Holland was a native of Denbigh, the son of Robert Holland by a lady of the name of Payne, and was educated, according to Anthony Wood, at Westminster School, while Camden was a teacher there, to whom he alludes in the passage already quoted. From there he went to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1589, of which college he was shortly made a Fellow. He became afterwards a great traveller, visiting Italy, the Holy Land, and Constantinople; and on his return to England, spent some time at Oxford for the sake of the public library there. He was considered an excellent Latin poet, but we are not aware of any other poetical English work that he published, beyond occasional copies of verses prefixed to other person's works. Of these he contributed verses to Coryates Crudities, 4to, 1611; and to the first folio edition of Shakespeare's Plays, 1623. He has a copy of Latin verses before Dr. Alabaster's Roxana, in 1632. He published Ecclesia Sancti Pauli illustrata. The Monumental Inscriptions, Epitaphs of Kings, Nobles, Bishops, and others, buried in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, London. By Hugh Holland. 4to, London, 1633. He has four Latin lines prefixed to Chapman's Epicide or Funerall Song on Prince Henry. 4to, 1612. He also wrote the long inscription and the Latin verses on the Monument of Dr. George Mountaigne, Archbishop of York, in the Church of Cawood in Yorkshire; and was the author of several works still in manuscript, among which is a life of his former Master, William Camden.
It was much the custom in those days to become members of both Universities, and it is not unlikely that the Hugh Holland, who, according to Wood, was the son of an esquire in Denbighshire, and matriculated as a member of Balliol College in 1582, aged 24, might be the same person. He died at Westminster in 1633, and was buried in the Abbey Church there on the 23rd of July, where his monument still remains at the entrance of Poet's corner. Both Wood and Fuller speak of his having a leaning to the Romish religion; and the latter mentions particularly that when abroad at Rome, he had spoken too freely against Queen Elizabeth, for which, when at Constantinople, he had been called to account by Sir Thomas Glover, Ambassador from King James, and imprisoned. Fuller describes him as a disappointed man after his return home, who "grumbled out the rest of his life in visible discontentment." He appears to have survived his brothers and those of his own family, and also his wife Ursula and his own children, and was sixty-two years old when he published the present poem [Cypres Garland], and about seventy when he died.