Francis Dereham

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Francis Dereham as played by Allen Leech

born ? - executed 10 December 1541 by order of King Henry VIII
Character's backstory:
Francis Dereham, a young gentleman of birth and substance, was one of the Duke of Norfolk's gentlemen-pensioners ( a liveried retainer). He was young, handsome, and well-bred, and Katherine Howard fell before his manifest charms. Exactly when Dereham began to haunt the Dowager's Lambeth residence is not recorded. He was merely one of the many young gallants who were attracted to the maidens chamber , and at first his attentions were directed not towards Katherine but to Joan Bulmer ... The maidens generally retired early, while their admirers, loaded with delicacies left over from banqueting in the great hall below stairs, would insinuate themselves into the communal bedchamber. 'Wine, strawberries, apples, and other things to make good cheer' were served at these midnight sessions ...
Later, when the more intimate details of their relationship be came public knowledge, one witness confessed that Mistress Katherine was so far in love that they...would 'kiss and hang by their bellies together as they were two sparrows'....That Katherine became Dereham's paramour is indisputable, but it is far from clear how long the alliance lasted.
The parting of the two lovers came in the autumn of 1539 when the Duke of Norfolk's influence finally arranged an opening at court for Katherine as one of the maids-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves.

" On 27 August [1541], while the court was still in Pontefract, the net tightened around Katherine still further when her former love, Francis Dereham came to her seeking employment, with a recommendation from the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. Perhaps bowing to blackmail, the Queen made him her private secretary and usher of her chamber, but he proved a liability because he was prone to boasting arrogantly that, if the King died he was certain that Katherine would marry him. He also hinted at favours she had already granted him and aroused Culpepper's jealousy. Dereham had a violent temper: he attacked another gentleman usher, John Fell, who had objected to his remaining seated at a table after the Queen's Council had risen, and laid him out. It was fortunate for Dereham that this escaped the attention of his superiors. However, it would not be long before he was in more serious trouble than he could ever have imagined.

[When] Dereham was taken to the Tower , [he] would admit only that he and Katherine had been pre-contracted. Since a precontract was as binding as a marriage, and could be annulled only by an ecclesiastical court, this would render Katherine's marriage to King invalid.

Katherine might have escaped the fate awaiting her had she admitted to the precontract, but in a futile attempt to save herself, she denied that one had ever existed, although she confessed that she had had intercourse on many occasions with Dereham....When Dereham was questioned,... he denied it, asserting Thomas Culpepper " had succeeded him in the Queen's affections". ~ Alison Weir's Henry VIII : The King and his court.



Personality type:

Signature look: Young and handsome

Endearing trait(s):

Annoying trait(s):

Written by the hand of Thomas Wriothesley (Risley in the series):

"Examination of Henry Manox, at Lambeth, 5 Nov. before Thomas Cranmer and Sir Thomas Wriothesley, as to any displeasure between him and one Dereham, now servant to the Queen. When he came to the old duchess of Norfolk's [ Agnes Tilney, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk ] service, five years past, he and one Barnes were appointed to teach the Queen, then Mistress Katherine Howard, to play the virginals. He fell in love with her and she with him, but the Duchess found them alone together one day and gave Mistress Katherine two or three blows, and charged them never to be alone together after. Then Dereham, who was the Duchess's kinsman, and also loved Mistress Katherine, and Edward Walgrave, who loved a maiden named Baskervile, used to haunt her chamber rightly and banquet there until 2 or 3 a.m.; so Deponent [Henry Manox] and Barnes wrote an anonymous letter to the Duchess, warning her that if she would rise half an hour after going to bed and visit the gentlewomen's chamber she would be displeased. The Duchess thereupon stormed with her women; and Mistress Katherine afterwards stole the letter and showed it to Dereham, who suspected Deponent [Henry Manox] to have written it and called him knave. Young Bulmer's wife, [[[Joan Bulmer]]] who was her bedfellow and also entertained by Dereham, Dorothy Dawby, then chamberer with the Duchess, Katherine Tylney, now chamberer with the Queen, Edward Walgrave, servant to my lord Prince, Mary Lascelles and Malyn Tylney, widow, can speak of the misrule between Dereham and Mistress Katherine."
[Source: Primary source Letters and Papers from <a class="external" href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="British History Online">British History Online</a>]
Francis Dereham as played by Allen Leech

