Sydney Holmes (1797-1878), her family and ancestors


Sydney Holmes, who was the youngest daughter of James Holmes and his wife, Jane Davis, was born on 26 July 1797 in Co. Down, (Northern) Ireland.


She married James Gammell on 21 September 1825, at the Parish Church of Donoughmore. 


Sydney started her married life at Beech Hill, Donoghmore, County Down, but in about 1834 moved with her husband to Edinburgh and then to Bath in England.

She died on 27 February 1878 in Hampstead, London.


Sydney and James had 10 children.

Name (married name if applicable)



James Stewart Gammell

21 September 1826

2 November 1899

Frederick Ernest Gammell

3 September 1827

23 February 1902

Harcourt Thomas Gammell

29 April 1829

25 September 1904

John Holmes Houston Gammell

12 September 1830

3 February 1902

Sydney Marion Gammell

12 November 1831

6 February 1837

William Gammell

11 or 12 July 1833

23 March 1882

Andrew Conway Gammell

15 January 1835

12 December 1835

Martha Janet Gammell (Bertram)

7 May 1836

31 July 1868

Andrew Conway Gammell

5 September 1837

25 December 1837

Albert Gammell

27 July 1840

14 June 1868


James Holmes (about 1753-1832) - Father of Sydney Holmes


James Holmes was born in about 1753 to John Holmes, a merchant, and Mary Wilson, his wife.


James married Jane Davis probably in about 1782.

Together with Robert Davis from Newry, James formed a partnership Holmes & Davis which had its offices at 11 Chichester Quay, Belfast.  The company appears to have continued in much the same line as his father’s business, trading in particular with Russia, Italy, the West Indies and the United States in all manner of goods, but particularly flax seeds and linen.  


Clearly the Holmes and Davis families were close, since Jane, James’ wife, was Robert’s sister.

In 1795 James was appointed president of the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce but did not take up the post.  Instead, he travelled to Philadelphia, then capital of the US, where Hugh Holmes, who was likely a close relation, was in business.


He stayed there for a year and then came back, having on 27 May 1796 been appointed by George Washington as the first US Consulate for Belfast, which was a major port for the Irish trade with, and emigration to, the US.  He presumably went to the US to further his business interests though we don’t know this for certain.  I think however we can assume that being the US Consul in Belfast when his business was trading with the US was helpful to his business.

He was in his post as consulate during the United Irishmen’s rising in 1798 but took no part in it.


In 1806 his business partnership with Robert Davis was evidently dissolved since Robert started trading from the same premises but in his name only.  


Probably around this time James moved his family to Ballymenoch, Holywood just to the north-east of Belfast, but held continued to hold land, linen and milling business interests in Larne and Edenderry in Lisburn.


He continued to hold the position of US consul until 1815. However, it is clear that he had not been very active as a Consul in the five or so years preceding this.  There is a Blue Plaque marking his service as Belfast’s first US Consul on the building occupied by McHugh’s Bar and Restaurant, 29-31 Queen's Square, Belfast.


He died on 11 September 1832 at Finglass, Dublin in his 79th year.


Jane Davis (about 1762-1838) - Mother of Sydney Holmes

Very little is known about Jane. She was born between 1762 and 1765.  Her father was James Davis who was a merchant in Newry.  We don’t know who her mother was.   


She married James Holmes in about 1782.


She died on 27 March 1838 and was buried at St Patrick’s Church, Newry, Co. Down.


James Holmes and Jane Davis (Holmes) had 4 children.

Name (married name if applicable)



Anna Maria Holmes (Corry)

17 June 1783

15 December 1863

Frances Holmes (Coates)


3 August 1870

Frederick Holmes

Abt 1791

22 October 1850

Sydney Holmes (Gammell)

26 July 1797

27 February 1878


John Holmes (1703-1779) – Grandfather of Sydney Holmes

John Holmes was born on 30 July 1703 and evidently was a Belfast merchant with a lucrative import-export business, buying tar and tallow from Russia, and wheat, barrel parts, timber and flaxseed from the US.


In the early 1740s he married Mary Wilson, but we know nothing about her.


John died in Dublin on 4 July 1779 and was buried at St James’ Church, Dublin on 7 July 1779.


John and Mary had 3 children

Name (married name if applicable)



John Holmes

Abt 1745

1 September 1825

Mary Holmes (Houston)

Abt 1748

11 January 1824

James Holmes

Abt 1753

11 September 1832