The Bloomsbury Lawyer
Who Co-Drafted Rugby Rules
Edward Carleton Holmes (Yngr) (1843-1932)
Edward Carleton Holmes the Younger was born on 12 February 18431 in St Pancras, London, to Edward Carleton
Holmes (Snr)FT, a practising solicitor from
Arundel, and Worthingite Elizabeth Carleton Sayres, who at the time of Edward's birth
were living in 31 Bedford Row, Camden Town, London, WC1, close to close to Gray's Inn
Fields. Edward was the eldest of six children. His three sisters were Mary Rhoda, Gertrude, and Adela
Coote, and his two brothers were John and Henry.
Leominster, Sussex (1861)
On 7 April 1861, Edward Carleton Holmes (Yngr) was 18 years old and visiting his paternal grandmother, Rhoda
Carleton Holmes, at 8 & 9 Leominster Street, Leominster, Sussex. Among the other visitors were Edward's
parents, Edward's younger brothers, John Sayers Carleton Holmes (8), Henry Carleton Holmes (6) and
Edward's sister Gertrude Carleton Holmes (3). Also visiting was his grandmother's daughter, Rhoda Carleton Coote
(38) and her husband Henry Coote (44), a retired officer of Her Majesty's Army, and their two children, Frances and
Charles Coote. This 11-strong household was being looked after by a team of live-in servants which included
three nurses, a coachman, a cook, housemaid and a kitchenmaid.2
Edward Carleton Holmes (Yngr) became a solicitor like his father, with offices in 31 Bedford
Row. His parents later moved down the road from him and made a new home for themselves in 12 Bedford Row, while
retaining a country home in East Preston, Sussex.3
influential in rugby football's history
Edward Carleton Holmes (Yngr) was president of the Richmond
Rugby Club, which together with the Blackheath and Barnes clubs, were hugely influential in the
early 1870s London rugby scene, as was Holmes himself, because they insisted on carrying
the ball but refused to allow 'hacking'4.
Three solicitors elected to draft
rugby rules (1871)
On 26 January 1871, the Rugby Football Union held its first meeting to discuss
rugby's future with the aim of drawing up some rules of play and to clean up the game. Although no rules were
agreed upon at that meeting, a committee of three people was elected to do the donkey work of drafting some
The chosen three were Algernon Rutter, 30, the then president of the RFU,
a solicitor and attorney living at Parkfield (House), Hillingdon Heath5, Leonard James Maton BA Oxon, 26, a solicitor living in
Wimbledon with his grandparents, and Edward Carleton Holmes (Yngr). The meeting was held
at the offices of Edward Carleton Holmes situated at 31 Bedford Row, Camden Town, the house where Holmes had
Rutter, Maton (draftsman) and Carleton Holmes were chosen because
they were all former pupils of Rugby School and were therefore
expert on the subject matter — rugby. A fourth person, Edwin Ash, Holmes's playing
colleague, worked on the rugby lawmaking together with Holmes.7
On 2 April 1871, the day the 1871
England Census, Carleton Holmes was staying with an old friend from his Rugby School days, Algernon
Rutter, at Parkfield, a Georgian building in Hillingdon Heath, near Uxbridge, Middlesex, home of
Algernon's father, Daniel Rutter, a local magistrate and brick manufacturer6, no doubt having last-minute discussions about the future of the game of Rugby
Union and its rules.
July meeting of RFU accepted first 59 rules
Rutter, Holmes and Maton eventually drafted the first 59
rules of the game and had them accepted by the Special General Meeting of the RFU on 22 June 1871.
Their most important decision was the elimination of 'hacking'. Although William W. Ellis is generally
credited for having devised the rules of rugby, it was in fact "poor old Maton who was stuck at home with a broken
leg for weeks on end writing the rules of rugby."8
In 1873, Edward Carleton Holmes (Yngr) married Frances Rosa Davies in Aberystwyth, south
Wales from whence she came, but made their married home in 47 Springfield Road, Marylebone, London. A year
later, Frances Rosa bore Edward a son, Harry James Holmes, who by 1901 was
working as a solicitor's clerk in London.9
Carleton Holmes (Yngr) was 46 years old at the time he bought the 'Tregullow Offices' (later Zimapan) from
Sir William Robert Williams, the 3rd baronet of Tregullow,
Cornwall. See the first 1889 Indenture. Carleton Holmes's ownership of the 'Tregullow
Offices' was unusually short- lived as he quickly sold the property to barrister Charles Augustus Vansittart Conybeare. See the second 1889 Indenture.
Beckenham, Kent (1901)
Edward and Frances Carleton Holmes and their son Harry (27) were all living together at 19 Albemarle Road,
Beckenham, West Kent. Their household was being run by two domestic servants, a 54-year-old
cook-cum-domestic from Chiswick and a parlourmaid from Waddesdown, Buckinghamshire.10
Death of father (1909)
When Edward Carleton Holmes Snr died at Brookfield, Leominster, Sussex in 1901, he left £25,361
16s in his will, excluding freehold property (equivalent to £1,462,550 in today's (2011) money) to his two
surviving sons and his unmarried daughter, respectively: Edward Carleton Holmes (Yngr), John Sayers
Frederick Holmes Esq, and Mary Rhodes Carleton Holmes.11
Hove, Sussex (1932)
Edward Carleton Holmes (Yngr) moved to a Regency town house at 31 Brunswick Square, Hove, East Sussex. He died in
Hove on 9 April 1932 aged 89. In his will, he left £5,378, excluding freehold
property, to his son Harry James Carleton Holmes12 (equivalent to £180,000 in today's money). Carlton Holmes
also bequeathed £400 of his pecuniary estate to his Nurse Edith Muriel
Mr Edward Carleton Holmes, who drew up the first
code of laws of Rugby (Football) Union, died at Hove today [ed. 9 Apr] at the age of 90 [ed. 89]. Mr Carleton
Holmes was once a lawyer in Bloomsbury. He had rooms in Bedford Row, and it was there, with three companions,
all of whom are now dead, that they framed the rules of the game. It was he (ECH) who decided that for the good
of the game "hacking" should go.
He captained Richmond for five years from 1866 to
In 1866-67, the club only had three goals scored
against them. In the following year, only one goal and in 1869-69, two goals were scored against them. In 1869-70
no goals were scored against them.14
1. Baptism register, Ancestry.com. Bap. 10 Mar 1843.
2. The 1861 England Census.
3. Death certificate of Edward Carleton Holmes (Snr), 1909.
4. "Hacking was basically kicking your opponent! Around this time, rugby was a pretty
rustic game, which was basically one constant scrummage. Players (usually 20 a-side in those days) just gathered in
a mob around the ball...and kicked away at it. Hacking was the refined art of kicking the opposition in the
shins.'' Mike Roberts, authority on the history of Rugby Football Union, Barcelona, Spain, 2011.
Originally from Okehampton, Devon, England.
5. The 1871 England Census.
6. The 1871 England Census.
7. From Mike Roberts's forthcoming book The Same Old Game, based
on 10 years of research.
8. Walter Camp, the father of American football. (Mike Roberts, 2011).
9. The 1901 England Census.
10. The 1901 England Census.
11. National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills & Administrations)
12. National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills & Administrations)
13. The British Journal of Nursing, June 1932.
14. Obituary of Edward
Carleton Holmes, The Straights
Times, London, 23 April