William Hyde Holmes1

#921, (1794-1 July 1864)
FatherRobert Holmes (c 1770-)
MotherElizabeth (?) (c 1775-b 1842)
ChartsMike Hill - ancestors
Descendents of Robert Holmes
Last Edited17 Feb 2019
     (For a brief history and context on the Holmes family see this page)

NOTE: The information on this page is my research to date and is subject to change as I become better informed. I very much welcome any corrections or additional info you might have - my email address is at the bottom of this page. Whilst historical facts are not copyright, my writing about these facts are. If you wish to use any text from this site on Ancestry or on any other website, please ask me first - Tim Hill.
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William Hyde Holmes was the son of Robert Holmes and Elizabeth (?) William Hyde Holmes was likely born circa 1803 at Kilmallock, County Limerick. He said he was 38 in 1842, (which has him born circa 1803), his short death notice has him at age 70 in 1864 (which has him born about 1794).2,3

He married Ellen O'Donnell, daughter of Michael O'Donnell and Eliza (?), between 1814 and 1817 at Limerick.4

William stated on his immigration forms that for twenty years had been in the Irish Police. However, he also stated on the same form that he had been a land steward and manager of a farm, and that he can keep accounts.5 William and Ellen O'Donnell became the parents of their first child, a daughter, Charlotte Holmes circa 1830 at Ireland.6 William and Ellen O'Donnell may have become the parents of their second daughter Albina Hyde Holmes circa 1832 at Ireland.6 William and Ellen O'Donnell became the parents of their third daughter Frances Hyde Holmes circa 1834 at Ireland. William and Ellen O'Donnell became the parents of Jane Holmes circa 1837 at Ireland.5

William and his wife Ellen emigrated with their nine biological and adopted children (and a man who was to later marry one of their daughters ) from Liverpool on 27 October 1841 on the 'Champion.5,7,8,9' After a voyage of 108 days William and his wife Ellen arrived at Sydney on 12 February 1842 with their large family. During the voyage 5 sailors committed mutiny but were eventually released by the Attorney General.5,7,8,9

William Hyde Holmes William had a testimonial wriitten about him stating that he "has been a land steward and manager of a farm, and a storehouse(?) - is looking for a similar situation - he can write a good hand & keep accounts - his is now a burden upon the public in the Barracks". on 13 February 1842.6

He was employed by the Sydney police on 1 March 1842.10 His brother Robert received a ticket of leave 42/2663 dated 10 November 1842 for residence at Brisbane Waters. This was altered to Port Stephens on 21 December 1846 and to Sydney on 8 November 1848, the last with the proviso that he live with his brother William, a sergeant with the police. He was granted a conditional pardon on 15 November 1848. on 1 July 1842.10 William (and presumably his spouse Ellen) lived in 1843 at Princes Street in The Rocks, in Sydney. It is not clear that the entry refers to this family, but is a reasonable speculation given that Bridget and her husband claimed to live in this same street ten years later.11
The Police Office, Sydney 1848
(source: Joseph Fowels 'Sydney in 1848'
William Hyde Holmes was promoted to Sergeant in 1846.10

He was involved in dealing with a large riotous assembly, and was required to give evidence. The case was prosecuted by the Attorney General of NSW on 2 March 1850:
Richard Pearce, Joseph Joshua Jones, William Swaddling, John Hayes, Michael M'Quade, William Acheson, and James Brown, were indicted for that they, on the morning of the first of January last, together with a number of other ill-disposed persons, in number exceeding two hundred, being armed with sticks and staves, did unlawfully, riotously, and cautelously assemble and gather together to disturb the peace of our Lady the Queen ; and that the said prisoners, with others so assembled, did unlawfully and cautelously make a great noise, riot, and disturbance, to the great terror and dismay of Her Majesty's peaceable subjects, against the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace of the Queen.

