John Holmes

1763 - 1836

Claimant or beneficiary


  1. John Holmes first comes to light in the 1796 Jamaica Almanac where he is listed as an Ensign in the Vere regiment of the militia. His career in the militia and in public service can be traced through the Almanacs: Lieutenant (1802), Lieutenant Colonel (1808), Colonel (from 1817), Assistant Judge or Magistrate (1824), Church Warden (1824), Treasurer of Vere Free School (1824). From 1820 he was a Member of Assembly for Vere.

  2. From at least 1809 he was owner of a property with between 18 and 24 enslaved people, referred to in the birth record of his son in 1813 as Twickenham, in the 1832 Jamaica Almanac as Kimble and in the slave compensation records and his will as Twickenham estate. Given the gradual fluctuations in the number of enslaved people and stock he registered in the givings-in from 1809 to 1832, this is assumed to be the same property.

  3. John Holmes worked as an attorney on several large estates as well as taking responsibility for properties as an executor of the previous owner. In the 1817 Slave Registers he registered 264 enslaved people on Salt Savanna estate in Vere with Thomas Addison as attorney to the absentee James Beckford Wildman. In the 1820 Slave Registers he registered 266 enslaved people on Salt Savanna, again with Thomas Addison as attorney for James Beckford Wildman. In 1820 he also registered 132 enslaved people on Springfield estate in Vere as attorney to Robert Murchison and registered 88 enslaved people in 3 different registrations as attorney to the heirs of Robert White and Robert Glasgow. The Jamaica Almanacs of 1826 and 1827 list him as in lawful possession of enslaved people and stock on Grimatt estate in Vere as an executor (with William Smith) of Thomas Samson. The 1828 Almanac lists him as proprietor of Grimatt but by 1831 this had been sold to Alexander Murchison. The 1828 Almanac also lists him with the heirs of John Pusey Edwardes against Pusey Hall estate with 272 enslaved people and 100 stock. In the 1831 Almanac is is listed against Smithfield estate (presumably also as attorney). In the 1832 Slave Registers he registered enslaved people on Dry River estate as attorney to the absentee John Rodon. In 1834 he claimed compensation for enslaved people on Stretton Hall estate with Henry Lord Garrigues as executors of Edward White.

  4. John Holmes had at least 7 children, all born and baptised in Jamaica. Elizabeth, 'A Quadroon' was born 05/01/1800 and died at Salt Savanna and was buried the following day in the churchyard; she was named as the daughter of John Holmes in her burial record. Thomas Holmes, 'A mustee' was baptised 07/09/1806. John Holmes, 'A Quadroon infant', was buried at Salt Savanna 02/12/1807. George Wood Holmes, 'a mustee infant son of John Holmes' at Salt Savanna estate was privately baptised 12/08/1810. Samuel Benjamin Holmes, 'mustee infant son of John Holmes' was born 15/03/1813 and baptised at his Cottage called Twickenham 09/07/1813. Francis Edward Holmes, 'Mustee son of John Holmes' was baptised 23/11/1817 and is assumed to have predeceased his father as he is not mentioned in this father's will. Susan Frances Holmes, 'a free Mustee 6 months old, daughter of John Holmes Esq.' was baptised 31/12/1820.

  5. In his will John Holmes left £100 sterling each to his sons Thomas Addison Holmes, George Wood Holmes and Samuel Benjamin Holmes and left his personal effects and Twickenham estate to his reputed daughter Susan Frances Holmes.

  6. John Holmes, Gentleman of Twickenham, age 73 years, was buried 10/04/1836.

  7. His three surviving sons emigrated to London where they can be found in the census and death records. Thomas Addison was living in Sydney Place, Bethnal Green, in 1841, age 36, Clerk, with his wife Eliza and seven children (all born in London). By 1861 he was at 21 Cambridge Road, Bethnal Green and by 1871 at 32 Groombridge Road, Hackney, where he died 28/02/1874 leaving personalty under £300. Samuel Benjamin Holmes married Maria Eagle 12/08/1832 in Shoreditch and can be found age 57 in the census of 1861, a tailor, in Portsea, Hampshire and in 1881 at 3 Sardinia Street, St Clements Danes, London. His death was registered Q1, 1890 in Strand, London. George Wood Holmes married Ann Abbs at St Dunstan's, Stepney, 26/08/1834; he appears age 41, an undertaker, living at 2 Great James Street, Marylebone with his wife and son Henry George in the census of 1851. George Wood Holmes died at 2 Great James Street, 02/02/1855.


  1. Jamaica Almanacs (1811, 1817, 1818, 1820, 1821, 1822, 1824, 1826, 1827, 1828, 1832).

  2. Jamaica Almanacs (1811, 1817, 1818, 1820, 1821, 1822, 1824, 1826, 1827, 1828, 1832). Slave Registers: T71/51 p. 166; T71/52 p. 49; T71/53 p. 70; T71/54 p. 89; T71/55 [no page number]; T71/56 p. 61.

  3. Jamaica Almanacs (1826, 1827, 1828, 1831, 1832). Slave Registers: T71/51 pp. 3-8; T71/52 pp. 70-71, 73-75 and 266; T71/56 p. 60. T71/858 Vere 165 (Stretton Hall).

  4., Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 [database online]. Copies of images supplied by Liz Watson.

  5. Copy of the will of John Holmes supplied by Liz Watson.

  6. Copy of the burial entry supplied by Liz Watson.

  7. 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1881 censuses online. National Probate Calendar 1874. FreeUKGen, England and Wales Free BMD Database, Deaths, 1837-1983 [database online]., London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 [database online]. Death certificate and will of George Wood Holmes.

