Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Holmes, George (1662-1749)

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1394943Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 27 — Holmes, George (1662-1749)1891Thompson Cooper ‎

HOLMES, GEORGE (1662–1749), archivist, born at Skipton in Craven, Yorkshire, in 1662, became about 1695 clerk to Sir William Petyt, keeper of the records in the Tower of London, and for nearly sixty years acted as deputy to Petyt, and his successors Topham and Polhill. He was also barrack-master at the Tower, a fellow of the Royal Society, an early fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and a member of the Gentlemen's Society at Spalding. Browne Willis, Dr. Tovey, Dr. William Richardson, and other antiquaries gratefully acknowledged his assistance. From October 1707 until his death he was employed, on the nomination of Lord Halifax, chairman of committees in the House of Commons, to arrange the records deposited in the Tower at a salary of 200l. He died 16 Feb. 1748–9. He married the daughter of a sword-cutler in Fleet Street named Marshall. An only son, George, received his education at Eton, and was clerk under his father, but died at the age of twenty-five, many years before him. Mrs. Holmes, who survived her husband, received 200l. from the government and 200l. for her husband's manuscripts relating to the public records, which were deposited among the official documents at the Tower.

Holmes prepared the first seventeen volumes of the second edition of Rymer's ‘Fœdera,’ 20 vols., Lond., 1727–35, fol. He collated the documents with the originals in the Tower, and supplied many paragraphs and lines omitted in the former edition. Before this republication a set of the seventeen volumes was sold for a hundred guineas. The last three volumes are the same for both editions. The seventeenth volume of the second edition contains a general index to all the preceding volumes.

When Peter Le Neve, president of the Society of Antiquaries, proposed, in January 1721–2, to collect accounts of all the ancient coins relative to Great Britain, Holmes undertook to describe the Saxon coins in the possession of Councillor Hill; but the project was ultimately abandoned.

Holmes's curious collection of books, prints, and coins was sold by auction in 1749. His portrait was engraved by G. Vertue for the Society of Antiquaries, from a painting by R. van Bleeck.

[Nichols's Lit. Anecd. i. 386, 480, iii. 617, iv. 543, v. 353, vii. 184; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. iv. 150, 441; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), p. 2161; Addit. MSS. 5833 f. 160 b, 5853 pp. 494, 495, 6183 f. 36.]

T. C.