KATHERINE HYDE was baptised at Manchester, Lancashire, England, on Oct. 27, 1608. OBADIAH HOLMES was baptised Mar. 18, 1609/10 at Didsbury, near Manchester, although possibly born a couple of years earlier. Didsbury is about five miles southeast of the center of Manchester, and just a couple of miles from Reddish, his father's birthplace. It is located on the Tame River near the junction with the Mersey. Just across those rivers lies the county Cheshire.
OBADIAH attended Oxford University along with two of his brothers. His brother Samuel is known to have graduated from the college, but the same probably did not happen to OBADIAH. Later in life he expressed regret that "he had been somewhat wild in his youth, and caused his Mother serious concern."
They were married on Nov. 20, 1630, at Collegiate Church (now called Manchester Cathedral), Manchester. OBADIAH became identified with the Puritan Party, and in 1638, with his wife and son Jonathan, sailed from Preston, Lancashire, England, to America, landing at Boston in Massachusetts Colony. He first settled at Salem, Essex, MA, where he was living in 1639, when he and two others received a grant of land there, on which he established a glass factory, one of the first business enterprises in New England. The Holmes family had been glassmakers back in England, perhaps at Haughton Green, where a glass house operated from the early 17th century to about 1644.
On March 24, 1639/40, after arriving in Salem, OBADIAH and KATHERINE became members of the church. Obadiah apparently disliked the rigidity of the established church and was not inclined to keep silent in the midst of religious discussion. Before October, 1643, he had taken an option in the newly created community of Rehoboth (or Seekonk, as it was called then), about 60 miles south of Boston. He sold his holdings in Salem, and removed himself and his family to Rehoboth, upon excommunication by the Salem church in 1646.
In 1646, he joined Rev. Samuel Newman's church in Rehoboth, but was to find that he had not left religious controversies behind. The Rehoboth church was divided along doctrinal and legal lines, and OBADIAH found himself pitted against the minister on these issues. By October, 1649, the differences had reached the point that OBADIAH sued Rev. Newman on charges of slander, and was awarded damages of £100. The following year OBADIAH once more found himself excommunicated, this time from the church in Rehoboth. That fall he, along with several friends at Rehoboth, became Baptists, in doctrine and practice, and removed to Newport, Newport, RI, where he lived the rest of his life.
In July 1651, OBADIAH, along with two friends, Dr. John Clarke and John Crandall, left Newport for a summer visit to their former neighbors in Massachusetts, with concern for the welfare of their church in those parts.
On Sunday, July 20, 1651, OBADIAH and his two friends were holding religious services in Lynn, MA, when two constables broke in and arrested all three. They were charged with conducting religious services in non-conformity with the legal statutes. Two days later they were taken to Boston and jailed, and the following week a trial (more like "kangaroo court") was held before the General Court, whereby they were found guilty, fined, and ordered to be publicly whipped.
While awaiting punishment, the fines for Clarke and Crandall were paid, and they were released without further punishment. When friends of OBADIAH came forward offering to pay his fines, he forbid them on the basis of principle. When he refused to recant for his practices, the punishment was given. On Sep. 5, 1651, he was stripped to the waist and whipped thirty lashes with a three-cord whip, at the public whipping post outside the First Church in the center of Boston.
After the whipping he refused to show remorse, and was threatened with a second arrest and trial, after which he would suffer another whipping on his already bleeding back. His friends, however, were successful in spiriting him away before the second arrest could be made. He returned to Newport and succeeded Dr. Clarke as minister of the First Baptist Church there.
OBADIAH was highly respected in the Colony of Rhode Island, as is proved by his appointment to high offices. On Mar. 17, 1656, he represented Newport as a member of the General Assembly at Warwick, Roger Williams being Moderator on that occasion. He was made a freeman of the colony on May 20, 1656, and the next day appeared again as a deputy to the Assembly from Newport, as he did again on Nov. 2, 1658. In 1657 he went to preach to the Dutch on Long Island, and in 1665 was again there with Lady Deborah Moofy's colony at Gravesend. In that year he was a patentee of the new settlement in Monmouth County, New Jersey, but did not himself make his home there, although members of his family did so. In 1675 he wrote, at Newport, a number of epistolary documents, among them an address to his friends and relations concerning his own life and history; a message to his wife; one to his children; one to the members of his church at Newport; a statement of his religious beliefs; and "A letter unto the world."
He lived the final years of his life on a farm five miles east of the village of Newport. He died there on Oct. 15, 1682, and his remains were buried on the property, at a place still known as "The Holmes Burying Ground." The Ground is located on the west side of the highway, in Middletown, about a half mile north of Berkeley Memorial Chapel. KATHERINE died around the spring of 1684, and is buried at the same location.
The inscriptions on the grave markers are:
the Rev. Obadiah Holmes
from Great Britain
who died October 15th
1682 in the 76th year
of his age"
wife of the
Included among their descendants is Abraham Lincoln, through their daughter Lydia.
wife Sarah Borden
husband John Browne
husband John Bowne
| -1693 |
husband JOHN ODLIN
wife Alice Stillwell
wife Elizabeth Cooke
|| -1728 |
husband _____ Taylor
wife Francis Holden
wife Mary Sayles