Benigna Catharina von Holst

Born: about 1801, possibly in Riga, Russia (now Latvia)
Died: 26 October 1845, Bombay, India

Father: Matthias Holst, 1769-1845
Mother: Catharina/Katharina Beata Rogge, c1771-1838

Spouse: Charles Nicholas Weiss (1789-1845)
Married by Banns on 9 September 1828 at the Parish Chapel, St Pancras, London, England. Both were living in the parish at the time. Witnesses were "Gustavus v Holst" (Gustavus von Holst, Benigna's brother), "M v Holst" (Matthias von Holst, Benigna's father), and "J.C. Zester?"


Biographical information
The information about Benigna's early life is quite hazy. Her birth date of 1801 is derived from the 1841 English census, which says she was 40 years old. However, knowing that the ages of adults in the 1841 Census were rounded to the nearest 5 or 10, this is only a vague indicator of her year of birth. Her burial record, from 1845, also states she was 40 years old at the time of her death, which would put her birth year about 1805. The family arrived in England from Riga sometime between the birth of Benigna's brother, Gustavus, in September 1799 in Riga and the birth of Benigna's sister, Constantia, in November 1804 in London, and it is probable that Benigna was born during this period also.

In the family there is a sketchbook of Benigna's drawings from 1816 that has been passed down through the generations. I have seen these sketches and they are beautifully done. Many are pencil sketches of famous artworks. Knowing that her brother Theodor was a talented artist, Benigna's artistic giftedness is not surprising. Assessing the level of artistic maturity of these drawings, I would guess that Benigna was a teenager at the time of the execution of these drawings, rather than a younger child.

Benigna was also talented musically, and played the harp. She was a student of Bochsa and Meyer, and offered lessons to the local gentry.

Benigna and Charles had six children who were all apparently born in England. In 1840 Charles joined the British Army and was sent to India. He arrived in India on September 29, 1840, and it is probable he travelled with two of the children, Bernard and Caroline (who were baptised there two months later). Benigna stayed behind in England with the other children, and only travelled to India later, at some time after the 1841 English Census - where Benigna was living at 4 Acre Place, St Pancras, in London, with the children Adelaide, Derby, Egmont and Frederick (listed as "Fritz").

Benigna died in Bombay (now Mumbai)  on 26 October 1845, of fever. One imagines she contracted some sort of tropical disease, and on her death the Weiss children were orphaned, their father having died in June. Benigna was buried in the Colaba Cemetery.