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Holmes Merchants of Belfast

Holmes Merchants of Belfast

Posted: 1107109463000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Holmes
Looking for any family info on John and James Holmes, merchants of Belfast in the late 1700s. They reportedly had many ships who transported immigrants and were business partners with Henry Joy McCracken and Waddell Cunningham, both figures in the Rising of 1798. Any and all family info appreciated.

Re: Holmes Merchants of Belfast

Hugh Macartney (View posts)
Posted: 1107116848000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1107391118000
Surnames: Holmes
I don't know if it is relevant or not but Henry Joy McCracken had a cousin named Eleanor Holmes who gave evidence on his behalf at his trial. The 1843 Belfast Directory lists only:
Samuel & Som, Linen warehouse< 7 Castle Lane
John, Joiner
William, Hairdresser
Possibly someone in the North of Ireland Family History Society <> would have information. Any records about the Holmes family would likely be stored at PRONI.

Re: Holmes Merchants of Belfast

Posted: 1170554359000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Holmes, McCaw
Tidbits of family history left by my Holmes lines states they came from Belfast in the late 1790s. Alexander Holmes married Jane McCaw abt. 1790. They left Ireland for the US and are first located in Wythe Co. Virginia in 1793 Tax Lists. They named their oldest sons David, John, and William. Alexander was a schoolmaster in Virginia and Kentucky for over thirty years. I would be interested in knowing if you have extended family members of the John and James Holmes (merchants) listed in your former query. Any information helping me connect or find the orgin of my Holmes family in Belfast, Cos. Antrim or Down would greatly be appreciated.

Re: Holmes Merchants of Belfast

Posted: 1170608921000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Holmes
Since I wrote this note, I have found some exciting leads on my Holmes family--through DNA ! My father agreed to be tested, and the results from him and others are carried on the Holmes DNA site
This has been the only way that my Holmes family has been connected to others, so I am excited ! If you have a Holmes male relative that would agree to be tested, contact the site administrator. There may be sponsorship funds available for the testing if needed.

Of interest is that my family and yours may be connected, and the clue is the name Alexander. One branch of the family stayed in Renfrewshire/Glasgow area until the 1800s, when they went to MA. Alexander is a very common name in that family in Parish records since the 1600s, though not in other Holmes I have investigated. . Dna connects this Scottish branch to a branch in Antrim through the Rev William Holmes of Islandmagee, a minister in the late 1700s. There is a document showing that James Holmes the merchant willed some land to Rev. William, suggesting a family connection. A hunch pays off!

The major players connected by DNA thus far are my ancestor John, b. 1774 in Ireland; Thomas, b. 1776 in Ireland, died in TN (I believe) and Rev William, b. abt 1770 in Ireland and stayed there. In Scotland, all are connected to Alexander Holmes and his ancestors William, John, etc. who lived in and near Glasgow and were fleshers and merchants by trade.

I have run across your Alexander many times before and now think there may be a connection. My Holmes line and the merchant Holmes line were well educated and literate--and the name Alexander is in the line rather reliably. if you can find a male Holmes willing to test, we can at least establish that they are related, even though I and other family members are still trying to document the blood connection.

Re: Holmes Merchants of Belfast

Posted: 1170623447000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Holmes
I was originally from Belfast and dug into my dusty files regarding early emigration to America. I found that John and James Holmes were Belfast merchants in the flaxseed and linen trade who annually sent the ship Barclay to Delaware. The prime reason for this was that they had a brother named Hugh who was a partner in the Philadelphia based companies of Holmes & Ralston and Holmes and Rainey. Between 1750 and 1775 there appeared 442 advertisements regarding sailing to America and 53% were to Philadelphia whereas only 18% were to New York. I suspect that Samuel Holmes & Son Co., Linenwarehouse listed in the 1843 Belfast directory was likely a descendant of either John or James and most likely a son. The Barclay likely carried emigrating passengers directly from Belfast to Delaware and there may be records of who they were. I hope this is of some interest. In my day there was a linen firm called McCaw, Stevenson & Orr and there may be a connection.

Re: Holmes Merchants of Belfast

Posted: 1171054998000
Classification: Query
Firearrow1: I checked the "Group A" at the DNA website and see that several groups have been added since I last checked. I have been researching my line for over twenty-five years. I have collected tidbits from other Holmes lines. Contact me at

Re: Holmes Merchants of Belfast

Posted: 1182484952000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Holmes, Carley, Glasgow
I, too, am researching an Alexander Holmes, merchant of Larne. Recently I visited the Old Presbyterian Church of Larne and Kilwaughter in Larne, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, where my Glasgow ancestors attended in the 1700s, and I saw (and photographed) a plaque in the back of the church commemorating Alexander Holmes and his wife, Margaret Carley, daughter of Alexander Carley, a Merchant of Larne. Alexander Carley's wife was Jane; the fact that the name Glasgow appears in two of the children, Jane Glasgow Holmes, and the son, Glasgow Holmes, suggest that Alexander Carley's wife might have been Jane GLASGOW.

