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HOLME, BENJAMIN (1683–1749), quaker, was born of quaker parentage at Penrith, Cumberland, in January 1683 (N.S.) and brought up as a Friend. In his autobiography he says that ‘he grew up in wildness,’ but when about fourteen years of age he prayed, and somewhat later testified at meetings. While still very young he was recognised as a minister, and travelled to ‘visit Friends.’ In 1699 he made a journey with Leonard Fell [q. v.] and Joseph Kirkbride, an American Friend, through the north of England. Two years later he visited a number of meetings in the east and west of England and in Wales, and in 1703 went to Scotland, where he was imprisoned for a night at Glasgow for travelling on the sabbath. The following year he visited Ireland for the first time. Early in 1706 he went to live at York, where he appears to have been engaged in business, but he continued to spend a large part of each year in ministerial journeys. In 1712 he again visited Ireland, was imprisoned at Longford for preaching, and was ill-treated at Londonderry. In 1714 he visited the Friends in Holland, and the following year those in New England. In America he was opposed by various ministers, and a day was set apart to pray against the spreading of his teaching; but he escaped persecution. In 1719 he visited the West Indies for a few months. In 1722 he took an active part in obtaining from the parliament a less objectionable form of affirmation than that then prescribed for the quakers. During the following year he again went to Holland, and while there visited the Mennonites and wrote ‘A Serious Call,’ a treatise giving a succinct account of quaker principles, which was first printed in Dutch and published in 1724. The four following years were chiefly spent in a minute investigation of the quaker meetings in Ireland. In a letter to David Bull of Tottenham, dated December 1725, he states that he was arrested at Letterkenny for refusing to make a declaration of fidelity, but was released after some time at the instance of the Bishop of Raphoe. During 1724 he interested many of the Irish bishops in a bill to establish a suitable form of affirmation, which became law in 1725. After his return home he was chiefly occupied in ministerial journeys in England and Scotland. He visited Ireland in 1734, and once paid a visit to Jersey, where a small meeting was much oppressed by the magistrates, and obtained redress of their grievances. He died at Swansea in April 1749, from an illness brought on by attending a meeting when in bad health.

Holme was widely esteemed, plain, simple, and charitable. His writings are extremely practical and broad in tone, while their style is pleasant and lucid. The chief are:

  1. ‘A Tender Invitation and Call to all People, to Embrace the offers of God's Love,’ &c., 1713 (reprinted three times and translated into French).
  2. ‘A Serious Call in Christian Love to all People. … With some Observations on the following heads: (1) The Universality of God's Love …; (2) The Holy Scriptures; (3) Worship; (4) Baptism; (5) The Supper; (6) Perfection; (7) The Resurrection; (8) Swearing; The Conclusion,’ 1725 (originally written in English and translated into Dutch and published at Amsterdam, n.d.; but printed in 1724, reprinted twenty-four times in English, and translated into Latin, French, and Welsh).
  3. ‘A Collection of the Epistles and Works of Benjamin Holme. To which is prefixed an Account of his Life and Travels in the Work of the Ministry, through several parts of Europe and America. Written by Himself,’ 1753; reprinted 1754. While in America he also wrote a tract against ‘Mixt Marriages,’ which were then common among American quakers.

[Benjamin Holme's Collection of the Epistles, &c., 1753; Smith's Cat. of Friends' Books; Rutty's Hist. of the Friends in Ireland; Bowden's Hist. of the Friends in America.]

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