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Find all Derhams in:
 • St Laurence Churchyard
 • Upminster
 • London Borough of Havering
 • Greater London
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Dr William Derham
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Birth: Nov. 26, 1657
Worcestershire, England
Death: Apr. 5, 1735
Greater London, England

English Polymath, Polyhistor and Autodidact(physicist,scientist, author, clergyman, Royal Chaplain, botanist, physician Fellow of the Royal Society, and natural philosopher), best known for his attempt to measure the speed of sound. In 1705 he observed from the tower of his Upminster church the flash of cannons being fired 12 miles away across the Thames at Blackheath. By timing the interval between the flash and roar of the cannon he was able to calculate the speed of sound. His 16-feet long telescope,also used for his astronomical studies,for measuring the velocity of sound was at the top of the south side of the church tower of St.Laurence's where the doors,constructed by him,are still in place.
Sir Isaac Newton , in the second edition of his Principia (1713),revised his calculation in the light of Derham's findings.He was the son of Thomas Derham and was educated at Blockley, Gloucestershire and at Trinity College, Oxford from where, at the early age of 18, he graduated with a BA degree(Bachelor of Arts). He was ordained deacon on 29 May 1681 and priest in 1682 with his first ministry being at Wargrave in Berkshire. He was appointed Rector of Upminster in 1689 where he remained for the rest of his days, although having been elected Canon of Windsor in 1716,he still visited the parish regularly employing a curate to serve in his place there. He became a Doctor of Divinity in 1730. He was a friend of the botanist John Ray. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society(FRS)on 3 February 1703.His meteorological observations are amongst the earliest records in England and include daily reports of Upminster weather, his account of the massive storm on his birthday (November 26-27)1703, and the heat wave on July 8 1707, during which one of his servants died of exhaustion during his labours and several working horses died from their exertions. He was the village physician for Upminster where he published what is probably the first description of congenital small pox. As a widower, he married Anne, by whom he is known to have had six children, the eldest of whom, William Derham also became a Doctor of Divinity, and was later elected President of St.John's College, Oxford.He died at High House, the Rectory near the church,and willed all his papers and instruments to his son, William. His will requested that "he desired to receive Christian burial in a decent but withall frugal, private manner "-hence his precise burial place remains unmarked.
Family links: 
  William Derham (1702 - 1757)*
*Calculated relationship
Note: His burial place is not marked, but a memorial was added in 2011 within the church.
St Laurence Churchyard
London Borough of Havering
Greater London, England
Plot: centre of the chancel
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: geoffrey gillon
Record added: Jun 05, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 70874154
Dr William Derham
Added by: geoffrey gillon
Dr William Derham
Added by: geoffrey gillon
Dr William Derham
Added by: geoffrey gillon
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