Holmes History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the Holmes name lie with England's ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. It comes from when the family lived in an area that was referred to as a holme, a slightly raised islet in a fen or partially surrounded by a stream or river. The surname Holmes was originally derived from the Old English word Holen. [1] Another reference claims "A holme is defined by Halliwell as ' flat land; a small island; a deposit of soil at the confluence of two waters. Flat grounds near water are called holms.' " [2]

While most references claim that the name was probably Anglo-Saxon, it could very well have been Norman in origin, as William du Holme was listed in Normandy (1180-1195) and William de Homes was also listed there in the Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae in 1198. [3]

Early Origins of the Holmes family

The surname Holmes was first found in many counties throughout Britain. One of the earliest records of the name was Roger de Holm who was listed in 1186 in Leicestershire. A few years later, Urkel' de Holmes was listed in the Assize Rolls of Yorkshire in 1219. John atte Holme was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of 1296 in Sussex. [4]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 lists: Goscelin de Holme in Suffolk, and John in le Holme in Cambridgeshire. Over 100 years later, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 lists: Thomas del Holme; Adam del Holme; and Johannes del Holme, 1379. [1]

Hulam or Holom in Durham "anciently styled Holme, which is the term used to designate it in the Boldon book, formerly belonged to a family of the same name." [5]

Early History of the Holmes family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Holmes research. Another 98 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1200, 1240, 1400, 1631, 1691, 1570, 1655, 1599, 1678, 1601, 1659, 1633, 1641, 1627, 1700, 1656, 1659, 1659, 1707, 1705, 1706, 1640, 1683, 1677, 1685, 1622, 1692, 1631, 1691, 1797 and are included under the topic Early Holmes History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Holmes Spelling Variations

Before the last few hundred years, the English language had no fast system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations are commonly found in early Anglo-Saxon surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Holmes were recorded, including Holme, Hulme, Holmes, Holms and others.

Early Notables of the Holmes family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Randle Holme I (1570-1655), first to bear the name, main duty was arranging funerals of those entitled to bear arms; Nathaniel Holmes or Homes (1599-1678), an English Independent theologian and preacher; Randle Holme II (c1601-1659), Chester city treasurer in 1633 and clerk to the Stationers' Company of Chester in 1641; Randle Holme III (1627-1700), steward to the Stationers' Company of Chester in 1656 and an alderman from 1659...
Another 74 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Holmes Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Holmes World Ranking

In the United States, the name Holmes is the 145th most popular surname with an estimated 161,655 people with that name. [6] However, in Canada, the name Holmes is ranked the 263rd most popular surname with an estimated 15,849 people with that name. [7] And in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Holmes is the 681st popular surname with an estimated 64 people with that name. [8] Australia ranks Holmes as 123rd with 21,654 people. [9] New Zealand ranks Holmes as 170th with 3,132 people. [10] The United Kingdom ranks Holmes as 86th with 53,276 people. [11]

Ireland Migration of the Holmes family to Ireland

Some of the Holmes family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 89 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Holmes migration to the United States +

To escape oppression and starvation at that time, many English families left for the "open frontiers" of the New World with all its perceived opportunities. In droves people migrated to the many British colonies, those in North America in particular, paying high rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Although many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, those who did see the shores of North America perceived great opportunities before them. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Research into various historical records revealed some of first members of the Holmes family emigrate to North America:

Holmes Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Alice Holmes, who arrived in Virginia in 1623 [12]
  • Joe Holmes, who settled in New England in 1635
  • Mathew Holmes, aged 21, who landed in Virginia in 1635 [12]
  • Obadiah Holmes (1610-1682), from Didsbury, Lancashire who landed in Salem, Massachusetts in 1639, whipped for his religious beliefs and activism, he moved to be pastor of the Baptist Church in Newport, Rhode Island
  • Johan Holmes, who arrived in New Netherland(s) in 1642 [12]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Holmes Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Susannah Holmes, who landed in Virginia in 1703 [12]
  • Grace Holmes, who arrived in Virginia in 1703 [12]
  • Anne Holmes, who arrived in Virginia in 1711 [12]
  • Avis Holmes, who landed in Virginia in 1713 [12]
  • Eliza Holmes, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 [12]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Holmes Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Henry Holmes, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1804 [12]
  • Joseph Holmes, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808 [12]
  • Thomas Holmes, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808 [12]
  • Robert Holmes, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1812 [12]
  • Nathaniel Holmes, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1812 [12]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Holmes Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Sevald Holmes, who landed in Alaska in 1900 [12]

