The purpose of this short description of Samuel Holland's years in The Netherlands is to set straight a few misconceptions, specially that of his place of birth, which is on many web sites, still incorrectly given as Nijmegen. The research for this was done by my wife Janny Lowensteyn, shortly before her death in 1996.

Samuel Johannes Holland was baptized on 22 September 1729 in the small Lutheran Church in the Dutch town of Deventer in the Province of Overijssel. The city then had a population of about 7000 (today 95.600). He was the son of Johan (Jan) Holland and Johanna (Janna) Buiker. Besides the parents, his grandmother Maria Elizabeth Holland, nee Weemhof was also present.1

The name Samuel was a traditional one in the Holland family as the newly baptized infant had at least an uncle, two first cousins, a grandfather and a great-grandfather of the same name. Descendants kept the name going till today.The great-grandfather had been baptized at Strasbourg in 1606, had earned a doctorate, been ordained a Lutheran pastor and served as such at three places in Baden (Friesenheim, Hertingen and Ihringen) before returning to Strasbourg, where he died around 1676. The grandfather, the pastors eldest son, was born in Friesenheim before 1654 and moved as a young man to Utrecht, where he married eighteen-year old Maria Elizabeth Weemhof in 1677. Between 1684 and 1687 the family moved to Deventer.2 They seem to have had as many as fourteen children, of whom Johan, baptized at Deventer in 1701, was the last-born. Grandfather Samuel was a fairly prosperous citizen of Utrecht and later of Deventer where he died in 1701. His occupation in Utrecht was “vellenploter” (tanner) and in Deventer it was “velbereijder” which was part of the profession of “seemsbereijders”, the fabrication of chamois-leather. He probably owned some property in the Spinhuissteeg, close to the small Lutheran Church of which he was an important elder. This was an historically interesting part of Deventer. By the end of the Middle Ages the area was full of convents and religious institutions, but by the middle of the 18th century much had already changed. By the end of World War II most was destroyed during a bombardment and the rest was torn down to make room for urban renewal.

Grandfather Samuel's daughter Margaretha married a Lutheran pastor; his daughter Maria Magdalena a Johan Diedrich Martfeldt, who may well have been related to the brothers Joseph August and Johan Frederik Martfeldt, lieutenant-colonels of artillery. The former was to be the young Samuel’s commanding officer from 1745 to 1754. Occupations of Samuel Holland’s uncles and aunts include a church organist, several military men and mayor. Adolf became mayor of Medemblik, a Zuiderzee port north of Amsterdam. Adolf was clearly the star of the family and his descendants include the distinguished Rear-Admiral Adolf Holland (1764-1829) and Major-General Adolf Holland (1854-1939).

Samuel Johannes had one sister, Maria Elisabeth, baptized at Deventer on 24 September 1734.2a

Johan Holland, the father, died young in 1734 and it is possible that the mother Janna died young as well, as family tradition has it that Samuel Johannes was brought up by two aunts.3 After the father's death, the magistrates of Deventer appointed on 7 December 1734 two guardians for the underage children of Janna Buikers and the late Jan Holland which seems to imply that the widow was still living. Male guardians had to be appointed by the municipality, presumably because a mere (unemancipated) woman could not, alone, protect the childrens' interests.4 Neither this document nor the one dated 10 December 1734, listing the inventory of the household of Janna Buikers, states that she was deceased. The inventory of Jan Holland's estate, including the shop, was carried out at her behest for the knowledge of the childfren. As a widow Janna Buikers operated a hat shop. There is a complete inventory of her belongings, including the stock remaining in her shop in a notarial document held by the Deventer municipal archives.5

Samuel Holland presumably had an elementary and some secondary education, either obtained at schools or privately, before entering the Dutch artillery as a cadet in 1745. His name has not been found on lists of the various Latin schools.

The social status of his family was such that he was destined to become an officer. He chose the “learned arms”, not the infantry or cavalry where wealth and social position counted for much, but in the artillery which, in the Dutch army of those days, included military engineering. Here Samuel Holland was taught mathematics and other related disciplines necessary for gunnery and the building of fortifications. The latter, both “permanent” and “field”, included construction, attack, defence, and demolition. It was not only the making of precise plans that were important to the training of a military engineer, but also surveying of the ground, and mapping, disciplines in which Samuel Holland came to excel.

