Robert Holden

In 1679, Robert Holden was commissioned by the Lords Proprietors to explore the province “either on this side or beyonde the Apaletean Mountaines.”

William S. Powell suggests that Robert Holden may have been a native of Kent, England, and studied at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

He was in Virginia no later than December of 1671. In September of that same year the Lords Proprietors of Carolina had granted him 660 acres of land in Albemarle, and also allowed him to trade with the Indians with the expressed desire that by doing so he might open up a trading path with the Ashley River settlement at Charles Town.

Holden seems to have been a favorite of the Lords Proprietors. He often served as Secretary of Albemarle, having filled that position in 1675, 1677, and between 1679 and 1684. In addition he also filled a chair in the Executive Council in 1678 and between 1679 and 1690.

It would seem that he was involved in Culpeper’s Rebellion more than is indicated by the records, for he was accused as a “Ringleader” in Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia and a warrant had been issued for him in that colony as one of the leaders in that uprising.

Appointed Customs Collector under Governor Seth Sothel, it was Robert Holden who brought John Harvey’s commission to Albemarle after the Sothel was captured by the Turks and awaiting his release. He seems to have occupied the office of Customs Collector until 1685, and was the first holder of that position who returned any receipts to the Lords Proprietors.

In February 1679, Holden was commissioned by the Lords Proprietors as commander of a body of men to explore the interior of Carolina “on this side or beyond the Apeletean Mountaines.” In addition he was commissioned as the personal representative of the Lords Proprietors in claiming “all Wrecks, Ambergrise or any other Ejections of the Sea.”

In the spring of 1707 he was in London and wrote a description of Carolina for the Lords Proprietors. That same year the Lords Proprietors also attempted to secure royal confirmation of Holden’s appointment as Governor of the Bahamas, but there is no evidence that he ever served in that office.


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