The John Hooke Tragedy

to Isle of Wight History Centre
The Scientist, The Grocer, The Governor and Grace. Full commentary
Hooke's Diary Extracts from Robert Hooke's diary 1672-1680
Newport Corporation Documents relating to the suicide of John Hooke.
Hooke Family Tree
John Hooke Timeline
Hooke Family Home
Freshwater area in the 17th century
Hooke and Geology
Freshwater Parish
Robert Hooke Timeline
Sir Robert Holmes Timeline
Character Glossary



Sir Robert Holmes

Quotes about Robert Holmes

Portrait of Robert Holmes

1622 Robert Holmes is born in Ireland of English parents.
During the Civil War, he fights in the army on the King’s side in Prince Maurice’s regiment.
1646 Leaves England for the continent with Prince Rupert’s party.
Sails with Prince Rupert’s piratical fleet.
1660 In command of a squadron bound for Guinea on west coast of Africa. Mission included trading, gold prospecting and slave trading.
Quarrel with Pepys over appointment of a master to Holmes ship. Pepys feared the temper of Holmes might result in a duel and that he would certainly die.
Appointed Captain and Commander of Sandown Castle.
1663 Operating in the Reserve in the western Mediterranean. Trialling Huygens’s pendulum clock at sea as a means of establishing longitude.
1664 Leads another expedition to Guinea to support the trade of the African Company in that area. Holmes in hostile action against the Dutch West India Company along the Guinea coast. The resulting uproar ends in war. Holmes is confined to the Tower but shortly released. More trials of Huygens’s pendulum clock at sea on voyage to Gambia.
1665 Battle of Lowestoft.
Knighted by Charles II and given command of new third rate, the Defiance.
Promoted acting Rear-Admiral.
Distinguishes himself in the Four Days Battle.
Takes part in the St. James’s Day fight.
1666 "Holmes’s Bonfire" - devastating raid on Dutch islands of Vlie and Schelling.
"Holmes’s Bonfire" - the raid on Vlie and Schelling in 1666.

1667 Appointed Commander-in-Chief of a squadron to operate from Portsmouth & the Isle of Wight.
Purchased the Governorship of the Isle of Wight from Lord Colepeper.
1668 Jan. - Duel between Duke of Buckingham and Earl of Shrewsbury. Holmes acted as second to the Duke. Death of the Earl and another second. Convicted of murder but later reprieved.
1669 Oct. - Elected M.P. for Winchester.
1671 Entertained King at his new house on the Island.
1672 Jan. Appointed Senior Officer at Portsmouth and given command of 90 gun St. Michael.
March attacks 70 strong Dutch Smyrna merchant fleet in the Channel.
Takes part in the Battle of Solway Bay.
(1672 onwards) Holmes acting as Governor based mainly on the Isle of Wight and in London

1676 Re-imbursed £2,000 for preceding six year’s work on forts and castles of Isle of Wight.
1677 Obtained the election of his brother, John Holmes, as M.P. for Newtown.
1678 Birth of illegitimate daughter, Mary.
1679 Bought property in Yarmouth, I.W., (present George Hotel) and Thorley Farm.
The house of Robert Holmes in Yarmouth, after it had become 'The George Hotel'.

1682 Angers Charles II by presenting an address from Charles’s illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth.
1684 Accused of conducting mismusters as Governor of I.W.
1687 Appointed by James II to command a squadron to go out to the West Indies to suppress buccaneers. But he does not go. Instead he puts Stephen Lynch in as agent at Port Royal to conduct the business for him.
Commission to Sir Robert Holmes
To command a squadron to be sent to the West Indies for suppression of pirates, with power to pardon those who surrender within twelve months and give security for good behaviour.
Bath, August 21, 1687.
countersigned: Sunderland.

(P.R.O. CSP, Colonial Series: America and West Indies, 1685-1688: no. 1411.)
1688 Organising defences on I.W.
The ‘Glorious Revolution’. Island militia grows mutinous. Holmes is confined to Yarmouth with a garrison. Soldiers abscond during the night.
William keeps Holmes in office as Governor.
1690 Very ill with gout in his limbs.
1692 Nov. 18 - Death of Holmes. Buried in Yarmouth.

Dictionary of National Biography. Vol:IX. (OUP : 1921-22)

Robert Holmes
"...It does not appear that Holmes was ever married; he had no legitimate children; and by his will, after making ample provision for an illegitimate daughter, Mary Holmes, he demised the bulk of his property to his nephew, Henry, son of his eldest brother, Thomas Holmes of Kilmallock, co. Limerick, subject to the condition that he married the illegitimate daughter within eighteen months. The marriage was duly carried out....Mary, Mrs. Holmes, was buried at Yarmouth on 7 March 1760, aged 82."

Pedigree of Holmes Family in I.W. Record Office Family Folder Section.

Admiral Sir R. Holmes
Born 1621. Died 1692.

Natural daughter Mary = her cousin, Col. Henry Holmes.
(mother's name unknown)

Celia Fiennes, after seeing the memorial statue of R. Holmes in Yarmouth Church in the 1690's:

"Sir Robert buried where is his statue cutt in length in white marble in the Church and railed in with Iron Grates, he was raised from nothing and an imperious Governor and what he scrap'd together was forced to leave to his nephew and base daughter haveing no other, and they have set up this stately Monument which cost a great deal".