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Rev. William Homes

Rev. William Homes

Male 1663 - 1746  (83 years)

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  • Name Rev. William Homes 
    Prefix Rev. 
    Born 1663  ____, ____, Ireland, UK Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 27 Jun 1746  Chillmark, Martha's Vinyard, MA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I16347  DNA Family 1 Genealogies
    Last Modified 4 May 2006 

    Family Katherine Craighead,   b. Abt 1672, ____, ____, Ireland, UK Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Apr 1754  (Age ~ 82 years) 
    Last Modified 4 May 2006 
    Family ID F6284  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 1663 - ____, ____, Ireland, UK Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
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  • Notes 
    • Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America, Chapter V


      The migration from the vicinity of Londonderry and from northern Tyrone to New England was much 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, living at Urney, a few miles south of Strabane, was so well known that our William was called "the meek" to distinguish him.1

      1 William Homes, Junior, of Urney was ordained in 1696, and was probably a cousin.

      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.1

      1 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.
      MARGERY, born January 23, 1710-11; married, June 11, 1734, Benjamin Daggett.
      See also a memoir of Mrs. Sarah Tappan.

      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 Donaghmore1 July 12, 1714.

      1 Laird was succeeded there in 1744 by the Rev. Benjamin Homes.

      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 Congregational 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. Govr, 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. Carried them a Bushel Turnips, cost me 5s and a Cabbage cost half a Crown. Dined at the Castle, Lt Govr also invited Mr. Homes." On December 2d he records a gift of "an angel" (ten shillings) to Mr. Homes and Mr. Craighead, and in correspondence later he showed his good will.

      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.

      Parker says1 that a young man named Homes, son of a Presbyterian clergyman, first brought reports to the people in Ireland of opportunities in New England. This was probably Captain Robert Homes, son of the Rev. William Homes; he had an unusual opportunity for intercourse with his father's former parishioners through his voyages to Ireland. In 1717 two men with names later significant in the Worcester and Falmouth settlements, called to see the minister at Chilmark; they were John McClellan and James Jameson. Three weeks later (November 24th) Mr. Homes writes in his diary: "This day I received several letters, one from Doctor Cotton Mather, one from severall gentlemen proprietors of lands at or near to Casco Bay, and one from son Robert."

      1 History of Londonderry, p. 34.

      The above quotation points strongly to a conference held at Boston in November between Captain Robert Homes, recently from Ireland and interested in transporting Scotch Irish families, the Rev. Cotton Mather, eager to see the frontiers defended by a God-fearing, hardy people, and the third party to the conference, the men who were attempting to plant settlements along the Kennebec. They must have talked over the project for a great migration (they all had written to the minister at Chilmark), and undoubtedly Captain Robert Homes sent over letters and plans to friends at Strabane, Donaghmore, Donegal and Londonderry. Perhaps no one in Boston had so many relatives among the clergy in Ulster, and as a sea-captain he had a still further interest in the migration. Robert himself sailed for Ireland April 13, 1718, and returned "full of passengers" about the middle of October.

      The Rev. Mr. Homes in his diary describes his journey to Boston on this great occasion. He lodged with his son and preached twice, from Philemon i. 21, for the Rev. Cotton Mather at the North meeting house, and from Proverbs xii. 26 for the Rev. John Webb at the New North; neither text seems to have had any special significance.

      The Rev. William Homes had two prominent brothers-in-law, Robert and Thomas Craighead. The Rev. Robert Craighead studied divinity at Edinburgh and Leyden and had a conspicuous career at Dublin from 1709 until 1738, when he died. In 1719, when the Presbyterian church in Ireland was in prolonged debate over the deity of Christ and subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith, he served as moderator of the Ulster Synod. The Rev. Thomas Craighead was educated in Scotland, but later entered upon his trials for the ministry as a probationer in the Presbytery of Strabane in 1698. He settled at Donegal. Here he remained until he removed with his brother-in-law Homes to America in 1714, being succeeded by the Rev. John Homes, who enjoyed a long pastorate at Donegal.1

      1 By his wife, Margaret, Mr. Craighead had:
      THOMAS, born in 1702; married Margaret, daughter of George Brown, merchant of Londonderry, Ireland. A farmer at White Clay Creek, Delaware.
      ANDREW, died unmarried.
      ALEXANDER, died in March, 1766; an eloquent minister who lived in Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina.
      JOHN, of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.
      JANE, married, October 23, 1725, the Rev. Adam Boyd, pastor of a church at the forks of the Brandywine. Their son edited the Cape Fear Mercury.

