Holloway, James (DNB00)

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HOLLOWAY, JAMES (d. 1684), conspirator, a citizen of Bristol, probably imbibed strong protestant opinions from the master to whom he was apprenticed, Walter Stephens, a linendraper of Bristol, who is said to have had the chief hand in the destruction of the chapel dedicated to the Virgin on Bristol Bridge. Holloway set up in trade for himself, and carried on business with the West Indies; he was a clever man, though restless and excitable. When the importation of French linens was forbidden, he formed a scheme for the improvement of the English linen manufacture, hoping to supply the home market with linens as good as those brought from France, and so to give employment to the poor. He established a manufactory in Warwickshire, and employed some hundreds of workpeople; but, in spite of the prohibition, French cambrics were still largely imported, and Holloway, having lost money, gave up his undertaking. In 1679 he pressed the Bristol chamber to help him to carry out his scheme in the city, offering to employ Bristol people only, and to find constant work for five hundred of them. On 8 May the chamber agreed to his proposals, and decided to erect a workhouse for the purpose at the east end of the Bridewell. A letter, however, was sent to them on the 25th by Sir John Knight, alderman, and one of the members for the city, pointing out that the prohibition of French linens would terminate in March 1681, and that they had better drop the scheme, which they accordingly did. Holloway went up to London to advocate his plan, which, he declared, would employ eighty thousand poor and forty thousand acres of land, and would be worth 200,000l. to the crown. In 1680 he became acquainted with the Earl of Essex, who introduced him to Laurence Hyde [q. v.], afterwards Earl of Rochester, and then head of the treasury. Hyde encouraged him to come up to London during the next session of parliament, and he exhibited his wares to several members. He also went to Oxford when the parliament was there, and was desired by Lord Clarendon to draw up a bill on the linen manufacture. While at London and Oxford he was strongly excited about the struggle between the court and the whigs, and heard much about ‘laying sham plots upon protestants.’ In the summer of 1682 he was actively engaged in a plot against the government, being chiefly moved by the election of the tory sheriffs at London. A rising was to be arranged for November in London and other principal towns, the Roman catholic councillors were to be removed from the court, and offenders punished. He was to be chief mover in Bristol, and thought that he could secure the city with 350 men, of whom 150 were to come from Taunton. To his annoyance the outbreak was put off until the spring. He was in London 3–6 March 1683, making arrangements with William Wade [q. v.], and went thither again on 5 April, when he was informed of the plot against the persons of the king and the Duke of York. He disapproved of such schemes, and afterwards declared that not more than three of the other conspirators held with Rumsey and West, who talked much of the ‘lopping-off business;’ nevertheless he still consorted with these men. On the 6th he had an interview with Robert Ferguson (d. 1714) [q. v.], who was then at the house of Zachary Bourn, a lawyer, and he appears to exonerate Ferguson from participation in Rumsey's bloodthirsty projects. Bourn says that Holloway told him that not more than eight persons in Bristol were in the plot, and that he had a store of cannon, powder, and ball, and two ships fit to carry forty guns each, but some, at least, of this appears doubtful. He intended to secure Bristol at 4 A.M., and divided the city into fourteen districts, twenty rebels being assigned to each of thirteen posts, and the rest of the 350 to the main guard at the Tolzey. He expected that his attempt would be successful without bloodshed. Early in May he was again in London. By this time he had naturally fallen into business difficulties. As soon as he heard of the discovery of 12 June he fled from Bristol, ‘got an ordinary habit and a little horse about 40s. price,’ and travelled about as a wool-dealer in Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, and Somerset. He was summoned to answer a charge of high treason, and not appearing was outlawed, and on 12 July the grand jury found a true bill against him on the evidence of three witnesses. In the middle of August he returned secretly to Bristol, and with his wife's help, arranged with a man who had a boat of about ten tons to carry him first to France, and then to the West Indies. He sailed on the 23rd, and on the 25th was forced by rough weather to put in at St. Ives, and here remained until 4 Sept., when he again set sail, and reached Rochelle on the 17th. There he bought a cargo of brandy and other goods, and on 4 Oct. sailed for the West Indies, wishing to see his business connections there. At Barbadoes, where he arrived on 11 Nov., he stayed two days, and then visited other islands, remaining at St. Christopher about three weeks. His factor in Nevis betrayed him; he was arrested in St. Eustatius, sent home in irons, and lodged in Newgate. About 11 April 1684 he wrote and delivered to Secretary Jenkins a ‘confession and narrative,’ which the advisers of the crown thought, or affected to think, insincere. He was brought before the king's bench on the 21st on his outlawry, and in the hope of a pardon refused a trial which was offered him by the attorney-general. As he was already attainted by outlawry upon an indictment of high treason, no judgment was necessary, and Chief-justice Jeffries simply gave the order for his execution. He sent a petition for pardon to the king, and offered either to take out a colony of religious malcontents, or to serve him by his linen scheme. On the 26th he gave a paper with a narrative to the sheriffs. When drawn upon a sledge to Tyburn on the 30th, he behaved with much firmness, and, though the sheriffs pestered him with many questions on the scaffold, answered with ‘life and temper.’ He professed himself a member of the church of England. He was hanged and quartered; his head and quarters were sent to Bristol and fixed upon the gates. His confession, which seems to have been sincere, shows how few were prepared to enter into the schemes for murdering the king and the duke, though it also proves that these plans were known to many who, though disapproving of them, continued to work with the authors of them.

[Cobbett's State Trials, x. 1–30; Sprat's True Account, pp. 49, 71, App. pp. 13, 35, 38, 51; Luttrell's Brief Relation, i. 267, 304–6; Oldmixon's England under the Stuarts, p. 686; Echard's History, p. 1042; Burnet's Own Time, ii. 348, 349, 405–7; Ferguson's Robert Ferguson, pp. 113, 139–40, 163; Garrard's Life and Times of Edward Colston, pp. 347–9; Nichols and Taylor's Bristol Past and Present, iii. 86, 87.]

W. H.