Holland was born in London, England and entered Hudson's Bay Company service in 1835 as a seaman. He sailed from Gravesend to the Pacific Coast on the maiden voyage of the H.B.C. Steamer Beaver arriving at Fort Vancouver in 1836. Before being posted to Fort Victoria, ten years later, he served on board the Cadboro as well as on shore at Fort Vancouver in 1842 and as postmaster at Fort Langley from 1843 to 1846. Throughout much of his first summer at Fort Victoria in 1846, Holland suffered from a prolonged illness described by Finlayson as "an affectation of the kidneys" for which he was visited by the doctor on board the Pandora in late July. The following year, despite a favorable evaluation by James Douglas, who referred to him as "an honest worthy soul", he returned to England on board the Columbia as, in Douglas's words, "the climate did not agree with him". In 1850 he was appointed first mate and sailed back to Fort Victoria aboard the Norman Morison where he was in conflict with Captain Wishart and perhaps J.S. Helmcken, who wrote that Holland "was not much of a sailor or anything else", and in 1851 resigned from the Company and disappeared from company records.