Holmes Family of Old Kittery, ME, 1600s-1700s

The main source of information about the origins of Joseph Holmes appears to be the scant entry in Stackpole’s 1903 book, Old Kittery and her Families.

Thomas Holmes married Joanna Freathy of York County, Maine, probably c1670, give or take a couple of years, She was the daughter of William Freathy. If this was the first marriage for each, Thomas was likely born c1645 and Joanna, c1648.

From the we can hypothesize birth years for their three known children:

  1. Mary, born c1671; married Walter Allen
  2. Thomas, born c1673; died after 1732; unmarried
  3. John, born c1675; married Mary Abbot, daughter of Richard Abbott, c1699

Administration of Thomas Holmes’ estate was granted to widow Joanna on 23 February 1690/91. The Holmes lived in a garrison house, which was burned by Indians in 1689. It is possible that Thomas died in that attack.

John Holmes would be the only child to have Holmes descendants and his children were baptized at South Berwick, York, Maine:

  1. John, born 12 February 1700
  2. Samuel, born 15 November 1702; died 1755, Scarborough, Maine; reportedly married Mary Peavey, 14 December 1727, Portsmouth, Rockingham, New Hampshire
  3. Thomas, born 9 October 1704; died about October 1758, when his will was proved; married Sarah (MNU)
  4. Abigail, perhaps born c1706; baptized 3 November 1726
  5. William, perhaps born c1708; baptized 3 November 1726
  6. Patience, perhaps born c1710; baptized 3 November 1726
  7. Dorcas, perhaps born c1712; baptized 3 November 1726
  8. Joseph, perhaps born c1714; baptized 3 November 1726

There may be a simple reason why John Holmes had five of his children baptized on the same day – Maine was a wilderness at the time and settlers were subject to Indian attacks, which is what happened to his father’s home.

I take issue with most of the online trees, which claim that John’s son Joseph is the man who married Silence Brown for the simple reason that he is not known to have had a first marriage and would have been well into his 40s at the time he supposedly married Silence.

There is an alternate theory to be set forth – Joseph Holmes who married Silence Brown was born c1740 and was the son of Samuel Holmes, born on 15 November 1702.

No one seems to have shared the will of Thomas Holmes, proved in 1758. Given that he was married, it seems a bit curious to leave bequests to relatives other than his immediate family.

Stackpole clearly erred in assigning three sons to Thomas – Thomas, William and Samuel – there are no children named in Thomas’s will, but his brothers clearly are.

Notice, too, that Thomas Holmes made a bequest to Joseph Holmes, Son of my said brother, Samuel Holmes.

Samuel, born in 1702, is the correct age to have children born in the 1730s and early 1740s. I think it is much more likely that Samuel’s son, Joseph, is the man who married Silence Brown c1760.

Another possible reason why Thomas left a bequest to Joseph is that Samuel Holmes reportedly died in 1755. Having no children of his own to inherit, Thomas might have been close to nephew Joseph.

What do York County records tell us about Joseph Holmes? Not much. There is a Joseph who witnessed the will of Charles Pine in 1752. That man would likely be John’s son, Joseph.

There is also a Joseph Holmes who married in Berwick in 1773 to Abigail Goodwin. It’s impossible to know who this man was. However, there is a Joseph Holmes in the 1790 census living in Berwick, so I tend to believe it’s a third Joseph Holmes who is younger that John’s son and Samuel’s son.

There is one more possible twist in this Joseph Holmes saga.

Look at the deed, above whereby Joseph Holmes, late of Cambridge (Massachusetts) and now of Casco (Falmouth) bought property which bordered Andrew BROWN.

Brown is certainly not an uncommon name, but Holmes in that time period is rare in York County. This deed is the only record found so far for this Joseph Holmes. Could he be the grandfather of Joseph who married Silence, and might Andrew Brown be the grandfather of Silence?

At this point, anything is possible!

There are a handful of land petitions found in early Nova Scotia records for men named Joseph Holmes. Again, it is impossible to know if they pertain to my Joseph Holmes, but they were made, with others, in 1784, 1784 and 1786. It’s not even certain that all three petitions are from one Joseph Holmes.

My Joseph Holmes reportedly died c1788 and probably on Campobello Island, but most certainly in New Brunswick, Canada.

Thoughts, anyone???

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.