See also

Thomas HOLMES (1699-1764)

1. Thomas HOLMES, son of Henry HOLMES of Yarmouth, Isle of Wight (c. 1660-1738) and Mary HOLMES (c. 1678-1760), was born in 1699 in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. He was christened on [Julian] 2 November 1699. He was a Governor of the Isle of Wight. He had the title '1st Baron Holmes of Kilmallock'. He married Anne PLAYER in 1727. He died in [Julian] July 1764. He was buried on [Julian] 21 July 1764 in Yarmouth. He married Catherine LEIGH.


An indication of the corruption which existed on the Isle of Wight was the election of Benjamin Leigh as Mayor for the year 1763. Only two Burgesses were present at the meeting, Leigh and the retiring Mayor, Thomas Lord Holmes (Sir Robert Holmes grandson). The plaque on the front of the Town Hall commemorates this election. In the following year the same two changed places and Thomas Lord Holmes became Mayor again.

In 1752 The Holmes Trust was set up by Thomas Lord Holmes in memory of his son. Small amounts of money are distributed annually on 11th July to poor people in the town and the ceremony is held in the church to this day.

In 1763 The Town Hall, originally known as the Guildhall, was rebuilt by Thomas Lord Holmes. Date of original unknown--Market house (plain brick building) recorded there 1706.

In 1764 Thomas Lord Holmes, Governor of the Island, died and his house, adjacent to the Castle, became the George Inn.

From Parliamentary Records:

During the first ten years of this period Yarmouth was controlled by Thomas Holmes (created in 1760 Baron Holmes in the Irish peerage), and managed by him on behalf of Government. There was an anti-Holmes party in the Isle of Wight, headed by Sir Thomas Wortley and Lord Carnarvon; and when Holmes died in July 1764 they hoped to take over from him. But the appointment of governor of the Isle of Wight was given to Hans Stanley (q.v.), who was committed to neither side. Stanley wrote shortly after his appointment; 1

"I think I see very clearly that the governor of the Isle of Wight in elections is but a secondhand interest; either party will be glad to make some sort of terms with him in order to procure favours for their friends, and perhaps it would not have been ill policy to adopt the Irish maxim of joining with the strongest after they had first settled that point amongst themselves".

At Yarmouth after Holmes's death there was a division of interests between the Rev. Leonard Troughear Holmes, Lord Holmes's nephew and successor, and Lord Holmes's brother-in-law, Barnabas Eveleigh Leigh; but this was soon composed by each agreeing to return one Member.' Holmes then offered his interest in the Isle of Wight to Administration, and Stanley advised Grenville to accept.

Holmes worked with each successive Administration, and at the general election of 1768 he had Government support in the attack made upon him by the Worsley-Oglander-Jervoise Clarke party in all three Isles of Wight constituencies. At Yarmouth Holmes's candidates were defeated, but returned on petition; and before the general election of 1774 Holmes and Jervoise Clarke came to an agreement to return one Member each.


Catherine LEIGH and Thomas HOLMES had the following children:


Henry HOLMES (1746-1751). Henry was born in 1746. He/she died in 1751.

Second Generation

2. Henry HOLMES of Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, son of Colonel Thomas HOLMES of Kilmallock, co. Limerick and Anne GIBBONS, was born circa 1660. He was a Lieutenant-governor of the Isle of Wight. He married Mary HOLMES. He died on 18 June 1738. He was buried on 23 June 1738 in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight.


He was the son of Thomas Holmes of Kilmallock, co. Limerick and became a major in the Army.

He was appointed Captain of Hurst Castle on the Isle of Wight from 1683 to 1714. He was a Member of Parliament for Yarmouth (Isle of Wight), England from April 1695 until 1717. He quarreled in the House of Commons with John Cutts, 1st Baron Cutts in 1697, accusing Cutts of discharging militia officers in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight who had voted against Holmes' rival, Cutts' brother-in-law John Acton. He was also Lieutenant-Governor of the Isle of Wight from 1710 to 1714.