His evidence was;

"Inspector William Holmes : Remembered the morning of the 1st January ; went out on duty about 8 o'clock the previous night, and continued out till 2 or 3 o'clock the following morning ; his beat was Pitt-street, principally between King-street and Park-street; the theatre is situated in that locality ; shortly after the theatre was closed, about a quarter past 12, witness caused the public-houses to be closed ; about a quarter-past 12 he heard a great shouting and noise approaching along Pitt-street from the direction of Market-street ; witness was then near King-street. Mr. HOLROYD here objected, that before any riot was proved, the prisoners must be proved to have participated in it. Examination continued : Saw the prisoner Acheson amongst the mob when assembled round a public-house called the Elephant and Castle, at the corner of King and Pitt streets ; he cried out in a loud tone of voice to the mob —" Come on to the St. James' watch-house ! come on to the watch-house !" should say at that time there was between 2000 and 3000 persons in Pitt-street between Market and King streets ; the mob at this period was at a stand. Mr. Holmes was here ordered to stand down for a time."

it continued;

"Inspector Holmes re-called : When the mob was at the corner of King and Pitt streets at about half-past 12, it consisted of at least from 2000 to 3000 persons ; as the mob came from Market-street there was great shouting and hurraing and the noise of crashing glass ;Acheson said come on to the watch-house, and about twenty followed him there ; some of the mob went along King-street towards George-street, others remained in Pitt-street ; afterwards heard a noise at Dr. Aaron's house, and the crashing of glass ; went there—there were about a hundred people there ; did not see Acheson at Dr. Aaron's house ; saw Inspector Pearce there."12

He was promoted to Inspector in 1851.10 William and Ellen lived in January 1851 at Sydney. in Macquarie street.13 William, as the father of the bride, attended Bridget Holmes and Henry Hugh Hill's wedding at St. James' Church of England on Monday, 20 January 1851 at Sydney.. Henry was a shop assistant in an ironmonger's.13

William was again involved in a court case on 3 September 1854:
"William Williams was charged by Inspector Holmes with having resisted him in the execution of his duty. Mr. Holmes deposed that last evening he was called upon to remove a woman who, though not intoxicated, was conducting herself in a disorderly manner by throwing stones at the door of a home in Riley-street. Having apprehended the woman, he had proceeded some distance with her towards the lock-up, when he was overtaken by the defendant, who in rather a violent style endeavoured to rescue her; a scuffle ensued, and but for the assistance of some persons resident in the neighbourhood, the attempt would have been successful ; when near the look-up the defendant again came up with him, and renewed the attack. Now, however, Mr. Holmes succeeded in confining him, as well as the woman. Sentenced to pay 20s. penalty, 2s. 6d. costs, or to be imprisoned for seven days."14

A case was brought against William for alleged assult and false imprisonment when police ejected a Edward McEnroe from a theatre. Although Inspector Holmes didn't actually carry out the actions, he supported the actions of his constables. The matter was settled for McEnroe with a judgement of 10 pounds against William on 9 December 1854:

£30 Jurisdiction.
Before the Commissioner and two assessors.

