Forgotten tales

stories of my family

Holford: evolution of a name

Our family name has evolved over the last 300 years from Holtorp to Holford. With the help of a family tree drawn up by Victoria Reevey, publicly available on, I have managed to trace the Holford family name back to the end of the 1600s. Of course there are dozens of others involved but if I take just the direct line back then it is as follows, starting with me and ending with Dirk Holtorp, born 1688 (quoting names at birth)

David Ian Holford (b. Lautoka, Fiji, 1961)
Ian Charles Ross Holford (b. Sydney, Australia, 1933)
Charles John Stacey Holdorf (b. Goulburn, Australia, 1899)
Charles John Holdorf (b.Sydney, Australia, 1869)
Johann Holtorf (b. Bimöhlen, Schleswig Holstein, Germany, 1828)
Claus Holtorf (b.Bramstedt, Germany, 1791)
Detlef Holtorf (b. Bimöhlen, Schleswig-Holstein, 1764)
Dirk Holtorp (b.1724)
Dirk Holtorp (b.1688)

It looks like an Old Testament list!

Bramstedt is in present day northern Germany, just north of Bremen, south of Cuxhaven. However, there is a place called Bad-Bramstedt in Schleswig-Holstein, very close to Bimöhlen, which is the birthplace listed for Johann Holtorf (see the previous post, England and Germany united). So I wonder if Claus Holtorf was really from Bad-Bramstedt, which would make sense, since both his father Detlef and his son Johann are listed as being born in Bimöhlen. I have no birthplace for either Dirk junior (1724) or Dirk senior (1688) but it seems a good guess that they too came from this disputed area of northern Germany.

Whatever is the case, it is clear that my name, as English as it sounds now, is the fourth variation of Holtorp, and came originally from a German speaking family, apparently from Schleswig-Holstein, or more specifically from Holstein, these areas having been to a certain extent Danish a long way back in history.


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3 thoughts on “Holford: evolution of a name

  1. Peter on said:

    This matches my notes. I’m assuming you have a copy of the family tree that I typed up called ‘Development of name and line’?

  2. Actually I had forgotten all the notes you gave me but thanks for reminding me. I found the folder on my computer. More stuff to process. Fun!

  3. But is it Bramstedt or Bad-Bramstedt? And even if the Duchy of Holstein was owned by Denmark, what language did they speak? I am assuming German!

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