We are grateful to Liz Watson and Fred Holmes for their assistance in compiling this entry.

Further Information

'Reputed children': Elizabeth (1800-1822), Thomas Addison (1806-1874), John (?-1807), George Wood (1810-), Samuel Benjamin (1813-1890), Francis Edward (1817-), Susan Frances (1820-)

Will of John Holmes (transcript and photocopy supplied by Liz Watson)

I give and bequeath to my reputed Sons Thomas Addison Holmes, George Wood Holmes and Samuel Benjamin Holmes the sum of one hundred Pounds Sterling each. I give and bequeath to my reputed daughter Susan Frances Holmes the sum of five hundred Pounds Currency with my wearing apparel Horses Chaises Harness and Saddles liquors and provisions together with my property called Twickenham with the plate furniture Linen and Stock with the apprenticeship of twenty one negroes named as follows, George Wood Holmes, William Holmes, Samuel Benjamin Holmes, Alexander Chambers, Thomas Reid, Thomas Sill, Henry Collins, William Thompson, Thomas Addison Holmes, Richard Henry Ford, Jane Williams, Ann Bonner, Mary Lewis, Bessy Holmes, Mary Ann Brown, Fanny Brown, Diana Williams, Elizabeth Good, Sarah Collins, Susan Booth and Sarah Smith and to her Issue for ever. But in case of the death of the said Susan Frances Holmes without issue, then to revert to my reputed Son Thomas Addison Holmes and his heirs forever. I give and bequeath to my reputed Son Thomas Addison Holmes my Gold Watch Chain and seals. And the residue of monies remaining after the Legacies and other expenses are also settled and paid to be equally divided between my three reputed Sons Thomas Addison Holmes, George Wood Holmes, and Samuel Benjamin Holmes. And as I do not consider my reputed Daughter Susan Frances Holmes sufficiently steady to remain in possession of the property after my death, I must request my friend Mr. Stirk to take her and put her under the care of Miss Smith for six months and if she is not considered sufficiently steady then for six months longer before she is put in possession of her Legacy. And I do hereby nominate and appoint William Lewis and John Stirk Esquires of the Parish of Vere to be my Executors of this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking all other Wills heretofore by me made. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & Seal the twenty first day of March one thousand eight hundred and thirty six. John Holmes

Signed sealed Published and declared by the said Testator to be his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who in his presence at his request and in the presence of each of us hath hereunto subscribed our names as Witnesses. Henry Arnold Robt. Anderson
Fred. Watson

5/- 5/- Jamaica Ss. In obedience to the Dedimus Potestatem hereunto annexed I have administered an oath unto Frederick Watson who being duly sworn on the Holy Evangalists disposeth and saith that he was present and did see John Holmes the Testator in the annexed Instrument of Writing named being at that time of sound and disposing mind memory and understanding sign seal Publish and declare the same as and for his last Will and Testament and at the same time Henry Donald & Robert Anderson were also present and together with him subscribed their names as Witnesses to the same in the presence of the said Testator and further that he Knows nothing of any Will since made by the said Testator that can lend to the disadvantage of the Will hereunto annexed. Given under my hand and seal this second day of June 1836. Malcolm McLeod

5/- 5/- Jamaica Ss. William the 4th by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King and of Jamaica Lord Defender of the Faith. To our Trusty and well beloved Malcolm MacLeod and William Dowell. Know ye that we have constituted authorized and appointed and by these presents do constitute authorize and appoint ye or either of ye to administer an oath unto Frederick Watson or any other that are witnesses and can make oath of the signing sealing publishing and declaring of the last Will and Testament of John Holmes late of the Parish of Vere Esquire deceased and thereof you or either of you are to make a due Return under your or either of your hands and seals unto our Captain General and Governor in Chief of our said Island or to the Governor in Chief of the same for the time being with this power annexed so that such proceedings may be ordered therein as may be according to Law. Witness His Excellency the most noble Howe, Peter Marquess of Sligo Captn Genl & Govr in Chief of our said Island at St Iago de la Vega the first day of June annoq Domini 1836 and in the sixth Year of our Reign Sligo

Passed the Secretary’s office. W.G. Stewart, Secretary Jamaica Is. The execution of the within Dedimus Potestatem appears by the Will and probate thereof hereunto annexed. Given under my hand and seal this second day of June annoque Domini 1836. Malcolm McLeod

The last Will and Testament of John Holmes late of the Parish of Vere Entd 8th June 1836 Lib 116 Fol: 231

Jamaica Ss. I John Holmes of the Parish of Vere County of Middlesex and Island aforesaid Planter declare this to be my last Will and Testament

Planter and attorney

Associated Claims (4)

£541 15s 4d
£32 2s 1d
£1,830 8s 5d
Awardee (Executor or executrix)
£3,996 11s 1d
Other association

Associated Estates (17)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1826 [SY] - 1832 [EY] → Attorney
1820 [EA] - 1823 [LA] → Attorney
1823 [EA] - 1826 [LA] → Attorney
1823 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Attorney
1826 [EA] - 1829 [LA] → Executor

Listed with William Smith against Grimatt estate in the 1827 Jamaica Almanac.

1817 [EA] - 1823 [LA] → Attorney
1823 [EA] - 1826 [LA] → Attorney
1826 [EA] - → Executor
1823 [EA] - 1826 [LA] → Attorney
1823 [EA] - 1826 [LA] → Attorney
1817 [EA] - 1823 [LA] → Attorney
1829 [EA] - → Executor
1829 [EA] - → Executor
1820 [EA] - → Attorney
1809 [EA] - 1836 [EY] → Owner
1826 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Attorney
1817 [EA] - → Attorney

Relationships (1)

Father → Natural Daughter