McEncroe v. Holmes.-This was an action brought by Mr. Edward McEncroe, tobacconist, against Mr William Holmes, Inspector of Police, to recover damages for an alleged assault and false imprisonment Mr. Fawcett conducted the case for the plaintiff and Mr. Brenan that for the defendant. The plaint in this case averred that said Edward McEncroe, through his attorney, Mr. Greer, complains, for that the said William Holmes did, on the 10th day of October last, assault and illtreat him, by falsely imprisoning and forcibly and illegally ejecting him from the theatre. The defendant pleaded that he was not guilty of the trespass above laid to his charge ; and, secondly, that he was acting in the matter as a police officer, and used no more force or violence than was necessary. The facts as deposed to by the plaintiff were briefly these: On the 10th of October last, Mr. McEncroe, with several of his friends attended a concert given by Miss Catherine Hayes, at the Royal Victoria Theatre. In the programme of the entertainment was a song en- titled "Old Grey Prior," to be rendered by Mr. Frank Howson. In this song there were certain words which McEncroe regarded as a reflection on Roman Catholic clergymen, and therefore offensive to himself. He seemed to think that the song had been selected for the purpose of insulting that particular denomination or which he happened to be a member. The Mr, Howson began to sing the objectionable verse, the plaintiff and a few others commenced hissing and shouting in such a violent manner as to cause the greatest uproar and confusion throughout the house. The particular stanza which gave so much offence represented the priest as "kissing pretty girls in the confessional," and going to bed tipsy. At the close of the song the noise ceased, but only for a few seconds. The audience resolved to have it repeated, and Mr. Howson had no alternative but to bow to the general "encore" so loudly and pertinaciously expressed. Of course his reappearance was the signal for a fresh burst of indignation on the part of McEncroe, who shouted "down, down, go and bag your head," and other expressions. At length Mt. Howson hearing that the song was offensive deemed it advisable, after he had got through a few lines, to substitute another song, and thereupon the noise ceased. Some ten minutes after, when everything was quiet (according to Mr. Mc'Encroe's statement), two or three constables came to where he was sitting, and dragged him with great violence out of the theatre, he begged of them not to use him so roughly as he was prepared to go to the watch-house quietly if they would only let him. He asked defendant for the names of the constables, but he re- fused to give them, saying that the men had acted under his orders, and that he was responsible for what they had done. The next day the plaintiff called upon Mr. McLerie and obtained the desired information. The matter was subsequently taken up by the Inspector General of Police, but that officer hearing it was to to give any decision in it until the decision of the Court had been delivered. In cross-examination, Mr. McEncroe admitted 'that there were loud cries of "turn McEncroe out," and there was great confusion, whilst some person in front of him turned round and said, "you ought to be you dare not put me out". He stated that he was in some degree a public character, and several times attempts had been made to eject him from public meetings. A Mr. D'Arcy, who was with the plaintiff at the time the disturbance took place, partially corroborated the foregoing testimony. He noticed the plaintiff hissing and signifying his disapprobation in the manner described. He was evidently offended at the notice; heard plaintiff say "put your head in a bag," and also heard Mr. Holmes say the police 'had acted under his orders. Mr. Howson testified to the uproar; he but there was something about kissing a girl in the confessional ; he had repeatedly sung the same song before, both in private and in; public, and he never knew any one to take offence at it with the exception of McEncroe. Mr. Brenan entered into the circumstances that the police were perfectly justified in the steps they took, and that, unless the law protected them against actions of this kind, there would be no security whatever for the preservation of peace and order. The learned advocate, however, declined to call any witnesses, being quite content to rest his case on the evidence adduced by the plaintiff.

His Honor, in summing up, went carefully through the evidence, and concluded by stating that the ques- tions for the assessors to determine were-Did they be- lieve the evidence of the plaintiff, bearing in mind that there were no witnesses called to contradict it, If they decided this question in the affirmitive, they would then have to determine whether the police had any right to apprehend the plaintiff, considering that the noise, according to the evidence, had ceased some ten minutes before the arrest took place. If the police had reasonable grounds for anticipating a breach of the peace or any riot at the instance of Mc'Encroe, then they were justified in taking him into custody ; but if they had no such grounds, if they believed the tumult had ceased, they had no right to arrest him, and in having done bo they had used more force than the circumstances of the case required. The court found a verdict for the plaintiff. Damages, £10.15,16

He was retired from the New South Wales Police on 1 May 1856 and was paid an annual pension of £75 10s.17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24

He was a farmer in May 1862 at Parramatta, New South Wales.25 William and Ellen lived in May 1862 at Parramatta, New South Wales.25

On Tuesday, 1 September 1863 their daughter Maria married Henry Hugh Hill, the widow of their deceased daughter Bridget. The wedding between a widow and his deceased wife's sister may have been a practical arrangement, but it was regarded by many as deeply morally suspect within the Church of England.

William died on 1 July 1864 at 132 Bourke Street, in Sydney. The cause of death was stated as old age.3,26 His body was interred on 3 July 1864 at Sydney.27


1803Birth-LikelyKilmallock, County Limerick2,3
1825Note memo only CR CR5
1842Note CR CR6
1843ResidencePrinces Street in The Rocks, in Sydney11
1850Quotation type 212
1854Quotation type 1Sydney14
1854Quotation type 215,16
1862OccupationParramatta, New South Wales25
1862ResidenceParramatta, New South Wales25
1863Note memo only CR CR
1864Death132 Bourke Street, in Sydney3,26


