Fermor, William, Baron Leominster d. 1711, connoisseur, was the eldest son of Sir William Fermor, bart., of Easton Neston, Northamptonshire [qv.], by Mary, daughter of Hugh Perry of London and widow of Henry Noel, second son of Edward, viscount Campden. He succeeded as second baronet in 1671, was elected M.P. for Northampton in 1671 and again in 1679, and was elevated to the peerage, 12 April 1692, by the title of Baron Leominster of Leominster, Herefordshire. He was thrice married: first to Jane, daughter of Andrew Barker of Fairford, Gloucestershire, by whom he had a daughter, Elizabeth, who died unmarried in March 1705; secondly, to the Hon. Katherine Poulett, daughter of John, first lord Poulett, by whom he had Mary, married to Sir John Wodehouse, fourth baronet, of Kimberley, Norfolk; and, thirdly, to Lady Sophia Osborne, daughter of Thomas, first duke of Leeds, and widow of Donogh, lord Ibrackan, grandson and heir of Henry, seventh earl of Thomond. By this lady, who survived until 8 Dec. 1746, he had a son, Thomas, and four daughters. Leominster built the house and planned the gardens and plantations at Easton Neston. The house was completed by Nicholas Hawksmoor in 1702, about twenty years after the erection of the wings by Sir Christopher Wren. He adorned the whole with part of the Arundel marbles which he had purchased and which his son had actually the temerity to attempt to restore with the assistance of one Giovanni Battista Guelfi, a scholar of Camillo Rusconi. The collection was afterwards greatly neglected. Coming back, writes Walpole to Montagu on 20 May 1736, we saw Easton Neston, where in an old greenhouse is a wonderful fine statue of Tully haranguing a numerous assembly of decayed emperors, vestal virgins with new noses, Colossus's, Venus's, headless carcases, and carcaseless heads, pieces of tombs, and hieroglyphics (Letters, ed. Cunningham, i. 6). The marbles were presented in 1755 to the university of Oxford by Henrietta Louisa, countess of Pomfret [qv.]. A description of Easton Neston and its art treasures is included in the Catalogue of the Duke of Buckingham's Pictures, 4to, London, 1758 (pp. 53-66). Leominster died 7 Dec. 1711, and was succeeded by his only son, Thomas [see Fermor, Henrietta Louisa].

     Collins's Peerage (Brydges), iv. 205-6
     Bridges's Northamptonshire, i. 289.

Contributor: G. G. [Gordon Goodwin]

Published: 1888