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The last of the Norfolk Derehams

of edlest Derebam.



In the modern chapel of the English College, Rome, a handsome monument has been re-erected, which is one of those saved from destruction, when the French Revolutionary troops, after their capture of the Eternal City, destroyed the ancient chapel. The bas-relief, representing the person to whom the monument was dedicated, is the only portrait of him known to exist. The inscription tells us his name and title, and something of his life.

D. 0. M.
Thomas Dereham de Dereham
Magnæ Brittania Baronettus

Ob veræ Religionis amorem
Patriæ ad Catholicos Profugus

Familiæ suæ postremus

A Nuptiis abstinuit
Ne fides in Deum ac legitimum Regem

Sancte ab ipso servata
Posteris in Discrimen venirit
Hanc Pietatis suæ constantiam
Sepulcrali lapide testatam voluit.
Obiit VII. Febru. A. S. MDCCXXXIX.

Vixit an. LIX. Menses X. Dies XI.


D. 0. M.

Thomas Dereham of Dereham,

Baronet of Great Britain,
For the love of the true Religion
A fugitive from his Country to Catholics,

The last of his family,

Abstained from marriage
Lest loyalty to God and to his lawful king,

So faithfully maintained by himself,
Should be endangered by his posterity.

This constancy of his devotion
He willed should be attested by this sepulcral slab.
He died 7 February, in the year of our Saviour, 1739.

He lived 59 years, 10 months, and 11 days. In order to set forth all the circumstances of history, politics, and religion, that influenced and went to form the character of this little known Norfolk worthy, it would be necessary to begin at least as far back as the days of the "great pillage,” when the Premonstratensian Abbey of West Dereham still towered above the wide Norfolk fenlands, then almost covered with water. Founded in 1188 by the Dean of York, Hubert Walter, who became Archbishop of that See, and the builder of the exquisite early English transept of York Minster, the Monastery grew in splendour and wealth till the days of the destroyer. The foul Ap Rice coveted the rich lands and treasures of the Abbey. To secure these he offered a large share of the plunder to Thomas Cromwell, the Vicar General of Henry VIII., and Ap Rice besmirched the monks unmercifully, so that public opinion might approve their expulsion and spoliation.'

1 The Rev. Denny Gedge in his History of a l'illage Community (Methwold) says, “It is not in any way credible that, if Ap Rice's accusation were true or credited, the Abbot, Roger Forman, would have got the unusually large pension, $66. 138. 4il." (cf. Abbot Gasquet, Henry VIII. and the Monasteries, and l'ictoria County History, Norfolk, vol. ii., p. 418).

The site of the Abbey, however, was, in 1541, granted to, or, according to Spelman and Blomefield, the Historian of Norfolk, was purchased by a Thomas Dereham of Crimplesham, a village in the immediate neighbourhood. In his pedigree, Thomas claimed descent from the de Derehams, who were signatories of the first charter. He assumed the arms of the Monastery, three Bucks' Heads, omitting the Abbatial Croziers, which formerly adorned them. Spelman? tells us that, shortly after his purchase of the Abbey, “he (Thomas Dereham) was fetched out of it to the Tower, about the treason of his brother, Francis Dereham, who was executed. Thomas was at length delivered out of prison.” This is confirmed by the pedigree of the family in the Visitations of Norfolk, vol. i., where the eldest brother, Francis, appears as “ Traitor, executed,” no doubt the ill-starred youth, the accepted lover and secretary of Queen Catherine Howard, who shared with her the terrible expiation of a traitor's death. We may well suppose that, to the favour of her uncle, the second Duke of Norfolk, the Derehams-his retainers and, apparently, his relatives--owed their spoil.

This new Lord of Dereham married a daughter of Sir John Audley of Swaffham. In addition to the Abbey lands, Thomas (2), his son and heir, who married Amphillis, the youngest daughter of Sir Francis Lovell, received through this marriage some additional Lordships

Mr. Rye of Norwich, the well-known archæologist, has “grave doubts as to the early part of the Dereham pedigree." It seems to him that “a man of the name of Deulon bought the property and assumed the arms and name of Dereham.- Private Communication.

2 History and Fute of Sacrilege, new edition, London, 1888, p. 156.

3 Sir Francis was son to the celebrated Sir Thomas Lovell, K.G., and Chancellor to Henry VII.

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