He married Mary, the illegitimate daughter of Sir Robert Holmes, MP of Thorley, and with her had 8 sons and 8 daughters.


3. Mary HOLMES, daughter of Sir Robert HOLMES Bart., was born circa 1678. She died in [Julian] March 1760 in Yarmouth. She was buried on 7 March 1760 in Yarmouth.


Mary was an illegitimate child, her father never having married. She was the latter's only child. As had been her father's wish, she married Henry Holmes, the son of his elder brother Colonel Thomas Holmes of Kilmallock, Co. Limerick.


Henry HOLMES and Mary HOLMES had the following children:


Elizabeth HOLMES (1696-1788). Elizabeth was born in 1696. She was baptised on 25 May 1696. She married Thomas TROUGHEAR in 1724 in Thorley, Isle of Wight. She died in 1788. She was buried on 28 January 1788 in Northwood, Isle of Wight.


Thomas HOLMES (1699-1764)

Third Generation

4. Colonel Thomas HOLMES of Kilmallock, co. Limerick, son of Henry HOLMES of Mallow, County of Cork, was a Soldier. He married Anne GIBBONS.


5. Anne GIBBONS has few details recorded about her. She and Thomas HOLMES had the following children:



Henry HOLMES (c. 1660-1738)


6. Sir Robert HOLMES Bart., son of Henry HOLMES of Mallow, County of Cork, was born circa 1622 in Ireland. He was an Admiral in the Navy, Governor of the Isle of Wight, MP for Winchester. He died on 1 November 1692 in Englefield Green, Surrey. He was buried in November 1692 in Yarmouth Parish Church.


Sir Robert Holmes (ca. 1622 – November 18 1692) was a British Admiral of the Restoration Navy. He took part in the second and third Anglo-Dutch wars, both of which he is, by some, credited with having started. He was made governor of the Isle of Wight, where he is buried in Yarmouth parish church. Holmes is chiefly remembered for his exploits on the cruise to Guinea (1664) for the Royal African Company, and for the so-called Holmes's Bonfire of 1666. He is regarded as an archetypal figure both of the quarrelsome restoration officer and of the coming into being of the British professional naval officer.

The rather piratical old Admiral, Sir Robert Holmes, in the reign of Charles II, on capturing New Amsterdam from the Dutch, renamed it New York after the Duke of York, later James II,- by which name it is still known. He also captured a French ship with a sculpture on board, busy on a statue of the French King and compelled him to complete it as a statue of himself. This statue can be seen at Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. Sir Robert was governor of the Isle of Wight from 1667-1692.

Military Beginnings

Born in or about 1622 the son of Henry Holmes, esq. of Mallow, County Cork, Ireland, nothing is known of H.'s early life, although his flawless command of written language and his elegant handwriting suggest a good education. His is in all probability the grandchild of the Robert Holmes named provost of Mallow in 1612. He first appears in 1643 on the Cavalier side of the Civil War, in Prince Maurice's regiment of horse as a cornet in the troop of Captain Richard Atkyns. From this time stems a lifelong friendship with Maurice's brother, Prince Rupert, whom he accompanied onto the battlefields of the continent once the Royalists had been defeated.

Start of the Naval Career

When in 1648 a part of the fleet went over to the exiled king, Holmes (now an army captain), following Maurice and Rupert, came into his first contact with the navy. He participated in the epic cruise of the Royalist fleet of 1649 – 1652 to Kinsale, the Mediterranean, West Africa (where, between the Gambia and Cape Verde, he was temporarily captured by the natives), and the West Indies. The drain of manpower, through storm, action, and mutiny, was so large that at the end of the cruise, Holmes had advanced to commanding the four prizes the force brought back to France. With Rupert returning to the exiled court, it fell to Holmes to see the fleet paid off. Subsequently, Cromwell's intelligence service reports H. having obtained a privateer commission from the King of Spain (Thurloe State Papers VII, p. 248, 18 July 1658. N.S.), although the total absence of other evidence makes his actually setting out as a privateer improbable. He may, like other Royalist, and notably Irish, officers, have taken up service with the Imperial army. His epitaph in Yarmouth gives France, Flanders and Germany as scenes of military exploits. Immediately before the Restoration, H. acted as a courier between Charles II and Edward Montagu, by whose commission he obtained his first command in the navy, the Medway guardship Bramble.

