DAMET, Thomas (d.1618), of Great Yarmouth, Norf.
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Family and Education
Prob. s. of Robert Damet, vintner, of Great Yarmouth by his w. Agnes (d.1589). educ. ?G. Inn 1560. m. (1) by 1579, Anne; (2) 1590, Alice; (3) Grace; 1s. 1da.
Freeman, Great Yarmouth by 1568, town clerk and attorney of borough court ?1568-73, alderman from 1574-1613, bailiff 1577-8, 1592-3, 1602-3.1
In 1570 Damet and another merchant bought ‘a fair, ancient and stately’ building which later became the customs house. Damet relinquished his claim on it in 1581, soon afterwards renting from the corporation a section of the old Greyfriars building. A condition attached to the lease required him to provide lodging for any ‘man of honour’ visiting the town, a clause invoked by the corporation when they entertained the lord high admiral in the Armada year. Damet waited upon the Queen at Norwich during a royal progress in 1578, meeting Sir Nicholas Bacon at Mettingham castle, when he ‘desired his favour to the town’. Although the Queen was prevented from visiting Yarmouth because of plague, Damet and other townsmen ‘royally feasted’ some of her retinue, including the Earl of Leicester, Lord Burghley and Sir Francis Walsingham.
Damet moved to a house between Middlegate and the quay about the time of his second marriage, which brought him more property in the town. His third gave him a country house at Rishangles, Suffolk. The corporation did ‘like very well of ... his proceedings’ in his first Parliament and he was re-elected four times. When he was appointed to a committee discussing the keeping of the Sabbath day, 27 Nov. 1584, the clerk called him Mr. ‘Daniel’, but by 19 Dec. he was ‘Mr. Damet’ on a committee dealing with the navy, ecclesiastical livings and other unspecified matters. There is no recorded activity for him in 1586. As one of the Yarmouth burgesses in 1593 he could have attended the salted fish committee, 5 Mar., and another on kerseys, 23 Mar. He spoke ‘in behalf of Yarmouth’ on 7 Nov. 1601, asking that it should be excused from the contribution ‘in respect it is a haven town’, and he was probably the ‘one of the burgesses of Yarmouth’ who spoke on customs procedure, 19 Nov. 1601. On 3 Dec. he spoke twice about ‘the great dishonour both unto the Queen and unto the Kingdom’ caused by the Dunkirk pirates:
the navies are the walls of the kingdom: but we suffer our ships still to be destroyed, some to be burnt, some to be sunk. We may compare our seamen to sheep feeding upon a fair mountain, in the midst whereof stands a little grove of wolves.
His ‘humble motion’ was supported by Sir Robert Cecil who thought it ‘a matter in mine opinion very considerable’, and suggested a commitment. Damet then requested ‘some masters of ships and seamen might be sent for to attend at the committee’, rather spoiling things thereafter by asking that Great Yarmouth should be excused from paying any contribution towards the subsidy. During the course of the first Stuart Parliament he became ‘very sick’. In his will, dated 4 Apr. 1617, (a copy is among the borough records) he appointed the corporation his executor, and left four houses for poor seamen’s widows. He died 18 Mar. 1618, and was buried at Great Yarmouth. Damet is now accepted as the author of the first history of Great Yarmouth, formerly attributed to Henry Manship. He also wrote a preface to the first volume of harbour accounts, made a collection of charters, and compiled ‘a very fair book of parchment’ for use as evidence of Great Yarmouth’s privileges in a dispute with the Cinque Ports. Damet’s son and heir, Edward, who disappeared about 1612, returned to the town after his father’s death to claim the estate. He had dissipated this by 1625, when the corporation granted him a small dole.2
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: N. M. Fuidge
- 1. Rylands Eng. ms 311; Cal. Yarmouth Freemen, 41, 54; C. J. Palmer, Yarmouth, 302 n; Norf. Arch. XIV. 92; xxxiii(2), pp. 119-28; Yarmouth ass. bks. 1570-9, 1579-98, 1598-1625 passim; H. Manship, Yarmouth, ed. Palmer, 422; H. Le Strange, Norf. Official Lists, 160.
- 2. Norf. Arch. xxxiii(2); Yarmouth ass. bk. 1579-98, passim; APC, xxv. 400; Manship, 186, 264, 423; Palmer, 89, 200, 302; HMC 9th Rep. pt. 1, 307; D’Ewes, 333, 343, 487, 507, 665-6; HMC Hatfield, xi. 485; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 227, 280-1, 282.