Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gomme, Bernard de

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GOMME, Sir BERNARD de (1620–1685), military engineer, a Dutchman, was born at Lille in 1620. In his youth he served in the campaigns of Frederick Henry, prince of Orange. He afterwards accompanied Prince Rupert to England, and was knighted by Charles I. He served with conspicuous ability in the royalist army as engineer and quartermaster-general from June 1642 to May 1646 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–1, p. 448). His plan of the fortifications and castle of Liverpool, dated 1644, is preserved in the British Museum, Sloane MS. 5027, A. art. 63. The original of his plan of the battle of Naseby, drawn up by Prince Rupert's orders, was sold with the collections of Rupert and Fairfax's papers at Sotheby's in June 1852 (lot 1443). The British Museum contains a more elaborate drawing of this plan, and also coloured military plans by Gomme of the battle of Marston Moor (2 July 1644) and the second fight at Newbury (27 Oct. 1644), all 48 by 20 inches. They with others are in Addit. MSS. 16370 and 16371. On 15 June 1649 Gomme received a commission from Charles II, then at Breda, to be quartermaster-general of all forces to be raised in England and Wales (ib. 1649–50, p. 188). At the Restoration he petitioned for a pension and employment as engineer and quartermaster-general; he also produced a patent for the place of surveyor-general of fortifications, dated 30 June 1645, and confirmed by the king at Breda on 15 June 1649 (ib. 1660–1661, p. 204). The engineers' places were filled, and the surveyor-generalship was not a permanent appointment; but Gomme received a life pension of 300l. a year (ib. 1665–6, p. 421). In March 1661 he was made engineer-in-chief of all the king's castles and fortifications in England and Wales, with a fee of 13s. 4d. a day, and an allowance of 20s. a day for ‘riding charges’ when employed on the king's immediate service (ib. 1660–1, p. 558, 1661–2, pp. 155, 281). Among his first tasks were the repairs of Dover pier, the erection of fortifications at Dunkirk, and the surveying of Tilbury Fort. On 10 Jan. 1664–5 the treasury were recommended to make regular payment of his pension, ‘as the king had immediate occasion for him at Tangier’ (ib. 1664–5, pp. 167–8). In August 1665 instructions were given for making the fortifications at Portsmouth according to the plans prepared by Gomme (ib. 1664–5, p. 510). His estimates and plans for the works are in Addit. MSS. 16370 and 28088, f. 26. On 14 Nov. of the same year the king directed him to give his assistance to commissioners for making the Cam navigable, and establishing a communication with the Thames. Three days later he received a commission to build a new citadel on the Hoe of Plymouth (ib. 1665–6, pp. 57, 61). On 15 Nov. 1666 the officers of ordnance were authorised to make a bridge after a model prepared for Gomme for the safer bringing in of explosives (ib. 1666–7 p. 261, 1667 p. 52). In March 1667 he accompanied the Duke of York to Harwich, which it was proposed to entrench completely all round (ib. 1666–7 p. 577, 1667 pp. 70, 77). On returning to London he was summoned to give advice for fortifying the Medway and Portsmouth, as well as Harwich (Pepys, Diary, ed. 1854, iii. 90). In May 1667 he was employed at Plymouth (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1667, pp. 128, 136, 187). In 1673 and 1675 he was making surveys about Dublin. An interesting document was exhibited at the Royal Irish Academy in 1861, and privately printed by Charles Haliday of Dublin, entitled ‘Observations explanatory of a plan and estimate for a citadel at Dublin, designed by Sir Bernard de Gomme, Engineer-General in the year 1673, with his Map,’ &c. A reference to Gomme's ‘design of building a fort-royal on the strand near Ringsend,’ in the neighbourhood of Dublin, occurs in the report of the elder Sir Jonas Moore, surveyor-general of ordnance, drawn up in 1675 and printed in ‘Letters written by Arthur Capel, Earl of Essex, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland,’ &c., 4to, London, 1770 (p. 167). On the death of Sir Jonas Moore the younger in July 1682, Gomme was appointed surveyor-general of ordnance (Chamberlayne, Angliæ Notitia, ed. 1684, pt. ii. p. 219). He died on 23 Nov. 1685, and was buried on the 30th of that month in the chapel of the Tower of London (Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. ix. 252). By his will dated 4 and proved at London on 27 Nov. 1685 (P. C. C. 134, Cann) he left liberal legacies to the Dutch Church in London and to Christ's Hospital. He mentions his manor of Wadnall, or Waddenhall, in Waltham and Petham in Kent. He married, first, Katherine van Deniza, widow of Adrian (?) Beverland, by whom he had a daughter, Anna, married to John Riches. Their daughter was Catherine Bovey [q. v.] The ‘son’ of Gomme mentioned as living in December 1665 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1665–6, p. 95) was probably his stepson, Adrian Beverland, to whom he bequeathed 2,000l. Gomme married secondly, by license dated 15 Oct. 1667, Catherine Lucas of Bevis Marks, a widow of fifty ({sc|Chester}}, London Marriage Licences, ed. Foster, col. 562), who died a few weeks before him, and was buried in the Tower chapel 19 Oct. 1685. A miniature portrait in oil of Gomme is prefixed to a collection of plans (executed probably for him) illustrating the campaigns of the Prince of Orange between 1625 and 1645, preserved at the British Museum in George III's library, No. cii. 21.

[Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–7; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. ix. 221–2, 252, 3rd ser. iv. 338–339, 6th ser. v. 246–7, 332–3, 391.]

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