Holmes would remain in jail from July to September of 1651. This was a time of separation from his wife Catherine (whom he was married to for over 50 years) and nine children: Joseph, John, Hope, Obadiah, Samuel, Martha, Mary, Jonathan, and Lydia.
On September 5, 1651 Obadiah Holmes was brought before the old State house to be whipped. Although he could have accepted deliverance, he denied it. Gaustad wrote,
“As the strokes began to fall, Holmes prayed once more and in truth, he later wrote, I never ‘had such a spiritual manifestation of God’s presence.’ And though the executioner spat upon his hands, and laid the three-corded whip ‘with all his strength’ thirty times across the prisoner’s bare back, yet ‘in a manner [I] felt it not.’ When the whipping was finished and Holmes was untied from the post, he turned to the magistrates and said, ‘You have struck me as with roses’.”
Holmes certainly paid a price for his faith as a Baptist and his desire for soul liberty. He was beaten in such an unmerciful manner that Governor Jenckes wrote,
“Mr. Holmes was whipt thirty stripes, and in such an unmerciful manner, that in many days, if not some weeks, he could take no rest but as he lay on his knees and elbows, not being able to suffer any part of his body to touch the bed whereon he lay.”
Because of this account John Clarke wrote a book titled Ill Newes from New England. In this publication Clarke stated, “That while old England is becoming new, New England is become old.” He further wrote,
“This tragedy being thus acted in the face of the Country, must needs awaken and rouse up the minds, and spirits of many, cause sad thoughts to arise in their hearts, and to flow forth at their mouths as men offended…”
The beating of Obadiah Holmes led to two major events. First, it prompted John Clarke to leave the colonies to sail to England. In doing so, he was able to attain the Royal Charter of 1663. Second, the First Baptist Church of Boston was established because of the sermons of Henry Dunster (the first president of Harvard University). Dunster was motivated to oppose infant baptism publicly because of the beating of Holmes.
John T. Christian, A History of the Baptists