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English: habitational name from any of various places, for example in Derbyshire, Dorset, and Suffolk, so called from Old English hol ‘hollow’, ‘sunken’ + broc ‘stream’. The name has probably absorbed the Dutch surname, found in London in the early 17th century, and possibly a similar Low German surname ( or ). Several American bearers of the name in the 1880 census give their place of birth as Oldenburg or Hannover, Germany.