Alexander Carley's family is buried in St. Cedma's Cemetery in Larne. The Carley stone says:
Erected by James Carley, in memory of his father Alexander Carley who departed this life on the 24th of March 1813 aged 51 years. Underneath are also interred three children of the latter vis—William who died on the 21st of January 1790 aged 3 months, Nancy 6th of April 1792 aged one year, and Alexander 8th of Novr. 1793 aged 9 months. And his daughter Margaret HOLMES who died Feby. 16th 1836 aged 45 years. Also Jane, relict of the said Alexander Carley, who died April 24th 1848 aged 86 years. And the above-named James Carley who died May 9th (1852) aged 62 years. Also the remains of Margeret Holmes who died in Liverpool on the 7th Jany aged 37 years daughter of the above-named Margaret Holmes and Alexander Holmes, buried in Rio de Janeiro April 1836. Also the remains of Elizabeth daughter of the said Alexander Carley, who died on the 4th of June 1862 aged 66 years. And of Jane, daughter of the said Alexander Carley, who died on the 7th of June 1862 aged 64 years. And of Anne, daughter of the said Alexander Carley, who died on the 9th of June 1881 aged 80 years. And of Ellen, daughter of the said Alexander Carley, who died on the 7th of May 1884 aged 82 years."

Also in the vestibule of the church there was a plaque for Alexander Holmes (Jr.):
"Sacred to the memory of Alexander Holmes of Larne who departed this life Octr. 16th 1844 aged 32 years and was buried in the bay of Bengal off Ceylon whilst returning to his native country after nineteen years residence abroad. Most dear to the memory of all who knew him."

Alexander Holmes is mentioned several times in the Belfast News Letter Index. Recently I went to the Fort Worth, Texas Library, which has microfilms of the Belfast News Letters from the period Alexander Holmes was in Larne. I copied some of the articles pertaining to Alex. Holmes:

1786, Jan. 24 – Jan. 27 issue

Whereas some person or persons broke into the Vestry of the new Meeting-House of Larne, last Saturday night (as supposed), forced open a lock, rummaged a chest and cupboard, and carried off a small matter of money: --We, each for himself do promise to pay the respective sums to our names annexed the person or persons who shall within nine months from this date, discover and prosecute to conviction, the Thief or Thieves concerned in the aforesaid robbery.
Given under our hands this 26th of December, 1785

l. s.d.
Isaac Coan 2.5.6
Geo. Quin 1.2.9
Dan Patterson 1.2.9
Thos Kirkpatrick 1.2.9
Robt. Getty 1.2.9
Alex Holmes 1.2.9 [Name seen on plaque in church with Glasgow surname on plaque]
Thos. Moore 1.2.9
Wm. Moore 1.2.9
Sam Drummond 1.2.9
Wm. Foresyth 1.2.9
James Glasgow 1.2.9 [This James Glasgow probably the son of Hugh, b. 1737]
Duncan Sweeny 1.2.9
John Howe 1.2.9
John McClea 1.2.9
Sam. Allen 2.2.9
All others 0.11.4

October 1779

Alexander Holmes, Soap boiler and chandler, begs Leave to inform his Friends and the Publick, that he is now carrying on that Business in the House formerly occupied by Widow Glasgow in Larne; where Retailers, &c may be served on reasonable terms for ready Money. October 5th, 1779

Lent Assizes, 1786, County of Antrim
At the General Assizes for the County of Antrim, the following persons were appointed to serve as HIGH and SUB.CONSTABLES for the year 1786 (by the order of the Grand Jury), J. Lendrick, Treasurer. Carrickfergus, 17th April, 1786

Upper Glenarm, Alexander Holmes of Larne.

October 1779

Alexander Holmes, Soap boiler and chandler, begs Leave to inform his Friends and the Publick, that he is now carrying on that Business in the House formerly occupied by Widow Glasgow in Larne; where Retailers, &c may be served on reasonable terms for ready Money. October 5th, 1779


Alex Holmes was mentioned in the old Session Book of the above mentioned church:
"August, 1789--At a meeting of the Committee, appointed by Presbytery for taking into consideration the state of the Stipend account, due by the Congregation to Rev. Mr. Sinclair, upon a serious and minute investigation thereof, we find the sum of TWO HUNDRED Pounds sterling of arrears due to him at 1st. Nov., 1789, which sum is settled and agreed on as the whole amount of arrear Stipend due by the Parish to the above date.--Robert Sinclair, Minister; Robert Drummond, Chairman; Thomas Stewart, James Glasgow, Alex. Holmes, John Hay, Thomas Moore."

