The Edgoose and Related Families'
 Genealogical Project

HOLMES, James Headgoose

Male 1861 - 1934  (73 years)


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  • Name HOLMES, James Headgoose 
    Born 19 Mar 1861  Kirton in Holland, Lincolnshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Christened 2 Jun 1861  Kirton in Holland, Lincolnshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Reference Number 5912 
    _UID 0CE14EFA0C324668A3CFF9C95713F9742C7E 
    Died 1 Oct 1934  Brentham, Ealing, Middlesex Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I5912  Edgoose
    Last Modified 11 Jun 2017 

    Father EDGOOSE, John Robert,   b. 23 Oct 1839, Durham, County Durham Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Oct 1914, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 75 years) 
    Mother HOLMES, Maria,   b. 12 Jun 1840, Whaplode, Lincolnshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1915, Boston Registration District, Lincolnshire Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 74 years) 
    Family ID F512  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 BREWSTER, Elizabeth Ann,   b. 1857, Sutterton, Lincolnshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Mar 1915, Doncaster, Yorkshire Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 58 years) 
    Married 14 Oct 1880  Sutterton, Lincolnshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. HOLMES, Mary Elizabeth,   b. 31 Mar 1881, Fosdyke, Lincolnshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1975, Colchester Registration District, Essex Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 93 years)
     2. HOLMES, John Thomas,   b. 14 Mar 1882, Spalding, Lincolnshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 9 May 1966, Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 84 years)
     3. HOLMES, Charles,   b. 2 Jun 1884, Ripping Place, Thornton, Yorkshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Nov 1917, Active Service in World War 1 Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 33 years)
     4. HOLMES, William,   b. 24 Jul 1887, Corby, Lincolnshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 3 Feb 1953, Colchester, Essex Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 65 years)
     5. HOLMES, Harry,   b. 24 Nov 1891, George Street, Ordsall, Nottinghamshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Jun 1919, Doncaster, Yorkshire Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 27 years)
    Last Modified 11 Jul 2016 
    Family ID F2406  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 DERHAM, Elsie Mary,   b. 1874, Claverham Yatton, Somerset Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 5 Sep 1943, Little Gaddesden, Hertfordshire Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 69 years) 
    Married 24 Aug 1916  Barnsley Register Office, Yorkshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Last Modified 11 Jul 2016 
    Family ID F2407  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Edgoose JamesHeadgooseHolmes 5912.jpg
    Edgoose JamesHeadgooseHolmes 5912.jpg
    James Headgoose Holmes (1861-1934):
    This photograph is not of James Headgoose Holmes himself, but according to Beatrice Ellen Holmes is of the man who was supposedly the father of Maria Holmes's child.
    James HOLMES was born at Kirton-in-Holland, Lincolnshire, on 19 March 1861, the illegitimate son of twenty year old Maria HOLMES.
    (GRO June Q 1861 Boston 7a 351)
    Surprisingly, Maria did not register her son's name as James Headgoose HOLMES, although that is the name used on his first marriage certificate in 1880, on the birth certificate of his second son Charles in 1884, on the birth certificate of his fourth son Harry in 1892, and on his own death certificate in 1934. "James Headgoose HOLMES (the middle name appears on his death certificate but not on his birth certificate) was born on 19 March 1861 at Frampton near Kirton in south Lincolnshire. His mother was Maria HOLMES; no father's name is given on his birth certificate."
    (David Howell - Dictionary of Labour Biography Volume 11)

    The photograph was taken by Beales & Son of Spalding, Lincolnshire, in about 1888. The number 8735 is written on the back with the words "Beales & Son established 1859 New Road, Spalding".

    Holmes JamesHeadgooseHolmes 5912 051.jpg
    Holmes JamesHeadgooseHolmes 5912 051.jpg
    A Photograph of James Headgoose Holmes (1861-1934) taken from G. W. Alcock's
    Fifty Years of Railway Trade Unionism published by the Co-operative Printing Society Limited, 1922.
    Holmes JamesHeadgooseHolmes 5912  059.jpg
    Holmes JamesHeadgooseHolmes 5912 059.jpg
    James Headgoose Holmes (1861-1934)
    Organiser for the National Union of Railwaymen and a much loved (or feared) character in his day. His life is well documented in the Dictionary of National Biography and in the Dictionary of Labour Biography.
    Holmes JamesHeadgooseHolmes 5912  064.jpg
    Holmes JamesHeadgooseHolmes 5912 064.jpg
    The wedding of John Thomas Holmes to Beatrice Ellen Whitworth at Wilford Parish Church, Nottinghamshire, on 10 June 1912.
    Standing left to right: Charles Holmes (1884-1917); James Headgoose Holmes (1861-1934); Charles Whitworth (1859-1950), father of the bride; either Harry Holmes (1891-1919) or William HOLMES (1887-1953).
    Seated: Elizabeth Ann Holmes nee Brewster (1857-1915); Florence May Holmes nee Ratcliffe (1888-1980); John Thomas Holmes (1882-1966), the bridegroom; Beatrice Ellen Whitworth (1888-1986), the bride; Charlotte Crooks, a friend of the family; Ellen Whitworth (1864-19??), mother of the bride.
    Headgoose JamesHeadgooseHolmes 5912 073.jpg
    Headgoose JamesHeadgooseHolmes 5912 073.jpg
    Descendants of James Headgoose Holmes (1861-1934):
    Foreground: Hilary Wilde and her brother Martin Wilde;
    Behind Hilary: Hilda and Norman Wilde;
    Centre: Mary Elizabeth Hutchings nee Holmes, Aunt Polly (1881-1975);
    Behind Martin Wilde: Florence May Holmes; Priesthood Hutchings (Press).

    Documents
    Holmes JamesHeadgooseHolmes 5912     067.jpg
    Holmes JamesHeadgooseHolmes 5912 067.jpg
    James Headgoose Holmes (1861-1934)

    Although the headstone refers simply to James Holmes, this extract from Hanwell Cemetery's burial register is significant: James Headgoose Holmes. That is the name which appeared on his death certificate. Whoever organised the funeral was determined to record the full name which hadn't appeared in any document since his youngest son's birth certificate in 1892.

    Headstones
    Holmes JamesHeadgooseHolmes 5912   065.jpg
    Holmes JamesHeadgooseHolmes 5912 065.jpg
    James Headgoose Holmes (1861-1934)
    The following instruction to the stone mason signed by Elsie Mary Holmes comes from Hanwell Cemetery archives. The wording and punctuation follow the original exactly.
    Sacred to the Memory of
    James Holmes
    a loving husband and Father
    who died Oct 1st. 1934 aged 73 years
    Death divides, but memory abides
    "until we meet again"

    Signed
    Elsie Mary Holmes
    Grave Owner

  • Notes 
    • JAMES HEADGOOSE HOLMES 1861-1934

      James HOLMES was born at Kirton-in-Holland, Lincolnshire, on 19 March 1861, the illegitimate son of twenty year old Maria HOLMES.
      (GRO June Q 1861 Boston 7a 351)
      Surprisingly, Maria did not register her son's name as James Headgoose HOLMES, although that is the name used on his first marriage certificate in 1880, on the birth certificate of his second son Charles in 1884, on the birth certificate of his fourth son Harry in 1892, and on his own death certificate in 1934. "James Headgoose HOLMES (the middle name appears on his death certificate but not on his birth certificate) was born on 19 March 1861 at Frampton near Kirton in south Lincolnshire. His mother was Maria HOLMES; no father's name is given on his birth certificate."
      (David Howell - Dictionary of Labour Biography Volume 11)

      James, son of Maria HOLMES, was baptised at Kirton-in-Holland, Lincolnshire, on 2 June 1861. There is a note in the register that he was born on 19 March 1861.
      (PR)

      Who was the father of James Headgoose HOLMES?
      Two candidates, two brothers:
      1) James EDGOOSE (1837-1881) baptised James HEADGOOSE
      2) John Robert EDGOOSE (1839-1914) baptised John R. HEADGOOSE

      Whilst it has not yet been proved beyond doubt that his father was John Robert EDGOOSE (1839-1914), the evidence is compelling:
      a) Two brothers were baptised with the surname HEADGOOSE, James and John Robert EDGOOSE. Their father Joel EDGOOSE left Lincolnshire in 1831 following a scandal in which he and James's grandfather were implicated (his grandfather was transported) but the family was back in Lincolnshire by 1851. James decamped to Yorkshire at some time before the 1861 census. John Robert was in Sibsey, Lincolnshire, in 1861, eventually emigrating to the USA in about 1884. Both were coal miners (hewers) at some time: James from at least 1865 until his death in 1881, and John Robert from at least 1865 until 1884.

      b) The descendants of James Headgoose HOLMES have in their possession a photograph purporting to be of James's father. There are some distinct similarities between their photograph and those of John Robert EDGOOSE in the possession of Michael James EDGOOSE and very obvious similarities with photographs of the sons of James Headgoose HOLMES taken in 1912.

      c) The photograph referred to above was taken by the firm of Beales & Son. It was numbered 8375 on the reverse which may enable the date it was taken to be narrowed down with further research. We know that Beales started trading on his own account, eventually becoming Beales & Son when a son joined the business and then Beales & Sons when a second son joined. This narrows the date the photograph was taken to a year between the censuses of 1881 and 1891. According to his grandson Roy Kirk Halvor EDGOOSE (1897-1975) John Robert EDGOOSE left England for the USA in June 1884 and returned to Algarkirk in Lincolnshire in June 1888 with his mother's glass-topped coffin. The photograph can therefore be dated to 1881-1884 or 1888-1891. John Robert EDGOOSE's brother James died in 1881. A little more precision in dating the photograph may result in eliminating him as a contender.

      d) He used his full name James Edward Headgoose HOLMES for the first time on the certificate of marriage to Elizabeth Ann BREWSTER in 1880, but described himself as the son of Charles HOLMES labourer. By contrast, when he married his second wife Elsie Mary DEREHAM on 24 August 1916 he acknowledged the true christian name and former occupation of his late father: John, coalminer (hewer), but he gave no hint of his illegitimacy to his new wife and claimed that his father's surname was HOLMES.

      e) He must have told at least one member of his family the truth. His widow registered her husband's death in the name of James Headgoose HOLMES; and the newspaper report of his funeral in the West Middlesex Gazette on 13 October 1934 refers to Mr. James E. E. HOLMES, indicating perhaps that someone knew the name Headgoose was a distortion of Edgoose.

      From the 1861 census of Wellington Street, Kirton, Lincolnshire:
      Charles HOLMES, head, aged 41, agricultural labourer, born at Mount Pleasant, Lincolnshire;
      Susan HOLMES, wife, aged 43, born at Moulton, Lincolnshire;
      Mariah HOLMES, daughter, aged 20, born at Waplode (sic), Lincolnshire;
      Susan HOLMES, daughter, aged 17, born at Kirton, Lincolnshire;
      Burton HOLMES, son, aged 6, born at Kirton;
      Elizabeth HOLMES, daughter, aged 3, born at Kirton;
      *James HOLMES, "Son Law", aged 1 month, born at Kirton;
      (RG9/2331/25/14)

      "At nine years of age he was a ploughboy earning fourpence a day".
      (source: The Doncaster Gazette 4 October 1934)

      The 1871 census of West Dyke Road, Frampton, Lincolnshire:
      Charles HOLMES, head, aged 50, agricultural labourer, born at Moulton, Lincolnshire;
      Susan HOLMES, wife, aged 54, born at Moulton;
      Burton HOLMES, son, aged 16, agricultural labourer, born at Kirton, Lincolnshire;
      Elizabeth HOLMES, daughter, aged 13, scholar, born at Kirton;
      *James HOLMES, grandson, aged 10, scholar, born at Kirton.
      (RG10/3333/86/16)

      At the age of 11 he went to sea under a captain who "cultivated his moral side by the aid of a rope-end and his mental side by making him read and copy articles from newspapers and commit passages to memory". His descendants told the story of how he ran away to sea in 1872 after being caught digging turnips by the local landowner and pitchforking him off his horse.
      (The Doncaster Gazette 4 October 1934)
      (Letter from Veronica and Mike Powell, 14 January 2013)

      James Edward Headgoose HOLMES married Eliza Ann BREWSTER at Sutterton Parish Church in Lincolnshire on 14 October 1880. He was described as a 20 year old bachelor, a labourer, son of Charles HOLMES, labourer. Eliza Ann was a 23 year old Sutterton spinster, daughter of John BREWSTER, labourer. Witnesses were John BREWSTER and Mary Ann BREWSTER, probably her 15 year old sister.
      (GRO December Q 1880 Boston 7a 795)
      Did he believe that he was the son of Charles HOLMES, his grandfather, who presumably brought him up, or was he trying to prevent his bride from discovering his illegitimacy? If the latter, why did he include the name HEADGOOSE amongst his forenames and, if he knew his father's identity, why didn't he include it on the marriage certificate instead of Charles HOLMES? Compare this with the certificate of his second marriage in 1916 in which he at least acknowledged his real father's christian name and former occupation.

      Their daughter Mary Elizabeth HOLMES was born at Fosdyke, Lincolnshire, on 31 March 1881. The name and surname of the father was James HOLMES. Occupation of Father: Farm Labourer. The informant was James HOLMES, Father, Fosdyke.
      (GRO June Q 1881 Boston 7a 423)

      The 1881 census of Fosdyke Bridge, Lincolnshire, take on 3 April, shows that Eliza Ann must have been three and a half months pregnant when she married:
      *James HOLMES, head, aged 20, labourer, born at Frampton, Lincolnshire;
      Elisah HOLMES, wife, aged 23, born at Sutterton, Lincolnshire;
      infant HOLMES, son (sic), aged 4 days, born at Fosdyke, Lincolnshire.
      (RG11/3213/33/10)

      His son John Thomas HOLMES was born at 15 Westlode Street, Spalding, Lincolnshire, on 14 March 1882. Column 4 has the name and surname of the father: James HOLMES. His occupation was Post Boy. The informant was J. HOLMES, Father.
      (GRO June Q 1882 Spalding 7a 392)

      Charles, son of James Headgoose HOLMES and Eliza Ann née BREWSTER, was born at Ripping Place, Thornton, Yorkshire, on 2 June 1884. Column 4 has the name and surname of the father: James Headgoose HOLMES. Occupation of father: Signal man on the railway. The informant was J. H. HOLMES, the father.
      (GRO September Q 1884 Bradford 9b 187)

      His son William HOLMES was born at Corby, Lincolnshire, on 24 July 1887. Name and surname of father: James HOLMES. Occupation of father: Signalman on the Railway. The informant was James HOLMES, Father, Corby.
      (GRO September Q 1887 Bourne [which includes Corby] 7a 368)

      The 1891 census of Station Road, West Ardsley, Yorkshire:
      *James HOLMES, head, aged 30, signalman, born at Kirton, Lincolnshire;
      Elza Ann HOLMES, wife, aged 33, born at Sutterton, Lincolnshire;
      Mary Elizabeth HOLMES, daughter, aged 10, scholar, born at Fosdyke, Lincolnshire;
      John Thomas HOLMES, son, aged 9, scholar, born at Spalding, Lincolnshire;
      Charles HOLMES, son, aged 6, scholar, born at Thornton, Yorkshire;
      William HOLMES, son, aged 3, born at Corby, Lincolnshire.
      (RG12/3754/56/1)

      His son Harry HOLMES was born at George Street, Ordsall, Nottinghamshire, on 24 November 1891, son of James Headgoose HOLMES and Eliza Ann née BREWSTER. Occupation of Father: Railway Signalman. The informant was James H. HOLMES, Father.
      (GRO March Q 1892 E. Retford 7b 10)

      "At the EC Meeting of August, 1892, it was resolved, with a minority of two: "That the Protection Benefit be granted to J. HOLMES, of Retford; and this Committee protests against the action of of the G. N. Railway Company in victimising Bro. J. HOLMES for carrying out the principles that every man has a perfect right to, namely, to carry out the instructions of this society." HOLMES brought an action against the G. N. Company for wages and bonus of £6, but failed."
      ('Fifty Years of Railway Trade Unionism' by G. W. Alcock, page 260)

      "At the Annual Congress, 1898, held at Leeds, Mr. TEVENAN, Organising Secretary, resigned, and Mr. J. HOLMES, of Doncaster, was appointed Organiser for the West of England."
      ('Fifty Years of Railway Trade Unionism' by G. W. Alcock, page 299)

      The 1901 census of 49 Dogfidd Street, Roath, Cardiff, Wales:
      *James HOLMES, head, aged 39, married, Organizing Secretary of Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, born at Ruton [sic] Boston, Lincolnshire.
      (RG13/4977/131/7)
      His wife and three sons were at 31 Jarratt Street, Doncaster, Yorkshire.

      A Special General Meeting of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (ASRS) was held on the 6-8 January 1903 to hear charges that James HOLMES, ASRS organiser in South Wales "had constantly and wilfully violated and defied (the Society's) rules and the decisions of (its) governing bodies".
      (MSS.127/AS/TV/ADD/1/2/1-3)

      "Mr. J. R. BELL, J.P., was re-elected President for 1908. J. HOLMES, Organising Secretary, fought a plucky fight at East Birmingham in the General Election, and though not elected obtained 5,343 votes. Nothing daunted, he undertook the contest of a by-election at Hull during 1907, when he obtained 4,512 votes as against the successful Liberal's 5,623, and the Tory's 5,382. Later, owing to ill-health, he retired from the electoral arena. Jim was ever a plucky fighter: whatever the fight he was engaged in, whether for Labour or for politics."
      ('Fifty Years of Railway Trade Unionism' by G. W. Alcock, page 396)

      From the 1911 census of 4, St. Vincent Avenue, Wheatley, Doncaster, Yorkshire:
      *James HOLMES, head, aged 50, trade union secretary, born at Kirton, Near Boston, Lincolnshire;
      Eliza HOLMES, wife, married 31 years, aged 54, born at Sutterton, Lincolnshire;
      Harry HOLMES, son, single, aged 19, assistant school teacher, born at Retford, Nottinghamshire.
      (RG14PN28208/RG78PN1610/RD512/SD3/ED19/SN182)

      His wife Eliza Ann HOLMES died aged 57 at 4 St. Vincent Avenue, Doncaster, Yorkshire, on 13 March 1915. She was described as the wife of James HOLMES, District Secretary, National Union of Railway Servants. Cause of death was cancer of the uterus, exhaustion and heart failure. The informant was her husband who was present when she died.
      (GRO March Q 1915 Doncaster 9c 1201)

      A few months later he was prosecuted at Barnsley under the Defence of the Realm Act and fined £25.
      (For full details see Dictionary of National Biography)

      "MR JAMES HOLMES, OF DONCASTER.
      James HOLMES, of Doncaster, organising Secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, was charged at Barnsley on Friday with an offence under the Defence of the Realm Regulations by making statements likely to cause dis-affection to his Majesty and likely to prejudice the recruiting, training, discipline, and administration of his Majesty's forces.
      The case was adjourned for a week."
      (Hull Daily Mail, Saturday 18 March 1916)
      (British Newspapers 1710-1961)

      His second wife was Elsie Mary DERHAM, a 42 year old spinster of 75 Moorfield Avenue, Ramsgreave, and daughter of tea merchant's traveller Theophilus Sheppard DERHAM deceased, whom he married at Blackburn Register Office on 24 August 1916. James HOLMES was described as a 53 year old widower [he was actually 55], a trade union official (railwaymen), living at 4 St. Vincent Avenue, Doncaster, and son of John HOLMES deceased, a coal miner (hewer). Witnesses were his son Charles HOLMES and daughter-in-law Florence May HOLMES.
      (GRO September Q 1916 Blackburn 8e 754)

      His son Private Charles HOLMES, No. 66946, 98th Coy., Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) died aged 33 on 20 November 1917. He was described as the son of James HOLMES of Brunner Road, Ealing, London, and the husband of Florence May HOLMES of 12B, Westbourne Avenue, South Shore, Blackpool.
      (www.cwgc.org).

      His son Harry HOLMES died at 4 St. Vincent Avenue, Doncaster, Yorkshire, on 8 June 1919 aged 27.
      (GRO June Q 1919 Doncaster 9c 846)
      "HOLMES Harry of 4 Saint Vincent-avenue Doncaster died 8 June 1919 Administration (with Will) Wakefield 22 July to James HOLMES organising secretary of the national union of railwaymen.
      Effects £220 5s. 2d."
      (National Probate Calendar 1919)

      "The Special General Meeting [of the NUR] of February, 1922, passed the following resolution after several laudatory speeches by the President and delegates:-
      "RETIREMENT OF MR. J. HOLMES, ORGANISING SECRETARY
      "That this Special General Meeting desire to place on record our appreciation of the services rendered to this union and the Labour movement in general by Bro. HOLMES since joining the old A.S.R.S., in 1884, and as Organising Secretary since 1898, who is now approaching the age limit imposed by our rules, and retires accordingly on March 31st, 1922. His long and historic work for the union, and his pioneer efforts for the industrial and political welfare of railwaymen, will ever be a grateful memory to the members of this union so long associated with him, and we wish him a long and healthy life in his honourable retirement."
      Jimmy was ever a bonny fighter, and during his services he has seen what it has not been given to every reformer to have seen, the aims, aspirations, and the results of his labours abundantly fulfilled. May his years be many, his health of the best! With the glow of the Western sun in his eyes he can say, "I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith." The hand that writes this is one of those who voted him to the office. There is no regret - Barry notwithstanding."
      ('Fifty Years of Railway Trade Unionism' by G. W. Alcock, page 576)

      James HOLMES and Elsie Mary HOLMES lived at 16 Brunner Road, Ealing, Middlesex, from at least 1917 until 1927.
      From 1928 until 1934 the house was also occupied by William HOLMES, presumably their son who was aged about 47 in 1934.
      (London Electoral Rolls)

      James Headgoose HOLMES died aged 73 on 1 October 1934 at 16 Brunner Road, Brentham, Ealing, Middlesex. His occupation was an Organiser for the National Union of Railwaymen (retired). The informant was his (second) wife Elsie Mary HOLMES.
      (GRO December 1934 Brentford 3a 230)

      James HOLMES of 16 Brunner-road Ealing Middlesex died 1 October 1934. Probate was granted at London on 22 November to Elsie Mary HOLMES widow and John Thomas HOLMES and William HOLMES commercial clerks. His effects totalled £6,476.3s.2d.
      (National Probate Calendar 1934)

      In his will he left £100 to his daughter Mary Elizabeth HUTCHINGS; £50 each to John Thomas HOLMES, William HOLMES and to his granddaughter Hilda HOLMES, the daughter of his deceased son Charles; and £25 to May HOLMES, the widow of Charles.

      From The Doncaster Gazette dated Thursday 4 October 1934:
      "Chapter of History Recalled
      -----------------------------------
      SUDDEN DEATH OF MR. JAMES HOLMES
      -------------------------------------------------------
      FORMER RAILWAY UNION ORGANISER
      -----------------------------------------------------
      LIFE-LONG FIGHTER
      ----------------------------
      DEFENDANT IN TAFF VALE CASE

      Stirring events in the modern history of trade unionism, and of the working class political movement in the nineties and the early years of the present century, are recalled by the death of Mr. James HOLMES, formerly of Doncaster, for many years an organiser for the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants and its successor, the National Union of Railwaymen, which occurred at his home in Brunner Road, Ealing, on Monday.
      MR. HOLMES' end was sudden.
      Although for many years he had not had the best of health, he was well enough on Sunday to drive his own car, accompanied by his wife, for about fifty miles. On Monday he seemed in his usual health and in the evening had a light meal. He had just finished this and was reading a newspaper when it dropped from his hand and he expired almost immediately.
      Like a good many others who have been prominent in railway trade unionism, Mr. HOLMES was born and brought up "on the land," and like his former local associate in railway union work, the present Mayor of Doncaster, he was a native of Lincolnshire having been born at Kirton near Boston, 73 years ago. At nine years of age he was a ploughboy earning fourpence a day, and at eleven he went to sea under a captain who, as a "Gazette" biographer once put it , "cultivated his moral side by the aid of a rope-end, and his mental side by making him read and copy articles from newspapers and commit passages to memory".
      Returning to the plough, at the age of nineteen Mr. HOLMES had his first experience of the difficulties attendant on the agitator for better working conditions. Venturing to voice the claim of his fellow labourers

      From The Railway Review dated 5 October 1934 page 9:
      THE PASSING OF BRO. JAMES HOLMES
      A Great Organiser
      We deeply regret to announce the sudden death on Monday evening last, at the age of 73, of Bro. "Jimmy" HOLMES, one of the most widely known and loved of the pioneers and organisers of Trade Unionism on the railways.
      Bro. HOLMES joined the A.S.R.S. as a signalman in 1884, and became at once the life and soul of the union in Yorkshire. In 1898, although, according to one of his colleagues, he would never have got the job if it had needed a ballot of the members, he became an organising secretary for the society.
      'A man like Jim HOLMES could never have got the job as organiser if we had had the ballot. Fellows were afraid to go to branch meetings and they would not vote for a man who was playing hell with everybody. HOLMES was all right to have a drink with but if he went on the platform he would set the world on fire. However, it is one of the most satisfactory things that ever occurred that Jim was made an organiser, and I say without any disrespect to any other organiser, that he was THE organiser.'

      A letter in The Railway Review of 5 October 1934 from S. E. JACKSON, Mayor of Barnes, under the heading "Tribute from a Colleague":
      "Tudor Lodge,
      228, Sheen Lane, S.W.14
      2nd October, 1934

      DEAR MR. EDITOR.
      It is not often I trouble you with my pen, but I feel I must write and say how grieved I am at the passing of my old friend, Jimmy HOLMES.
      About 40 years ago, when a youth, I attended a meeting at Retford, where I heard Jimmy speak for the first time at a crowded meeting held to protest against the action of the Great Northern Railway in removing him from his post as a signalman because he had dared to take part in a Parliamentary election. I - and many others - was inspired by his fiery eloquence and fearlessness on that occasion as so many thousands have been since.
      During my 34 years at Acton Street and Unity House it has been my lot to be a participant in the most historical events any union has had to deal with, and during those events I have met many men of parts, but I have never met or worked with one for whom I have greater respect and affection than dear old Jimmy.
      His passing will be mourned by many thousands in all spheres, because during a most strenuous life spent in the service of the "bottom dog," he has ever been cheery and helpful. No one will mourn more sorrowfully and sincerely than his friend of 40 years.
      S. E. JACKSON"

      A photograph of the late Bro. J. HOLMES appeared on page 11 of The Railway Review dated 12 October 1934.

      From the West Middlesex Gazette, Saturday, October 13, 1934:
      "FUNERAL OF MR. J. E. E. HOLMES
      N.U.R. Officials Among the Mourners
      The funeral of Mr. James E. E. HOLMES of Brunner-road, Bretham, whose death was reported last week, took place at Westminster Cemetery, Hanwell, last Friday. The service was conducted by the Rev. Parry JONES, an old friend of Mr. HOLMES, who travelled especially from Doncaster.
      The mourners included the widow, Mr. HOLMES's two sons and daughter, and other members of the family, Mr. WHITWORTH, Mrs. MEADOWS, Mrs. HUGHES, Mr. ROYCE, Mr. and Mrs. BRAMPTON, Mr. S. F. PERRY, Mr. and Mrs. LANGDON,
      Mrs. HUBBARD, Mr. and Mrs. RIDLEY, Mr. CARR, Mr. and Mrs. HENDER, Mr. TERRY, Mr. HENDER senr., Mr. BALL, Mr. BUCKINGHAM (manager, Finance Department, N.U.R.) and Mrs. BUCKINGHAM, Mr. ALLCOCK (representing Finance Department employees, N.U.R.), Mr. WIZZELL and Mr. COLEMAN (representing N.U.R. staff), Mr. G. BROWN (assistant general secretary, N.U.R.), the Mayor and Mayoress of Barnes (Alderman and Mrs. S. E. JACKSON), Mr. HUMPHRIES (organizer, N.U.R.), Sir Alfred TYLER (Co-operative Friendly Society), Mr. HATHWAY (representing Messrs. PALLISON and BREWER (solicitors to the N.U.R.), Mr. SMALL (representing Brentham Horticultural Society, N.U.R.), Mr. G. MASON (representing King's Cross No. 1 branch, N.U.R.), Mr. H. W. LANE (representing Paddington No. 2 branch, N.U.R.), Mrs. POLLARD, Mrs. F. WATTS, Mrs. NICHOLSON, and Miss D. LEVENE.
      In addition to those from near relations, flowers were sent by: Mr. and Mrs. JENKINSON; Committee and members of Bretham Club and Institute; Mr. A. CLARK and GORDON; Mr. and Mrs. H. CARR; Mr. and Mrs. HUBBARD; Myrtle, James and Francis HENDER; Mr. and Mrs. MARSTON (Doncaster); Mr. and Mrs. PERRY and Fred; Mr. and Mrs. BRAMPTON and family; Mr. and Mrs. WHITWORTH; Mr. and Mrs. COLE (Brighton); Mr. and Mrs. HUGHES; Mr. and Mrs. BUCKINGHAM; Mr. and Mrs. HEATH and Connie; Sir Alfred TYLER, J.P.; neighbours at 22, 23, 24, 24, 25, 26, 35, 36, Brunner-road, and 1, Ruskin-gardens; Mrs. LANGDON, Amy and Bert; Mr. and Mrs. H. N. MEADOWS and family; George BROWN; N.U.R. staff; Mr. and Mrs. POPPLE and Jack (Peterborough); Mr. and Mrs. MITCHELL and Fred, and Mr. and Mrs. COOPER and family; Messrs. PATTINSON and BREWER; Mr. and Mrs. ALLEN and Mrs. PERRY; Brentham Horticultural Society; Mr., Mrs. and Miss ROYCE; Brentham Cricket Club; Mr. and Mrs. JACKSON (Barnes); and the Executive Committee and Officials of the N.U.R."

      He was buried in Grave C/12014 in Hanwell Cemetery, 38 Uxbridge Road, London W7 3PP. The inscription reads:
      SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF JAMES HOLMES
      A LOVING HUSBAND AND FATHER
      WHO DIED OCT. 1st. 1934 AGED 73 YEARS
      DEATH DIVIDES, BUT MEMORY ABIDES
      "UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN"

      In 1935 and 1936, following the death of James HOLMES, the house at 16 Brunner Road, Ealing, Middlesex, was occupied by Elsie Mary and William HOLMES.
      (London Electoral Rolls)

      Chapters on James Headgoose HOLMES appear in the Dictionary of National Biography and in the Dictionary of Labour Biography.

      NOTES & QUERIES:
      1861 His birth certificate: James HOLMES.
      1861 Census: James HOLMES, "Son Law" of Charles HOLMES agricultural labourer.
      1871 Census: James HOLMES, Grandson of Charles HOLMES agricultural labourer.
      1880 Certificate of his first marriage: James Edward Headgoose HOLMES, son of Charles HOLMES, labourer. (Charles HOLMES died in 1891)
      1881 Census: James HOLMES.
      1881 Birth certificate of his daughter Mary Elizabeth HOLMES: name of father James HOLMES.
      1882 Birth certificate of his eldest son John Thomas HOLMES: name of father: James HOLMES
      1884 Birth certificate of his second son Charles HOLMES: name of father James Headgoose HOLMES.
      1887 Birth certificate of his third son William HOLMES: James HOLMES
      1891 Census: James HOLMES.
      1892 Birth certificate of his fourth son Harry HOLMES: James Headgoose HOLMES
      1901 Census: James HOLMES.
      1911 Census: James HOLMES.
      1914 Marriage certificate of his daughter Mary Elizabeth HOLMES: James HOLMES
      1915 Death certificate of his first wife: James HOLMES.
      1915 Marriage certificate of his son Charles HOLMES: name of father James HOLMES.
      1916 Certicate of his second marriage: James HOLMES, son of John HOLMES deceased coal miner (hewer).
      1917 Death of his son Charles HOLMES: James HOLMES.
      1919 Death of his son Harry HOLMES: James HOLMES
      1934 His death certificate: James Headgoose HOLMES.
      1934 His obituary: James E. E. HOLMES.
      1934 His gravestone: James HOLMES.
      1934 Hanwell Cemetery Burial Register: James Headgoose HOLMES.

      NOTES & QUERIES:
      'Fifty Years of Railway Trade Unionism' by G. W. Alcock contains references to James HOLMES on the following pages: 260, 276, 288, 289, 298, 299, 306, 310 311, 312, 313, 314, 319, 396, 403, 460, 576, 595, 605, 608, 617 and the report on Abermule.
      There is a good photograph facing page 385.
      There is also a brief reference to a Peterborough newspaper under the control of Mr. WINFREY on page 297.


      (revised 29.01.2017)