DERING, Sir Chomeley, 4th Bt. (1679-1711), of Surrenden Dering, Pluckley, Kent
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Family and Education
b. 23 June 1679, s. of Sir Edward Dering, 3rd Bt.†, of Surrenden Dering by Elizabeth (d. 1704), da. of Sir William Chomeley, 2nd Bt., of Whitby, Yorks., niece of Sir Hugh Chomeley, 4th Bt.† educ. M. Temple 1697, New Coll. Oxf. 1697. m. 17 July 1704, Mary (d. 1707), da. and h. of Edward Fisher of Fulham, Mdx., 2s. suc. fa. as 4th Bt. 1689.1
Dering, who came from a well-established parliamentary family, was left in the care of his mother after his father’s death. Having ‘travelled much about England in 1695’, he was entered early in 1697 at both the Middle Temple and Oxford. He seems to have spent some time at the university, for in November 1699 the future Viscount Perceval (John†) wrote to say that Dering had welcomed him to Oxford. Shortly after attaining his majority Dering was appointed in April 1701 to the lieutenancy for Kent, and in February 1702 to the commission of the peace. With his marriage in 1704 to a ‘great fortune and pretty young lady’, he was well set to reassert his family’s claim to one of the Kentish county seats.2
Dering was duly returned at the top of the poll at the 1705 election. On an analysis of the new Parliament he was classed as a ‘Churchman’, and on 25 Oct. 1705 he voted against the Court candidate for Speaker. Having been listed as a Tory early in 1708, he was defeated at the general election of that year, but found refuge at Saltash where James Buller* brought him in at a by-election in December. In the 1708–9 session Dering was arrested by two constables at a tavern near the Royal Exchange in company with the Earls of Denbigh and Craven, Buller and Thomas ‘Leigh’ (possibly Thomas Legh II*). The first three would become members of the ‘Board of Brothers’, a Tory club to which Dering was also elected on 31 Mar. 1710. In the 1709–10 session he voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.3
In the 1710 election Dering was returned for both Kent and Saltash. He chose on 4 Dec. to sit for the former, but not before he had written to Buller complaining of the behaviour of his opponent there, and adding, ‘I hope this Parliament will take some care to prevent if possible the bribery that is at almost all elections, or the country gentleman will be undone’. He was listed as a Tory on the ‘Hanover list’, and as one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who in the 1710–11 session detected the mismanagements of the previous administration. On 15 Dec. 1710 he acted as a teller on a local matter, against a motion to add four names to the list of land tax commissioners for Kent. Similarly, as befitted a knight of the shire, he was first-named on 14 Feb. 1711 to a committee considering a request from Greenwich for £6,000 to rebuild their parish church. He was also a member of the October Club.4
Dering’s death on 9 May 1711, several hours after a duel with Richard Thornhill of Olantigh, a Kentish neighbour, was the subject of much contemporary comment, and resulted in the Commons ordering on 12 May a new bill to prevent duelling. The original quarrel between Dering and Thornhill had taken place on 27 Apr. at the Board of Brothers’ meeting at the Toy Tavern in Hampton Court. Thornhill apparently ‘affronted’ Lord Scarsdale and refused Dering’s suggestion that he apologize. In the ensuing scuffle Dering knocked Thornhill down and kicked or stamped on him, dislodging several teeth. Thornhill subsequently recovered, and challenged Dering. The duel was fought in Tothill Fields, where the participants discharged pistols at a sword’s length. Thornhill was found guilty of manslaughter at the Old Bailey on 18 May, after witnesses had given evidence on his behalf that Dering was often ‘troublesome in company’. However, on 21 May Thornhill was murdered by two men on Turnham Green. Dering had been due to remarry ‘in Whitsun week’, the week following the duel, and according to Anne Delaune he made a will the night before his death in which he bequeathed his intended bride £500 p.a. In fact, an examination of his will reveals only a codicil, dated 8 May, in which his ‘cousin’, Jane Tryor, who may have been the lady in question, was left the use of his mansion house at Surrenden Dering till his heir attained the age of 21, and was made an overseer of his will in place of his deceased mother-in-law. Dering was succeeded by his eldest son, Edward†.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. Sloane 1770, f. 136; F. Haslewood, Pluckley Monuments, 14.
- 2. PCC 251 Ash; Egerton 2378, f. 9v.; HMC Egmont ii. 191; CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 292; info. from Prof. N. Landau; HMC Portland, iv. 113.
- 3. Add. 70420, newsletter 5 Mar. 1708–9; 49360, f. 21.
- 4. Speck thesis, 328; Boyer, Pol. State, iii. 117.
- 5. Add. 49360, ff. 52–53; 47026, f. 68; 28569, f. 106; Top. and Gen. iii. 381–2; HMC Portland, iv. 686; Swift Stella, 264–5; BL, Trumbull Misc. mss, 56, Anne Delaune to Sir William Trumbull*, 13 May 1711; Hearne Colls. iii. 160, 164; PCC 127 Young.