Holmes is described in a broadsheet of his Latin verses dating from 1729 as ex schola Holtensis. In 1729, the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, governors of Gresham"s School, Holt, appointed Holmes Master (viz, headmaster) of the school with effect from 1730. This was an unusual appointment, as Holmes was not a clergyman.
Holmes was a successful schoolmaster, teaching classical and modern languages, oratory, and drama, and he reversed the school"s decline under his predecessors.
He soon found he needed to improve on the teaching materials he had inherited and decided to expand his career by writing and publishing school textbooks. At Gresham"s he pioneered the teaching of modern languages, especially French, as well as geography, and astronomy.
According to an advertisement in Holmes"s Latin Grammar of 1732, Gresham"s School under him taught Arithmetic in all its parts, Bookkeeping by Double Entry.. the Use of Globes and writing in all the hands used in Great Britain. Holmes"s headship was applauded by the Fishmongers" Company.
Critical pamphlets were aimed at his Greek Grammar, to which Holmes replied in letters to the press, using the pen-name Patroclus.
The mathematician Thomas Simpson came out in his support. The attacks came from Robert Heath and Robert Hankinson, in a controversy from the period 1738-1740. He died at the age of fifty-seven and was buried at Holt.
Holmes"s family background is unknown.
Their daughter Jane married John Burrell, Rector of Letheringsett and became the mother of John Burrell, a lepidopterist.