Rachel Holmes

Wife of Humphrey Davenport of Barbados
and mother of William Davenport of Hartford

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Sources & Notes


Popular Pedigree

Rachel Holmes' lineage can be found in multiple renditions online. In some, one or more sisters are included. Birthplaces for Rachel and her sisters differ in the various pedigrees: Massachusetts, Barbados, Guatemala, London, and Yorkshire are mentioned. Most trees have a couple more generations on the Holmes side; one has Rachel’s line all the way back to the year 100.

Some of the pedigrees have no parents for Rachel, but most name her parents as Thomas Holmes and Henrietta Martin. Consistently, Rachel’s birth year is given as 1615.

Ancestry World Tree
Pedigree Resource File

Historical Record


What historical sources are there for the genealogy of Rachel Holmes?             A 1665 lawsuit noting that she was the wife of Humphrey Davenport demonstrates that she was heir to Major William Holmes, leader of the Plymouth colony’s 1637 war against the Pequots. “Mrs. Rachel Davenport, as attorney to her husband Mr. Humphrey Davenport and in her own right as heir of Major William Holmes....”

Tracing back, we see that in 1649, William Holmes wrote his will leaving his estate to “my loving kinswomen Margarett Homes & Mary Homes now residing at the Iland of Antigo and daughter of my deceased brother Thomas Homes,” to “my sister-in-law Margarett Webb alias Homes the late wife of my said brother Thomas Homes and to Rachell Homes and Bathsheba Homes two other daughters of my said brother all now living in London.” The will provided for "the maintenance & bringing up of the said Rachell & Bathsheba until they and either of them shall attain the age of sixteen years or be married."

Summarizing the information in the will, I come up with:
Thomas Holmes had 4 daughters

Rachel and Bathsheba were born after 1632 

The widow of Thomas was named Margaret
Thomas died before 1649
The family is from London

Anderson, Robert C., The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, citing Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Probate Records, 1:445. (Online: NEHGS and Ancestry.com)

Anderson, Robert C., The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, citing Shurtleff, Nathaniel B. and Pulsifer, David, eds., Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England (Boston, 1855-1861), 7:126-27. (Online: NEHGS and Ancestry.com)

{An abstract of William's will includes a deposition (probably 1654) that the executor had written to Antigua but had gotten no reply, "had also sent to the kindred in England, that they were poor and could not come over."}




The discrepancy in birthdates is what first piqued my interest. The pedigrees say that Rachel was born in 1615 yet the will states she was less than 16 in 1649. Where is the information in the many pedigrees from? What is the source of Rachel's 1615 birthdate and the mother's name of Henrietta?

There are two manuscripts that present a Holmes genealogy claiming that the parents of Rachel and Barsheba Holmes, nieces of Major William Holmes of the Pequot war, were Thomas Holmes and Henriette Martin. The family histories state that the girls were born in 1615 and 1617; no other nieces are named. Although birthplaces are not given, earlier generations were from East Riding, Yorkshire. Sources for the family data are not included.

That is the earliest account of Rachel Holmes I could find. It appears that later histories of Rachel Holmes all drew on this material without question.

Shurtleff, Benjamin, Holmes Family History (n.d., n.p.), 13-14, Family History Library book 929.273 A1 no. 1946. (Online: BYU Family History Archives)

[no author] Representative men and old families of southeastern Massachusetts Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co., 1912. vol 1 p. 394. (Online Ancestry.com)

(The Holmes histories in the two accounts are word-for-word the same.)


New Evidence

Having my curiosity roused, I went searching for evidence of Rachel's family in London. I found a listing of the inhabitants of London in 1638 which names a Thomas Holmes of St. Margaret Lothbury who paid rent of 6£.

An examination of the parish register of St. Margaret Lothbury yields these records:

Thomas Holmes and Margery Dice married 27 Jul 1632
William, son of Thomas Holmes, bap. 2 Sep 1633
Margaret, daughter of Thomas Holmes, bap. 20 Aug 1635
Mary, daughter of Thomas Holmes, bap. 31 Mar 1637
William, son of Thomas Holmes, d. 21 Oct 1638
Rachel, daughter of Thomas Holmes, bap. 8 Apr 1640
Tho. Holmes buried in the churchyard 14 Oct 1641
Betsheba, daughter of Thomas Holmes, bap. 3 Mar 1642 

This family corresponds exactly to the family described in William’s will:

All 4 of William's nieces accounted for

Rachel and Bathsheba born after 1632 

Mother’s name is Margaret
Thomas died before 1649
The family is from London
Dale, T.C., The inhabitants of London in 1638 (1931), pp. 97-98. (Online: British History Online)

Church of England, St. Margaret Lothbury Church, London. Parish registers for St. Margaret Lothbury Church, London, 1558-1924 (Salt Lake City: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, n.d.), Family History Library film 374471.



Rachel Holmes, the wife of Humphrey Davenport of Barbados and the mother of William Davenport of Hartford, was born in London in 1640. She was the daughter of Thomas Holmes and Margaret Dice.

The Rachel Holmes who was the daughter of Thomas Holmes and Henriette Martin – if there was such a person -- was not the niece of William Holmes nor the wife of Humphrey Davenport. There is no reasonable link between the Holmes family of Yorkshire and the Holmes family of London.

Though some people will incorporate this new information into their trees, the old, incorrect pedigrees will persist and continue to outnumber correct ones. A tree with more generations is more likely to be copied than one with limited ancestry.
Additional Holmes Research
  Copyright 2005-2008 Sharon Moore Elliott