Canada Holmes migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Holmes Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Bacon Holmes, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Mr. Absalom Holmes U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [13]
  • Mr. Asa Holmes U.E. who settled in Home District [York County], Ontario c. 1784 [13]
  • Mr. Daniel Holmes U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 [13]
  • Mr. Elias Holmes U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Holmes Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • George Holmes, who landed in Canada in 1812
  • Chandler Holmes, who landed in Canada in 1828
  • Thomas Holmes, aged 50, a mariner, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the brig "Thomas Hanford" from Baltimore, Ireland
  • Mrs. Cetty Holmes, aged 33 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Odessa" departing from the port of Dublin, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle In August 1847 [14]
  • Mr. Joseph Holmes, aged 5 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Virginius" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle In August 1847 [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Holmes migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Holmes Settlers in Australia in the 18th Century
  • Miss Susannah Holmes, (b. 1765), aged 22, English farmer who was convicted in Thetford, Norfolk, England for 14 years for burglary, transported aboard the "Charlotte" on 13th May 1787, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [15]
Holmes Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Holmes, (b. 1774), aged 26, English farmer who was convicted in Kent, England for life for stealing, transported aboard the "Earl Cornwallis" in August 1800, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1842 [16]
  • Miss Rebecca Holmes, British Convict who was convicted in Warwick, Warwickshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Experiment" on 4th December 1803, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [17]
  • Mr. James Holmes, English convict who was convicted in Essex, England for 14 years , transported aboard the "Duke of Portland" in January 1807, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [18]
  • Mr. John Holmes, (b. 1789), aged 27, English convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years for theft and grand larceny, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 16th January 1816, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1820 [19]
  • Mr. Benjamin Holmes, English convict who was convicted in Derby, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Dromedary" on 11th September 1819, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [20]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Holmes migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Holmes Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William Holmes, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • James Holmes, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • John Holmes, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • James Holmes, aged 26, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Oriental" in 1840
  • Ann Holmes, aged 24, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Oriental" in 1840
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Holmes migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [21]
Holmes Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Richard Holmes, aged 24, who arrived in Barbados in 1634 [12]
  • Mr. Richard Holmes, (b. 1610), aged 24, British settler travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "Hopewell" arriving in Barbados on 17th February 1634 [12]
  • Mr. John Holmes, (b. 1613), aged 22, British settler traveling aboard the ship "Paul of London" arriving in St Christopher (Saint Kitts) in 1635 [22]
  • Jo Holmes, aged 22, who arrived in St Christopher in 1635 [12]
  • James Holmes, who settled in Barbados in 1679 with his wife, children and servants
Holmes Settlers in West Indies in the 18th Century
  • Hugh Holmes, who landed in Antigua (Antego) in 1762 [12]

Contemporary Notables of the name Holmes (post 1700) +

  • Edith Frances Ruth Bradley Holmes (1924-2021), American linguist, educator, and polyglot who authored two Cherokee language textbooks
  • Alvin Adolf Holmes (1939-2020), American politician, Member of the Alabama House of Representatives (1974-2018)
  • Zachariah Holmes, American politician, Member of South Dakota State House of Representatives, 1893-94, 1897-98, 1917-18 (45th District 1893-94, 1897-98, 47th District 1917-18) [23]
  • William H. Holmes, American Democratic Party politician, Member of Missouri State House of Representatives from Maries County, 1945-48 [23]
  • William S. Holmes, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Maine, 1936 [23]
  • William H. Holmes, American politician, Delegate to Illinois State Constitutional Convention from Tazewell County, 1847 [23]
  • William F. Holmes, American politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from Norwalk, 1932 [23]
  • William C. Holmes, American Republican politician, Chair of Ford County Republican Party, 1950 [23]
  • W. W. Holmes, American politician, Member of South Dakota State House of Representatives 36th District, 1919-22 [23]
  • Wilber Holmes, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Cortland County, 1895 [23]
  • ... (Another 208 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Hood
  • Mr. Harold Holmes (b. 1920), English Able Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [24]
  • Mr. George Holmes (b. 1907), English Leading Stoker serving for the Royal Navy from Drury Lane, London, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [24]
  • Mr. Edward J Holmes (b. 1923), Scottish Boy 1st Class serving for the Royal Navy from Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [24]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. George Stephen Holmes, DCS, English Ordinary Seaman from Wallasey, England, who sailed on the HMS Prince of Wales prior to its sinking [25]
  • Mr. Stanley Holmes (b. 1915), English Able Seaman from England, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [25]
  • Mr. John William Holmes (b. 1920), English Able Seaman from England, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and died in the sinking [25]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Roy W. Holmes, American Seaman First Class working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he survived the sinking [26]
  • Mr. Lowell D. Holmes, American Fireman Third Class from Alabama, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [26]


The Holmes Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Fide sed cui vide
Motto Translation: Trust, but in whom take care.


Suggested Readings for the name Holmes +

  • Falling Leaves: A History of the Holmes Family and Allied Lines by Marjorie J. Caskey.
  • Holmes Genealogy: A Compilation of Genealogical History About Adams Holmes (1720-1789) of New Braintree, Massachusetts by John Albert Holmes.

  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  6. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  7. ^ https://forebears.io/surnames/
  8. ^ The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  9. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  10. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  11. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  12. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  13. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  14. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 34)
  15. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retrieved 4th February 2021, retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/charlotte)
  16. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 13th August 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/earl-cornwallis
  17. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 22nd March 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/coromandel-and-experiment
  18. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 28th July 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/duke-of-portland
  19. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  20. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th July 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/dromedary
  21. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  22. ^ Pilgrim Ship's of 1600's (Retrieved October 4th 2021, retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  23. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, August 17) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  24. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  25. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  26. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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