HOLMES, Henry (d. 1738), of Thorley, Yarmouth, I.o.W.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



2 Apr. 1695 - 12 Apr. 1717

Family and Education

s. of Thomas Holmes of Kilmallock, co. Limerick.  m. c.1693, Mary (d. 1760), illegit. da. of his uncle Sir Robert Holmes*, 8s. 8da.  suc. uncle Sir Robert Holmes 1692.1

Offices Held

Lt. coy. of Grenadiers Mar. 1687; lt. 8 Ft. Nov. 1687, capt. 1689, maj. 1692; capt. and gov. Hurst Castle 1683–95, 1702–14; lt.-gov. I.o.W. 1710–14.2

Freeman, Southampton 1710.3


Holmes started his career in the army, but in 1692 he was left the estates of his uncle, Sir Robert Holmes, on condition that he married Sir Robert’s illegitimate daughter, Mary, which he did within 18 months. He probably left the army about this time and settled in the Isle of Wight, where he joined with the local gentry in opposing the attempt by the new governor, Lord Cutts (John*), to establish complete electoral control over the three Isle of Wight boroughs. Cutts retaliated by securing the removal of Holmes from the governorship of Hurst Castle in 1695. However, Holmes was returned for Yarmouth on his own interest at a by-election in 1695, while in the general election later that year he and Anthony Morgan* defeated Cutts’s brother-in-law, John Acton. This led to a dispute in the Commons in December 1697 in which Holmes accused Cutts of discharging officers from the militia for voting against Acton, and the House had to intervene to prevent the possibility of a duel between the two men. A Tory, Holmes was forecast as likely to support the Court in the division on the proposed council of trade on 31 Jan. 1696, though he refused to sign the Association, and in March voted against fixing the price of guineas at 22s. In the next session he voted against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick† on 25 Nov. 1696. He was otherwise an inactive Member, being granted leave of absence for 21 days on 2 Mar. 1697 and again on 7 May 1698. By the time of the 1698 election, the dispute with Cutts in the Isle of Wight had been settled and Holmes was returned for Yarmouth unopposed. In an analysis of the new and old Parliaments he was classed as a Country supporter, while later that year he was forecast as likely to oppose a standing army. Having been returned at the first 1701 election, he acted as a teller on 23 Apr. in favour of committing the bill for the better preservation of the Protestant religion. He was returned unopposed for Yarmouth at the second 1701 election, and was classed as a Tory by Robert Harley* in December.4

At the beginning of Queen Anne’s reign Holmes recovered the governorship of Hurst Castle and successfully petitioned for a 31-year lease of some land in Westminster, on which his father had built a house. He was returned unopposed for Yarmouth once more in the 1702 election, and voted on 13 Feb. 1703 against agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration. He appears to have remained inactive in the House, and on 18 Feb. he was granted leave of absence for 21 days. At the beginning of the 1704–5 session he was forecast as a probable supporter of the Tack, which he voted for on 28 Nov. 1704. Following the 1705 election, he was classed as ‘True Church’ in an analysis of the new Parliament. He voted against the Court candidate for Speaker on 25 Oct., while on 15 Dec. he was granted leave of absence for one month. In early 1708 he was classed as a Tory in an analysis of Parliament, while following his re-election that year he was listed as a Tacker. In the 1709–10 session he voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. He benefited from the change in the administration in 1710, being appointed lieutenant-governor of the Isle of Wight. Included as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’, he was noted as one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who helped detect the mismanagements of the previous ministry. On 5 Mar. 1711 he was granted leave of absence for a month. He appeared as a Tory in the Worsley list, and also as a Tory in two lists comparing the 1715 Parliament with its predecessor. After 1715 he continued to sit as a Tory until unseated in 1717. He died on 23 June 1738.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Berry, Hants Gens. 350–3; R. Ollard, Man of War, 231.
  • 2. CSP Dom. Jan.–June 1683, p. 300; 1685, p. 43; 1689–90, p. 341; Mass. Hist. Soc. Procs. ser. 2, ii. 179; Scots Courant, 11–13 Sept. 1710; Boyer, Anne Annals, ix. 240; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 626.
  • 3. Southampton RO, Southampton bor. recs. SC3/2, f. 43.
  • 4. SP 32/8/139; PCC 203 Coker; Add. 46527, f. 74; R. Worsley, Hist. Isle of Wight, p. cxvii.
  • 5. Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 99, 423; xviii. 104; Boyer, 240; Luttrell, 626; W. A. Speck, Tory and Whig, 73; Berry, 350.