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Fermor, William (1623?-1661) (DNB00)

FERMOR, FARMER, or FERMOUR, Sir WILLIAM (1623?–1661), royalist, was the eldest son of Sir Hatton Fermor, knt., of Easton Neston, Northamptonshire, by his second wife, Anna, daughter of Sir William Cokayne [q. v.], lord mayor of London. Sir Hatton Fermor, the great-grandson of Richard Fermor [q. v.], was knighted by James I in 1603, and died in 1640, when Dame Anna applied for the wardship of her son, who was under age (State Papers, Dom. Charles I, 1640–1, p. 218). In the following year William was created a baronet, 6 Sept. (Burke, Dorm. and Ext. Peerage, p. 608), by the king, who also gave him the command of a troop of horse, and afterwards made him a privy councillor to Prince Charles. Fermor lived peaceably, though with greatly diminished means, at Easton Neston during the Commonwealth. He had to compound for his estates to the amount of 1,400l., being allowed, however, to collect his own rents on condition of paying them in to the use of the government (Dring, Cat. and R. Comp. Papers, 1st ser. xxvi. f. 51). In 1651, the authorities having discovered that Fermor had four or five years before married Mary, daughter of Hugh Perry of London, and widow of Henry Noel, second son of Viscount Camden, who brought him an estate of 300l., they obliged him to compound for that also (ib. f. 51). Probably from a private grudge, efforts were made by two Northamptonshire gentlemen, Willoughby and Digby, on different occasions, to ruin his character with the government. Fermor was summoned before the council, but it having been proved that the reports against him were slanderous, and that Willoughby and Digby had each challenged him to fight a duel, they were sent to the Tower and forced to apologise to Fermor, while he was commended for his behaviour ‘as a man of honour’ (State Papers, Dom. 1653, p. 477, 1644, pp. 203, 219, 220, 224, 226, 287). In 1655 a further charge was brought against Fermor of destroying the Protector's deer and encouraging deer-stealers, but, though summoned again before the council, no punishment is recorded (ib. 1655, p. 254). A Major Farmer was sent in 1659 with a troop of horse to secure Carlisle for Monck, but failed in the attempt, Elton, who commanded in the city, inducing the soldiers to keep him out (Baker, Chronicle, 1679, p. 665). At the Restoration Fermor's fortunes revived. In May 1660 he took his seat on the privy council (see warrant signed by him, 31 May, Eg. MS. 2542, f. 361); and on 2 April following was returned M.P. for Brackley (Parl. Blue Book, i. 625), being also deputy-lieutenant for Northamptonshire (State Papers, Dom. Charles II, 1661, p. 47). On 18 April he was created a knight of the Bath, and on the 23rd took part in the coronation, his last appearance in public. He died three weeks afterwards, 14 May, a few days after the meeting of the Cavalier parliament, having been too ill to take his seat. Collins ascribes his death to small-pox, caught while assisting in the ceremonies of the knights of the Bath at the coronation; but there is no other authority for this statement, which may have arisen from the fact that Lady Fermor's first husband died of that disease (funeral sermon on ‘Lady Mary Farmer’ by John Dobson). Sir William was buried at Easton Neston. His wife, by whom he had five sons and two daughters, survived him ten years (d. 1670). The eldest son, William, was raised to the peerage by the title of Lord Leominster or Lempster in 1692, while his son ans successor, Thomas, became the first earl of Pomfret in 1721.

[Collins's Peerage (ed. 1812), iv. 214, 215; Bridges's Northamptonshire, i. 144, 276; Northamptonshire Notes and Queries, vol. iii. pt. xix. pp. 78–80.]

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