Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 18, 2019
Webpage updated: January 04, 2020



WILLIAM DERRY (1817-1903)

William Derry was born at Plymouth on March 10th 1817, the son of Mr David Derry (1794-1867), the manager of the Devon and Cornwall Banking Company.

After working for a few years with his father at the Bank, young William moved to Liverpool, where he gained further business experience.  When he returned to Plymouth, it was as the agent for Messrs Jameson, Pim and Company's Dublin ales.  His premises were in Kinterbury Street.

He then became the agent for Messrs Bass and Company and later accepted the carriage agency for the old South Devon Railway Company and the Cornwall Railway Company.  This he continued to run well into the days of the Great Western Railway Company and it became a very successful and profitable business, in which he took a keen interest.   It was in that capacity that he introduced the cheap delivery of parcels to the Three Towns.

During 1860 Mr Derry had built a mansion at North Road which he named "Houndiscombe House" as it looked across the valley to Houndiscombe Farm.  The architect was Mr James Hine and Messrs Call and Pethick were the contractors.  The building was constructed of granite, Portland stone and cement.  On the ground floor there was a spacious hall and drawing, dining and morning rooms.  There was a conservatory adjoining the drawing-room.  The kitchen and domestic rooms were in the basement.  There was the chief bed-room, dressing-room and bath-room on the first floor.  The servants' quarters were, of course, in the attic.  In the campanile was a smoking-room, with an extensive view of the valley.  The hall and dining-room were decorated with large Devonshire marble pillars while maw's tiles lined the floors of the hall and conservatory.  Stained glass filled the staircase windows, manufactured by Messrs Wailes, of Newcastle.

Mr Derry was first elected Mayor of Plymouth in 1861-62, during which he presented the Town with the clock that still bears his name.

Mr Derry married twice.  His first wife, formerly Miss Louisa Page, whom he married in 1842, died at the age of 55 on Wednesday September 6th 1871 while on a visit to Dawlish  [2].  Her home address was number 7 Craven Hill, Bayswater, London, where William was living in April 1871 while a member of Lloyd's.  They had for sons: Mr Ernest D W Derry; Mr Henry Martin Derry; Mr Evens Derry; and Mr Mr Percy Augustus Derry, and one daughter, Miss Louisa A Derry.

He was re-elected the following year and served a third term in 1879-80.  He terminated his connection with the Town Council with the commencement of the Greater Plymouth era in the 1890s, when the Borough started to expand its boundary.

He was an exceedingly generous man throughout his life and if anyone challenged him for his apparently indiscriminate almsgiving, he would retort: "What right have I to let these poor people starve?"  He supported the South Devon and Cornwall Blind Institution at North Hill, the Devon and Cornwall Female Orphan Asylum in Lockyer Street and the South Devon and East Cornwall Hospital.   To the inmates of the first two, he always provided a sumptuous tea on his birthdays and an outing in the summer months.  He apparently hosted lavish municipal events during his time on the Town Council.

It was said about him that he insisted on giving all his promises in writing.  If anyone reminded him of a promise, his first questions would be "Did I make it in writing?"  If it was then the promise was promptly accomplished.

William's second wife was named Miss Honoria Louisa Morris, who was thirty years his junior.  They had married in Hackney in 1872  and had four sons (Mr Arthur Derry; Mr William Derry; Mr Charles Trelawny Derry; Mr Reginald Morris Derry) and two daughters (Miss Honoria Geraldine Derry and Miss Violet Kathleen Derry).

Mrs Honoria Louisa Derry died on September 4th 1902 at the age of 57 years.

Mr William Derry died at about 7.30am on Monday March 9th 1903, just a day before he would have been 86-years-old.  He had been confined to his home for the last two years and had contracted a cold on the previous Saturday, from which he did not recover.  Of his ten children, Mr William and Mr Charles T Derry and two of his daughters, were present when he passed away.