On 28 December 1747, Samuel was appointed6 (starting 5 February 1748) "extra-ordinaris meester-vuurwerker" in the Corps Artillery in the Company of Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph August Martfelt with the rank of sub-lieutenant.7 A "vuurwerker" was a military expert in explosives and they were appointed only after passing an examination. The job required much technical know-how and experience. Earlier, he was probably involved in military engagements in the Austrian Netherlands (Belgium) and the southern Netherlands. This was the war of the Austrian Succession which found Austria and England on one side with Prussia and France on the other side. France invaded the Austrian Netherlands and the defences manned by a combination of British, Austrian, Hessian and Hannoverian troops, fell one after another, into French hands. The Dutch were persuaded by England to commit troops and the Republic found itself embroiled in the conflict. By the end of 1746, the French troops were at the border of the Dutch Republic. The Dutch rejected a compromise offered by the French, a bad decisions as French troops now invaded the Netherlands. One of the places of conflict was at the fortress at Hulst (in Dutch)on the banks of the river Scheldt where cadet Holland was among the defenders.8 French troops also besieged Bergen op Zoom, where Holland was also one of the defenders.9 In both cases the towns had to be surrendered to the French. During those engagements, as well as the one at 's Hertogenbosch and Nijmegen, Holland was able to demonstrate his skills as a cartographer as is shown in a number of superior maps in Netherlands archives.

On 31 August 1749 he married in Neerbosch, now part of Nijmegen, Geertruy Hassé (Hasse) from Hulst (Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen), date of registry is 10 August 1749.10 On 24 June 1750, a baby daughter, Johanna Christina, was baptized in Nijmegen, The fact that the baby was not mentioned subsequently in Geertruy's official requests for financial support implies that the child died in infancy.11

On 22 February 1748, Abraham Hassé (Hasse, Hassée), born 1722, was appointed by the Council of State as ordinaris meester-vuurwerker (master pyrotechnician) in the company of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph August Martfeldt.12 Since 4 December 1747, he held the rank of ordinaris luitenant (lieutenant). Given his function, he must have worked very closely with Holland. Abraham ultimately attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.13 The other brother Johannes Ernestus was also a vuurwerker in the army. Whether Holland actually learned his skills in the fields of mathematics and fortifications from both the Hassé brothers, as Geertruy claimed in her request cannot be ascertained. In their capacities they were presumably much at home in mathematics. Cartography was in any event not taught in the artillery. Where Holland studied this subject is not known.14 During the period 1735 - circa 1750, those wishing to become a sublieutenant or extraordinaris vuurwerker with the artillery were obliged to sit an examination... Certainly in the period 1747-1750, standards for this examination were not high; this made it easier to recruit new personnel, the requirement for which was considerable because of the expansion of the artillery. For the same reason, the examination was even scrapped around 1750. No high standards would have been set for drawing skills. 15

For the next four years Holland continued to serve in Martfeldt's company where his engineering and cartographic skills must have come to the attention of the Duke of Richmond when he was touring the battlefields of the Low Countries with his military tutor, Guy Carleton. Not having a great future to look forward to in the poorly paid and small Dutch artillery forces, he joined in 1754 the British forces being prepared for a major campaign in North America. Comments made in Geertruy's later request for financial support, suggest that the marriage had soured and that Holland had been less than faithful. So there were no economic nor personal reasons to stay in the Netherlands. To the contrary, Dutch engineers were highly valued in the British army and with the support of high-born patrons like Richmond, the career opportunities for Holland looked good.

Footnotes (click on the number of the footnote to return to the text)


De Nederlandsche Leeuw, 1977, column 412
Click on image for enlargement
For further information on the genealogy of the ancestors and Dutch relatives of Samuel Johannes Holland see De voorouders en Nederlandse verwanten van Samuel Johannes Holland (in Dutch)


De Nederlandsche Leeuw, 1977, columns 409-412. This source implies without undisputable evidence, that the Strasbourg tailor and burgher Georg(e) or Jörg Holst(t) , who was born at Ippischburg or Eppisburg near Dillingen on the Danube, was married at Strasbourg in 1598 to Catherina Bolich or Boley, and died in 1648, was the father of Samuel Holland(t), the great-grandfather of our subject .


