- Richard Buel
Holker, John (1745–1822), agent for the French during the American Revolution and influential merchant, also known as Jean Holker, was born at the time of the last Jacobite Rebellion (exact date and place unknown), the son of John Holker, an English soldier from the Manchester area who had sided with the Pretender. (His mother’s name is not known.) John Sr. fled with his family to France when the rebellion collapsed. In exile he turned to pioneering the introduction of new manufacturing techniques from England. He became a prosperous textile merchant-industrialist based in Rouen, and in 1755, thanks to the patronage of a powerful minister at court, Trudaine de Montigny, was appointed inspector general of manufactures. In 1775 he acquired the additional title of chevalier. In 1777 he acted as principal in a large contract for military clothing and uniforms placed by the American commissioners at Versailles on Congress’s behalf....