Brethren Archive

Alfred Holness

Born: 14th May 1845
Died: 8th October 1926

Kindly provided by a family member.

Birth Location
Upper Hardres, Kent, United Kingdom
Death Location
London, Middlesex, United Kingdom
Religious Publisher

Intro, Biographical Information, Notes etc:

Parents: Alfred Holness (1819–1911) and Mary Ann Holness, born Roberts (19201893)
Siblings: Edwin Holness (born 1848), Fanny Holness (born 1851)
Wife: Mary Amelia Say Alloway (18481931), daughter of Charles Alloway and Elizabeth Alloway
Children: Alfred Holness (born 1872), Ada Holness (born 1873), Edith Holness (18751948), Edwyn Holness (18761955)

Tom said ...

Alfred Holness was another well known Brethren (and Christian) publisher. He was born in Kent, in the area south of Canterbury. By 1881, he had moved to East Dulwich in London, and was described in the census as "Publisher & Bookseller Employing 3 Men 1 Woman & 1 Boy".

His business seems to have operated firstly from 21 Paternoster Row in the 1870s, and later from 14 Paternoster Row by at least the early 80s.

He was given the Freedom of the City of London in 1882!

There is an entry in the Booksellers Review, but I can only see the first line which reads "ALFRED HOLNESS. (Paternoster Row, E.C.) Mr. Alfred Holness' handsome show-rooms in the Row are packed once again with a choice assortment of the .. ". From here;

A picture of his son Edwin, can be seen here.

He died in London, but can not find a record of his grave.

Tuesday, Jul 31, 2018 : 03:39
Michael Schneider said ...

Judging by Kelly's letters, Holness must have sided with Fereday in the 1900 trouble (27 Nov 1900: "Holness too is with the rebels; but even before, what a stagnant pool is his 'Springing Well'?"; 28 Nov 1901: "I have begged S.S. not to supply H.’s Springing Well. It is a stagnant pool; & he is an adversary."). He seems to have had "Open" tendencies for some years before (8 Nov 1893: "I do not know what they feel at Holness publishing! Burridge’s magazine, as well as his advocacy of looseness; but I should shrink from going into partnership ecclesiastically with people who are not decided in shunning such folk and ways.").

Wednesday, Aug 1, 2018 : 04:25
Tom said ...
I'd forgotten those comments by W.K. and didn't even realise Holness was in the meetings. Looking at dates of his publications, it does seem very quickly after around 1900 that he became much more broad in what he would publish. I wonder what became of him church-wise after this time.
Wednesday, Aug 1, 2018 : 13:48
Tom said ...

I've just seen there is a death notice in the Believer's magazine .. also gives where he was buried.

Wednesday, Aug 1, 2018 : 13:56
Martin Arhelger said ...
also have some details about Alfred Holness.
Thursday, Aug 2, 2018 : 19:28
Martin Arhelger said ...
In the magazine "The Witness", volume 61 (1931), page 72 there is a note about the widow of Alfred Holness.
Thursday, Aug 2, 2018 : 19:32
Martin Arhelger said ...
Neil T. R. Dickson's P.h. D. Thesis "The History of the Open Brethren in Scotland 1838-1999" says on page 182, note 31: "In 1919 Pickering & Inglis absorbed Brethren publishers R L Allan of Glasgow, Alfred Holness of London, and Yapp and Hawkins of London". References are given!
Thursday, Aug 2, 2018 : 19:40
Tom said ...

Thanks for the links Martin,

For anyone interested, I've copied the quote from the astronomical society here .. 

Alfred Holness was born in 1846 at Faversham, Kent, where his father was a market gardener. Quite early in his life he went up to London and was employed in the firm of Mr. W. H. Broom, a publisher ; of religious works. A few years later he decided to commence on the same lines for himself, and for fifty-three years he was engaged on this work, retiring from the City in 1919. He published during his long business life a large number of evangelical periodicals and pamphlets, and was the editor of The Springing Well. He also took part in evangelical work in lodging-houses, public halls, and theatres. Owing to his numerous occupations, he was unable to do any practical work in astronomy, but he took a lifelong interest in the science, and was a regular attendant at the Society’s meetings. After retiring from business he visited his sons in Canada and South Africa, and whilst in Durban he was delighted at being allowed to observe with the telescope at the Observatory. His outlook on life was a world-wide one, and he was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He married in 1871, and died on 1926 October 8, leaving a widow, two sons, and two daughters. He was elected a Fellow of the Society on 1918 January 11.

Interesting that he himself started by working for W.H. Broom.

And also the piece about Mrs Holness;


I saw another reference to his former book-shop in that volume as well;



Friday, Aug 3, 2018 : 05:44
Timothy Stunt said ...
Mention of Christian booksellers in the Paternoster Row area near St Paul's brings to mind the many discoveries I made as a teenager (in the 1950s) in the bookshop of Cyril Alfred Hammond in Little Britain, where there was always a kindly reception from CAH's daughters, 'the Misses Hammond'. For details of Brethren publishing there is a good deal of well-organized information at Timothy Stunt
Saturday, Aug 4, 2018 : 04:21
Tom said ...

Paternoster Row and the adjoining area must have been an amazing place (before it was destroyed during the Blitz), with pretty much every shop being a bookseller.

Finding pictures of what it once was like was harder than I imagined it would be .. but here are a few for anyone interested;

Firstly, one from an 1835 Print;


The next from 1851 by Thomas Colman Dibdin


This image is taken from “Pleasant Hours: A Monthly Journal of Home Reading and Sunday Teaching; Volume III” published by the Church of England’s National Society’s Depository, London, in 1863.


Another picture from the Illustrated London News in the same year showing some new buildings in Paternoster Row. The street seems a lot wider at this end.


Similar looking is the RTS building; this one from around 1848,


This one showing, St Paul's Cathedral, the west end of Cheapside, Paternoster Row, Newgate Street and Fleet Street, from 'Collins' Illustrated Guide to London and Neighbourhood', 1871.


And a later one from 1911, from The City, by Sir Walter Besant.


Finally a map of the area from 1868, which also shows Warrick Square to the left - the location of the original Brethren Tract depot in London.


This page is also interesting on the subject;

And the wikipedia page gives the numbers of various booksellers on the street;

Tuesday, Aug 7, 2018 : 03:50
Tom said ...

An example advertisement, from 1891

Sunday, Aug 12, 2018 : 00:04
Tom said ...

Another one from 1908, this time in "The United Methodist" magazine!

Sunday, Aug 12, 2018 : 00:17
Tom said ...

And one more from the same magazine, 1912

Sunday, Aug 12, 2018 : 00:20
Tony Holness said ...
My sincere thanks to the authors of this background on my great grandfather Alfred and my great grandmother Mary. My grandfather Edwyn emigrated to South Africa and many members of his family are still resident. At the moment I am writing a family "booklet" to enlighten my family so this has been a god-sent!
I would be delighted to hear from anyone via my email address.
Tuesday, Feb 4, 2020 : 17:05
Judy Clarke said ...
I have a copy of your great grandfathers book on David Livingston from the Penny Life Stories. I would be happy to mail it to you free of charge.
Sunday, Jun 23, 2024 : 07:03

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