George Whateley Holmes


George was born on 2nd Apr 1843 in Birmingham and christened on 1st May 1843 at Saint Phillips, Birmingham, to William Holmes and Caroline Whateley, being the oldest child.  He lived with his grandmother Elizabeth Whateley in his early years.

In 1861 he as a saddler in Birmingham, but was the first of four brothers and a sister to leave these shores. In 1866 he emigrated to South Australia, arriving at Port Adelaide on 1st January 1867 on the Canterbury, being recorded as age 23, a saddler from Warwickshire.  He sailed from Adelaide to Sydney in the Spec, on the crew, arriving 26th February 1868. He was recorded as being from Birmingham aged 24 and listed as AS (Able Seaman? Not the usual abbreviation). Maybe he wanted to move on from South Australia, and was short of funds, so worked his passage. After a spell in Goulbourn, New South Wales, in about 1871 he formed the Holmes and Apps Saddlers business in Armidale New South Wales. 

He married Mary Jane Doak, daughter of William Doak and Jane née Patterson of Irish descent, on 11th Feb 1872 at Armidale.

In 1884 he became landlord of the New England Hotel , which is still in existence, and has a website here. The area around Armidale is known as New England.

George became involved in local affairs. In October 1869 as part of an improvement programme for the racecourse, George Holmes was given three weeks to paint the gates, wickets and posts for £3 15s. George was an Alderman on the Council from at least 1878, and served on several committees charge with building a new Town Hall.  In 1886 said he wished council consider the necessity of taking steps towards getting a water supply for the city’.  He was Mayor of Armidale for a year in 1887. Following a fire in Beardy Street, more than sixty residents prepared a petition to Mayor George Holmes asking him to call a meeting to discuss the formation of a Fire Brigade and the creation of a proper and efficient water supply. The board was formed during the year, but it took some time before the Fire Brigade became a reality. George was also sued by one trader for damage caused, see below. Holmes Avenue in Armidale was named after him. George was also a member of Armidale Dramatic Company. See article about him at foot of page.

George and family moved to Tamworth in about 1889. George became the proprietor of the Caledonian Hotel. However this was not to be a long venture as he died on 29th Aug 1893 in Tamworth, New South Wales after a short illness. (See obituary below). His will may be seen here

George and Mary’s children, with their spouses and offspring (as far as known)  may be seen here. Mary has now been found to have died at 30 Cromwell St., Croydon, NSW on 5th May 1924, and was buried at Rookwood, in the same grave as her daughter Amy and next to Frederick and George.

Sydney Morning Herald, 6th May 1924

George’s youngest brother Richard joined him in Armidale, in 1879. My grandmother related that he sent for Richard, after their parents had died, and sister Sue (Susannah) was looking after the younger children.

There is some information on Armidale Council website, but they have the genealogy incorrect - wrong parents and date of death.

Holmes Page         Home Page        Children


New England Hotel ca 1894 left and ca 1860 right


Obituary in "The Tamworth News " Fri evening September 1,1893
Death entered the Caledonian Hotel on Tuesday night and took away its master to the great regret and sorrow of all who knew him, for no one ever had an unkind word to say of George Holmes. His decease, too, was somewhat of a surprise, for his illness which proved to be fatal, was of only a few days duration. Mr. Holmes had resided in Tamworth for rather more than four years, during the whole of which time he held the license of the house where he died. Previous to his coming to Tamworth he ran the New England Hotel at Armidale, where he lived for many Years, holding a good position and interesting himself greatly in public affairs. He leaves a widow and seven children.

The funeral took place on Wednesday afternoon and the respect and esteem in which the memory of the deceased was held was shown by the large attendance which followed the remains to their last resting place. The cortege moved from the Caledonian Hotel a few minutes after four o’clock and preceding the hearse a large body of Freemasons and Oddfellows marched on foot. A very large number of conveyances, numbering about thirty , also joined the procession, which slowly wended the way to St. Pauls. Arrived there the coffin was taken into the church, and the Rev. W. J. K. Piddington, conducted a short service, after which the procession reformed and proceeded to the cemetery. The service of the Church of England was read by the side of the grave, and was followed by the impressive sermon of the Masonic Lodge which was conducted by Brother G .P. Scott, W.M. The Masons emblems were deposited on the coffin, and finally each Mason present deposited in the grave a sprig of Acacia. On behalf of the Oddfellows, Brother Matieson read the service arranged by the order, and at its conclusion each member dropped into the grave the small sprig of Acacia which he carried in his hand. Upon the coffin were placed several wreaths sent by sorrowing relatives and sympathizing friends.



The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser,

Saturday 16 July 1887, page 5



Australian Town and Country Journal, Saturday 3 September 1887

... (article continues about Armidale)


Caledonian Hotel, Tamworth, New South Wales in 1928

George took this over, moving from Armidale in 1889.

However he died here of an illness in 1893.