Maria Elizabeth Holland, born Armstrong, was the eldest of the fifteen children of William Armstrong (1806-1859) and his wife Jane Elizabeth (born Cuyler, 1815-1893), and a grand-daughter of Lieutenant-General Jacob Glen Cuyler, who came to the Cape with the British forces in 1806 and settled in Uitenhage. One of her brothers, William Armstrong, collected some plants in the Eastern Cape around 1901. She married John Alfred Holland of Port Elizabeth.
Mrs Holland collected plants near Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth. W.H. Harvey*, in the preface to Volume 1 of the Flora Capensis (1860), thanked her "for well-executed outline drawings, accompanied by dried specimens of Orchideae and other plants of Uitenhage" and notes that she has undertaken to furnish him with sketches of live plants for his Thesaurus Capensis.
In a paper on the botany of Grahamstown delivered before the Albany Natural History Society by P. MacOwan* in 1867, when discussing the mistletoe Viscum minimum, Harv., he notes that it is "well illustrated by a coloured sketch from the pencil of Mrs J.R. Holland, of Port Elizabeth". It was customary at the time to identify married women by their husbands' initials, which MacOwan got partly wrong.