d.BEF 22 OCT 1727
Facts and Events
Robert Homes was the son of William Homes and Katherine Craighead. According to his father's diary "Robt Homes was born July 23, 1694 being Monday at 12 of the clock in the day time in Stragolan (Stragullin, Camus, Tyrone, Ireland) and was baptized the Wednesday following in my own house by Mr Robert Craghead his grandfather." He grew up near Strabane, Ireland and emigrated with his family to America in 1714, settling in Boston. He made several trips to and from Ireland in the following years.
He married Mary Franklin, daughter of Josiah Franklin, of Boston, and sister of Benjamin Franklin. Rev. Wm. Homes writes: "My son Robert was marryed in Boston to Miss Mary Franklin April 3, 1716 at 9 at night by the Rev. Eben Pemberton." In the records of the old North Church, Boston, it appears that Robert Homes was admitted to that Church in March 1714, and his children William and Abiah were baptised Jan. 1717, and Dec. 1718.
Parker says (1) that a young man named Homes, son of a Presbyterian clergyman, first brought reports to the people in Ireland of opportunities in New England. This was probably Captain Robert Homes, son of the Rev. William Homes; he had an unusual opportunity for intercourse with his father's former parishioners through his voyages to Ireland. In 1717 two men with names later significant in the Worcester and Falmouth settlements, called to see the minister at Chilmark; they were John McClellan and James Jameson. Three weeks later (November 24th) Mr. Homes writes in his diary: "This day I received several letters, one from Doctor Cotton Mather, one from severall gentlemen proprietors of lands at or near to Casco Bay, and one from son Robert."
The above quotation points strongly to a conference held at Boston in November between Captain Robert Homes, recently from Ireland and interested in transporting Scotch Irish families, the Rev. Cotton Mather, eager to see the frontiers defended by a God-fearing, hardy people, and the third party to the conference, the men who were attempting to plant settlements along the Kennebec. They must have talked over the project for a great migration (they all had written to the minister at Chilmark), and undoubtedly Captain Robert Homes sent over letters and plans to friends at Strabane, Donaghmore, Donegal and Londonderry. Perhaps no one in Boston had so many relatives among the clergy in Ulster, and as a sea-captain he had a still further interest in the migration. Robert himself sailed for Ireland April 13, 1718, and returned "full of passengers" about the middle of October.
The Rev. Mr. Homes in his diary describes his journey to Boston on this great occasion. He lodged with his son and preached twice, from Philemon i. 21, for the Rev. Cotton Mather at the North meeting house, and from Proverbs xii. 26 for the Rev. John Webb at the New North; neither text seems to have had any special significance.
The Irish immigration became a concern to the citizens of Boston, and they tried to slow the flood. In 1719 two shiploads, under command of Capt. Robert Holmes and a Captain Dennis, were refused permission to land.
1 History of Londonderry, NH p. 34.
Robert was lost at sea in 1727. In his diary William Homes wrote on October 22, 1727, "I heard the melancholy news of son Robert's death but had no account of the circumstances."
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin mentions Robert Homes in his autobiography. In 1724, Robert discovered that his brother-in-law, who had run away from Boston, was in Philadelphia. Robert wrote to Benjamin and encouraged him to return to Boston and make his peace:
- I had a brother-in-law,Robert Holmes, master of a sloop that traded between Boston and Delaware. He being at Newcastle, forty miles below Philadelphia, heard there of me, and wrote me a letter mentioning the concern of my friends in Boston at my abrupt departure, assuring me of their good will to me, and that every thing would be accommodated to my mind if I would return, to which he exhorted me very earnestly. I wrote an answer to his letter, thank'd him for his advice, but stated my reasons for quitting Boston fully and in such a light as to convince him I was not so wrong as he had apprehended.
- Sir William Keith, governor of the province, was then at Newcastle, and Captain Holmes, happening to be in company with him when my letter came to hand, spoke to him of me, and show'd him the letter. The governor read it, and seem'd surpris'd when he was told my age. He said I appear'd a young man of promising parts, and therefore should be encouraged; the printers at Philadelphia were wretched ones; and, if I would set up there, he made no doubt I should succeed; for his part, he would procure me the public business, and do me every other service in his power. This my brother-in-law afterwards told me in Boston, but I knew as yet nothing of it; when, one day, Keimer and I being at work together near the window, we saw the governor and another gentleman (which proved to be Colonel French, of Newcastle), finely dress'd, come directly across the street to our house, and heard them at the door.
- Keimer ran down immediately, thinking it a visit to him; but the governor inquir'd for me, came up, and with a condescension of politeness I had been quite unus'd to, made me many compliments, desired to be acquainted with me, blam'd me kindly for not having made myself known to him when I first came to the place, and would have me away with him to the tavern, where he was going with Colonel French to taste, as he said, some excellent Madeira. I was not a little surprised, and Keimer star'd like a pig poison'd. I went, however, with the governor and Colonel French to a tavern, at the corner of Third-street, and over the Madeira he propos'd my setting up my business, laid before me the probabilities of success, and both he and Colonel French assur'd me I should have their interest and influence in procuring the public business of both governments. On my doubting whether my father would assist me in it, Sir William said he would give me a letter to him, in which he would state the advantages, and he did not doubt of prevailing with him. So it was concluded I should return to Boston in the first vessel, with the governor's letter recommending me to my father. In the mean time the intention was to be kept a secret, and I went on working with Keimer as usual, the governor sending for me now and then to dine with him, a very great honor I thought it, and conversing with me in the most affable, familiar, and friendly manner imaginable.
- About the end of April, 1724, a little vessel offer'd for Boston. I took leave of Keimer as going to see my friends. The governor gave me an ample letter, saying many flattering things of me to my father, and strongly recommending the project of my setting up at Philadelphia as a thing that must make my fortune. We struck on a shoal in going down the bay, and sprung a leak; we had a blustering time at sea, and were oblig'd to pump almost continually, at which I took my turn. We arriv'd safe, however, at Boston in about a fortnight. I had been absent seven months, and my friends had heard nothing of me; for my br. Holmes was not yet return'd, and had not written about me. My unexpected appearance surpriz'd the family; all were, however, very glad to see me, and made me welcome, except my brother....
- My father received the governor's letter with some apparent surprise, but said little of it to me for some days, when Capt. Holmes returning he showed it to him, ask'd him if he knew Keith, and what kind of man he was; adding his opinion that he must be of small discretion to think of setting a boy up in business who wanted yet three years of being at man's estate. Holmes said what he could in favor of the project, but my father was clear in the impropriety of it, and at last gave a flat denial to it. Then he wrote a civil letter to Sir William, thanking him for the patronage he had so kindly offered me, but declining to assist me as yet in setting up, I being, in his opinion, too young to be trusted with the management of a business so important, and for which the preparation must be so expensive.
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - Google Books
Life of Benjamin Franklin - Google Books
From Boyhood to Manhood, Life of Benjamin Franklin By William Makepeace Thayer
Robert Lineage of the Bowens of Woodstock, CT - Google Books
The Journal of the American-Irish Historical Society
- ↑ Diary of Rev. William Homes.
- ↑ Diary of Rev. William Homes.