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William HOMES - Biography

Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America
by Charles Knowles Bolton
Transcribed, Compiled and Submitted by Teena

(A Scotch- Irish Pioneer, to the US)

The migration from the vicinity of Londonderry and from northern Tyrone to New England was mnch influenced by two Presbyterian ministers who had emigrated from Ireland a short time before, and were in sympathy with the Rev. Cotton Mather in his desire for the settlement of Protestant families from Ulster.


William Homes, the first of these ministers, was born in the North of Ireland in 1663, of a family which had been of consequence there for several generations. There was a Thomas Homes at Strabane, County Tyrone, in 1619 ; and at the time of which we write another Rev. William Homes [William Homes, Junior, of Urney was ordained in 1696, and was probably a cousin], living at Urney, a few miles south of Strabane, was so well known that our William was called 'the meek' to distinguish him.

He had a happy combination of gentleness and ability which made his career in the ministry less eventful than that of the second minister referred to above, the Rev. Thomas Craighead.

The boy Homes was carefully educated, and about 1686 he came over to Martha's Vineyard where he obtained a position to teach school. His teaching was acceptable, and he was urged to remain there, but a desire to preach led him in July, 1691, to return to Ireland. He was reported from Lagan meeting in 1692 as 'on trial in order to ordination,'' and having gone through his second trials he was ordained December 21, 1692, as pastor of a church at Strabane in the Presbytery of Convoy. Strabane was at the time a small village whose chief importance lay in its situation at the point where the Mourne and the Finn join to form the river Foyle. In the centre of the town there was a neat but plain market house, and farther down the road were two good gentlemen's country houses, facing each other. In this town he was to begin his labors.

Mr. Homes received his degree of Master of Arts at the University of Edinburgh in 1693. Craighead had preceded him in 1691, and the names of several others of note later in America appeared on the college rolls soon after. From a copy of Mr. Homes 's diary, preserved by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, many facts in regard to his family may be gleaned.

William's father came from Donaghmore, County Donegal, a village a mile or more west of Castlefinn, and an hour's drive south west of Lifford on the road to Donegal and Ballyshannon. In the family lot there, William's brother John, who was killed by lightning in 1692 in the parish of Raphoe, was buried; this John left five children, Margaret, John, Jolnot (?), Jane and Rebecca. Mary Ann, a sister of William, died in 1705. William married September 26, 1693, Katherine, daughter of the Rev. Robert Craighead, a venerable and distinguished minister of Londonderry.


Their children as far as known were :

Robert, born July 23, 1694, at Stragolan, County Fermanagh, several miles south of Omagh. He came to New England, and married Mary Franklin of Boston, April 3, 1716. She was a sister of Benjamin Franklin, the scientist and statesman. Robert was engaged for years as captain of a ship in transporting emigrants to America.


Margaret, born February 28, 1695-96, at Strabane; married, March 1, 1715-16, at Chilmark [Colonel] John Allen. She died April 26, 1778.


William, born ; died February 18, 1699-1700.


Katherine, born March 20, 1698-99; baptized by the Rev. Thomas Craighead at Strabane; married, May 30 (?), 1721, at Chilmark, Captain Samuel Smith.


John, born July 30, 1700; baptized at Strabane by the Rev. Samuel Haliday of Ardstraw ; died October 14, 1732, at Chilmark.


Jane, born August 30, 1701; baptized at Strabane by the Rev. William Homes of Urney; married, July 1, 1725, Sylvanus Allen of Chilmark ; died December 17, 1763, at Chilmark.


Agnes, born May 31, 1704; baptized by the Rev. Mr. Homes of Urney; married, December 14, 1725, Joshua Allen.


Elizabeth, born September 15, 1705; married by the Rev. Mr. Prince, February 5, 1729-30, to James Hutchinson.


Hannah, born January 31, 1708-09.


Margaret, born January 23, 1710-11 ; married, June 11, 1734, Benjamin Daggett.




The Rev. William Homes and his brother-in-law the Rev. Thomas Craighead, with their families, arrived in Boston the first week in October, 1714, from Londonderry, on the ship "Thomas and Jane'' of which Mr. William Wilson was then master. Homes brought four written testimonials, from the elders and overseers of his congregation at Strabane, from the Presbytery of Convoy, from the Synod, and from eight presbyterian ministers at Dublin, including the Rev. Joseph Boyse, a famous preacher and writer. The first testimonial was printed in the Boston Gazette for August 26, 1746; of this issue no copy is known to exist.

The testimonial from Convoy was printed as part of the preface written by Joseph Sewall and Thomas Prince for Homes 's 'The Good Government of Christian Families Recommended,' a memorial volume issued in 1747. It was signed by Francis Laird at Donaghmore July 12, 1714.

It will be seen that Homes came well recommended. He was of gentle spirit, although something of a leader, having served in Ireland as moderator of the general Synod of 1708 which met at Belfast with fifty-four ministers and forty ruling elders present. He was a student of administration. His work, entitled "Proposals of Some Things to be done in our administring Ecclesiastical Government'' (Boston, 1732) favored a council or presbytery of churches to check the friction which became evident on several occasions among New England ministers and people. The Rev. John White of Gloucester replied two years later in 'New England's Lamentations,'' contending that, excepting ruling elders and the third way of communion," the Congregationalists and Presbyterians stood on common ground. White held that no church in the whole consociation of churches would be so stubborn as to *' sustain the dreadful sentence of non-communion." Nevertheless he felt secure in Conregational polity after reading the fifth chapter of first Corinthians, where 'the Brethren'' are admonished to come together and subject their sinning members to discipline.

Samuel Sewall welcomed Mr. Homes upon his arrival, and showed him many marks of respect. In his diary on October 5, 1714, Sewall wrote: *I wait on the Lieut. Gov'', visit Mr. William Homes, Mr. Thomas Craighead, Ministers, in order to know what was best to be done as to the ship 's coming up.

The pulpit at Chilmark in Martha's Vineyard being vacant, Homes returned to the scene of his youthful labors. There he remained, faithful and honored, until his death June 27, 1746, in his eighty- fourth year. Mrs. Homes died April 10, 1754, in her eighty-second year. Thus were lost to the upbuilding of Ireland two worthy characters.

NOTE: Holy Hill House, Strabane, County Tyrone was standing when the Rev. William Homes preached at Strabane.

Source: Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America by Charles Knowles Bolton