabella. The company was still in existence in the 1930s. His actor son, Clarance Holt, is described in the section "The Acting Holts."

William Holt (1818-1882)

William Holt was the oldest surviving son of Thomas and spent his life in the family business. He married Frances Ann Schacht and had 9 children; 7 girls and 2 boys. They were obviously a fairly odd family; they had a large house in St John's Wood with lots of servants but by 1881 all 9 children were grownup, unmarried and still living at home even though the oldest, Frances, was 38 and the youngest, Herbert, was 18. In fact, none of the girls married and 5 of them were still living together in 1911. The two boys eventually married: Frederick when he was 49 and Herbert when he was 34. When he died in 1882 his estate was valued at £35,000. Frederick had 2 daughters: Frances and Fredericka. They never married either and died in Worthing in 1972 and 1983 respectively.

Sarah Anne Holt (1816-1851)

Sarah Anne Holt was the eldest daughter of Thomas. She married Edwin Cobbett, a tea merchant on 23 August 1842. She died sometime before 1851.

Betsy Holt (1820-1904)

Betsy Holt was the youngest daughter of Thomas. She married Arthur Cobbett at the same time as her sister married his brother, Edwin Cobbett. Arthur Cobbett was a successful merchant in Pall Mall, described on his letterhead as "Oil, Italian and Foreign Warehouseman". When he died in 1891 he left an estate of over £100,000. The family initially lived in Kensington but moved to Firfield, a large house in Weybridge, Surrey sometime before 1871. Betsy died in 1904 and there is a memorial plaque to the pair in Weybridge church. They had nine children.

Ancestors of the Holts

Thomas Holt created a prosperous, upper middle class dynasty. His grandchildren were well educated - public school and university and they joined the establishment professions: Lawyers, Accountants, Doctors, Clergymen, Academics and the Military. Several of them had particularly fascinating lives. Some of Thomas' more interesting descendants are detailed below.

Herbert Schacht Holt (1862-1922)

Herbert was William's youngest child and he took one of the traditional Victorian career options for youngest sons; he joined the Church of England. He was educated at Westminster School and Clare College, Cambridge and ordained a curate in Manchester in 1896. He married Bertha Wilson in the same year at the age of 34. Subsequently he was a vicar in Rossendale in Lancashire, Molash in Kent, Edinburgh, Guildford, Bournemouth, Parkstone in Dorset and finally in London.

Louis Cobbett (1863 -1947)

Louis was the youngest son of Betsy. He was educated at Lancing and Trinity College, Cambridge. He trained as a doctor but later specialised as a bacteriologist, and lectured in pathology at Cambridge until he retired in 1929. During the Cambridge and Colchester diphtheria epidemics of 1900-01 he made the first large-scale investigations into the bacteriology of diphtheria, publishing his results in the first volume of the Journal of Hygiene, Cambridge University Press, 1901. He later carried out research into tuberculosis and served on the Royal Commission on Tuberculosis, appointed in 1902, as pathological investigator with charge of their experimental farm at Stansted. The very valuable results obtained by Cobbett's team were published in a series Reports from 1907 to 1913; the Commission also published a Report on tuberculin tests by Cobbett and Stanley Griffith in 1913. Cobbett published his own personal study on the research which "achieved the rank of a classic in its own field." He also published an original study of racial immunisation in tuberculosis. Louis was also a distinguished amateur archaeologist and antiquarian and published many papers and pamphlets.

Theophilus Arthur Allen (1868-1932)

Theophilus was a grandson of Betsy and the son of Elizabeth Mary Cobbett and the architect, Theophilus Allen, FRIBA. He was born in 1868, educated at Lancing College and the Architectural Schools and also studied in Belgium, France and Italy. From 1885 he worked with his father. He qualified in 1892 and became an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1893. His works included cottage hospitals at Weybridge and Woking; nurses and children's homes for the Chertsey Union; village homes at Ottershaw, Addlestone, Chobham and Chertsey, the chancel of Trinity Church, West End Chobham; and the Theatre Royal, Worthing. He also built at least eight London residences, at least twenty seven country residences and a house at Muizenberg, South Africa. In 1910 he designed Oak Hall, Haslemere for the Scottish artist James Coutts Michie. The house is now a grade II listed building.

Captain Percival Knight (PK) Allen (1875 - 1917)

P K Allen was a grandson of Betsy and the son of Elizabeth Mary Cobbett and the architect, Theophilus Allen, FRIBA. He was born in 1865, educated at Lancing College like his brother above and then at the Pharmaceutical College in Bloomsbury. He served in the South African War with Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) and stayed on after the war as a Sampler at mines near Johannesburg and later as a Surveyor at Abosso Mine in West Africa. On the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted as a private in the 10th Battalion Royal Fusiliers but was later commissioned. He was appointed as a Temporary Lieutenant in the 10th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment on the 24th of October 1914. He embarked for France with his battalion on the 13th of July 1915 landing at Boulogne the following morning. He was killed in action at the Second Battle of the Scarpe near Arras. His Colonel wrote:- "There is not an officer or man in the battalion who does not bitterly regret his loss. His splendid courage and great personal charm has earned the affection and respect of all ranks."