Restoration Officer

Upon Charles II's return to England, Holmes was rewarded for his services with the captaincy of Sandown Castle on the Isle of Wight together with a new commission (for another guardship), this time from the Duke of York himself, who had assumed the position of Lord High Admiral. But more was in store for him.

The first African expedition

The reports Rupert had brought back from the Gambia of a "Mountain of Gold" just waiting there to be carried off to England, prompted the Royal African Company, whose director was the Duke of York (and whose paperwork was carried out by William Coventry) to launch an expedition the the Guinea Coast, then mostly in Dutch hands. Holmes, acquainted with this coast, was the man for this venture, and was appointed captain of the flagship, Henrietta and a squadron of four other of the King's ships: Sophia, Amity, Griffin, and Kinsale. His orders (drafted by Coventry) were to assist the company's factors in every way conceivable and to construct a fort. Privately, he was instructed to gather intelligence as to the expected "Mountain of Gold". The results of the expedition were ambiguous. Touching at Goree, Holmes bluntly informed the Dutch governor that the King of England claimed the exclusive right of trade and navigation between Cape Verde and the Cape of Good Hope (which the King and Sir George Downing disavowed after protests from the States General and retaliatory action against English shipping). In addition to reconnoitring the coast and the mouth of the Gambia, Holmes constructed a fort there (on Dog Island in the mouth of the river, renamed Charles Island. Up-river, on St. Andreas Island near Jillifri, he then captured a fort which was nominally the Duke of Courland's, but obviously in Dutch hands, and renamed the spit of land James Island. Although the mission did not pay for the company, Holmes seems to have made a profit from it, since subsequently Samuel Pepys, of all people, complained about H.'s magnificent lifestyle (Diary, 22 December 1661), and wondered whether the large ape H. had brought back might be the offspring of a man and a she-baboon and susceptible to instruction (Diary, 24 August 1661).

The expedition was the turning point in Holmes's career. He had shown himself equal to dealing with Africans, company factors, the Dutch and his own men and officers alike, recommending himself as a prudent leader. He consequently was appointed captain of the flagship, Royal Charles, which he lost quickly after having failed to force the swedish ambassador to salute the flag. But this was only a temporary setback, and he swiftly was granted £800 from the crown and the command of the newly-launched Reserve. The appointment of an inept master led to a quarrel with Pepys, which subsided after a while, but the antagonism between the administrator and the aggressive fighter was never resolved. Aboard Reserve, Holmes tested a pair of pendulum watches conceived by Christian Huygens.

