HOLMES, John Andrew Christian

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Rachel Hobson Holmes Larkin (1807- )


HOLMES, John Andrew Christian ( -1832), native of Denmark and captain of the Maria Ester in 1930 when prisoners were dropped off at a location today known as Prisoners’ Harbor, Santa Cruz Island.

In 1827, Captain Andrew C. Holmes married Rachel Hobson (1807-1873), the daughter of Daniel and Eliza Hobson, of Ipswich, Massachusetts. Shortly after their marriage, Captain Holmes sailed for the Pacific coast, leaving his bride with her father. Holmes decided to stay on the west coast sailing from west coast ports in the employ of Henry Virmond, a German merchant in Acapulco who owned many vessels.

“In March of 1830, Captain Andrew Christian Holmes in command of the Maria Ester, and with about eighty prisoners on board, sailed to Santa Barbara after being refused entry into San Diego. Not surprisingly, the citizens of Santa Barbara did not want the prisoners either. After a month, on April 23 [1830], Captain Holmes decided that thirty-one of the worst convicts would be taken to Santa Cruz Island and left there. Maria Ester, with prisoners and a supply of cattle, grain, fish-hooks, tools and other supplies, set sail. At the island, the prisoners were left with their supplies. The harbor where they landed is the island's main harbor and was subsequently called "Prisoners' Harbor." Shortly thereafter, a fire destroyed everything. The prisoners purportedly built rafts and sailed from Santa Cruz Island across the channel to present day Carpinteria.”

Holmes sent for his wife, and at age 24 in September 1831, she sailed to California aboard the Newcastle to join her husband. The ship entered the port of San Francisco before arriving at Monterey on April 13,1832. Rachel Hobson Holmes was the first American woman to settle in Alta California!

On October 29, 1831, Holmes sailed as Master of the brig Catalina out of Santa Barbara for San Diego.


Also aboard Newcastle in 1831 was Thomas Oliver Larkin (1802-1858), young man of 29, headed west who was to become an American pioneer resident of Alta California, successful merchant, financier, confident of California [Mexican] officials, and American consul to Mexican California. Newcastle was captained by his older half-brother, Captain John [Juan] Bautista Rogers Cooper. The Newcastle arrived in Monterey in 1832. Larkin and Mrs. Holmes began an affair in the spring of 1832, perhaps aboard the Newcastle. She became pregnant and moved to Santa Barbara where she learned, perhaps to her relief, of her husband's death on March 8, 1832 while sailing from Acapulco to South America. On January 31, 1833 she gave birth to Larkin's illegitimate daughter, baptized Isabel Ana Larkin. In June 1833 Larkin married Rachel Holmes aboard the ship Volunteer, anchored in port in Santa Barbara. On July 9, 1833 their daughter Isabel died. Twelve years and eight children later, Larkin learned the marriage wasn't legal, and they were married in a large wedding ceremony and party. [Thomas Oliver Larkin, Jr.; William Rogers Larkin; Frederick Hobson Larkin; Henry Rogers Larkin; Francis Rogers Larkin; Carolina Ann Larkin; Sophia Adeline Larkin; Alfred Otis Larkin.]

Rachel Holmes was sole heir to her husband, Captain Andrew C. Holmes. Her inheritance probably netted $3,000 to $4,000.