Monumental Brass Society

Julyen Deryng

Date of Brass:
London F (figure), Canterbury (inscription)


March 2024


Not all the brasses of the Deryng family in the church of St Nicholas at Pluckley in Kent are quite what they seem. During the seventeenth-century Sir Edward Deryng had additional brasses engraved commemorating a number of his ancestors in an antique style. There is some evidence that suggests their engraver was Edward Marshall. Those for fifteenth and sixteenth-century ancestors are mostly obvious fakes but that of Sir Edward’s grandfather Richard Deryng, who died in 1610, when Sir Edward was eleven or twelve years old, was probably made in the late 1620s and is instead an example of delayed commemoration. Sir Edward’s second wife, Anne, the daughter of Sir John Ashburnham, died on 13 April 1628. After her death, Sir Edward made alterations to Pluckley church and to the Deryng chapel within it, laying or relaying ten brasses to the family, some in pre-existing indents. It may be that his mind had turned to this project the previous year when he gave a shilling to both Edward Marshall ‘ye tombe cutter’ and Marshall’s boy on 22 December, followed by £2 to Marshall for ‘tombe worke in brasse’ in March 1627/8. Sir Edward was known to have laid brasses to other members of his family at Sevington and Dover Castle, so the payments to Marshall cannot be definitively connected to those at Pluckley. Unfortunately, the surviving book of accounts in which these payments are recorded, started in 1619, runs no further than this period. The following volume must have recorded more payments to Marshall as the work on the brasses continued. Sir Edward’s aim was to embellish his family’s pedigree and so he was able to provide John Weever with drawings of the ‘earliest’ Deryng brasses at Pluckley commemorating John Deryng, died 1425 and his son Richard Deryng, with two wives, but one wife and the inscription shown as indents, which were duly engraved in wood and printed in Ancient Funerall Monuments in 1631 on pages 292 and 293. The latter brass has since disappeared. The arms of the family on their brasses were spuriously shown as Or, a saltire Sable, Deryng altering rolls of arms to make these arms seem to be those formerly held by the family.

One brass figure to a member the family at Pluckley that is genuinely of its period is that commemorating Julyen Deryng, gentylwoman, who died in February 1526/7. It belongs with the products of the latter end of the London F series at a point when the artistic standard of the figures, which had achieved an impressively good standard in the last quarter of the previous century, had deteriorated badly to the point where the soubriquet ‘F Crude’ was minted as a shorthand way to refer to them. The lettering style of the inscription, however, does not fit with the style of the figure. The question is whether it is the inscription was engraved by Marshall in the 1620s. Marshall cut quite a number of brasses with antiqued lettering. Although there is quite a lot of variation in them compared with the lettering he used on his contemporary work, the lettering on Julyen’s inscription does not correspond. Instead, it look much more like the product of a workshop in Canterbury that produced a number of brasses in the 1520s and 30s. That would make the inscription to Julyen genuine but throws a great deal of doubt on whether the figure, although contemporary, was originally hers. The inscription also reveals Julyen to have been a follower of the cult of the Holy Name of Jesus, as the concluding prayer asks Jesus to have mercy on her soul.

Who was Julyen? The inscription calls her a gentlewoman without specifying her relationship to any other Deryng. It seems that she was the widow of John Deryng, gentleman, whose will was proved on 14 October 1517. She was the daughter of William Darell, esquire, of Cadehill. John and Julyen’s son Nicholas Deryg, gentleman, whose will was proved the same day as his father’s, had a daughter of the same name but she survived to marry a William Kerkby. These details come from the heraldic visitation of Kent undertaken in 1619, the Deryng pedigree being signed off by Anthony Deryng, Sir Edward’s father.


Copyright: Jon Bayliss (text and photograph)



Oliver D. Harris, ‘Lines of Descent: Appropriations of Ancestry in Stone and Parchment’ in The arts of remembrance in early modern England: memorial cultures of the post-Reformation, edited by Andrew Gordon and Thomas Rist.


Laetitia Yeandle, ‘Sir Edward Dering of Surrenden Dering and his 'Booke of Expences, 1617-1628’, Archaeologia Cantiana.125 (2005), 323-344.

  • © Monumental Brass Society (MBS) 2024
  • Registered Charity No. 214336