DERING, Sir Edward (1598-1644), of Surrenden Dering, Pluckley, Kent

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1640 (Nov.) - 2 Feb. 1642

Family and Education

b. 28 Jan. 1598, 1st s. of Sir Anthony Dering† of Surrenden Dering and his 2nd w. Frances, da. of Sir Robert Bell† of Beaupré Hall, Outwell, Norf., Speaker 1572-6. educ. Westminster sch.; Magdalene, Camb. 1615-17; M. Temple 1617; travelled abroad (France) 1620. m. (1) 25 Nov. 1619 (with £3,000), Elizabeth (d. 24 Jan. 1622), da. of Sir Nicholas Tufton* of Hothfield, Kent, 1s. d.v.p.; (2) 1 Jan. 1625, Anne (d. 13 Apr. 1628), da. of Sir John Ashburnham of Ashburnham, Suss., 1s. 1da.; (3) 16 July 1629 (with £2,000), Unton (d. 10 Nov. 1676), da. of Sir Ralph Gibbes of Honington, Warws., 2s. 2da. kntd. 22 Jan. 1619; cr. bt. 1 Feb. 1627; suc. fa. 1636. d. 22 June 1644.1

Offices Held

Commr. sewers, Mersham and Sandwich, Kent 1620-at least 1625,2 Rother valley, Kent and Suss. 1623-at least 1639,3 Dengemarsh, Kent 1624-at least 1636;4 freeman, Hythe, Kent 1625;5 j.p. Kent 1626-42;6 commr. piracy, Cinque Ports 1629-at least 1630;7 lt. Dover Castle 1629-34/5;8 commr. knighthood fines, Kent and the Cinque Ports 1630-at least 1632,9 highways repair, Kent 1631,10 subsidy 1641, array 1642.11

Gent. of the privy chamber extraordinary 1627.12

Capt. of horse (roy.) 1642, col. 1643-4.13


Dering, an eminent antiquary, traced his descent from a sheriff of Kent in the reign of King Stephen. The family lived near Lydd until 1430, when they acquired by marriage a manor in Pluckley, renamed Surrenden Dering.14 Dering’s great-grandfather became the first of the family to sit for a Kentish constituency when he was elected for New Romney in 1547. Dering himself was born in the Tower of London, where his father often deputized for John Peyton† during the last years of Elizabeth.15 As a boy he attended Westminster school. At the age of 17 he was admitted to Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he was tutored by his cousin, Francis Dering.16 It was perhaps at Magdalene that he developed a taste for antiquarian scholarship. Certainly not long after he left the college he purchased several books on heraldry at a cost of more than £22.17 In January 1619, a few days before his 21st birthday, he was knighted at Newmarket ‘through the means and favour of the marquess of Buckingham’, for which honour he paid £160, plus a further £43 in fees.18 He married ten months later, whereupon an estate with a rental income of £423 a year was settled on him.19

Dering travelled to Calais and Gravelines for a couple of days in August 1620, and two months later set up house at Surrenden. He spent the summer of 1621 in Ireland, where he visited a cousin.20 Following the death of his wife in 1622, Dering, now in his mid-twenties, began to seek preferment. In May 1623 he secured a promise from Sir Thomas Wotton, who expected shortly to succeed Lord Zouche as lord warden of the Cinque Ports, that he would be appointed lieutenant of Dover Castle.21 However, when, in the autumn of 1624, Zouche did eventually relinquish office it was not to Wotton but to the royal favourite, Buckingham, now a duke, who promptly installed Sir John Hippisley* as lieutenant. It may have been this setback which led Dering shortly thereafter to seek entry into Buckingham’s circle. Towards the end of 1624 he offered to marry the young Anne Ashburnham, whose brother John Ashburnham* was one of the duke’s household servants. Anne’s mother Elizabeth was delighted at this proposal, and promised to use her influence with Buckingham, and that of her friends and family, to procure for Dering some preferment. Although unable to provide her daughter with a dowry, she may also have hinted that, once the marriage had taken place and her financial situation had improved, she would scrape together £1,000 and bestow it on Dering; but if so she was careful never to make such a pledge before witnesses.22 Dering was so eager to secure to improve his situation that he readily agreed to these terms, and on New Year’s Day 1625 his marriage to Anne Ashburnham was celebrated in Buckingham’s lodgings at Whitehall.23