The second African expedition

The objectives of the famous 1664 Guinea expedition are unclear. Although H. was charged with exceeding his orders by capturing Dutch forts and ships there, Coventry talks of a "game" that was to be started there, which can only mean an Anglo-Dutch war (Bath MSS. CII, ff. 3-13). Holmes's orders, again drafted by Coventry and signed by James, were to 'promote the Interests of the Royall Company' in HMS Jersey and to 'kill, take, sink or destroy such as shall oppose you' (Bath MSS. XCV, ff.3-5) - especially the Goulden Lyon of Flushing, a WIC ship that had given the English a lot of trouble. The reason for the charges against Holmes was that his success exceeded even the most unreasonable expectations, and that he was, diplomatically, a convenient scapegoat (a fact of which he seems to have been aware). In sight of the Dutch base at Goree he took the West Indiaman Brill on 27 December 1663. Stirring up the Portuguese, Africans, and even such Dutch merchants as had a grudge against the WIC, he sank 2 ships and captured 2 others under the guns of Goree (22 January 1664, and the next day took possession of the fort itself. On 28 March, in a tactically cunning action, he took Goulden Lyon meanwhile named Walcheren (taken into the Royal Navy as a fourth-rate). On 10 April he captured Anta Castle on the Gold Coast and several other small strongholds and ships. But the greatest coup was the capture of the principal Dutch base in West Africa, Cape Coast Castle near El Mina, on 1 May. Contrary to the popular picture, Holmes had no hand in the capture of New Amsterdam. In August, Michiel de Ruyter had clandestinely been sent to undo what H. had achieved. De Ruyter recaptured everything Holmes had conquered, except for Cape Coast Castle, which meant that after 1664, the English were on that coast to stay. His return to England was desultory, as he tried to make out the repercussions his actions had evoked in London. Since he commanded navy ships, everything he had taken was not automatically the company's property, but would have to be cleared by Admiralty Courts to be prizes of Holmes and his men. Since Holmes's booty in merchandise was far behind the company's (unreasonable) expectations, he was twice committed to the Tower (9 January and 14 February 1665, where he was interrogated by secretaries of state Henry Bennet and William Morrice. This situation was resolved by the Dutch declaration of war of 22 February, a direct consequence of the goings-on in Africa.

The Second Dutch war

Barely a month after his release and full pardon, H. assumed command of HMS Revenge, a third-rate of 58 guns, the senior captain of Rupert's white (van) squadron. When at the battle of Lowesoft (3 June 1665) the rear-admiral of the white, Robert Sansum, was killed, H. claimed his post (which Rupert endorsed), but James gave the flag to his own flag captain, Harman. Holmes lost his temper and resigned his commission. Even worse, Holmes's rival Sir Jeremy Smith was promoted to flag rank. But reconciliation was, again, not far away. On 27 March 1666, the powerful new third-rate Defiance (64) was launched in the presence of Charles II, James and Rupert, Holmes having been appointed captain and being knighted on the occasion. Part of the red squadron, H. was finally given acting flag-rank when the fleet was divided to shadow the Dutch and simultaneously intercept the French (which put him, satisfyingly, one step above Harman, rear-admiral of the white - a slighting of the principle of seniority which would have been unthinkable at the end of the century). During the murderous Four Days Battle, Holmes was reported to have "done wonders" (CSP Dom., 7 June 1666), and was confirmed as rear-admiral of the red, his ship having received such a battering that he transferred his flag to Henry (72), Harman's ship, who had been wounded. But again, his rivals Sir Jeremy Smith (made admiral of the blue) and Sir Edward Spragge (vice-admiral of the blue) were promoted above him. These professional rivalries were a hallmark of the restoration navy, and Holmes used the conduct of the St James' Day Fight to start a bitter quarrel with Sir Jeremy Smith. The recriminations between the officers and their respective factions played a role in the subsequent Parliamentary investigation over embezzlement in the naval administration and the conduct of the war.

On 9 August 1666, Holmse achieved his best-known feat, characteristically (and, to Pepys and Coventry, exasperatingly) using his own judgment in interpreting his orders. Holmes was to land five hundred men on the island of Vlieland and four hundred on Schelling and loot and destroy as much as possible. Instead of this, Holmes executed a fireship attack on the mass of East-Indiamen lying in Vlie Road, destroying some 150 ships, and sacked the town of Westerschelling. It was the heaviest blow the English ever dealt Dutch merchant shipping, severely endangering the Netherlands' war effort, at the cost of no more than twelve English casualties.

