Hollis, Isaac

Variant first names: Thomas
honorificMr.
Birth: 1699 or 1701 in London
Death: June 8, 1774 in High Wycombe, England
Affiliation:

Baptist Church; French Prophets

Faith:

Baptist, French Prophets

Nationality:

English

Occupation:

minister, philanthropist

Events:

Fundraising Tour of Great Britain

Marital status:

Married Susan Jones. They had one son, John (1742-1824).

Biography:

Isaac Hollis was a Baptist minister in England and a philanthropist for Indian education in the colonies. He was the eldest son of John Hollis (1666-1733) and Hannah Sanford (d. 1740). John was a successful draper in London, and after his death, Isaac Hollis was invited by the minister Isaac Watts to donate to Indian missions in the colonies, a type of charity that had become fashionable in England. Through a complex ministerial network, Watts contacted the Reverend Benjamin Colman in Boston, who wrote to John Sergeant, missionary to the Housatonic Indians, with Hollis' offer to fund the support and education of 20 Indian scholars. Although this proved too expensive, Hollis did support 12 Indian students. He was also the major donor for Jonathan Edwards' mission to the Stockbridge Indians in the 1750s. Thus, it is not surprising that Dennys DeBerdt, who was raising money for Wheelock's school in London, reports soliciting funds from Hollis in 1761. That initial request failed, he reports to Wheelock, because for a long time Hollis has been a "French Prophet, and will think of nothing but his Enthusiastical Revealation." French Prophets were a millenarian group that grew out of the persecution of the Hugenots and left France to proselytize in England, where they attracted important followers. In 1767, Hollis eventually donated £100 to Wheelock's school, but was recorded in the accounts as Thomas Hollis. Thomas Hollis (1720-1774) was Isaac's uncle, a well-known English philanthropist who gave large sums of money to restore Harvard's library when Harvard Hall was destroyed by fire in 1764. Wheelock's thank you letter to Hollis (manuscript 767170.2 in Dartmouth Rauner special collections, not in the Occom Circle) addresses him as Thomas, hence the message from Alexander Chamberlain in manuscript 767569.

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Sources:

Nat Gould: His Life and Books. http://www.natgould.org/isaac_hollis; Richardson, Leon Burr. An Indian Preacher in England. Hanover: Dartmouth College Publications, 1933; Schwartz, Hillel. The French Prophets. London: 1980; Szasz, Margaret Connell. Indian Education in the American Colonies, 1607-1783. Lincoln: U Nebraska Press, 2007.