Sir Isaac Holden, 1st Baronet

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Issac Holden
Portrait of bearded man (Isaac Holden) sat at a desk
Holden in 1868, painted by Samuel Sidley
Born (1807-05-07)7 May 1807
Died 13 August 1897(1897-08-13) (aged 90)
Resting place
Undercliffe Cemetery, Bradford
Nationality British
Occupation inventor and politician

Sir Isaac Holden, 1st Baronet (7 May 1807 – 13 August 1897) was an inventor and manufacturer, who is known both for his work with wool-combing and with matches.

He was born in the village of Hurlet near Glasgow, and from the age of ten worked in a cotton mill. He became largely self-educated, although he did briefly attend a grammar school. After an unsuccessful apprenticeship, he became a teacher at local schools, and in 1829 obtained a post at the Castle Academy in Reading, Berkshire. It was here that it was thought he developed the Lucifer match, but it was actually invented by a man named John Walker of Stockton-on-Tees in 1827, who did not patent the invention. The following year he returned to Scotland, and after a brief period of teaching became a bookkeeper at a worsted factory. Transferring to the technical side, he developed a square motion wool-comber and a device for making genappe yarns, which he did patent along with Samuel Lister (later Lord Masham).

In 1848, trading as Lister & Holden, they set up a factory near Paris which became the largest wool-combing establishment in the world. Lister retired from the business, and the company became Isaac Holden and sons.

Holden also served as a Liberal Member of Parliament for Knaresborough from 1865 to 1868, for the Northern West Riding of Yorkshire from 1882 to 1885 and for Keighley from 1885 to 1895.

Holden owned Oakworth House near Keighley in Yorkshire. In 1893, at the age of 86, he was created a Baronet, of Oakworth House in the County of York.[1] Holden died in August 1897, aged 90, and was buried in Undercliffe Cemetery, Bradford. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son Angus Holden. His daughter Margaret had married Alfred Illingworth who succeeded him as MP for Knaresborough. In 1908 his son was raised to the peerage as Baron Holden.

The former grounds of Oakworth House were given as a public park to the people of Oakworth by the family of Sir Isaac Holden in 1927. This is called Holden Park.


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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Basil Thomas Woodd
Thomas Collins
Member of Parliament for Knaresborough
With: Basil Thomas Woodd
Succeeded by
Alfred Illingworth
Preceded by
Sir Mathew Wilson
Lord Frederick Cavendish
Member of Parliament for Northern West Riding of Yorkshire
With: Sir Mathew Wilson
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Keighley
Succeeded by
Sir John Brigg
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Oakworth House) 
Succeeded by
Angus Holden