HOLMES Surname Meaning and Origin

island with trees
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Holmes is a geographical or topographical surname from the northern Middle English holm, meaning "island," often bestowed on an individual who lived on an island, or a piece of low-lying meadow lands near or surrounded by water.

Also, a geographic surname for someone who lived near where holly trees grew, from the Middle English holm.

Holmes can also sometimes be an Anglicized version of the Irish, Mac an Thomáis, meaning "son of Thomas."

Surname Origin: English


Famous People with the Surname HOLMES

  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. - American Civil War veteran and U.S. Supreme Court Justice
  • Santonio Holmes - American NFL football player
  • Kate Noelle "Katie" Holmes - American actress and model
  • Edwin Holmes - American inventor of the burglar alarm
  • Matthew Holmes - chief mechanical engineer of the North British Railway

Where Do People With the HOLMES Surname Live?

The Holmes surname is most prevalent in the United States, according to world surname distribution data from Forebears, distributed fairly evenly across the nation, though slightly higher in Mississippi and the District of Columbia. Holmes is more common, however, in England based on percentage of population bearing the surname, and is especially common in Derbyshire, where it ranks 12th, followed by Lincolnshire (20th), Yorkshire (25th), Nottinghamshire (26th), and Westmorland (36th).

Data from WorldNames PublicProfiler differs from Forebears, putting Holmes as most common in the United Kingdom, followed by Australia, New Zealand, and then the U.S. Within the UK, Holmes is most common in England, especially the districts of Yorkshire and Humberside and the East Midlands

Genealogy Resources for the Surname HOLMES

Holmes Family Crest - It's Not What You Think
Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Holmes family crest or coat of arms for the Holmes surname. Coats of arms are granted to individuals, not families, and may rightfully be used only by the uninterrupted male line descendants of the person to whom the coat of arms was originally granted.

Holmes Y-Chromosome DNA Surname Project
The goal of the HOLMES Surname Project is to distinguish between HOLMES ancestral lines, worldwide, through traditional family history research combined with DNA testing. Any male with the Holmes surname, or variants such as Holme, Holmes, Holms, Home, Homes, Hoome, Hoomes, Hulme, Hume, Humes is welcome to join.

English Genealogy 101
Learn how to research your English ancestors with this introductory guide to genealogical records and resources of England and the United Kingdom. Covers British birth, marriage, death, census, religious, military and immigration records, as well as wills.

HOLMES Family Genealogy Forum
This free message board is focused on descendants of Holmes ancestors around the world.

FamilySearch - HOLMES Genealogy
Access over 4 million free historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Holmes surname and its variations on this free genealogy website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

HOLMES Surname Mailing List
This free RootsWeb mailing list for researchers of the Holmes surname and its variations includes subscription details and a searchable archives of past messages.

DistantCousin.com - HOLMES Genealogy & Family History
Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Holmes.

The Holmes Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse family trees and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the last name Holmes from the website of Genealogy Today.


Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.

Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Collins Celtic (Pocket edition), 1998.

Fucilla, Joseph. Our Italian Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2003.

Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.

Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Reaney, P.H. A Dictionary of English Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1997.

Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.

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Powell, Kimberly. "HOLMES Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo, Sep. 12, 2021, thoughtco.com/holmes-last-name-meaning-and-origin-1422529. Powell, Kimberly. (2021, September 12). HOLMES Surname Meaning and Origin. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/holmes-last-name-meaning-and-origin-1422529 Powell, Kimberly. "HOLMES Surname Meaning and Origin." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/holmes-last-name-meaning-and-origin-1422529 (accessed June 8, 2023).