E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
is not a corruption of Old Bourne, as Stowe asserts, but of Holeburne, the burne or stream in the hole or hollow. It is spelt Holeburne in Domesday Book, i. 127a; and in documents connected with the nunnery of St. Mary, Clerkenwell (during the reign of Richard II.), it is eight times spelt in the same way. (The Times; J. G. Waller.)
He rode backwards up Holborn Hill. He went to be hanged. The way to Tyburn from Newgate was up Holborn Hill, and criminals in ancient times sat with their backs to the horse, when drawn to the place of execution.