She married in Paramaribo on 8 June 1760 with Michiel Hendrik Lesser, age: 25, born: Hamburg, religion: Lutheran
Bans: Paramaribo - Ondertrouwboek
Non-Conformisten/nr 171
23 Mei 1760


Willis Chipman, "The Life and Times of Major Samuel Holland, Surveyor-General, 1764-1801," Ontario Historical Society Papers and Records XXI, p. 13.


Deventer Archives: Voogdijstellingen (Guardianship Appointments) 1657-1798, nr. 109-c/Ov/p.98, 7 december 1734 - "Tot memberen over de onmondige kinderen van Janna Buikers bij wijlen Jan Holland in egte geteeld, hebben Schepenen en Raden bij deesen aangesteld Jan Beekman en Garrit Houwen. Actum in Senatu, den 7 December 1734" (The Megistrates and Council have hereby appointed Jan Beekman and Garrit Houwen as guardians over the under-aged children of Janna Buikers born in marriage to the late Jan Holland. Actum in Senatu, December 7, 1734)


Deventer Archives: Boedelinventaris (Inventory of Household Goods) 1518-1811, I, #143-d/pp. 759-765, 10 december 1734


Algemeen Rijksarchief, Den Haag (ARA), archief Raad van State tot 1795, inventarisatienummer 1538; commissieboek over de jaren 1735-1748, folio 220)


Algemeen Rijksarchief, Den Haag (ARA), bibliotheek, Naem-Register der Militaire Officieren(...) / Register van alle Regimenten in dienst van de staat (...) april 1750-1754. Holland's appointment is connected to the formation during the month of december 1747 of three new artillery companies (F.W.H Kuypers, Geschiedenis der Nederlansche artillerie van af de vroegste tijden tot op heden. III, 91)


Chipman, loc.cit.; Kuypers, F.W.H., III, p. 100.


After a siege of two months, the fortress of Bergen op Zoom falls into French hands on September 16th, 1747. Earlier that year, the French had already occupied Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. On July 12th, they had appeared under the command of Generaal U.F.W. Count von Löwenthal. The quick surrender of the fortress illustrates the poor state of the Republican army and fortifications. Bergen op Zoom was defended by the 86-year old I.K. Baron Cronström, who was no longer cut out for the task. The Estates-General of the Dutch Republic now made more funds available for the war, but very quickly the opinion took hold that it was better to conclude a peace with France to prevent further damage.
(Bergen op Zoom als militaire stad {Bergen op Zoom as a Militairy City} is a publication of the IMG/KL - Institute for Militairy History of the Dutch Army) -
See illustration
Source: Val van Bergen op Zoom

Andreas August Graaf van Praetorius Generaal Commandant der Vesting Bergen op Zoom in 1747. (The Vinkhuijzen collection of military uniforms - Netherlands, 1714-1748.)

The Marquisate of Bergen op Zoom


Nijmegen, Gemeentearchief: Retroacta burgerlijke stand 1179. The sole witness was Johan Ernestus Hasse, one of the bride's brothers. Copy of marriage certificate


Two witnesses were present at the baptism, namely Abraham Hasse and Christina Scholte, widow Hasse, source baptism register Reformed municipality of Nijmegen 1721-1767. Although it is not mentioned in the source it can be assumed that these witnesses were a second brother and the mother of Geertruy Hassé (Hasse).

Algemeen Rijksarchief, Den Haag (ARA): Extract uit het Register der Resolutien van de Ho: Mo: Heeren Staaten Generaal der Vereenigde Nederlanden. Mercurie den 16e april 1766

Algemeen Rijksarchief, Den Haag (ARA): Eerste Afdeling, Staten Generaal, no. 7890. Januari 1769, Lias: Requesten/October 29. 3821

Because payments had stopped in 1782, Geertruy Hassé sent a petition to Lord Sydney in London, which arrived on 13 July 1784. (Colonial Office 42, vol. 16, p. 259). Richard Cumberland, Holland's personal agent in London declared, however, that he no longer had any control over the funds of Samuel Holland. The payment stoppage probably had to do with the fact that Holland had obtained a judicial judgement in New Hampshire stating that his marriage to Marie-Joseph Rollet was legal.


