William and Winifred Holman


The first of the Holman ancestors to come to America was William Holman and his wife, Winifred.  They had with them a servant girl, Alice Abby, age 20 and five children ranging in age from ten to one year.  William was born in Northampton, England in 1594 and died in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1653.  Winifred was born in 1597 and died on October 16, 1671.

They crossed the Atlantic on the ship “Defense” in 1635.  Their first house was at Cambridge, Massachusetts where three more children were born, making a total of eight—five girls and three boys.  The last child, a girl born in 1644, died young.  Indians killed the next to last child on August 5, 1695 at Billerica, Massachusetts where she lived and had raised her own family.   The Holman family moved from Cambridge to Boston where they built a nice home on the corner now occupied by the famous Botanical Gardens.

After the death of William Holman in 1653, the care of the family was left to his wife, who must earn the living.  She did this by helping in the neighborhood at whatever she could find to do.  She was especially apt in caring for the sick.  She bathed and massaged, used roots and herbs, and invoked the blessings of the Lord on her patients.

Across the street from the Holman house lived a man by the name of John Gibson.  Mr. Gibson had a daughter who had some strange fits that the doctor could do nothing for.  The Holman family suggested that he let Mrs. Holman try to do something for his daughter through the blessings of God.  This embittered Mr. Gibson who swore out a complaint against Widow Holman and her daughter May.  They were arrested and put in prison on the charge of witchcraft.  They were taken to Charleston, the county seat, for trial.  This was a most serious charge in those days.  After many long trials, they were acquitted and Mr. Gibbons was convicted of slanderous speech and forced to beg forgiveness for the evil he had committed against God. And the wrong he had done to the Holman family.  Mrs. Holman is known in history as the first Christian Scientist in America.

(from the files of Mary Jean Caldwell)

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