Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 58.djvu/266

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Vermuyden
Vermuyden
258

then ordered to account for sums of money received by him to expedite the works; he failed to do so, and his share of the lands was sequestered to meet the demand (Wells, i. 256–7).

Meanwhile, ‘on 23 Sept. 1653 one of Cromwell's confidants—probably Sir Cornelius Vermuyden, the drainer of the Fens,’ was sent to Holland with ‘the most astounding proposal ever made by an Englishman to the minister of a foreign state’ (Gardiner, Commonwealth and Protectorate, ii. 349; Thurloe, ii. 125; another paper, however, addressed to Cromwell, extant in the Rawlinson MSS., and printed in Thurloe, iii. 652, on the possibility of the Swedes taking up the cause of Charles II and invading England, is attributed to Mr. John Vermuyden). The proposition was for a perpetual alliance, offensive and defensive, between England and Holland, mutual admission to civil rights, war against all princes maintaining the inquisition, and the partition of the remainder of the globe between the two powers, the whole of Asia falling to the Dutch, and the two Americas, with the exception of a portion of Brazil, to the English. The project originated with Vermuyden, but it met apparently with the approval of Cromwell and his party in the council of state (Gardiner, ii. 350–1; Verbael, pp. 149–53; Geddes, i. 364). The Dutch somewhat naturally declined this extraordinary overture, and the negotiation dwindled down to a question of alliance between the two powers.

Henceforth Vermuyden sinks into obscurity; his projects had resulted in great pecuniary losses, and he was compelled gradually to sell almost all his land, his last days being spent in poverty. The most various dates are assigned to his death. Wells (Hist. Bedford Level, i. 256–7) maintained that Vermuyden died in February or March 1655–6, soon after the appropriation of his lands by the Bedford company; but in the summer of that year he had turned his attention to Sedgemoor, which he was endeavouring to drain (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. App. p. 76; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1655–6, pp. 132, 337–8), and a bill enabling him to make an arrangement with the commoners was introduced into parliament on 27 Dec. (Burton, Parl. Diary, i. 259). Either he or his son was elected F.R.S. on 20 May 1663 (Thomson, Royal Soc. App. p. xxiii), and according to one account Sir Cornelius died on 27 Sept. 1665. Colonel Chester, however, identified him with the ‘Cornelius Fairmeadow, eques auratus,’ who was buried at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, London, on 6 April 1683, letters of administration being granted to his widow on the 20th (Notes and Queries, 6th ser. ii. 35, 8th ser. iii. 478).

Vermuyden married, about 1625, Katherine, daughter of Allsaints Lapps (sic) of London, and had a numerous family. He had seven children before 1635, all born in the parish of St. Dionys Backchurch (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1635, p. 593); the baptisms of six and burials of five are recorded in the registers of that church between 1628 and 1638 (Harl. Soc.). Cornelius, the eldest, born probably in 1626 in some other parish, is said to have been the colonel in the parliamentary army; he married Mary, daughter of Sir Compton Reade (Notes and Queries, 8th ser. iv. 152), was a shareholder in the Bedford Level Company, and was elected conservator in 1663; he had, however, left England before the Restoration, and his shares were eventually transferred to others. Before the end of the century Abraham de la Pryme [q. v.], the son of one of Sir Cornelius's original colleagues, was unable to trace the fortunes of the Vermuyden family (Pryme, Diary, Surtees Soc., pp. 126 sqq.; a Cornelius Vermuyden was, however, resident in Middlesex in 1690. Cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 13th Rep. App. v. 14). Another son, Charles, baptised on 22 Dec. 1637, graduated B.A. from Christ Church, Oxford, on 14 June 1661, was admitted a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians on 22 Dec. 1662, and married in 1667 Mary Upton of Hendon, Middlesex (Munk, Royal Coll. of Phys. i. 308; Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Chester, Lond. Marr. Lic. col. 1385; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. iv. 152). Descendants of Vermuyden's daughters, one of whom, Deborah, married Sir Francis Bickley, and another, Elizabeth, Sir Thomas Peneystone, still remain (ib. 6th ser. ii. 99, 8th ser. iii. 429, 478, iv. 152). In his old age Vermuyden seems to have married a second wife, Dionysia Stonhouse.

The Colonel Vermuyden who was active on the parliamentary side during the civil war was not Sir Cornelius, nor, as has always been assumed, his eldest son Cornelius, who was only seventeen in 1643. His christian name began with B, and possibly he was a younger brother of Sir Cornelius. He led a forlorn hope of dragoons at Winceby on 11 Oct. 1643 (Markham, Life of Fairfax, p. 120), was colonel in command of five troops of horse, and was quartermaster-general to Manchester, and in this capacity probably commanded his second line at Marston Moor (Mr. C. H. Firth in Trans. Royal Hist. Soc. 18 Nov. 1898). In May 1645 he was detached from Fairfax's army with 2,500 troops to reinforce