Holmes now was in high favour. Early in 1667 he was appointed to command a squadron based in Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, a lucrative appointment that even enabled him to fit one of the squadron's prizes as a privateer. As early as December 1666, Pepys had commented on H.'s stubborn opposition to the laying-up of the fleet in expectation of peace. Holmes was alive to the danger of a Dutch assault - which duly came on 10 June 1667, when Michiel de Ruyter entered the Medway, burned a large part of the fleet in ordinary (i.e. laid up) at Chatham and hijacked Royal Charles. After that year's campaign had ended, Parliament's interest in naval administration intensified, much to Pepys's and Coventry's distress. Rupert and Albemarle, like most naval officers, especially of the cavalier and gentleman sort, had long been unhappy with the off-hand treatment they received from the administrators. These, in turn, found the officers arrogant and unruly. Now the commanders-in-chief and their clients, Sir Frescheville Holles, Holmes and others, might strike back, especially after the Medway disaster. In addition, Holmes in the winter of 1666/1667 had revived the quarrel with Sir Jeremy Smith (possibly even fighting a duel with him), which was only ended when the latter took Sir William Penn's place on the navy board (which again Holmes had hoped would be his) in December 1668. After peace was concluded, Holmes intensified his hold in the Isle of Wight by buying the governorship from Lord Culepeper. This put him in responsibility of the defences there(Sandown, Carisbrooke and Yarmouth Castles, but also gave him access to the very lucrative vice-admiralty of the Isle of Wight, Newport and Hampshire, with two-thirds of the value of all prizes taken there due to him. In addition, in October 1669, he was elected M.P. for Winchester, generally supporting the Crown in Parliament.

The third Dutch war

Among the preparations for provoking the Dutch into yet another war, was the appointment of Holmes as senior officer in Portsmouth, commanding a powerful squadron and the flagship St Michael, a first-rate of 90 guns. Holmes immediately pressed for the capture of a large number of Dutch ships, using English harbours under foreign colours; but the government tiltillated until the opportunity was gone. On 13 March 1672, he finally got permission to attack the homeward-bound Dutch Smyrna convoy. For two days, the English squadron fought a veritable battle with the armed merchantmen and their escorts, suffering damage out of proportion to their gains, half a dozen prizes only one of which seems to have been one of the rich Smyrna ships. Accidentally, Sir Edward Spragge's squadron, returning from the Mediterranean, had passed the scene immediately before the engagement. For unknown reasons, Spragge did not join the attack nor was invited by Holmes to do so, which gave rise to new mutual suspicions. A few days after the fight war was declared and flags handed out. Holmes did not receive one, which may have had to do with the limited number of posts available due to the white squadron this time consisting of the French fleet. Accordingly, Holmes fought in the ensuing battle of Solebay as a mere captain in the Duke of York's squadron. The battle, the fiercest in De Ruyter's memory, claimed the lives of H.'s friends Holles and Sandwich, and forced the Lord High Admiral to transfer his flag twice, from Prince to Holmes's St Michael and from that to London. With Sandwich dead, a new flag officer had to be appointed, but Holmes's legitimate claims were again disregarded - for the last time. After the end of the 1672 campaign, Holmes did not get another command, notwithstanding the constant intercession on his behalf of the new commander-in-chief, his stout friend Prince Rupert. Obviously, the King himself had no desire to re-employ him. Holmes's naval career had very abruptly ended.

Although he would not let him serve in his fleet any longer, the King continued to lavish gifts upon Holmes, rents in Co. Southampton, the Isle of Wight and Wales and forfeited lands in Galway and Mayo. He possessed houses in London, Englefield Green near Windsor, Bath, and of course an establishment worthy of a governor in Yarmouth. Most of his time in "retirement", Holmes spent in rebuilding the Isle of Wight's castles and managing parliamentary elections to ensure the return of government candidates. He himself did not run for the exclusion parliaments of 1679 – 1681, and in 1682 he incurred the severest displeasure of Charles II for presenting an address from the Duke of Monmouth. A court martial was prepared together with a warrant to transfer the governorship to the Duke of Grafton, but Holmes either managed to avert prosecution or acquitted himself, for he remained governor until his death. A stout supporter of his life-long employers, the royal brothers, it is unclear why Holmes should have associated with Monmouth; at the centre of the question may lie the shady Irish financier Lemuel Kingdon, who sat for Newtown and Yarmouth together with Holmes's brother, John.

