Rev. Thomas White Holmes (1790-1872)

Signature of Rev. Holmes taken from the registers of St Mary the Virgin, Martham.

Rev. Holmes was born in about 1790 at Southtown, Great Yarmouth and was baptised on 18th March that year at St Nicholas Church. His parents were Thomas Holmes & Margaret, nee Bream and his father was described as a gentleman living on independent means who in later life moved to Martham. Thomas Snr. died in 1823 and Margaret in July 1851; they were both buried in a sarcophagus situated immediately east of the main door of St Mary’s (graveyard section E, plot E1) shown right.

Thomas obtained his B.A. at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and was ordained as a deacon on 26th June 1813 at Norwich Cathedral. He immediately took up the post of curate at Winterton, Norfolk for which he was paid a stipend of £50 per annum.

He was ordained a priest on 5th June 1814 at Norwich Cathedral and on 29th June that year was appointed as the curate at St Mary the Virgin, Martham on a stipend of £50 per year. Technically he was the curate at St Mary’s for over 21 years but in fact was much more. He served at a time when the incumbent vicar was Rev. Whittingham but he held several other posts and was largely absent, perhaps only preaching sermons on Sundays. Consequently Rev. Holmes touched on the lives of hundreds of people in Martham, from 1814 until 1835 by officiating at 580 baptisms, 314 burials and over 100 marriages whilst at the same time also being the curate at Winterton. During some of this time he lived at what is now Brooklyn House on The Green in Martham.

During his time at Martham he was also appointed as curate, on 4th March 1822, at Repps cum Bastwick for which he was paid a stipend of £40 per year plus the cost of his surplice. Then, on 29th August 1828, he became the curate at St Mary’s, Hemsby for a stipend of £50 and his surplice fees.

After he left the Martham area he became the Clerk in Holy Orders at Chedgrave, Norfolk according to the 1841 census but by April 1851 the census showed he had moved to Loddon, Suffolk and was the curate at Langley with Hardley which is a small village nearby. He lived there with his widowed mother and they had three servants.

At the age of 63 he married Anne Webb on 27th September 1853 at Thorpe, Norwich but sadly Anne died only four years later in 1857. The census of 1861 tells us that Thomas was still the curate at Langley with Hardley whilst living at Loddon.

Thomas made his final move the following year when in 1862 he became the Rector at St Andrew’s Church, Congham in West Norfolk which is 10km east of King’s Lynn. He was still there  according to the 1871 census but died there on 11th February 1872 aged 83.

Sources: Appointment information courtesy of the: Clergy of the Church of England Database at

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