Ellen O'Donnell (c 1806-11 Jan 1865)


  1. [S268] The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1865 'Family Notices.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 9 December, p. 1, viewed 27 July, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13122942 (for middle name).
  2. [S272] Assisted Immigrants to NSW, Archives Office of NSW.
  3. [S268] The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, Deaths - 6 Jul 1864, p.1.
  4. [S1] New South Wales, Birth Certificate, Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages 1865 No. 0046.
  5. [S272] Assisted Immigrants to NSW, Archives Office of NSW "Champion", arr. 12th Feb. 1842.
  6. [S272] Assisted Immigrants to NSW, Archives Office of NSW "Champion" arr. 12 Feb. 1842.
  7. [S327] My Early Pioneers and Their Lives (http://www.frankmurray.com.au) http://www.frankmurray.com.au/?page_id=787
  8. [S344] The Australasian Chronicle, 1842 'Shipping Intelligence.', Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839-1843), 15 February, p. 3, viewed 20 February, 2011, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31735058
  9. [S344] The Australasian Chronicle, 1842 'News and Rumors of the Day', Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839-1843), 3 March p. 3, viewed 20 February, 2011, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page4232218
  10. [S369] E-mail from Nick Reddan to Tim Hill, 04 April 2011.
  11. [S640] New South Wales, Australia Historical Electoral Rolls, 1842-1843, Civilian Roll for Gipps Ward, in the City of Sydney, for the year 1842-43.
  12. [S268] The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1850 'LAW INTELLIGENCE.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954), 4 March, p. 2, viewed 15 March, 2011, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12916160
  13. [S271] Parish Registers for St. James, Vol.37A No.51.
  14. [S268] The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1854 'CENTRAL POLICE COURT.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954), 4 September, p. 4, viewed 15 March, 2011, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12957425
  15. [S268] The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, Court of Requests, 9 Dec 1854 p.7.
  16. [S351] The Maitland Mecury, Maitland, NSW, Australia, 1854 'Sydney News.', The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843-1893), 13 December, p. 3 Supplement: Supplement to the Maitland Mercury, viewed 15 March, 2011, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article695817
  17. [S639] State Records Authority of NSW, Public Service Lists, 1858-1870 William Holmes (1858 p.32).
  18. [S639] State Records Authority of NSW, Public Service Lists, 1858-1870 William Holmes (1859 p.38).
  19. [S639] State Records Authority of NSW, Public Service Lists, 1858-1870 William Holmes (1860 p.42).
  20. [S639] State Records Authority of NSW, Public Service Lists, 1858-1870 William Holmes (1861 p.51).
  21. [S639] State Records Authority of NSW, Public Service Lists, 1858-1870 William Holmes (1862 p.60).
  22. [S639] State Records Authority of NSW, Public Service Lists, 1858-1870 William Holmes (1863 p.60).
  23. [S639] State Records Authority of NSW, Public Service Lists, 1858-1870 William Holmes (1864 p.65).
  24. [S639] State Records Authority of NSW, Public Service Lists, 1858-1870 William Holmes (1865 p.65).
  25. [S265] Victoria, Death Certificate, Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages 1862 No.3526.
  26. [S2] New South Wales, Death Certificate, Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages 1864 No. 878.
  27. [S2] New South Wales, Death Certificate, Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages 1864 No.00878.
  28. [S268] The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, Family Notices, 25 Jan 1851 p.5 (This needs some explanation. Henry Hugh Hill's first marriage was to a Bridget Holmes in Sydney in 1851. Her father was an Inspector with the Sydney Police (this citation).

    Bridget dies and Henry marries another Holmes woman. Are these women sisters?

    The marriage is witnessed by a Jane Holmes and a Margaret Holmes.

    Shipping records indicate a Holmes family (William, wife (probably 'Ellen'), and four young children) came out on the "Champion".There were also a number of single femailes on board, including a Bridget and a Maria. William indicates he has been in the Irish Police for 20 years.

    Obituaries for a William and Ellen Holmes are consistent with him being this police inspector.

    Death certificates from either William or Ellen should list their children.).
  29. [S268] The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, Married - 25 Jan 1851, p.5.