On 21 August 1687, secretary of state Sunderland signed a commission that put Holmes in command of a squadron to suppress the buccaneers of the West Indies, but it is doubtful whether he ever actually took command. Since the wound received during the clash with the Smyrna Convoi, his health was steadily deteriorating, and an expedition that sailed in September 1687 was commanded by Sir John Narborough in his stead. Holmes was now busy preparing the defence against Dutch invasion. On 4 November 1688, five sailors of the invasion fleet landed on the Isle of Wight to buy provisions, being welcomed by the population. While the English fleet lay becalmed off Beachy Head and William III landed his forces at Torbay, Holmes wrestled with his mutinous militia. While James had fled his capital on 11 December (an action Parliament took as his relinquishing the throne) and one day later, the commander-in-chief, Sir George Legge, Lord Dartmouth brought the fleet over to William, it was not before 17 December that Holmes surrendered. He continued as governor of the Isle of Wight, although he was occasionally suspected of Jacobite conspiracy. But such reservations as he had against the overthrow of James II stemmed from the loyalty of a military professional, and after his vote in parliament against the accession of William and Mary was defeated, he served them with the same determination as he had the Stuart kings. Although his health was now rapidly giving out and he had to spend more and more time of the year in Bath, the threat of French invasions in 1690 and 1692 made him hurry back to his post as swiftly as ever.

Holmes died on 18 November 1692, leaving one illegitimate daughter and heiress, Mary (born 1678, mother unknown). As had been her father's wish, she married Henry Holmes, the son of his elder brother Colonel Thomas Holmes of Kilmallock, Co. Limerick. Her son, in turn, would eventually achieve the peerage for the family as Lord Holmes of Kilmallock in 1760. H.'s younger brother, Sir John Holmes was a naval captain of repute and competence, having for years served together with his eminent brother, and commanded the channel fleet (1677 – 1679).


The appointment of Sir Robert Holmes as Governor of the Island in 1668 was an important event in Yarmouth's history as he made the town his home when in the Island. He decided to live in Yarmouth at the Castle.vHe reduced its size, filled in the moat and built himself a house (now the George Hotel) on the edge of it.

Between 1671 and 1675 King Charles II occasionally stayed in Yarmouth with Sir Robert, who was a friend of his.

Admiral Sir Robert Holmes, and he immediately decided not to live in his official residence, Carisbrooke Castle, but to transfer the seat of power to Yarmouth. The old ‘King’s House?in Quay Street (which at that time was known as The Alleyway), or the building that may have replaced it, was by this time in a poor condition. However, Sir Robert decided this was to be his home and he proceeded to build himself a handsome house on the site. His reason for wishing to live in the house, which is now the George Hotel, was a simple one, namely its proximity to the sea. Sir Robert was a sailor, and an intrepid one at that: he also happened to be a bit of a rascal. One of the perquisites of his Governorship was that he was entitled to keep two thirds of the value of any ship and her cargo (belonging either to an enemy of England or to a pretended neutral) that he was able to capture in the Isle of Wight Waters.

From his house in Yarmouth he conducted for the next twenty years a very flourishing business that amounted to piracy, for his interpretation of the phrase: ‘A Pretended Neutral?was a very wide one and included almost any non-English ship. By this means he was able to add to his already considerable wealth.

Sir Robert Holmes had a love—hate relationship with both King Charles II and his brother the Duke of York (later James II). The King visited him in his fine new house on three occasions. They had similar tastes, were both hard drinkers and also susceptible to a pretty face---there is no doubt that the house could tell many an interesting tale.

It was not until 1764 that the Holmes family ceased to live in Yarmouth. The last resident in the house was Thomas, Lord Holmes, whose name is remembered if only through the plaque on the front of the Town Hall, which he rebuilt in 1763. In 1764 he built a grand new house out in the country at Westover, and his Yarmouth home became the George Inn, named in honour of the King, George III, who had been on the throne for four years.

On the 1st November Sir Robert Holmes died.


