William Jermy's Library

Bookplate of William Jermy of Bayfield c. 1745

From a volume (Blomefield's History of Norfolk) in the original Bayfield Hall Library, and later in the possession of the Gwyn family.
Jermy arms impaling Richardson. 1. Jermy, 2. Bigot, 3. Mounteney, 4. Chare, 5. Starkey, 6. Jermy

Among the collections of the Norfolk Record Office is the manuscript Catalogue of the Library of William Jermy Esq of Bayfield. It consists of 40 pages, and lists the authors, titles and the dates of 941 books in his library. It is not known who wrote the list, or when exactly it was created, but since the books range in dates from 1493 to 1751, it was presumably created shortly after the death of William Jermy in January 1752, for probate purposes. The last page of the catalogue lists thirty books that were "not found", so there must have been a previous catalogue to which the extant books were compared. In fact, five of the thirty "missing" books are listed as being taken out by Mrs Jermy.

The catalogue of the Auction Sale of the Extensive and Ancient Library and other contents of Stanfield Hall in June 1838 also contained the abbreviated details of the library books. There was in excess of 1000 books to be auctioned over a three day period. There were a lot of books listed that had been published after 1752, as well as a large number of religious books, so it can be assumed that a significant number of books from the Bayfield Hall library had already been dispersed, and that the Rev. George Preston's books had been added to the Stanfield Hall auction.

It is remarkable that two or possibly three books that originated in the Bayfield Hall library prior to 1752 can be traced to the present day. Page 3 of the c. 1752 catalogue of William Jermy's Bayfield library includes an entry for Digge's Complete Ambassador 1655. The 1838 Stanfield Hall auction catalogue also mentions Digge's Complete Ambassador as item 69 on page 47. The particular copy illustrated below has an engraved bookplate on the inside front cover for Bayfield Hall Library 9H, so presumably it is the actual copy that belonged to the Jermy family of Bayfield Hall.

Dudley Digges, a lifelong politician and diplomat, was a member of Parliament in England from 1610 to 1626, for Tewksbury. He became a gentleman of the privy chamber in 1618 and was named ambassador to Muscovy in 161819 and Special Ambassador to Holland in 1620. He was active in the impeachment of the Duke of Buckingham during the crisis of 1626 that followed the aborted expedition to Cadiz, when Digges and Archbishop Abbot co-operated to coordinate the attacks in the Houses of Lords and Commons. Digges was for a time imprisoned in the Fleet Prison by order of the King, but was released on apologizing to the King, an act that John Eliot was unwilling to perform. In 1628 Digges was elected MP for Kent and sat until 1629 when King Charles decided to rule without parliament for eleven years.

No doubt as part of his diplomatic responsibilities, Digges had in his possession numerous letters and copies of the correspondence of Elizabeth with Leicester, Burghley, Walsingham, and Sir Thomas Smith, relating to the negotiations for a treaty of alliance with France in the late 17th century. These were published in 1655 under the title of The Compleat Ambassador, and formed an account of the secret diplomacy behind the courtship of Queen Elizabeth I by a French prince.

Dudley Digge's Complete Ambassador, 1655 Bayfield Hall Library Bookplate
Francis Bacon's History of Henry the Seventh, 1622 Bayfield Hall Library Bookplate, plus bookplate of Ross Winans

Similarly, the above copy of The History of the Raigne of King Henry the Seventh by Sir Francis Bacon, which was published in 1622, has the Bayfield Hall Library bookplate, as well as the bookplate of a later owner Ross Winans. This book is listed on page 1 of William Jermy's Bayfield library catalogue as Bacon's Life of Henry 7th. No date is given. The book is not listed in the Stanfield Hall auction catalogue of 1838, so it is probable that it had already been sold or disposed of. Ross Winans (1796 - 1877) was an American inventor, mechanic, and builder of locomotives and railroad machinery. The 1850 date on his bookplate presumably indicates when he purchased the book.

The book An account of His Excellence Roger Earl of Castlemaine's Embassy, by Mr Michael Wright was published in 1688. This actual book, complete with the Bayfield Hall bookplate can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. However, it does not appear to be listed in William Jermy's Bayfield library catalogue, although this could be because of the abbreviations used, nor is not listed in the 1838 Stanfield Hall auction catalogue.

It is very likely that these books were obtained long before William Jermy was born, so he would not have stuck his own bookplate in them.

An account of His Excellence Roger Earl of Castlemaine's Embassy, by Mr Michael Wright, 1688 Bayfield Hall Library Bookplate