Holme, Edward (1770–1847), physician, son of Thomas Holme, farmer and mercer, was born at Kendal, Westmorland, on 17 February 1770. After attending Sedbergh School he spent two years at the Manchester Academy, from 1787 to 1789, and then went on to study at the universities of Göttingen and Edinburgh. He graduated MD at Leiden in December 1793, with a thesis entitled ‘De structura et usu vasorum absorbentium’.
Early in 1794 Holme began in practice at Manchester and he was elected one of the physicians to the infirmary there in April that year. He joined the Literary and Philosophical Society on settling in Manchester and was one of its vice-presidents from 1797 to 1844, when he succeeded his friend John Dalton as president. He became a member of the Linnean Society in 1799. Holme was one of the founders of the Portico Library, and its president for twenty-eight years. He was also a founder and the first president of both the Manchester Natural History Society and the Chetham Society. He was the first president of the medical section of the British Association at its inaugural meeting at York in 1831, and he presided over the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association in 1836.
Holme struggled to build up his practice for many years, but it was not until after the death of John Ferriar that he became a leader in the medical profession in Manchester, and the recognized head in all the local literary and scientific societies. He was well known for his extensive learning, which earned him the sobriquet, ‘the walking dictionary’, from Thomas Percival (The Lancet, 637), and he possessed a large and valuable library at his house on King's Street. Nevertheless, though he was known to ‘get “impetuously warm” in discussions with some of his friends’, he found expressing himself in writing difficult (Brockbank, 195). Of the fourteen essays contributed to the Literary and Philosophical Society on a range of antiquarian and literary topics, he published only