Saturday, February 15, 2014

Surname Saturday ~ HOMES of Northern Ireland and Martha's Vineyard


William Homes is one of the few ancestors I have who was born in Northern Ireland.  He also has a Londonderry, New Hampshire connection, which is fun!  As a young man, William Homes came to Martha’s Vineyard island off Massachusetts to teach school from 1686 – 1689.  He then returned to Ireland where he was ordained in 1692 in the village of Strabane, and he also married there.  His wife was Katherine Craghead, daughter of Reverend Robert Craighead of Donaghmore.   He was the pastor at Strabane until about 1714 when he took his family back to Martha’s Vineyard.

He was made the pastor at Chilmark on 15 September 1715, where he served until he died in 1746.  His children married well into prominent New England families.  His son Robert married Mary Franklin, sister of Benjamin Franklin, who is my first cousin many generations removed in another lineage.  One daughter, Katherine, married Samuel Smith, son of my great uncle many generations removed in another lineage.  This is a very tangled family tree!

According to the Irish professor, Linde Lunney, the Craighead and Homes families traveled together to Boston in 1714.  They were well received by the Puritan leadership because the Presbyterian doctorine was Calvinist.   Cotton Mather had met with his son, Robert Homes, a sea captain, prior to their arrival, and brought back information to Northern Ireland, leading the Presbyterians to believe they would be welcome to re-settle in New England.   Reverend Edward L. Parker, author of The History of Londonderry [New Hampshire], speculated that these families “influenced the decision of hundreds or even thousands of Ulster-Scots to leave Ireland for new opportunities in America.”   Robert Homes is the son who married Mary Franklin of Boston.  (see page 34 of Parker's book)

After witnessing the seige of Londonderry in Northern Ireland, and losing many of their rights to worship as Presbyterians, the Ulster Scots were anxious to resettle in North America.  When the first fleet of Presbyterians arrived in Boston, they weren't exactly welcomed, and were sent to places like New Hampshire, Maine and Worcester to act as a buffer between the Puritans and the wilderness.  Many of the Presbyterian pastors were sent to far flung villages on Cape Cod and the islands. 

For more information on Reverend William Homes you can read his journal, “Diary of Rev. William Homes of Chilmark, Martha’s Vineyard, 1689 – 1746”, New England Historic Genealogical Register, NEHGS, Volume 48 0 50, 1894 – 1896.  The manuscript is at the Maine Historical Society in Portland, Maine.

There is also a genealogy of the HOMES family in the NEHGS Register, Volume 91 (1937), pages 159 - 176.  There is a biography of William Homes in the book Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America by Charles Knowles Bolton (viewable at 

MY HOMES/HOLMES genealogy:

Generation 1:  Reverend William Homes, born 1663 in Donaghmore, Tyrone, Northern Ireland, died 20 June 1746 in Chilmark, Massachusetts; married 26 September 1693 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland to Katherine Craighead, daughter of Reverend Robert Craighead and Agnes Hart.   She was born about 1678 and died 10 April 1754 in Chilmark.  Nine children born in Straban, West Tyrone County, Northern Ireland.

Generation 2:  Margaret Homes, born 28 February 1696 in Straban,  West Tyrone, Northern Ireland; died 26 April 1778 in Chilmark; married 1 March 1716 in Chilmark to John Allen, son of James Allen and Elizabeth Partridge.  He was born 1682 in West Tisbury, Massachusetts and died 17 October 1767 in Chilmark.  Thirteen children born in Chilmark.

Generation 3:  Rebecca Allen m. Wilmot Wass
Generation 4: Sarah Wass m. Samuel Osborn
Generation 5: Sarah Osborn m. Charles Skinner
Generation 6: Ann Skinner m. Thomas Ratchford Lyons
Generation 7: Isabella Lyons m. Rev. Ingraham Ebenezer Bill
Generation 8: Caleb Rand Bill m. Ann Margaret Bollman
Generation 9: Isabella Lyons Bill m. Albert Munroe Wilkinson
Generation 10: Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)

A 2013 post about Rev. William Homes: 

The URL for this post is 

Copyright © 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. My HOWES ancestors apparently came from Northern Ireland-- that's the birthplace given on various census and vital records I have. The name is pretty similar!

  2. My 5XGGF Alexander Miller was the Master of the ship "Mary and Elizabeth" and the First Mate was a Robert Holmes. According to the Bolton book the ship appears in Boston port records in 1714 and 1718.