General Public Records Office, The Hague, Council of State archive, inventory number1538, folio 222)

Artillery Uniforms during the time Samuel Holland was in the Regiment of Joseph A. Martfeldt

The Regiment of Joseph A.Martfeldt moved around the various garrison towns of the Dutch Republic as is shown by the dates and places listed below. There was also a Joseph A.Martfeldt Jr., but most of the dates are in 1770-1800 range, although Joseph A.Martfeldt is also listed in that period. I presume those refer to the junior as well.
Source: Garnizoensplaatsen tot 1795:

Arnhem Rgt.Art. (Cie Johan Blankenstein/Joseph A.Martfeldt) 1737, 1753
Breevoort Rgt.Art. (Cie Johan Blankenstein/Joseph A.Martfeldt) 1737, 1751
Doesburg Rgt.Art. (Cie Johan Blankenstein/Joseph A.Martfeldt) 1737, 1753
Grave Rgt.Art. (Cie Johan Blankenstein/Joseph A.Martfeldt) 1737, 1753
's Hertogenbosch Rgt.Art. (Cie Joseph August Martfeldt) 1753, 1768
Heusden Rgt.Art. (Cie Joseph August Martfeldt) 1753, 1768
Nijmegen Rgt.Art. (Cie Joseph August Martfeldt) 1751, 1753
Sint Andries Rgt.Art. (Cie Johan Blankenstein/Joseph A.Martfeldt) 1737, 1753
Venlo Rgt.Art. (Cie Johan Blankenstein/Joseph A.Martfeldt) 1737, 1751
Zutphen Rgt.Art. (Cie Johan Blankenstein/Joseph A.Martfeldt) 1737, 1751

However, the list does not mention the Regiment of Joseph A.Martfeldt as being present in either Hulst or Bergen op Zoom in the fateful year of 1747.

Abraham Hasse must have gotten his own regiment in the early 1780's as is indicated by the list below:

Bergen op Zoom Rgt.Art. (Cie Anthony F. Zahling/Abraham Hasse) 1780, 1785
Breda Rgt.Art. (Abraham Hasse) 1785, 1792
Geertruidenberg Rgt.Art. (Abraham Hasse) 1785, 1789
Heusden Rgt.Art. (Abraham Hasse) 1784, 1789
Klundert Rgt.Art. (Abraham Hasse) 1784, 1789
Leeuwarden Rgt.Art. (Abraham Hasse/2e Cie 3e Bat) 1792, 1794
Lillo Rgt.Art. (Cie Anthony F. Zahling/Abraham Hasse) 1780, 1785
Sint Andries Rgt.Art. (Abraham Hasse) 1784, 1789
Willemstad Rgt.Art. (Abraham Hasse) 1784, 1789
Zwolle Rgt.Art. (Abraham Hasse/2eCie 3eBat/3eCie 2eBat) 1794 -
Source: Garnizoensplaatsen tot 1795:


Officers Booklets; General Public Records Office, Council of State archive, inventory number 1947.


Letter: Drs. P.H. Kamphuis, Head, Military History Section, Royal Netherlands Army, dd. 14 November 1995, ref. #2225/1917/8/95

Hollandt, S.J.: Tekenaar. Onder-luitenant artillerie (1752 en 1755). Kaarten: Nijmegen e.o. (samen met H.J. van Suchtelen), 1752; 's-Hertogenbosch, 1755. Repertorium van Nederlandse kaartmakers 1500-1900, samengesteld door Marijke Donkersloot-de Vrij, Utrecht, 2003, (Repertory of Dutch Map Makers, 1500-1900, compiled by Marijke Donkersloot-de Vrij, Utrecht, 2003), p. 92


Letter: Kamphuis, 24 January 1996, ref. # 108/8/96. The details in the letter were obtained from J.A.M.M. Janssen, Op weg naar Breda. The opleiding van officieren voor het Nederlandse leger tot aan de oprichting van de Koninklijke Militaire Academie in 1828 [On the Road to Breda. Training of Officers for the Dutch Army prior to the Founding of the Royal Military Academy in 1828], (The Hague, 1989: Military History Section Series, no. 19; University of Nijmegen dissertation)

Further on Samuel Holland - Links to his life in North America

Views of

The following maps are scans from facsimile publications of the Blaeu's Toonneel der Steden from 1652, a century before Samuel Holland's time in The Netherlands. Although the towns expanded somewhat, their fortifications remained more or less the same.

Maps by Samuel Holland on the Internet

Partial Family Tree

Other Links

PEI 250 Holland