Fermor, Richard (DNB00)

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FERMOR or FERMOUR, RICHARD (d. 1552), merchant, of Welsh descent, was son and heir of Thomas Ricards, alias Fermor (d. 1485), by Emmotte, daughter and heiress of Simkin Hervey of Herefordshire, and widow of Henry Wenman. As a merchant of the staple of Calais he successfully and extensively engaged in commerce. He is generally described as a grocer, but he traded in silks, wheat, and all kinds of commodities. Early in 1513 he was granted by Margaret of Savoy, at Henry VIII's request, a passport, enabling him to export duty free from Flanders 36,000 rasières, i.e. 144,000 bushels of wheat (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, i. 472). On 5 Feb. in the same year, and again on 27 April 1515, he received from the English government licenses to export six hundred sacks of wool. On 22 July 1515 a ship, the Crist—Strype calls it ‘the Cast’—of which Fermor was chief owner, laden with wool for Italy, was driven on to the Zeeland coast, and some of the sailors were taken by Moorish pirates. On 1 Feb. 1520–1521 Fermor was stated to be 1,100l. in debt to the crown, and in 1523 400l. In December 1524 he seems to have visited Florence, and was of much financial assistance to John Clerk, Wolsey's agent, who was negotiating in Italy for Wolsey's election to the papacy. Fermor was one of the executors of Sir John Skevington, alderman of London (31 Dec. 1524). On 13 Oct. 1529 Wolsey owed 124l. 8s. 9d. to Fermor for silks supplied him. In November 1532 and November 1533 Fermor was on the roll of sheriffs for Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

Fermor amassed vast landed property. As early as 10 July 1512 he was granted several manors in Norfolk and Suffolk, lately the property of Edmund de la Pole, earl of Suffolk. Subsequently he obtained the manor of Easton Neston, Northamptonshire, where he took up his residence, and many estates in neighbouring counties. In April 1533 he, his brother William, and another were granted the next presentation to the living of Bradninch, Devonshire. His zeal as a Roman catholic combined with his wealth to bring upon him the animosity of the minister Cromwell. His confessor, Nicholas Thayne, was imprisoned at Buckingham in 1540. Fermor paid him a visit and gave him 8d. and two shirts. On 29 May (according to Stow) proceedings were taken against Fermor for this action under the statute of præmunire; he was committed to the Marshalsea prison, and after trial in Westminster Hall was stripped of all his property. He was soon allowed to retire to Wapenham, in the neighbourhood of Easton Neston, and lived in the parsonage there, the advowson of which had belonged to him. It is stated that Will Somers, the jester, had been in Fermor's service before he was transferred to the royal household. Somers deplored his former master's misfortunes, and mentioned the matter to Henry VIII. The king is said to have expressed regret and to have directed some reparation. In 1550, two years after Henry's death, Fermor was restored to his property. He died suddenly at Easton Neston 17 Nov. 1552, and was buried in the church there. He married Anne, daughter of Sir William Brown, lord mayor of London, by whom he had five sons and five daughters. His second and third sons, William and George, died in infancy. His fourth son, Thomas, succeeded to the property of William, his father's brother, at Somerton. Sir John Fermor, his eldest son, knighted 2 Oct. 1553, was elected M.P. for Northamptonshire 11 Sept. 1553 and 26 Sept. 1555, sheriff of the county 1557, and died 12 Dec. 1571. He married Maud, daughter of Nicholas, lord Vaux of Harrowden, Northamptonshire, by whom he had (with other issue) a son, George, who distinguished himself in the Low Countries, was knighted by Leicester in 1586, was sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1589, travelled in Italy, entertained James I and Queen Anne at Easton Neston 11 June 1603. Sir George married Mary Curson, and his heir, Sir Hatton, was father of Sir William Fermor [q. v.]

[Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, iv. 198 et seq.; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, ed. Brewer and Gairdner, 1512–35; Stow's Chronicle, 1614, p. 580; Hall's Chronicle, p. 142; Bridges's Northamptonshire, i. 292; Strype's Memorials, I. i. 7.]

S. L. L.