The earliest appearance of a Hollingsworth ancestor is Henry Hollingsworth who was the father of Valentine I. Records show that he was born about 1598. That year, the Edict of Nantes ended the civil wars in France by allowing France Huguenots (Protestant) equal rights with Roman Catholics. In England Elizabeth I was on the throne who was the first monarch to allow both Catholic and Protestant faiths to be freely practiced.
It is assumed that Henry lived as a child, possible to early manhood, in the area of Cheshire (Mottram-Longdendale), although recent DNA analysis suggests that he may have been from Yorkshire. In 1603, a peaceful transition of power made James VI, King of Scotland, the son of Mary Queen of Scots, James I of England. Many events followed that would shape the life of Henry. In 1607 the Flight of the Irish Earls opened the north of Ireland to English settlement and they were divided into sections of land called plantations. The part of land now known as Lurgan was acquired by a family, Brownlow, from Nottingham, England. Immigration was encouraged, by the British authorities, as a way to combat any rebellion by the remaining native Irish. People with skills and trades were especially desired. These events may have been the attraction for Henry to immigrate to Ireland. His son Valentine I is recorded as born in 1632 in Ballymacrandle in the parish of Seagoe.
In 1641 the Irish Catholics revolted especially bloody in Ulster and were pushed back with great brutality. Charles’ rule in England, with increasing taxes and his push to reestablish Roman Catholicism, degenerated into a rebellion called the English Civil War in 1642. The Roundheads lead by General Cromwell eventually won. Charles was deposed by the Commonwealth and executed in 1649. Also in 1649, Cromwell harshly suppressed the Catholic rebellions in Ireland with even more of the native Irish being pushed south from the Northern Plantations.
In 1640 a new movement called The Society of Friends promoted by George Fox was spreading across the English countryside. By 1680 there were 60,000 followers in England and Wales. Whether Henry was already a Quaker or not before immigration, by the 1650s he, his wife, Catherine and family were members of the Lurgan meeting and living in Balleyvickcrannel. Their son, Valentine, had been born in August 1632 and married Anne Ree on April 7, 1655. After bearing four children (oldest Henry born in 1659), Anne died in 1671. Valentine, a Freeholder, is listed in the Deed of Conveyance of 1679 for the Lynastown Burial Ground where Anne Ree is buried.
In 1672, Valentine married Anne Calvert who was connected to the Calvert family, wealthy landed gentry from the north part of England. Of this union, seven more children were added to Valentine’s family.
In 1662, with the Quaker Act, the Restoration Monarchy started a protracted attack upon Quakers with further laws to follow, which led many to consider migration to the New World. William Penn, a Quaker convert, received land from his father for settlement by members of his faith. So in 1682, when he was about 50 years old, Valentine with his family sailed on the ship Antelope to a new colony set up by Penn. He was granted 1000 acres in Sept 1682 along Shellpot Creek, which he called “Newworke”, located today about 5 miles north of the center of Wilmington, DE. Valentine was a leader in religious and civil circles. The Newark Monthly meetings were held in his home. He was a member of the First Assembly of Pennsylvania in 1682 and reelected 5 times. He also is listed as a signer of Penn’s Great Charter which established the principles of government of Pennsylvania. Valentine died in 1711 and was buried within the grounds of Newark Union Cemetery, the same land he had given for use as a Quaker graveyard. In 1935, the descendants of Valentine erected a monument in his honor.
Valentine’s children from both wives came to the new world and flourished. Considering the life expectancy of his era was 35 years old, if one survived the childhood mortality rate of 66%, it is remarkable that Valentine and so many of his children did survive and prosper in the new world. The Hollingsworth family name can be found now in every state.