Lieutenant Humphrey Decimus Allen (1886 -1916)

Humphrey Decius Allen was a grandson of Betsy and the son of Elizabeth Mary Cobbett and the architect, Theophilus Allen, FRIBA. He was born in 1868, educated at Bradfield College and was afterwards at King's College, studying civil engineering. In 1911 he went out to the Malay States and for over three years acted as Assistant Manager on the Sungei Krian Rubber Estate. He obtained a commission in January 1915, as First Lieutenant in the West Yorkshire Regiment, and went out to France on July 17th, 1915.He died on 1 April 1916. The Chaplain of the regiment wrote: "Lieut. Allen's quiet unobtrusive manner made him very popular with the officers and beloved by the men ... He was a true Christian gentleman."

Arthur Brooke Cobbett ((1875 - )

Arthur Brooke Cobbett was a grandson of Betsy Holt. He seems to have led the life of a Victorian/ Edwardian gentleman. He was educated at Charterhouse and at his marriage gave his occupation as Stockbroker. All references after this show him having no occupation and living on his "private means", presumably using the inheritance left him when his father died in 1906 (he left about £5 million in today's money). Whilst living in a rented house in Cheltenham, in 1913, he was taken to court for the damage his three sons ("mischievous young rascals") had done. Much of the damage was caused by "using catapults in the bedrooms", "staining the carpets with photographic chemicals" and "knocking off all the paint from the banister rails by sliding down the stairs." He then bought a grand, Gloucestershire Elizabethan house in the Cotswolds, Hawling Manor and lived the life of the country squire. The last we hear of him, he is farming in Southern Rhodesia, presumably living the life of the colonial squire.

John Meredith Cobbett (1876-1944)

The Reverend John Meredith Cobbett was Arthur Brooke's brother and also educated at Charterhouse. In addition to being a Church of England vicar he was a poet having at least three volumes published: Ephemera in 1898, Poems in 1910 and Leaves of Parnassus in 1919. All the books were well received critically. He never married and died at Monxton rectory in Hampshire.

Leslie Alec Warren (1888-1962)

Leslie Alec Warren was a grandson of Betsy Holt and was born in 1888. He trained as a lawyer (his father was a solicitor) but in 1947 was described as an author. There is a book written by a Leslie Alec Warren in 1929; Modern Spanish Literature: A comprehensive survey of the novelists, poets, dramatists and essayists from the eighteenth century to the present day.

Lieutenant Commander Clyfford Harris Warren (1886-1949)

Clyfford Harris Warren was the brother of Leslie Alec Warren and a career naval officer. He was appointed lieutenant when he was 19 and by the start of the First World War was Commanding Officer of the British submarine HMS E20. The submarine was torpedoed by the German U-boat UB-14 in the Sea of Marmara on 6 November 1915, towards the end of the Gallipoli campaign. The loss of this boat in the Dardanelles was the direct result of the negligence of the Commanding Officer Lieutenant de Vaisseau Henri Ravenel and crew of the French submarine Turquoise. He didn't like the idea of the war and after a week on station decided to leave the area. He then ran aground. According to German reports it seems he was so anxious to save himself that he abandoned his boat with all the lights burning and the alarm bells still ringing. E20 was to have made a rendezvous with the French boat but Ravenel had also abandoned her without making any attempt to destroy any documents, including her secret orders. The Turks handed these to the Germans and a German submarine, UB14 (CO Lieutenant von Heimberg) was ready when E20 arrived at the rendezvous point. She was sunk by a single torpedo while on the surface. The CO of the U-Boat rescued the nine survivors, including Clyfford Warren, who, at the time of the attack, was reputedly "brushing his teeth". Twenty seven men were killed. After the war Ravenel was tried by Court Martial for the abandonment of his boat and the consequent loss of HMS E20 but was acquitted on all charges. E20 was later commissioned into the Turkish Navy as Mustejab Onbashy, which translated means 'Worthy of Acceptance'. Clyfford Warren remained a Turkish prisoner of war until 1918.

Dorothea Kate and Phyllis Helen Cobbett

The lives of these two sisters, granddaughters of Betsy Holt, show the close and complicated family structures of the Victorian middle classes. Dorothea Kate Cobbett married Ernest Theodore Cobbett Hughes in 1911; her younger sister Phyllis Helen Cobbett had married his brother August Edward Hughes a few years earlier. The two couples were also distant cousins. The Hughes brothers were grandsons of the celebrated Victorian artist Edward John Cobbett. They had another brother, Cecil Eldred Hughes who was also a painter and illustrator. Cecil married Lillian Benn in 1905. She was the aunt of Tony Benn.

Hilary Dulcie Cobbett (1885-1976)

Hilary Dulcie Cobbett was the sister of Dorothea and Phyllis and a well known artist. She studied at the Richmond School of Art in 1903-1905, then again in 1924-27and was elected an Associate member of the Society of Women Artists in 1935. She painted extensively in France, and also in Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Holland, and along the coasts of Cornwall, Devon, Sussex and Norfolk. She exhibited at the Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists, Royal Institute of Oil Painters, and Royal Institute of Watercolour Painters. She was a founder member of the Society of Marine Artists in 1939 and became a full member of the Society of Women Artists in 1961.


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