m. 26 SEP 1693
Facts and Events
William Homes was born probably in County Donegal, Ireland, in the year 1663.
First Visit to America
He first came to America in the year 1686, when he was 22 years old. He settled on Martha's Vineyard where he was a teacher at Chilmark, Dukes County, which was then and continued until 1692 to be part of New York. At this time there were on the Island about 3,000 Indians, of whom nearly one half were Christians, converted under the labors of the Mayhews. He sold, 2 April 3, 1691, a tract of land on the Vineyard to Thomas Mayhew, the consideration being "one good eu lamb not under six weeks yearly and everie year for ever."
Ministry in Ireland
By July 1691 he had returned to Ireland when he was reported to be on trials for the ministry. He was ordained a clergyman 21 Dec 1692. The minutes of the Laggan Presbytery relate the following:
29 July 1691 at St Johnston "Mr Will Holmes haveing come from New England to this place, and appearing this day before this meeting. The meeting having receaved from him satisfieing testimonials, after welcomeing of him to the meeting they do appoint the said Mr Holmes to preach upon Heb: 10, 38 - the Just shall live by faith, and upon tuesday next before the ministers, and there to undergo what farther tryals the meeting shall think fit to try him with, and Mr Rob Creaghead, Neil Gray, Jo: Ruet, Rob Campbell, James Alexander and Andrew Ferguson are to be present."
29 March 1692 - Urney, Donogheady and Sttrabane also wish William Holmes as their minister.
15 May 1692 - Strabane offer Wm Holmes £30 p a.
27 July 1692 at St Johnston "this day appeared from Iniskillin Archibald Elliot with supplication to the meeting and desyring a visit and prosecuting a call to Mr Will: Holmes ...."
25 Oct 1692 "This day Mr Will Holmes delivered his exegesis, de universali redemptione, and sustained his disputes, his Thesis being: Christus pro omnibus et solis electis mortuees est; he was approven ...This meeting appoints Mr Holmes to expone the 23 Hebrew psalme, and the greek new testament ad aperturam Libri with the catecheticall questions, at their next meeting." "Presbetry at Strabane 21 Dec 1692. This day Mr Rob Craghead preached (upon 1 Tim: 4, 16) according to appointment, at Strabane, and after sermon haveing proposed the ordinary questions to Mr Will: Holmes that are usewall before ordination, he with the rest of the ministers then present did ordain the said Mr Will: Holmes by Imposition of handsand solemne and serious prayer to God; they solemnly sett him apart for the work of the ministrie in the congregation of Strabane. [he is also appointed to visit Inniskilling and Clougher before the next meeting].
8 Feb 1692 - meeting at St Johnston: Wm Holmes preaches [is appointed to, or has preached?] at Omagh, Culdaff and Glendermot.
17 July 1693 at Convoy "appears from Donagh More Tho. Gillespie, Will Crag and John Eliot........"Mr Will Homes is appointed to repair to Hillsburgh, as Commissioner for this presbytrie to assist Donagh More in prosecuting their call to Mr Joshua ffisher before yr presbytrie of Down, and Donagh More is advised to send a Commissioner along with him."
2 Aug 1693 at St Johnston - William Holmes confirms he has visited Hillsborough with successful outcome......"This Meeting approves of Mr Will Homes his diligence in this affaire."
29 Nov 1693 at L'derry - Mr Will Homes to preach at Sligo.
25 June 1695 at St Johnston - Mr Will Homes is to take a service at Dunnigall two Lords days before the next meeting.
28 Aug 1695 at St Johnston - Mr Robert Campbell and Mr Will: Homes [who is clerke to the Meeting] are appointed to attend the Committee which is to sit at Belfast on 27 Aug ...with the following overtures:
10 Sept 1695 at St Johnston - Mr Campbell and Mr Holmes confirmed they attended the Belfast Committee 27 Aug 1695 and that Mr Will Adaire and Mr John M'Bride are appointed Commissioners "to attend the parleament."
19 Nov 1695 William Holmes apptd to take services at Urney and Dunigall before next meeting.
22 Dec 1696 his day Mr Will. Homes of Strabane having lectured upon John 21 from the 15th verse to ye 18th and Mr James Alexander having preached ...Mr Homes (of Urney) was solemnly ordained .to the work of the Monistry in the congregation of Urney.
From the Minutes of the General Synod of Ulster we have the following:
21 Dec 1692, "This day Mr. Rot. Craghead preached upon 1st Tim. 4. & 16. according to appointment at Strabane and after sermon having proposed the ordinary questions to Mr. Will. Homes that are useuall before ordination, he with the rest of the ministers then present, and that are written in the sederunt did ordain the sd. Mr. Will. Holmes by imposition of hands and solemne and serious prayer to God they solemnly sett him apart to the ministrie in the congregation of Strabane."
In September 1693, "Robert Carson, ruling elder from Strabane, "gives account that their meeting-house will be finished within 14 days, that they have not built a dwelling-house for Mr. Homes because he is yet uncertain where he would have it built, but promises to take care that it be built as soon as may be convenient; and in the meantime that they will provide him in suitable accommodation."
On the 25th of June, 1700, Mr. John Love, an elder from Strabane, reported to the Presbytery that "they had taken pains about the augmenting of their minister's maintainence, & that they intend hereafter to pay Mr. Homes L35 yearly while the present subscribers live, but when any dies, they fear this quota be diminished, yet hope even then to discharge what was formerly furnished. With this account the meeting is well satisfied, & the Session & Town of Strabane are contended for their diligence, but it is recomended to the country part of that congregation to give yearly some corn."
According to Latimer's History of the Irish Prebyterians, William received "her Majestie's Royal Bounty" for the xmass quarter, 1712.
William served the Presbyterian Church in Strabane until 1714. He was often chosen Moderator of the Provincial Synod. He married Katherine, daughter of Rev. Robert Craighead, in Londonderry on September 26, 1693 at her father's home.
Chilmark, Martha's Vineyard
In 1714 he came again to America and revisited Martha's Vineyard, at the age of 50. The people of Chilmark remembered the young man who had previously taught among them, with satisfaction, and invited him to become their pastor. He was installed on September 15, 1715 and served as pastor for 31 years, having a high repute for his piety, and as a man of worth and learning. Bank's History of Martha's Vineyard states "It is said that he used to fast twice a week. His salary was 60 pounds a year. He took some care of a farm, but lived mostly on his salary. He was the author of five printed volumes, three of them published during his life, and the two after his death were on "Family Prayer," and "Family Government." He preferred, and recommended, a moderate Presbyterianism to the evils which he thought he saw in the Congregationalism by which he was surrounded. His name does not often appear on the records of New England Ecclesiastical History for this reason, and also on account of his not being a graduate of Yale or Harvard and his duties being discharged on a secluded Island."
He preached until he was so feeble with old age that he used to be helped on to his horse on a Sabbath Mornin, and helped off again at the Meeting house door, which was, it may be, 3/4 of a mile from his own house. And when once told, by a friend, that as he had once or more fainted away in his Pulpit, he feared he would die there, He, it seems, Cheerfully answered his concerned friend, that he did not know he could die in a better place. He died in the year 1746, at the age of 83. He was preaching in his pulpit and fell down suddenly in a fit and gradually declined to his death. A marble stone in the graveyard at Chilmark, marks his burial place.
The Diary of William Homes can be found in the Maine Historical Society. It is 96 pages of the size known as quarto and is bound in contemporary leather. It is closely written from cover to cover. It chronicles the happenings in Chilmark over a 25 year period from 1717 to 1742, including things good and bad. Some extracts:
Williams Homes was the author of several wriiten works on the subject of church government including: