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Rev. Obadiah Holmes (1607-1682) contextual information

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 1639 to 1682
Location: New Englandmap
Surname/tag: Holmes
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Information about Reverend Obadiah Holmes, early immigrant to Salem, Massachusetts and Rhode Island that is either unsourced, anecdotal or contextual.

This information seems to be from Dramatized story of his whipping for his Baptist beliefs, from a Christian perspective, unsourced

Obadiah Holmes, while visiting a sick friend back at Lynn, Massachusetts Bay Colony, along with John Clarke and John Crandall, was arrested and fined. When Clarke protested their heavy fines, Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor Endecott replied that Clarke "deserved death" and "was worthy to be hanged." Why? Because they were Baptists - believing in religious freedom, local church authority, and baptism by immersion only.[1]

Holmes refused to pay his fine since he was not guilty of any crime whereupon the Rev. John Wilson, pastor of the Boston Church, hit him and asked God to curse him. Holmes was severely whipped (30 lashes) and carried his scars for the rest of his life. Holmes said later about the whipping: "...having joyfulness in my heart, and cheerfulness in my countenance...I told the magistrates, 'you have struck me as with roses."[2]

He returned to Newport, Rhode Island. Obadiah Holmes succeeded John Clarke as the minister of the first Baptist Church in America at Newport, Rhode Island


Source of this information is uncertain: Daniel Palmer: Obadiah became a leading Baptist minister, and his witness to his faith and his writings are of much interest. He was admitted as a member of the Puritan Church at Salem 24 March 1639. Ten years later he moved to Seekonk, Massachusetts, and transferred his membership to the church of the Rev. Samuel Newman. A personal conflict between Holmes and Newman resulted when Obadiah entered a complaint against the minister charging slander for saying that he, Holmes, took false oath in court. Rev. Newman admitted he was in error but the rift between the two men could not be bridged. Obadiah and eight other members withdrew from the Puritan Church and were baptized into the Baptist Church by Rev. John Clark. They were then ex-communicated by the Puritans 5 June 1650 and charged with meeting from house to house on the Lord's Day. Four petitions were presented in the General Court at Plymouth urging that they be speedily suppressed. They were charged by the court not to break bread or preach or baptize. Obadiah Holmes and Joseph Tory were bound over to the October court as they did not acquiesce. At the General Court held 2 October 1650, Gov. William Bradford and his gentlemen assistants, two of whom were Capt. Miles Standish and John Alden, pronounced no sentence against Holmes and Tory, even though they had continued meeting house to house and the Lord's Day, contrary to the order of the court. In July 1651, Obadiah, the Rev. John Clark, and several other members of the Baptist Church went to Lynn, Massachusetts, to the home of William Witter, who was too old and infirm to attend church. While the Rev. Clark was preaching, the constable entered, seized the visitors, and imprisoned them. Holmes was tried at a court in Boston 31 July 1651 and the jury's sentence read: "For as much as you, Obadiah Holmes, being come into this jurisdiction about the 21st of the 5th mo., did meet at one William Witter's house at Lynn, and did here privately and at other times, being an excommunicate person, did take upon you to preach and baptize ... and coming afterward at the assembly at Lynn, did, in disrespect to the ordinance of God and his worship, keep on your hat, the pastor being in prayer ... the court doth fine you 30 pounds ... or else be well whipped ...". Obadiah Holmes refused to pay the fine or to allow his friends to pay it. He was retained in prison until 5 September 1651 when he was bound to a post on State Street in Boston and whipped in an unmerciful manner. For many days he could rest only on his knees and elbows as he could not suffer any part of his body to touch the bed. He wrote, "And as the man began to lay the strokes upon my back, I said to the people, though my flesh shall fail, and my spirit fail, yet my God would not fail ... I had such a spiritual manifestation of God's presence ... I could well bear it, yea, and in manner, felt it not, although it was grievous, as the spectators said the man striking me with all his strength (yea, spitting in his hands three times, as many affirmed) with a three corded whip, giving me therewith thirty strokes. When he had loosed me from the post, having joyfulness in my heart and cheerfulness in my countenance, as the spectators observed, I told the magistrates, you have struck me with roses ... I pray God it may not be laid to your charge.". Obadiah moved his family to Middletown, Rhode Island in 1651. He succeeded the Rev. John Clark in 1652, and devoted thirty years of his life to the Baptist ministry. Obadiah Holmes died testate. No recorded copy of his will is known to exist. The original will is among the Bull papers at the Newport Historical Society. He named as his children Mary Brown, Martha Odlin, Lydia Bowne, Hopestill Taylor, John Holmes, Obadiah Holmes, Samuel Holmes, and Jonathan Holmes, and as his wife, Katherine Holmes. In a letter written 17 December 1675 and addressed to his children, he also named his son Joseph, and related the Biblical attribute of the name of each of his children.


This information from "Staten Island and it's People" applies to Obadiah's son, Obadiah Jr. Staten Island and It's People 1609-1929, Vol 2 page 908: Obadiah Holmes came to Staten Island from Long Island with, or soon after, Nicholas Stillwell. There are records of his being here in 1670, 1674 and 1677, when he received a grant at New Dorp. He was the clerk who made the first entrees about 1679, in our oldest book of records. In that year, he conveyed his land to his son, Obadiah, Junior. In 1685, he or his son of the same name, was justice of the peace, and again in 1689 under Leisler.[3]





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