      The Rev. Thomas Craighead had the unhappy gift of discord and he led a somewhat stormy life, although he was a fearless and a useful minister. For some time all went well at Freetown. Mr. Craighead, when he settled there, had agreed to subsist on voluntary contributions from his flock. Probably his manner did not attract, and the support became gradually reduced until he was obliged to petition the General Court for a grant of money. They allowed ten pounds in June, 1718, for half a year's services. This was probably not the first grant of the kind to Mr. Craighead. In 1719 he brought his plight to the notice of the Justices of the Peace for Bristol County, and at a Court of General Sessions of the Peace the town was ordered to lay a rate for his support. Many refused to comply and were thrown into jail. A petition to the General Court asking to have the men liberated, the rate declared annulled and Craighead's election as minister at Freetown void, was granted June 19, 1719. The unfortunate minister then petitioned for relief, having for four and a half years preached at Freetown, three of these years without pay, and being then deeply in debt. In December he was granted twenty pounds.1 Among his enemies John Hathaway, a kinsman, was a conspicuous figure, and to him Cotton Mather addressed a stirring letter, as a last effort to restore peace. It was written July 21, 1719:

      1 Province Laws 1719-20, Chapters 43, 110.

                                     "21 d V m 1719
      "You cannot be insensable that the minister whom ye glorious Lord hath graciously sent among you is a man of Excellent Spirit, and a great Blessing to your plantation. Mr. Craighead is a man of Singular piety and Humility & meekness, & patience & self denial and industry in the work of God. All that are acquainted with him, have a precious esteem of him. And if he should be driven from you, it would be such a Damage [to] you, such a Ruine to your plantation, as ought not without Horror to be thought upon.

      "But, we are given to understand, from some who are the spectators of what is done among you, That Mr. Hathway's Coming unto a good, friendly & Christian Frame towards Mr. Craighead would much Contribute unto his Comfortable Countenance Among you. We do therefore, Exceedingly importune you, to put away Evil Differences towards that faithful Servant of God. and Come unto such a frame, as, if you now felt the last Pangs of Death upon you (which Cannot be put off) you would chuse to dy withal.

      "It will be not a little for your own Reputation with Godly & Worthy Men, that your disaffection for that Valuable man were laid aside And if once you come to sit lovingly together, the more you know him the more will you Love him."

      Craighead soon left Freetown, and in the spring of the year 1723 moved his family southward into "the Jerseys," as President Stiles of Yale makes record. He joined Newcastle presbytery January 28, 1724, and on the 22nd of the next month was installed minister of the church at White Clay Creek in Delaware. There Mr. Craighead preached eloquently for seven years, enjoying frequent revivals and building new churches through his zeal. In 1733 he moved to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and joined Donegal presbytery September 3rd. He was pastor of the church at Pequea from October 31, 1733, to September, 1736. Changing his residence once more he settled at Hopewell in 1738, and preached until he died while pronouncing a benediction, in April, 1739; his last church was within the bounds of the present town of Newville, a few miles west of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. While serving in these pastorates he was known as "Father" Craighead, and attained a wide reputation, rising soon to be moderator of the Synod.

      Craighead came of a distinguished family, and is the ancestor of many ministers in the southern states. Having relatives in Londonderry and Dublin he was able by correspondence to stir the spirit of migration. He stands as a link between New England and the colonies south of the Hudson. Many of the Scotch Irish went from the Kennebec settlements to happier surroundings in Pennsylvania. They left brothers and cousins throughout Massachusetts and New York. Their ties of sympathy, faith and blood, helped to bind the colonies together in 1775. Tidings of the fight at Lexington stirred North and South Carolina profoundly for there were kinships along the entire coast.