One of the most interesting stories regarding wrecks on the Island is that of Robert Holmes, and his statue that lies in Yarmouth Church. The Holmes Chapel in Yarmouth Church is dominated by the tomb and white marble statue of Sir Robert Holmes.

Early Career

Sir Robert Holmes, born in Ireland in 1622, had a long, military tradition that had begun in the army under Charles I, and then continued in the Navy under Prince Rupert in the Civil War, where he gained the rank of Major.

In 1646, after the battle of Oxford which the Royalists lost, he accompanied Prince Rupert to the Continent. By 1648, during the Protectorate, when much of the English Navy had defected and joined Prince Rupert in Holland fighting for the Royalist cause, he became essentially a mercenary, fighting in France, Germany and Flanders.

Holmes And The Dutch

After the Glorious Restoration of Charles II in 1660, he took service with the Royal African Company and was placed in charge of the squadron sailing for West Africa. Spoils from his harassment of the Dutch off West Africa's Guinea Coast included the first Baboon brought to England, which Pepys describes in his diary in 1661. He also brought Guinea gold to the United Kingdom; the English Guinea coin is named after his exploits.

He was described as "the cursed beginner of two Dutch Wars", as a similar expedition to Africa in 1663 resulted in him capturing many Dutch trading posts and ended in war. He was also responsible for burning 180 ships in the Dutch port of Ely and the town of Bradderinum, the capital town of the island of Schelling in 1664.

In 1665 he was Knighted, given the rank of Admiral of the Red, and commanded The Defiance, one of the newest warships afloat. He was soon at war again, in the Battle of Lowestoft and raided the Dutch islands of Vie and Schelling, destroying 150 ships of the Dutch East Indiamen with the loss of 12 men.

On The Island

In 1665 he had been made Captain of Sandown Castle, and in 1668 he became Governor of the Isle of Wight, a title he held until his death in 1692. He also held the titles of Vice-Admiral of the Isle of Wight, Governor and Vice-Admiral of Newport and Vice-Admiral of Hampshire.

From 1665 he spent much of his life on the Island, where, as part of his privileges, he was entitled to two thirds of the value of any ship of any ship and its cargo of enemy ships that he captured in local waters, at a time when both France and Holland were regarded enemies. From his base in Yarmouth, Holmes carried out an almost piratical operation and added vastly to his wealth.

The Statue

The story regarding how this statue came about is that the statue was one of King Louis XIV. The sculptor had carved the body, yet was planning on finishing the head when he arrived with the statue in Louis XIV's court, seeing Louis in the flesh. The ship was wrecked and then captured along with the statue and the sculptor, who Holmes forced to finish the statue in his likeness.

He directed that, on his death, the statue would stand over his tomb. However, the sculptor may well have had the last laugh as the head is too big for the body, giving the statue a ridiculous look.


The appointment of Sir Robert Holmes as Governor of the Island in 1668 was an important event in Yarmouth's history as he made the town his home when in the Island. He decided to live in Yarmouth at the Castle. He reduced its size, filled in the moat and built himself a house (now the George Hotel) on the edge of it. Between 1671 and 1675 King Charles II occasionally stayed in Yarmouth with Sir Robert, who was a friend of his. Sir Robert was a sailor, and an intrepid one at that: he also happened to be a bit of a rascal. One of the perquisites of his Governorship was that he was entitled to keep two thirds of the value of any ship and her cargo (belonging either to an enemy of England or to a pretended neutral) that he was able to capture in the Isle of Wight Waters. From his house in Yarmouth he conducted for the next twenty years a very flourishing business that amounted to piracy, for his interpretation of the phrase:"Pretended Neutral" was a very wide one and included almost any non-English ship. By this means he was able to add to his already considerable wealth. Sir Robert Holmes had a love-hate relationship with both King Charles II and his brother the Duke of York (later James II). The King visited him in his fine new house on three occasions. They had similar tastes, were both hard drinkers and also susceptible to a pretty face---there is no doubt that the house could tell many an interesting tale.


Robert HOLMES had the following children:



Mary HOLMES (c. 1678-1760)