Sir Walter HUNGERFORD of Farleigh, Knight

Born: BEF 1527, Farleigh Hungerford, Somerset, England

Died: Dec 1596

Father: Walter HUNGERFORD (1 B. Hungerford of Heystesbury)

Mother: Susan DANVERS

Married 1: Anne BASSETT 11 Jun 1554




Married 2: Anne DORMER 5 May 1558, Suffolk, England






Associated with: Margery BRIGHT






Born by 1527, first son of Walter, Lord Hungerford of Heytesbury, Wilts., by his first wife Susan, dau. of Sir John Danvers of Dauntsey, Wilts.; half-brother of Sir Edward Hungerford. Married firstly, 11 Jun 1554, Anne, dau. of Sir John Bassett of Umberleigh, Devon, and had 2 children, d.v.p.; married secondly, by 5 May 1558, Anne, dau. of Sir William Dormer of Wing, Bucks., by whom he had four children, a son, Edmund (d. 1587), and three daughters; Walter also had 3 sons and a daughter, illegitimately, with his mistress, Margery Bright. Walter succeeded his father 28 Jul 1540. Knighted May or Nov 1554.

A servant in the household of Cromwell by 1538; Gentleman at arms by 1547, Gentleman pensioner by 1552-53 or later; Sheriff of Wiltshire 1557-58; Justice of the Peace 1564 - his death. Walter Hungerford's career in the service of his father's patron Cromwell ended when his father and his master were attained and executed together in 1540.

Walter Hungerford was restored in blood, but not to his dignity, by an Act of 1542 (34 and 35 Henry VIII, c. 32) and began gradually to recover the family property. Like other servants of Cromwell he was too useful to the King to be discarded and the marriage of his stepmother to Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton may have advantaged him.

There is no indication that he had strong religious views, but Queen Mary's memory of his father's alleged sympathies with the rebels of 1536 no doubt helped him in 1554 to recover the greater part of the Hungerford estates, including the castle and lordship of Farleigh on the borders of Wiltshire and Somerset.

The Queen's grant was in fact to Anne Bassett, one of her maids of honour and sister of James Bassett, with remainder to Hungerford; but was occasioned by Anne's marriage to Hungerford, who was bound to pay 5,000 pounds for the property. The wedding took place at Richmond on 11 Jun 1554 on 'which day the Queen shewed herself very pleasant, commanding all mirth and pastime'. Hungerford was knighted later in the year and his election for Wiltshire to the 3rd Parliament of the reign marked his rehabilitation there. In 1557 he was appointed to serve in the campaign against the Scots and later in the same year he was pricked sheriff: his tenure of this office precluded his return for a Wiltshire constituency in 1558, but he was able to utilize his links with Cornwall, where he owned some property and where his brother-in-law James Bassett was influential, to obtain his election at Bodmin.

On his marriage about 1558 to the sister of the Queen's good friend, Jane Dormer, later Duchess of Feria, the estates previously granted to Hungerford's first wife were given to him in fee and were immediately settled upon him, Anne Dormer, and their heirs.

In 1568 Hungerford sued his wife for divorce, alleging that she attempts to poison him in 1564 and had committed adultery between 1560 and 1568 with William Darrell of Littlecote and that she had had a child by him. 'Will Darrell' was a notorious loose-liver, and surviving letters from Anne Hungerford to her 'good Will' suggest that Hungerford's accusations of adultery and attempted poisoning were not unfounded. Nevertheless, two years later Sir Francis Englefield was able to report that 'my lady Hungerford's great suit has ended by sentence to her sufficient purgation, though neither sufficient for her recompense nor his punishment'.

Hungerford spent three years in the fleet prison, refusing to support his wife in separation or to pay the 250 pounds awarded her as costs in the suit, though willing, he afterwards asserted, to take her back. She eventually left England under a license obtained for her by the Earl of Leicester to visit her dying grandmother at Louvain. In Aug 1571 the Duchess of Feria wrote to ask that the license be extended from six months to two years, partly to allow Lady Hungerford to keep a safe distance from her husband. Three years later Lady Hungerford was still abroad living with the Roman Catholics at Louvain, and enjoying a Spanish pension, and there is no record that she returned to England before her death in 1603 at Louvain.

Hungerford's only son died in Dec 1585. From Namur in the following year Lady Hungerford appealed to Secretary Walsingham on behalf of her daughters, whom their father was seeking to 'defraud of their portion'. In a deed of conveyance to his half-brother at about that time Hungerford reserved the remainder to any heir he himself might have in the future 'by any woman' he should 'afterwards marry'. At his death in 1596 he left two sons and a daughter by one Margery Bright, 'a poor tenant's daughter': another son was born posthumously. In his will, made on 14 Nov 1595 and proved early in Jan 1597, he left two farms to Margery Bright but the residue of all his goods, chattels and leases to his half-brother and sole executor. After he made the will he apparently heard a rumor that Lady Hungerford was dead and 'married' Margery 'for her better colour or excuse of ill life'. Hungerford left his property to his brother Edward, with remainder to his heirs male by a mistress, Margery Bright. The half-brother succeeded to the Hungerford estates, and both Lady Hungerford and Margery Bright sued for dower. Margery also claimed maintenance for her youngest son and asserted that Edward Hungerford had received lands worth 3,000 pounds a year from his half-brother in his lifetime and had now taken over the remainder whose value she put variously at 20,000 or 80,000 pounds. Lady Hungerford was awarded generous dower, and died at Louvain in 1603.
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