Portrait of Gerard De Visme painted in 1783 by Thomas Hickey.  From the National Trust Collection.

Gerard DeVisme

1725-1797

Born: 6 February 1725 probably in the parish of St Mary Aldermary in the vicinity of Bow Lane, and christened at the French Huguenot Church of St Martin Orgars on the 28th February. Died 20 November 1797.
Son of: Philipp de Visme (died 1756) and Marianne de la Mejanelle (died 16 February 1779, buried at Clapham 22 February).
Brother of:
1. William De Visme of Beckenham, Kent.  Director of the Royal Exchange Assurance Company.
2. Lewis De Visme (1720-1776) Rev Louis De Visme.
3. Stephen De Visme of the East India Company (Guangdong China).
4. Others?
Gerard married: not known.

He possibly had issue a daughter:
1. Emily De Visme who married General Sir Henry Murray (1784-1860), the son of the 2nd Earl of Mansfield.

Gerard De Visme: An Overview

We know about very little about Gerard DeVisme except for the following.  Much of this I have picked up from various websites:

His family were presumably Huguenot who had fled to England from France in the late 1500s or the 1600s.

He seems to have gone to Lisbon in Portugal around 1746 and then lived much of his life there.  He then returned to the England around 1794 and spent his later years living at Wimbledon near London. 

His estate in Portugal was Quinta at Benfica, near Lisbon and later Monserrate near Sintra. 

A prominent member of the British Factory in Lisbon, he made a vast fortune, possibly relating to diamonds commerce with Brazil.  He was possibly the Administrator of the Crown jewels and diamond mines of Brazil.  He also possibly imported redwood and presumably had many other business interests.  He seems to have been involved in the building of the British Hospital in Lisbon.  He was also involved in a bank Purry Mellish & De Vismes.  He is mentioned in the book 'They Went to Portugal' by Rose Macaulay.

In 1790, Gerard moved onto the Monserrate estate, near Sintra.  It would appear that he was not able to buy the property at Monserrate due to laws forbidding ownership of property by foreigners in Portugal at the time. Years later Francis Cook, another Englishman, stumbled upon the ruins of DeVisme's Palace and was able to purchase it. Francis Cook became the first Visconde of Monserrate.

One rumor about DeVisme's daughter is that she was the reason he abandoned Monserrate. He apparently spent much time isolated there and the speculation is that he carried on some kind of improper relationship (with a servant or another member of society). His permanent abandonment of Monserrate coincides with his reappearance in London with an unexplained daughter.

From about 1794 he lived at Wimbledon Lodge near London.

In London Gerard appears to have been a partner in the banking firm of De Vismes, Cuthbert, Marsh, Creed and Co, which is recorded in the London Directory of 1797.   This bank later became known as Marsh & Co but went bankrupt in 1824 after a fraud supposedly carried out by the junior partner Henry Fauntleroy.  One of the creditors afterwards was De Visme & Co £754.

Gerard is buried in the churchyard of St Mary's in Wimbledon.  He is noted as dying in 1797 having been resident at Wimbledon Lodge, Southside.

A large portrait of Gerard, by Thomas Hickey, is in the National Trust collection at Tyntesfield, near Bristol.  A second copy of this portrait, presumably also painted by Thomas Hickey, came up for Auction 14 March 2012 in Australia (Mossgreen, Lot 49). 

There is also a small miniature portrait of him painted in 1794 by Henry Spicer (English, 1743-1804) where Gerard is noted as being 67 years old.  This miniature is now in the Carnegie Museum of Art in America.

Gerard's brother Lewis De Visme was the Secretary of the Embassy in Spain in 1765, Russia, in Turin. He was Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at the court of Sweden, Russia and Bavaria. He never married.

There is also a Lieutenant-Colonel Gerard De Visme commanding Hon. Artillery-Company 1811 (item noted in the British Library).  Was he related?

Bookplate of Gerard De Visme Virtute Duce Comite Fortuna

 

Wimbledon Villa home of Gerard De Visme

Wimbledon Villa, London

Home of Gerard De Visme

From 'Description of London'
by Dr Hughson 1806

Portrait of Emily De Visme daughter of Gerard De Visme

Bookplate believed to have belonged to Gerard De Visme
Virtute Duce Comite Fortuna
(Under the guidance of valor, accompanied by good fortune)
From inside the book
'Dionysii Longini quae supersunt Graece et Latine'
published in 1778.

Emily, daughter of Gerard De Visme

From the painting by T. Lawrence R.A. 
Engraved by W. Bond. published 1794.

 


If anyone can tell me more about Gerard De Visme I would be very interested to hear from you.  Please contact me on jj@jjhc.info

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