A Blupete Biography Page


Rear-Admiral Charles Holmes
(1711-1761).

Charles Holmes, as a 16 year old, was enlisted in the navy. Though his family might have been able to start him at a higher station, Charles, a fourth son, began his career as "an ordinary seaman." His father was Henry Holmes, the governor of the Ilse of Wright. Charles was to spend seven years learning the ropes; in 1734, however, he was brought on to the upper deck as a lieutenant. In 1741, Holmes received his first command, that of a fireship. In February of 1742, he assumed the command of his first war ship, the 24 gun Saphire; in 1743, the 44 gun Enterprise (which he took to the West Indies). While in the West Indies, during 1747, Holmes was made the captain of the 70 gun Lennox, one of the largest war ships in the British navy.

Between the wars, during the years, 1748-54, Holmes served in "home waters." In 1755, Holmes came to Nova Scotia, apparently for the first time, this time as the captain of the Grafton; he was with Holburne who was sent out to reinforce Boscawen. Thus as a ship's captain, Holmes was to play a role in the taking of the Alcide and the Lys in June of 1755. In both of the years 1756 and 1757, Holmes was once again in Nova Scotian waters. In 1757, as a commodore, he was with Holburne who was to assist Lord Loudoun in the intended attack on Louisbourg, The Seven Years War, by then, having truly started. Thus, we see, that Holmes was involved in the stirring events which were to unfold in the waters from Halifax to Louisbourg during the years, 1755-7. (See: "The Gathering at Halifax, "Action at Sea, Off of Louisbourg" and "The Storm.")

In should be mentioned, that, in between times, back in England, during 1756, Holmes was to sit on the board which court marshaled Admiral Byng in the unfortunate affair over Minorca.

In 1758, when Boscawen was busy with his large fleet off Louisbourg, Holmes was employed in "home waters"; thus he missed out on the glory that was to befall those who took Louisbourg in 1758.

In 1759, however, Holmes, now a rear admiral, was once again back in North American waters; this time to go up the St Lawrence as the third in command under Admiral Saunders. So, it was, that Holmes was to participate in the successful siege of Quebec. There, he was to play a critical role in drawing French troops off and away from Quebec, as he was able to get a squadron of ships by the French guns at Quebec, and, up river. So too, in spite of very difficult conditions, Holmes was able to get Wolfe ashore at Anse au Foulon; a feat which was described as "masterly, ... a professional triumph."

In 1760, Holmes was appointed "Commander-in-Chief at Jamaica"; it was at Jamaica, on November the 21st that the fifty year old Holmes died. Among the memorials at Westminster Abby, is one to Rear-Admiral Charles Holmes.1

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FOOTNOTES:

[1] References: DCB, vol iii; Knox's Historical Journal of the Campaigns in North America, 1757-1760 fn at p. 20; and, Commander Little's Despatches of ... Vice-Admiral Francis Holburne 1757 (Halifax: Occasional paper #2 of the Maritime Museum of Canada, June, 1958), p. 3.

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Peter Landry
(2000)