William Herring was born in 1753, the son of the Dean of St Asaph. By virtue of his marriage to Lucy Styleman he was connected to the Norfolk gentry through the Styleman and Le Strange families.
A prosperous Norwich merchant and manufacturer, Herring became involved in the civic life of the city, becoming Sheriff in 1786, an Alderman in 1794 and Mayor in 1796. The history detectives discovered in a letter, that as Mayor, he had received a
gift of a Spanish sword from Horatio Nelson.
Herring was a member of the Society of United Friars, a learned and philanthropic society, and was actively involved in its soup charity, making weekly financial contributions. He was also a governor of Bethel Hospital and regularly attended meetings of the trustees and served as a Poor Law Guardian and as a director of the Norwich Union Fire Insurance Society. This range of interests meant that he was well suited to be a land tax commissioner.
Herring lived in Upper King Street in Norwich and then in a large house in St. Giles Street. The detectives were able to use documents in the Parliamentary Archives to trace the location of
Herring's property in the parish of St Peter per Mountergate.
The Norfolk Yeomanry and Volunteer Company
In addition to his involvement in civic affairs Herring served as a captain in the Norfolk Yeomanry and Volunteer Company. The detectives found a
letter to Lord Townshend at Norfolk Record Office in which Herring referred to the House of Commons having passed a vote of thanks to the volunteers.
Commissioner for an Act of Parliament
Given the active part Herring played in the affairs of the City of Norwich, the detectives were not surprised to find his name in records at the Parliamentary Archives. Here they found Herring listed as a subscriber to the
scheme to build a bridge over the river Wensum in 1820. The scheme was approved by an Act of Parliament which named Herring as a commissioner for executing the Act.