HUNGERFORD, Sir Walter (1378-1449), of Farleigh Hungerford, Som. and Heytesbury, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1404
May 1413
Apr. 1414

Family and Education

b. 22 June 1378, o. surv. s. of Sir Thomas Hungerford* by his 2nd w. m. (1) between Oct. 1396 and May 1399, Katherine, yr. da. and coh. of Thomas Peverell of Parke and Hamatethy, Cornw. by Margaret, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas of Courtenay Woodhuish, Devon, 4s. inc. Sir Edmund, 2da; (2) by May 1439, Eleanor (d. 1 Aug. 1455), da. of Sir John Berkeley I* of Beverstone, Glos. by his 2nd w., wid. of John Arundel, Lord Mautravers (de jure earl of Arundel), and of Sir Richard Poynings. Kntd. 11 Oct. 1399; KG 3 May 1421; cr. Baron Hungerford Jan. 1426.

Offices Held

Constable of Marlborough castle 2 Nov. 1399-1403, Windsor castle 1 Nov. 1417-21 July 1438.

Commr. of array, Wilts. Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403, Som., Wilts. Jan. 1436; oyer and terminer, appeal against judgement in the ct. of admiralty Apr. 1403, Wales June 1413, Devon Nov. 1413, Feb. 1427, London, Mdx., Essex, Kent, Surr. Oct. 1441; inquiry, Glos. July 1403 (theft), Marlborough Feb. 1407 (offences against the assize of wine), south-western counties July 1424 (royal revenues), Dorset Sept. 1444 (complaint of tenants at Gillingham); to raise royal loans, Som. June 1410, Dorset, Som. Wilts. Apr. 1421, July 1426, May 1428, Mar. 1430, Wilts. Feb. 1434, Som., Wilts. Feb. 1436, Wilts. Mar. 1439, Nov. 1440, Wilts., Bristol Mar., Aug. 1442, Dorset, Som. June 1446; repair Windsor castle Jan. 1423; survey river Lee in Essex, Mdx., Herts. Feb. 1427, May 1428, Feb. 1429; seize Flemish ships illegally captured, Dartmouth May 1430; distribute Henry V’s legacy to his household servants Oct. 1432, Apr. 1433; administer oaths against maintenance, Wilts. May 1434; take the muster of the duke of Gloucester’s army, Sandwich July 1435; collect a subsidy, Wilts. Feb. 1441.

J.p. Wilts. 16 May 1401-Jan. 1406, May 1408-Feb. 1410, Feb. 1412-July 1424, July 1432-d., Som. Nov. 1408-July 1424, Dec. 1430-d., Norf. Dec. 1414-Feb. 1415, Notts. July 1424-9; as duchy of Lancaster chief steward, ex officio j.p. 18 southern counties Mar. 1416-May 1437, Berks., Devon, Oxon. May 1437-d.

Sheriff, Wilts. 22 Nov. 1405-5 Nov. 1406, Dorset and Som. 6 Nov. 1413-14.

Chamberlain, household of Princess Philippa 21 July-26 Oct. 1406.

Chief steward, duchy of Lancaster south of Trent 5 Apr. 1413-12 May 1437.

Speaker 1414 (Apr.).

Ambassador to treat with Emperor Sigismund 23 July-20 Sept. 1414, envoy to the Council of Constance 27 Oct. 1414-May 1415, France Oct. 1417, Oct. 1418, Burgundy Dec. 1418, France Jan., Mar., May 1419, Burgundy Nov. 1419, Council of Basel c. Apr. 1433, Congress of Arras July-Sept. 1435, France and Burgundy May-Oct. 1439.

Member of the King’s Council c. Feb. 1417-Aug. 1422, the Council of Regency Nov. 1422-37, Henry VI’s council Nov. 1437-d.

Steward of the King’s household by 21 July 1417-29 Sept. 1421, 24 Apr. 1424-16 Mar. 1426.1

Capt. Cherbourg 11 Aug. 1418-aft. 1431, Chateau Gaillard by May 1422.

Chamberlain, duchy of Lancaster 12 Feb. 1425-Feb. 1444.

Treasurer of the Exchequer 16 Mar. 1426-26 Feb. 1432.

Trier of parliamentary petitions 1432, 1433, 1442.


Sir Walter Hungerford was among the most notable Members of the House of Commons during our period. Even apart from his long and successful political and administrative career, the extent of his estates (principally in the south west) would have made him an important figure. On coming of age in June 1399 Walter inherited the already considerable family lands in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire, though some of these, in which his mother had a life interest, did not come into his possession until 1412. Further extensive properties accrued to him by means of his two marriages. The first of these, to Katherine Peverell, arranged by his father in 1396, had brought the couple the manor of Stoke Basset, Oxfordshire, and other holdings, and in 1422, on the death of Katherine’s mother, they shared with her sister Eleanor, the wife of Sir William Talbot*, estates which had once belonged to their great-grandfather, John, Lord Moels. The Hungerfords’ moiety consisted of the manors of Halton, South Cadbury, Mapperton, Clopton, Wootton Courtenay and other property in Somerset, as well as half-shares in the manors of Plymtree and Sutton Lacy, Devon. In 1439, moreover, when Eleanor Talbot died without issue, the other half of the Peverell and Courtenay lands (comprising six manors in Devon and four more in Cornwall) also fell to Hungerford by entail.

