Sir Walter Long

(Sheriff of Wiltshire)

Born: ABT 1555

Died: Oct 1610

Buried: 30 Oct 1610, Draycot

Father: Robert LONG of Wraxall and Draycot (Sir) (See his Biography)

Mother: Barbara CARNE

Married 1: Mary PAKINGTON (dau. of Thomas Pakington and Dorothy Kytson)


1. John LONG (b. ABT 1575 - d. 14 Aug 1636) (m. Anne Eyre)

2. Thomas LONG (b. ABT 1577 - d. BEF 1609)

3. Barbara LONG (b. ABT 1580 - d. AFT 20 Dec 1609) (m. Maurice Berkeley)

Married 2: Catherine THYNNE (dau. of Sir John Thynne and Christian Gresham) (m.2 Hugh Fox)


4. Walter LONG (b. ABT 1585 - d. Jul 1637) (m.1 Anne Ley - m.2 Elizabeth Master)

5. Frances LONG (b. ABT 1589)

6. Son LONG (b. ABT 1592)

7. Son LONG (b. ABT 1594)

8. Henry LONG (b. ABT 1596)

9. Robert LONG (1 Bt.) (b. ABT 1598 - d. 13 Jul 1673)

10. Anne LONG (b. ABT 1600)

11. Dorothy LONG (b. ABT 1602)

12. Olive LONG (b. ABT 1604)

13. Elizabeth LONG (b. ABT 1606)

14. Thomas LONG (b. ABT 1608)

15. Jane LONG (b. ABT 1609)

English knight and landowner, born in Wiltshire, the son of Sir Robert Long and his wife Barbara Carne.

Long and his brother Henry were involved in a dispute with their neighbours, the Danvers, and Long supported the claims of Danvers` tenants to rights of common, which in 1596 resulted in the Star Chamber deciding that Long was to blame for hedge-breaking on the Danvers` enclosures, and he was fined 200 for 'a great riot' over the hedge-destroying incident. Twenty eight people had been involved, according to the judge, and many Wiltshire Yeomen were fined. The dispute between the Longs and the Danvers' became a violent and deadly feud, eventually resulting in the murder of Henry Long.

The mutual animosity came to a head in 1594, when their father Sir John Danvers, from the magistrate's bench, committed one of Sir Walter Long's servants for robbery. Sir Walter rescued the servant from the justice, and, after complaining to the judge at the next assizes, Sir John had Sir Walter locked up in the Fleet Prison. He then committed another of Sir Walter's servants on a charge of murder. On leaving prison, Sir Walter and his brother provoked various brawls between their own followers and Sir John's, resulting in one servant being killed and another grievously wounded.

Sir John Danvers was one of the executors of Sir Robert Long's will, indicating that perhaps the feud was started between the sons, and had not been carried over from a previous generation. Perhaps it began as a result of the attempts of Sir Walter Long - recently returned from military service in Ireland, strengthened by his marriage to Catherine Thynne of Longleat, and with one of his houses, Draycot, only a few miles from the Danvers seat at Dauncey - to challenge the Danvers' predominance. Sir Charles Danvers developed a close friendship with Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and served under him in Ireland, later taking a prominent part in the revolt there. On the other hand, Sir Walter Long, through his Thynne connection, developed a friendship with Sir Walter Raleigh, who was deeply hostile to Essex. There was an established conservative group of gentry with whom the Danvers' associated, and who were opposed to the rival Knyvet-Long faction, which was backed by the Thynnes at Longleat.

It was the Danvers family itself, and not their followers, that were the target of the Longs, and Henry Long wrote insulting letters to Sir Charles Danvers calling him a liar, a fool, a puppy dog, a mere boy, and promised that he would whip his bare backside with a rod. Sir Charles was very angry. His mother later wrote to Lord Burghley describing the letters as 'of such a form as the heart of a man indeed had rather die than endure'. Accompanied by his brother and some of his men, he went to an inn at Corsham where Sir Walter and Henry Long were dining with a group of magistrates. Sir Henry Danvers drew his pistol, ('a certain engine called a dagge') and shortly after Henry Long was dead. The Danvers brothers got away and took refuge with their friend Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton at his seat, Whitley Lodge near Titchfield, who happened to be in the midst of his twenty-first birthday celebrations.

Southampton was patron of William Shakespeare and some literary critics have conjectured that the feud may have inspired Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and that Romeo's exile may allude to Southampton's protection of Sir Charles and Sir Henry Danvers, whom he aided in their escape to France.

According to historian John Aubrey, immediately after the murder of her son Henry, Lady Barbara Long, by then a widow and possibly a lady at court, informed the Queen of the 'verie strange owtrage committed by Sir Charles Danvers and Sir Henrie Danvers, Knights', although no indictment was ever preferred against them by either the Long family or the state. Aubrey also wrote that the events relating to the Danvers' escape and concealment hastened the death of the Danvers' father, and their mother soon remarried, to Sir Edmund Carey, a cousin of the Queen, in order to influence the granting of a pardon for her sons, which later eventuated, and the Danvers' returned to England in Aug 1598.

Long was a friend of Sir Walter Raleigh, (Raleigh's brother Carew had married Long's mother-in-law, widow of the first Sir John Thynne of Longleat), and according to historian John Aubrey, Long was the first in the country to introduce the fashion of smoking tobacco, his friend Raleigh being the first to bring it to England. Long's home of South Wraxall Manor is one of the houses in England where legend says tobacco was first smoked by the two Sir Walters, although the same legend has been told of other locations. Aubrey also alludes to Sir Walter Long's ostentatious lifestyle, saying he kept a trumpeter, and on at least one occasion, he rode to Marlborough with thirty servants and retainers.

In 1602 Long was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire under Edward Seymour, 2nd Earl of Hertford.

Sir Walter Long married firstly, Mary Pakington of Westwood, Worcestershire, who was on friendly terms with Elizabeth I, and gifts to the Queen from Lady Long, which included an item of 18 ounces of gilt plate, were recorded in the Jewel House records in 1588. Mary was the sister of Sir John Pakington.

Long married secondly, Catherine, daughter of Sir John Thynne of Longleat. Long was the last of the family to own both manors of South Wraxall and Draycot together, and through the contrivances of his second wife Catherine, Sir Walter disinherited his son John from his first marriage, in favour of Walter, the eldest son from the second, but a compromise later led John to receive the estate at South Wraxall, and his half-brother received Draycot.

Another legend related by Aubrey, concerns a promise made by Catherine to her husband on his death-bed, that she would not remarry, but she soon afterwards married Sir Edward (or Hugh) Fox, which as the story goes, caused the portrait of Sir Walter to fall from the wall the moment the bride and her new husband entered the room.

Sir Walter died in October 1610 and was buried at Draycot on 30 Oct 1610.

For more information see: Long family of Wiltshire
to Bios Page

to Home Page