Alexander Holmes' daughter, Mary, married Rev. James Crawford Ledlie, D.D., who was minister of the above-mentioned church 1808-1832. They had a large family. During the latter part of his ministry in Larne, Dr. Ledlie lived in the townland of Ballyboley, where he built a large house and occupied a farm. (from the CONGREGATIONAL MEMOIRS OF THE OLD PRESBYTERIAN CONGREGATION OF LARNE AND KILWAUGHTER, Rev. Classon Porter).

I hope these bits of information will be of interest to the Holmes researchers out there.

Re: Holmes Merchants of Belfast

Posted: 1182486110000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Holmes, Carley, Glasgow, Moon, McKinnell
I tried to post a photograph of the plaque mentioned in my earlier post, but it doesn't seem to have attached to my post. The plaque says:
"In memory of Alexander Holmes of Larne who died in Rio de Janeiro on April 18th, 1827. And his wife Margaret Holmes (nee Carley) who died in Larne on April 16th 1836. Also of their departed children Jane Glasgow Holmes married William Moon of Liverpool, Alexander Holmes, Elizabeth Holmes, Glasgow Holmes, Margaret Holmes, and Stewart Holmes. This tablet is erected by Isabella McKinnell (nee Holmes) the only surviving child of Alexander and Margaret Holmes in loving remembrance of her parents and brothers and sisters. 'Not dead but gone before', MDCCCLXXX."

Re: Holmes Merchants of Belfast

Posted: 1182559357000
Classification: Query
Thanks for all this wonderful information. I have some more information on a contemporary Alexander Holmes in Antrim from an Irish researcher. I am looking specifically for an Andrew and secondarily for Alexanders, since a DNA relation has Alexanders in every generation in Scotland back to the 1500s. Alexanders do not seem to be very common in other Holmes families in other DNA groups. We are excitedly awaiting a DNA result from a descendant of Alexander Holmes and Jane McCaw, a family whom Mr. McCartney referred to in his posting.

Here is the information for Alexander Holmes and relations in Glenarm/Larne. You gave one piece of information to connect your Alexander to Glenarm as well as Larne, and since they are only 11 miles apart, they may be either relatives or the same man. Here are the notes:

Holmes Family info from Ireland researcher—the Tickmacrevan Holmes

1/ We searched the church records of Tickmacreevan Church of Ireland:

Although these began in 1719 for baptisms and marriages, there was a very large gap in the records between 1727 and 1787. We carried the search on to 1820 and found neither baptisms nor marriages nor burials relating to the name Holmes.

2/ The grave inscription

This gave considerable need to work out the actual inscription. That given to you was obviously flawed and we had thought that perhaps everyone was buried in 1728, 1735 and 1732. The figures 3 and 8 can be easily misinterpreted on headstones.
Then we found another transcription of the same stone which read:

Here lyeth the body of Alexander Holmes, died June the 14th 1728 aged 75 years and Jonal his wife died February the 17th 1735 aged 73 years; also Andrew Holmes, brother to the above Alex, who departed this life the 31st of August 1782 aged 82 years; and David Holmes his son, who departed this life the 17th September 1802 aged 52.

As before this is flawed since the son David must have been born long after his father’s death. This leads us to suspect that the true inscription should have deaths for the first 3 people as 1778, 1785 and 1782, with the son dying in 1802. This makes much more sense and a good possibility.

There was another Holmes inscription transcribed on the same document from Glenarm:

True to the end. Here lyeth ye bodies of Hugh Holmes who died October ye 5th 1752 aged 58 years, also his daughter Margaret, died October ye 5th 1745 aged 18 years

3/ Newspapers

The Belfast Newsletter report you mentioned was for 10-13 April 1787 not 1782. It refers to the sale by auction by the heirs and representatives of the late Andrew Holmes of farmland in Ardclenith and Galbolys in Largy near Glenarm. Apply to David Holmes for information.

This adds to the belief that the death of Andrew is 1782 and his son is selling the farm.

Another Newsletter report on 14 April 1772 refers to a reward being offered by many people including Andrew Holmes to catch those who had maimed some cows.

Two reports checked for Alexander Holmes of Glenarm show:

19 January 1773
Alexander holmes wants to find someone to be a lime burner who is both honest and sober.

6-9 July 1773
Sale of a ship – the brig “Two bachelors” at Glenarm. Inventory may be obtained from Alexander Holmes.

I suspect that these reports refer to the Alexander whose grave may show his death as 1778 not 1728.

Re: Holmes Merchants of Belfast

Posted: 1209678488000
Classification: Query

I wonder if the Holmes I have in my line could be part of yours.

George Holmes b.abt.1800's
William Holmes b.abt. 1830's 23 Malcolm Lane, Belfast-Milltown Cemetery
married Eliza Jane Tanner- daughter Mary married 1879 St Matthews RC Church Belfast Edward McVeigh

Thanks Laura
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