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Sir John Holmes
Governor of Hurst Castle
In office
MonarchCharles II
Preceded byEdward Strange
Succeeded byHenry Holmes
Member of Parliament
for Newtown, Isle of Wight
In office
MonarchCharles II
Preceded bySir John Barrington
Sir Robert Worsley
Succeeded byThomas Done
William Blathwayt
Personal details
Born1640 (1640)
Died28 May 1683(1683-05-28) (aged 42–43)
ParentHenry Holmes
RelativesSir Robert Holmes (brother)
Henry Holmes (nephew)
Military career
AllegianceEngland England
Service/branch Royal Navy
Years of service1663–1683
Commands heldHMS Paul
HMS Bristol
HMS Triumph
HMS Gloucester
HMS Rupert
Battles/warsBattle of Lowestoft
St James's Day Battle
Battle of Solebay
First Battle of Schooneveld

Admiral Sir John Holmes (1640? – 28 May 1683) was an English naval leader who rose to be Commander-in-Chief of the fleet in the English Channel (1677–79) and was the younger brother of the more famous Admiral Sir Robert Holmes.

Military career

The attack on the Smyrna Fleet, 12 March 1672

Holmes served in his brother's expedition to West Africa in 1663–1664. At the Battle of Lowestoft in 1665, and until June the following year, he commanded the Paul.

He also fought in the St James's Day Battle, as captain of the 48-gun Bristol. He was then promoted to command of a second-rate, HMS Triumph, of 64 guns. In 1670-1 he was in Vice Admiral Sir Edward Spragge's expedition against the corsairs of Algiers.

He commanded the Gloucester (62 guns) in the attack on the Dutch Smyrna fleet in 1672, which opened the Third Anglo-Dutch War, capturing one of the Dutch ships though it sank almost immediately because of damage inflicted in the fight. He was wounded, and following this action, knighted, and appointed to command the 66-gun HMS Rupert, in which he fought at the Battle of Solebay in 1672, and a number of the battles of the following year.

At the First Battle of Schooneveld he was mentioned in dispatches. In 1673 he was promoted to flag rank, and in 1677–1679 was Commander-in-Chief of the fleet in the English Channel.

Political career

Holmes's brother, Sir Robert Holmes, had been appointed Governor of the Isle of Wight, and was willing to use the influence this gave him on his brother's behalf. In 1675, Sir John was appointed Governor of Hurst Castle, and from 1677 to 1685 was Member of Parliament for Newtown, Isle of Wight.[1]



  1. ^ "HOLMES, Sir John (c.1640-83), of Yarmouth, I.o.W. | History of Parliament Online". Retrieved 15 May 2022.
  • Concise Dictionary of National Biography (1930)
  • Robert Latham, The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Volume X: Companion (London: HarperCollins, 1995)
  • Leigh Rayment's Peerage Pages

3 Annotations

First Reading

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Per L&M Companion:

kt. 1672 (?1640-83) Naval commander; younger brother of Sir Robert.
[… ] He served in Robert's expedition to W. Africa in 1663-4 and in several actions of 1665-6, including his brothers raid on Terschelling, after which he was advanced to the command of a 2nd.-rate, the 'Triumph.' His career thereafter was steadier and more continuous than his brother's. He obtained a peace-time commission in 1670-1 under Sprague
[… ] in the expedition against Algiers and returned to take part in the attack on the Dutch Smyrna fleet and the war that followed. He achieved flag rank in 1673 and in 1677-9 was Commander-in-chief of the Channel. By his brother's influence he was made Governor of Hurst Castle in 1675 and was four times elected M.P for Newtown (I. of W.) 1677-83.

In 668 he married Peg Lowhter, sister of Peg Penn's husband.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

HOLMES, Sir John,—was the gallant biother of the as gallant sir Robert Holmes. He was appointed commander of the Jersey in 1664; and in the following year, after having first served as lieutenant of the Centurion, was appointed Commander of the St. Paul; and what is somewhat extraordinary, served, in the beginning of the next year, as lieutenant of that same ship. He was in a short time removed into the Bristol, which ship we find him captain of, in the month of August. He was posted in the line of battle as one of the seconds to his brother sir Robert, and afterwards commanded one of the companies as the attack of Bandaris. His very conspicuous conduct on this occasion procured him the command of the Triumph, a second rate. He probably continued captain of this ship during the remainder of the War, although we find nothing further recorded of him till the year 1668, when he was made commander of the Falcon and Kent successively. In 1669 he went out with sir Thomas Allen to the Mediterranean, as commander of the Nonsuch. In 1670 he removed into the Bristol, and in the following year into the Diamond.
---Biographia navalis. J. Charnock, 1794.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

John Holmes first saw naval service as lieutenant to his brother in the Guinea expedition of 1664, and took part in the main battles of the second Anglo-Dutch war.

Samuel Pepys was sorry to hear of Capt. John Holmes' marriage to the sister of Anthony Lowther M.P. in April, 1668, "he being an idle rascal and proud, and worth little, I doubt, and she a mighty pretty, well-disposed lady, and good fortune; ... but the sport is Sir Robert Holmes doth seem to be mad too with his brother, and will disinherit him, saying that he hath ruined himself, marrying below himself and to his disadvantage."

Nevertheless Capt. John Holmes continued to serve under his brother, and was severely wounded in the attack on the Dutch Smyrna fleet in 1672, for which he was knighted.

When not at sea Sir John and Lady Margaret Holmes probably resided in the splendid mansion built by Adm. Robert Holmes at Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. In 1675 now Rear Admiral John Holmes purchased the governorship of Hurst Castle on the other side of the Solent for £500.

Sir John was granted the governorship of the Isle of Wight in reversion to his brother, who outlived him.

Sir John Holmes went on to be an M.P. for Newtown, Isle of Wight, from 1677 to 1681. In June 1679 he fought a duel with John Churchill, his fellow-Member for Newtown, who believed Holmes had prejudiced him in the King’s favour by relating a tale about ‘beating an orange wench’.

He died in London on 28 May 1683 and was buried at Yarmouth. His only daughter married an Essex baronet, but nothing is known about their two sons, apart from the annuities they received under their uncle Robert’s will.

For more information, see https://www.historyofparliamenton…

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.



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