The earliest appearance of a Hollingsworth ancestor is Henry Hollingsworth who was the father of our immigrant ancestor Valentine. Based on available records, he is believed to have been born around 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.
Where Henry lived as a child and possibly to early manhood is unknown, although it is likely he was born in England. Most recent DNA testing indicates that Valentine's DNA line split off from its parent line around the year 1300. We have found descendants of that parent DNA line in the area of Calverley and Bradford in Yorkshire, but whether the Valentine line moved to this area is presently unknown. 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 is recorded as born in 1632 in Ballyvickrandle in the parish of Seagoe in County Armagh.
In 1641 the Irish Catholics revolted. The revolt was especially bloody in Ulster and was pushed back with great brutality. It is unclear whether Henry survived the Irish rebellion. If he did survive, he may have fled with his family to Dublin or perhaps back to England. There are no records following the rebellion that can be conclusively linked to Henry.
Charles’ rule in England, with increasing taxes and his push to re-establish Roman Catholicism, degenerated into a rebellion called the English Civil War in 1642. The Roundheads, led 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.
Valentine first appears in the Lurgan Meeting Records, Seago Parish, County Armagh in 1655 when he marries Ann Rea. Where Valentine was in those intervening 14 years is unknown.He next shows up in County Armagh records in 1664 when he purchases his father's original lands in Ballyvickcrannel (now Ballymacrandal) and shows up on the tax rolls.
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. We do not believe that Henry was a Quaker, given his use of what appears to be the Hollingworth Coat of Arms on a document seal. In fact, Henry may have already been dead by the time the Quaker movement reached Ireland. Valentine's birth is listed in the Lurgan Meeting records, but it appears to have been recorded at a later date, after Valentine joined the Quakers.
After bearing four children (oldest Mary born in 1656), 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 the new Pennsylvania colony set up by Penn. The family arrived in New Castle (now in Delaware) in December of 1682. He was granted nearly 1000 acres by William Penn 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 around 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. In 2023, his original headstone was located and raised to the surface during the annual DVHSS reunion.
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.