Having gained access to Buckingham’s circle, Dering was now a serious contender for a seat in Parliament. In April 1625 he was recommended to the corporation of Hythe by Sir Norton Knatchbull* of nearby Mersham Hatch as a ‘gentleman in my opinion without exception, religious, learned, stout, and in every way worthy of such a place of trust’. Knatchbull further informed the corporation that Buckingham, who as lord warden of the Cinque Ports had the right to nominate one of the borough’s Members, would ‘without question’ approve of Dering were he to be chosen, as Dering had ‘lately matched in his family’.24 Unfortunately for Dering, however, this assurance was misplaced, as Buckingham, perhaps irritated that Dering had not approached him directly, subsequently threw his weight behind Edward Clarke* and Sir Allen Apsley. Hythe nevertheless proved unwilling to disappoint Knatchbull, and elected Dering regardless. A short while later a grateful Dering paid a visit on Knatchbull at Mersham Hatch before travelling to Hythe, where he took the oath of a freeman, for which privilege he paid £1 2s. He also lavished white wine and sugar on the voters at a cost of £3 6s. However, in early June, doubtless in the hope of placating the favourite, he bought Buckingham a couple of mastiffs.25

Dering supported secretary of state Sir Albertus Morton* in the 1625 Kent county election. Once at Westminster he bought a catalogue of all the names of his fellow Members. He also paid the fees due to the clerk of the Commons and the serjeant-at-arms on 23 June, but played no recorded part in the Westminster sitting. He arrived in Oxford in good time for the resumed session, spending in diet there between 29 July and 15 Aug. the modest sum of £2 15s. He was the first of those given leave on 4 Aug. to come into the House without receiving the sacrament, but left no further trace on its records.26

Mindful of the error he had made in not approaching Buckingham for a seat, Dering resolved to speak to the duke in person to request a burgess-ship when a fresh Parliament was summoned at the end of 1625. He made his way to Dover, expecting that the favourite would pass through the port on his way back to London from The Hague, but not finding Buckingham there he wrote to his mother-in-law asking her to intercede on his behalf. However, Elizabeth Ashburnham was not able to speak to her son John until 13 Jan., by which time Buckingham had already sent out his letters of nomination. The duke subsequently assured her that he would have nominated Dering had he known that he wanted a place. Dissatisfied, Elizabeth turned next to Buckingham’s secretaries, Edward Nicholas* and John Packer*, who claimed that Dering might still obtain a seat if one of Buckingham’s clients was double returned. She also approached the lord keeper (Sir Thomas Coventry*), who proved equally unable to help.27 Left without a seat, Dering, who bought another list of the names of the Commons’ Members, had to be content with being kept informed of the activities of the 1626 Parliament by his cousin, the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, Sir John Skeffington*.28

Towards the end of 1626 Dering seems to have despaired that his mother-in-law would ever secure him the advancement she had promised. At the very least he decided to take matters into his own hand, for during November he called on Buckingham no less than four times. Further visits followed,29 and in January 1627 he was sworn in as a gentleman-extraordinary of the king’s privy chamber. Shortly thereafter his status was enhanced with a baronetcy. Early in April 1627 Dering was issued by the Privy Council with a warrant granting him access to any and all ancient records without payment of fee, as ‘we have good hope and assurance that by his endeavours therein he may be the more enabled to promote the public service’. 30 The nature of the ‘public service’ that Dering was expected to promote was not specified, but it may have been hoped that Dering would uncover documents that might help the Crown to justify the Forced Loan, which had encountered widespread resistance. Whether Dering ever made use of this warrant is unclear, but his abilities as an antiquarian scholar were doubtful, as he is known to have tampered with historical documents in order to falsify his own pedigree.31 At the parliamentary elections of 1628, Dering stood for one of the Kent county seats, but despite the support of Buckingham’s client Sir Edwin Sandys he was defeated by Sir Dudley Digges*. He subsequently turned his attentions to New Romney, but although he received a letter of nomination from Buckingham he was again rejected.32

In April 1628 Dering found himself once more a widower. His finances were now in a parlous condition, for although his father had already transferred some of the family estate to him, he was heavily in debt.33 Not surprisingly, therefore, he became one of the many aspirants to the hand of the wealthy widow Elizabeth Bennett. He pursued her relentlessly, but she rejected him for his kinsman Heneage Finch*, whereupon he married the daughter of a Warwickshire gentleman, who brought with her a dowry of £2,000.34

