Holden, Smollet

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Dates Active in Dublin: 



Parliament Street, 1796
32 Arran Quay, 1805–06
26 Parliament Street, 1806–13


He was described in the Dublin Directories as 'military music master and instrument maker'.

Publications include collections of Welsh tunes, masonic songs, country dances, and individual songs and instrumental pieces.

He also composed, George Petrie describing him as 'the most eminent British composer of military music in his time' (Duignan & Boydell).

Succeeded in business by his wife Mrs Holden after his death in 1813. She continued the business from the same address until c. 1818, often using her husband's name.

[Holden is tangentally involved in the history of the keyed bugle in Ireland and the confusion regarding its patent rights. Apparently, when the inventor Haliday moved to Dublin in 1816, he discovered Logier and others making keyed bugles without authorisation and published a booklet to discredit Logier (Dudgeon, New Grove). An 1815 article in Allemeine musikalische Zeitung, translated by David Lasocki, stated that 'Mr. Logier & Co. have a patent'. Dudgeon's JAMIS article, states that Haliday was possibly cheated by his lawyer Robert Tilly and is also believed to have sold the patent rights to Matthew Pace for £50. However, Lasocki's article provides an account of Court of Chancery transcripts relating to a claim of violations of the patent, unsuccessfully brought by George Collins. They detail that: Haliday invented the keyed bugle in late 1809; the bugle major of the Cavan Regiment showed it to Matthew Pace who purchased "the secret" from him for £50 and made one; Haliday made contact with Smollet Holden to sell him "the secret" and to procure a patent for it; as Holden wasn’t a manufacturer, Pace was approached, and as he already possessed “the secret” an agreement was made between them to put the patent in Holden’s name, Pace would be paid to manufacturer the instruments, and the profits would be divided between Holden and Pace; Holden was unable to obtain the patent in his name, so it was put in Haliday’s. The date assignment of patent rights to Haliday’s lawyer Tilly are not ascertained in Court, but it was asserted that the standing arrangement was to remain. George Collins was assigned the patent in September 1818.]

[Dates and addresses differ according to sources: Teahan gives 32 Arran Quay in 1805 and 26 Parliament Street in 1806 only. Hogan gives 26 Parliament Street from c. 1800 to 1818 only. McHale gives Arran Quay in 1805 and Parliament Street from 1806. 1 Note: the square piano dated 1796 and inscribed 'Holden, Parliament St' suggests that Holden may already have worked in Parliament Street before or along with his Arran Quay address. McHale, in reference to Holden's A Collection of Quick and Slow Marches, Troops &c. gives the publication date as c. 1795 but Duignan & Boydell give it as c. 1807.]

Select Product/Work List: 

Produced or Sold

  • Square piano, 1796: private collection. Mark: 'Holden, Parliament St' [possibly seller rather than maker]
  • Published

  • A Collection of Old Established Irish Slow and Quick Tunes, c. 1795? (McHale), c. 1807? (Duignan & Boydell)
  • Holden's Collection of the Most Esteem'd Old Irish Melodies, 2 vols, c. 1807 (McHale)
  • A Favourite Collection of Dances for the Present Season, c. 1809 (McHale)
  • A Collection of Masonic Songs, c. 1810 (McHale)
  • Last Update: 16-05-2018