This English surname which was taken to Ireland by settlers is familiar to County Limerick, where it is an abbreviated form of Mulholland. In County Clare it is sometimes used as a synonym of Holoham. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. The Irish prefixes of Mac (son of) and O (grandson or descendant of) gave rise at an early date, to a set of fixed hereditary names in which the literal patronymic meaning was lost or obscured. These surnames originally signified membership of a clan, but with the passage of time, the clan system became less distinct, and surnames came to identify membership of what is called a 'sept' of people all living in the same locality, all bearing the same surname, but not necessarily descended from a common ancestor. Adoption of the name by people who did not otherwise have a surname and by their dependants was not uncommon. Later, nicknames were in some cases to supersede the original clan names. Sir Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland (1590-1649) was the English courtier and soldier. He was a favourite of James VI and I of Scotland and England, and in 1624 he negotiated the marriage between the future Charles I and Henrietta Maria. Before the outbreak of the Civil War (1642-51) he deserted Charles and joined the Parliamentarians, but eventually attempted a royalist rising in 1648, and was captured and executed. A notable member of the name was Henry Holland (1746-1806) the English architect, pupil and son-in-law of Lancelot (Capability) Brown. He designed Old Carlton House in London, the original Brighton Pavilion, Brook's Club and many other buildings. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard