HOLMES, John II (by 1529-83), of London; North Mimms, Herts. and Owston and Hampole, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1529, s. of John Holmes. m. by 1561, Frances, da. of John Tyndall of Brotherton, Yorks., 3s. 3da.2

Offices Held

Feodary, duchy of Lancaster, Yorks. 2 Dec. 1550-Mar./July 1553; sec. to John Dudley, Earl of Warwick and later Duke of Northumberland by 1551-3; commr. sewers, Yorks. 1565.3


It is easier to account for the return of John Holmes to the third and fourth Parliaments of Mary than to piece together the rest of his biography. His election in 1554 for Boroughbridge he owed to Henry Clifford, 2nd Earl of Cumberland, who on 17 Oct. replied to his request for a seat by telling him that he would be found one at either Boroughbridge or Knaresborough, ‘trusting verily you will shew yourself as well catholic as conformable to the King’s and Queen’s majesties’ pleasure and their godly reformation’. This condition Holmes fulfilled at least to the extent of not absenting himself from this Parliament without leave before its dissolution. When, ten months later, he reappeared as the senior Member for Ripon, he and his fellow Thomas Poley had been ‘appointed by the comptroller’, Sir Robert Rochester, who as well as being comptroller of the Household was chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster: as Ripon was administered by the duchy, while the Earl of Cumberland was steward of the honor, Holmes’s nomination was presumably the result of an arrangement between these two patrons.4

In both Parliaments Holmes sat with a namesake, one of the Members for Rye. Although on the first occasion neither was a ‘seceder’, on the second one of them joined in the opposition to a government bill. If it is hard to believe that a nominee of Cumberland and Rochester would have taken such a stand, especially after the earl’s initial exhortation, this is offset by one of the few things known about Holmes’s previous career, that he had served as secretary to John Dudley, Earl of Warwick and Duke of Northumberland. It was in this capacity that in 1551 he had received letters from Cumberland which may have marked the beginning of the connexion between them. When it is remembered that the bill of 1555 to which such exception was taken may have been one penalizing English exiles abroad, who could hardly have failed to include former associates of Holmes, it is not out of the question that he was moved to reject his patrons’ lead. For this to have been, as it was to prove, his last Parliament would have been a natural outcome of such conduct. It was not, however, to be held against him in 1556 when Cumberland asked Holmes for assistance in making a loan to the Queen.5

The background of, and sequel to, this brief parliamentary career pose a problem of identification. It was the former servant of Northumberland who sued out a pardon in December 1553, not long after being deprived of his post in the duchy of Lancaster: described as gentleman of Owston, Yorkshire, and late of London, this grantee was clearly the John Holmes who had earlier bought land near Owston from Northumberland and to whom two years later James Washington of Grayrigg, Westmorland, was licensed to grant a moiety of the manor of Armthorpe and of the site and demesne lands of the former priory of Hampole. John Holmes of Hampole made his will on 25 Apr. 1580, describing himself as ‘the unprofitable servant of God’. After providing for his wife ‘with whom I coupled myself in fear of God refusing all other women’, he divided his property between his children and a brother. He also remembered his godson Philip Washington and servants. He left £6 to the poor in Aldwick-le-Street and Owston, ‘albeit I have been quick in words to such as were sturdy vagabonds and loiterers’, and 20s. for repairing roads. He named as executors his wife and four of their children and as supervisors four of his ‘friends and cousins’. He left £20 to Lord Burghley to ensure that his wife obtained the wardship of his heir and ‘in respect of the old affability, friendship and acquaintance that of long time continued between us’. In May 1582 he asked the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury to take his son Francis into service. Holmes died at Hampole on 4 June 1583, shortly after Francis had reached 21. The arms granted to Holmes on while living at North Mimms in Hertfordshire were confirmed during the heraldic visitation of Yorkshire in 1585.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Glover’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Foster, 361; Vis. Yorks. (Harl. Soc. xvi), 324.
  • 3. Somerville, Duchy, i. 519; HMC 3rd Rep. 37; CPR, 1569-72, p. 216.
  • 4. HMC 3rd Rep. 37; HMC Shrewsbury and Talbot, ii. 349; Coll. Arms. Talbot mss P, f. 267.
  • 5. Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2; HMC 3rd Rep. 37; York wills 22, f. 431.
  • 6. CPR, 1553-4, p. 423; 1555-7, p. 210; 1560-3, p. 467; 1566-9, p. 170; York wills 22, f. 431; HMC Shrewsbury and Talbot, i. 56; C142/201/110; Grantees of Arms (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 127; Glover’s Vis. Yorks. 361.