Holmes Weaver, American, 1769–1848, active 1796–1848


cabinetmaker; chairmaker


Newport, Rhode Island

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Holmes Weaver was born in Middletown, Rhode Island, on July 24, 1769, six generations removed from Clement Weaver who emigrated from Glastonbury, Somersetshire to Weymouth, Massachusetts, by 1643, and then on to Middletown, Rhode Island, by 1650.(1) His father Thomas Weaver (1726-1804) was the son of Clement Weaver (c. 1718-1776) and Rosanna Cory (1723-1816). His mother Alice Weaver (born 1737) was the daughter of Thomas Weaver, her husband's cousin, and Sarah (Davis) Weaver.(2) Of the nine children born to Thomas and Alice Weaver, five were still alive in 1804 when Thomas' will was probated; Holmes, Thomas (born 1760), Timothy (born 1772), Abigail (1768-1863), and Mary (born 1775).(3)

By 1798, Holmes Weaver advertised his services as a "cabinet and chair maker" from a shop on Meeting Street in The Newport Mercury, assuring his clients that "they shall be supplied with every Article in his Line, as cheap as can be procured (of an equal Quality) in New York or Philadelphia" and "Beautiful Japan Varnishing done at the most reduced Prices; which is the highest and most transparent Polish hitherto invented."(4) In December of that same year, The Providence Gazette published an announcement of the wedding of "Mr. Homes Weaver, to Miss Betsy Tew, Daughter of Capt. Thomas Tew."(5) Betsy Tew was daughter of Thomas Tew (1737-1821), keeper of the jail at Newport, and one of his wives, either Anne (Clarke) Tew or Nancy Tew (1741-1822).(6)

Throughout his adult life, he held a number of civic positions. From 1798-1800, he was identified as clerk of the Artillery Company of the Town of Newport.(7) In 1809, Weaver was again identified as clerk of the Artillery Company when he asked the members of the Company to appear,

on Washington-Square, in complete uniform, with arms and accoutrements, and usual badge of mourning; to pay their last and unfeigned respects to their brother soldier Col. George Champlin."(8)

Weaver's speeches merited mention twice in Newport newspapers. Following July 4th festivities in 1810, it was noted that "the Declaration of Independence was read by Mr. Holmes Weaver, in a spirited and manly style."(9) Two years later, the Tammany Society requested punctual attendance to a meeting in the "Great Wigwam, in the State House," because "an Eulogium will be pronounced on the character of our late and worthy Brother Joseph Cundall, by Brother Holmes Weaver."(10)

Holmes Weaver was appointed Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for Newport in 1818 after,

On Thursday morning both houses met in Grand Committee for the election of officers, when it was found that Republican majority amounted to 14, consequently the Federal party (who had monopolized all the offices of honor and profit in the state for the last 8 years) gave up their opposition, and republicans, with a very liberal exception, were chosen in their places."(11)
He held the post until at least 1828.

Though surviving pieces suggest that Holmes Weaver was primarily occupied making furniture, he is also known to have made coffins. In 1816, the estate of Sarah Irish paid Holmes Weaver twenty dollars for making a coffin.(12) In 1818, the estates of Benjamin Barker, Newport cordwainer, and Edward Murphy both made payments to Holmes Weaver for making coffins.(13) In 1820, the estate of James Wallace made payment to Holmes Weaver for making a coffin.(14)

In March, 1836, it was reported that, "The Dwelling-House in Spring-Street, near the corner of Touro-Street, now occupied by Holmes Weaver, Esq." was to be "Let at Public Auction, on MONDAY, the 20th of April next."(15) Shortly thereafter, on April 1, Weaver purchased property from Newport merchant Samuel Bell.(16)

Holmes Weaver died in February, 1848.


1. Lucius E. Weaver, History and Genealogy of a Branch of the Weaver Family (Rochester, NY: DuBois Press, 1928), 60–61.

2. Weaver, Weaver Family, 102–103.

3. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register (July 1989), http://www.NewEnglandAncestors.com.

4. The Newport Mercury, "Holmes Weaver, advertisement," April 10, 1798, http://infoweb.newsbank.com. The same advertisement was printed throughout the year, starting in January.

5. The Providence Gazette, "Matrimony Announcement," December 29, 1798, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

6. Vital Record of Rhode, Island, 1636–1850, http://www.NewEnglandAncestors.com.

7. Weaver was responsible for penning numerous public notices for the Artillery Company, starting with The Companion; and Commercial Sentinel, "Military Notice," July 7, 1798, and later The Newport Mercury, "The Members of the Artillery Company, of the Town of Newport, are requested to Meet," September 30, 1800, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

8. The Newport Mercury, "ATTENTION Artillery Company," November 18, 1809, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

9. The Rhode-Island Republican, "American Independence," July 11, 1810, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

10. The Rhode-Island Republican, "Tammany Society," March 4, 1812, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

11. The Rhode-Island Republican, "The Election of Officers," May 13, 1818, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

12. Sarah Irish, estate account, 1816, Newport Probate vol. 5, 422. City Hall, Newport, Rhode Island.

13. Benjamin Baker, estate account, January, 1818, Newport Probate vol. 5, 437. Edward Murphy, estate account, 1818, Newport Probate vol. 5, 449. City Hall, Newport, Rhode Island.

14. James Wallace, estate account, December 2, 1820, Newport Probate vol. 6, 134. City Hall, Newport, Rhode Island.

15. The Newport Mercury, "To Let at Public Auction," March 5, 1836, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

16. Samuel Bell to Holmes Weaver, deed, April 1, 1836, Newport Deeds vol. 21, 59. City Hall, Newport, Rhode Island.