"…Francis Dereham by many persuasions procured me to his vicious purpose, and obtained first to lie upon my bed with his doublet and hose, and after within the bed, and finally he lay with me naked, and used me in such sort as a man doth his wife, many and sundry times, and our company ended almost a year before the King's Majesty was married to my Lady Anne of Cleves and continued not past one quarter of a year… Now the whole truth being declared unto your majesty, I most humbly beseech the same to consider the subtle persuasions of young men, and the ignorance and frailness of young women." ~ Katherine Howard's own words in her confessional letter to the King (7 November 1541)

"Dereham's final request was for Henry to spare him the full penalty of treason. But Henry, the council reported, 'thinketh he hath deserved no such mercy at his hands and therefore hath determined that he shall suffer the whole execution'. On 10 December 1541, therefore, he was dragged on a hurdle to Tyburn and hanged, castrated, disemboweled, beheaded and quartered. And all for sleeping a few times with an attractive and willing teenage girl who at the time was not married"
~ David Starkey "Six Wives"

The Indictment:

That Katharine, Queen of England, formerly called Kath. Howerd, late of Lambyth, Surr., one of the daughters of lord Edmund Howard, before the marriage between the King and her, led an abominable, base, carnal, voluptuous, and vicious life, like a common harlot, with divers persons, as with Frances Dereham of Lambeth and Hen. Manak [Manox] of Streteham, Surr., 20 and 24 May 32 Hen. VIII., and at other times, maintaining however the outward appearance of chastity and honesty. That she led the King by word and gesture to love her and (he believing her to be pure and chaste and free from other matrimonial yoke) arrogantly coupled herself with him in marriage. And the said Queen and Francis, being charged by divers of the King’s Council with their vicious life, could not deny it, but excused themselves by alleging that they were contracted to each other before the marriage with the King; which contract at the time of the marriage they falsely and traitorously concealed from the King, to the peril of the King and of his children to be begotten by her and the damage of the whole realm. And after the marriage, the said Queen and Francis, intending to renew their vicious life, 25 Aug. 33 Hen. VIII., at Pomfret, and at other times and places, practised that the said Francis should be retained in the Queen’s service; and the Queen, at Pomfret, 27 Aug. 33 Hen. VIII., did so retain the said Francis, and had him in notable favour above others, and, in her secret chamber and other suspect places, spoke with him and committed secret affairs to him both by word and writing, and for the fulfilling of their wicked and traitorous purpose, gave him divers gifts and sums of money on the 27 Aug. and at other times. Also the said Queen, not satisfied with her vicious life aforesaid, on the 29 Aug. 33 Hen. VIII., at Pomfret, and at other times and places before and after, with Thomas Culpepper, late of London, one of the gentlemen of the King’s privy chamber, falsely and traitorously held illicit meeting and conference to incite the said Culpeper to have carnal intercourse with her; and insinuated to him that she loved him above the King and all others. Similarly the said Culpeper incited the Queen. And the better and more secretly to pursue their carnal life they retained Jane Lady Rochford, late wife of Sir Geo. Boleyn late lord Rochford, as a go-between to contrive meetings in the Queen’s stole chamber and other suspect places; and so the said Jane falsely and traitorously aided and abetted them.


Family members:

Romance(s): Katherine Howard (before she married the king)

Joan Bulmer? (it was rumored that she was involved with him before Katherine)





  • His execution


Francis Dereham as played by Allen Leech Francis Dereham as played by Allen Leech
Allen Leech as Francis DerehamAllen Leech as Francis Dereham
Francis Dereham Katherine's boys - Francis Dereham & Thomas Culpepper
Francis Dereham as played by Allen LeechFrancis Dereham as played by Allen Leech
Francis Dereham as played by Allen Leech
Francis Dereham as played by Allen Leech
francis dereham being hanged season 4 episode 5 Francis Dereham as played by Allen Leech


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