In 1629 Dering at last attained the office that he had coveted since 1623. He replaced Hippisley as lieutenant of Dover Castle, having entered into negotiations for the position the previous year.35 He quickly earned a commendation from the Privy Council, but finding the place more trouble and less profitable than he had expected,36 he gave it up. In 1635, complaining that he had never been ‘gratified or benefited’ by the Ashburnham family or their friends, he prosecuted his former mother-in-law, Elizabeth Ashburnham, now Lady Cramond, for failing to honour her promise to pay him £1,000 as a dowry. She naturally denied ever having made such a pledge.37 Defeated again at the county election in the spring of 1640, Dering was successful in the autumn but was disabled from sitting in the Long Parliament for printing his speech in favour of modified episcopacy. In spite of ill health, he subsequently took up arms for the king until, disgusted by the agreement reached with the Catholic rebels in Ireland, he accepted an offer of pardon from Parliament in 1644.38 He died intestate on 22 June of a brain tumour, and was buried at Pluckley. Administration of his estate was granted to his widow on 3 October.39 His son, the second baronet, sat for the county in the Convention and for Hythe in the Exclusion Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Peter Lefevre / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 208; Berry, Peds. Kent Fams. 398; Diaries and Pprs. of Sir Edward Dering 2nd Bart. 1644-84 ed. M.F. Bond, 109; Cent. Kent. Stud. U350/E4, unfol., entries of 5 and 11 Aug. 1620; Oxford DNB, xv. 875.
  • 2. C181/3, ff. 4, 157v.
  • 3. Ibid. f. 94; 181/5, f. 144.
  • 4. C181/3, f. 134v; 181/5, f. 40v.
  • 5. E. Kent Archives Cent., H1209, f. 201.
  • 6. Cal. of the Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry, 1625-40 ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv), 58; Cal. Assize Recs. Kent Indictments, Chas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 421.
  • 7. C181/3, f. 247; 181/4, f. 48.
  • 8. Add. 49977, f. 51; CSP Dom. 1634-5, p. 134; 1635-6, p. 243.
  • 9. E178/7154, f. 88c; 178/5368, unfol.; Stowe 743, f. 85.
  • 10. C181/4, f. 88.
  • 11. SR, v. 85; Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 12. Cent. Kent. Stud. U350/E4, unfol., entry of 23 Jan. 1627.
  • 13. Arch. Cant. xxi. 234; P.R. Newman, Roy. Officers in Eng. and Wales, 107.
  • 14. E. Hasted, Kent, vii. 465-8.
  • 15. Procs. in Kent ed. L.B. Larking (Cam. Soc. lxxx), viii.; N and Q (ser. 1), iii. 220.
  • 16. Bodl. ms Gough.Kent.20, p. 2.
  • 17. Cent. Kent. Stud. U350/E4, unfol., entries in payments for 3rd quarter of 1619.
  • 18. Oxford DNB, xv. 874; Cent. Kent. Stud. U350 E/4, unfol., entry of 22 Jan. 1619.
  • 19. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 155-6; Bodl., ms Gough.Kent.20, p. 31.
  • 20. Bodl., ms Gough.Kent.20, pp. 8-9, 23; Cent. Kent. Stud. U350/E4, unfol., entries of 5 and 11 Aug. 1620. Lismore Pprs. (ser. 1) ed. A.B. Grosart, ii. 20; Oxford DNB, xv. 874.
  • 21. Bodl. ms Gough.Kent.20, p. 27.
  • 22. C2/Chas.I/D31/40. For the jointure arrangements, see Cent. Kent. Stud. U275/T2.
  • 23. Oxford DNB, xv. 874.
  • 24. G. Wilks, Barons of Cinque Ports and Parl. Rep. of Hythe, 76.
  • 25. Cent. Kent. Stud. U350/E4, unfol. entries of 21 Apr. and 4 June 1625.
  • 26. Procs. 1625, pp. 385, 687; Cent. Kent. Stud. U350/E4, unfol. entry of 23 June 1625.
  • 27. Procs. in Kent, x-xii. The letter is undated, but internal evidence clearly indicates that it was written on about 15 or 16 Jan. 1626.
  • 28. Cent. Kent. Stud., U350/C2/8; U350/E4, unfol. entry in list of payments for 1-20 Feb. 1626.
  • 29. Cent. Kent. Stud. U350/E4, unfol. entries of 2 Nov., 14 Nov., 18 Nov. and 30 Nov. 1626; 17 Dec. 1626; 8 Jan. and 20 Jan. 1627.
  • 30. Cent. Kent. Stud. U1107/Z3.
  • 31. F. Heal and C. Holmes, The Gentry in Eng. and Wales 1500-1700, p. 37.
  • 32. Procs. 1628, vi. 152, 156.
  • 33. Oxford DNB, xv. 875.
  • 34. Procs. in Kent, xvi-xxxiii; Oxford DNB, xv. 875.
  • 35. For mention of earlier negotiations, see Cent. Kent. Stud. U350/C2/19.
  • 36. APC, 1629-30, p. 325; Add. 52798A, f. 46; Cent. Kent. Stud. U350/C2/36.
  • 37. C2/Chas.I/D31/40.
  • 38. Oxford DNB, xv. 878.
  • 39. Cent. Kent. Stud. PRC 22/119, f. 66.