Sir Walter accumulated further estates for himself and his family by means of the advantageous marriages he negotiated for his children, although the first such match that he arranged, in 1416, was not so lucrative as it initially appeared, because he spent as much as £1,000 to secure the marriage and wardship of Margery, grand daughter and coheir of Hugh, Lord Burnell, for his fourth son, Edmund, only to discover after Burnell’s death in 1420 that Lord Hugh had not been free to dispose of the bulk of his holdings, their descent being governed by entails.2 Hungerford showed more caution when planning in 1421 the marriage of his third (but then eldest surviving) son, Robert, to Margaret, daughter and heir of William, Lord Botreaux—a union which was eventually (in 1462) to bring no less than 52 manors into the family’s possession—and he was instrumental in securing for Robert’s son, Robert, the hand of yet another heiress, namely, Eleanor, grand daughter of Sir William Moleyns*. This last match was to acquire for the family over 20 manors in Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire: it had been arranged by March 1439, when the Moleyns lands were already in Lord Hungerford’s control. His daughters also married well, their husbands being young heirs whose wardships he had obtained from the Crown: thus, Elizabeth, the elder, married Sir Philip Courtenay† of Powderham, nephew and heir of Bishop Courtenay of Norwich, and Margaret married Walter Rodney†, heir to his family’s estates. Effectively, both these alliances added, at least during the minorities, to the sum of Sir Walter’s landed possessions.

Hungerford’s own second marriage was (albeit in the short term) the most lucrative of all his marital arrangements. Eleanor, dowager countess of Arundel, held, as her inheritance and dower, over 30 manors and numerous other properties in Dorset, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Wiltshire and seven other counties. These estates (which together were worth nearly £700 a year, almost as much as the rest of his holdings) were held by Sir Walter jure uxoris, and it was not until Eleanor’s death in 1455 that they descended to William, earl of Arundel, her second son by her first marriage.

Apart from the estates he obtained by inheritance or by marriage, Hungerford acquired over the years nearly 40 additional manors, principally in Wiltshire and Somerset. Presumably, these came to him mainly by purchase, as did his London inn near Charing Cross. When to all this is added Sir Walter’s income from lands leased or granted to him by the Crown (notably the manor of Mere, awarded for life in 1416) and from the estates of royal wards whose custody he enjoyed, it will be clear that his annual receipts from property, quite exclusive of the French lordships which he secured from Henry V, were most impressive. In fact, in 1420-1 they amounted to £650, by 1429-30 had risen to £1,047, and in 1448-9 (after the Arundel marriage) reached £1,800. Even without the substantial fees he was to receive as a royal official, there can be no doubt that Hungerford (certainly by the end of his life) was an extremely wealthy man, and his manifold landed interests and multifarious family connexions can only have served to foster his long and complex political career at every point.

During his youth Hungerford perhaps spent some time at the university of Oxford. Later in life, certainly, he took some interest in Merton college, making a sizeable donation towards the building of its bell tower. He was obviously literate in the sense of being able to read Latin as well as English, and among the books left in his will were a two-volume Latin Bible and several theological works, not to mention a romance called Le Siege de Troye. It may be that (before the death of his elder brothers) he had been intended for the priesthood, but such a prospect must have been abandoned by 1395, when he acquired from his father the keepership of Selwood forest. His career began very soon after he came of age in 1399, when he supported Henry of Bolingbroke in his seizure of the throne. Doubtless he was influenced by his father’s longstanding connexions with the house of Lancaster, and certainly his services to the new King paid immediate dividends. On the eve of Henry’s coronation, Walter was one of 46 esquires who received the order of knighthood, and three weeks later (on 2 Nov.) he secured a grant, for life, of the castle, manor and barton Barton of Marlborough. Almost immediately afterwards he and Sir Thomas Beauchamp* shared an award of £200 ‘in recompense of their great expenses in the King’s service after his last coming into England’. Early in the following year, however, Hungerford’s adherence to Henry IV put him in a very dangerous position. On 4 Jan. 1400 the earls of Salisbury and Kent, rising in support of the ex-King Richard, nearly succeeded in capturing Henry at Windsor. On that day, or perhaps the 5th, they took Sir Walter and forced him, against his will, to accompany them as far as Cirencester, at the same time robbing him of the Lancastrian collar of livery (worth £20) he was wearing. According to a letter written by John Norbury*, the treasurer of the Exchequer, Hungerford found a means of privately warning the bailiffs of Cirencester of the circumstances, and advising them to assemble the townsfolk and arrest the rebels, which they accordingly did on 6 Jan., whereupon Kent and Salisbury were lynched. Another version of the story, however, makes Hungerford play a more equivocal part: on 27 Jan. a Cirencester jury declared that he had openly adhered to the rebels and, bribing one of the town constables to aid and abet him, had plundered the house of a burgess. The jurors’ testimony was obviously not dismissed by the authorities immediately, for Hungerford’s manor of Down Ampney was confiscated, and as late as 25 Nov. the justices of the common pleas were ordered to make further investigations into the charges. Sir Walter’s innocence, however, was eventually established, and there is no evidence that he suffered imprisonment or other punishment.

Any suspicions which still attached to him had definitely been dispelled when, having been elected for the first time as MP for Wiltshire in January 1401, he was not only appointed as a j.p. there in the following May, but that summer figured also among a more select group of Wiltshire knights summoned to a great council at Westminster. During 1402 there is reason to suppose that he was on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. In the summer of 1404 he attended another great council; and on 25 Mar. 1406 he was granted 100 marks in consideration of the heavy expenses he had incurred in the royal service, and especially at Calais, where he had upheld the honour of England in arms against a certain knight from France. Later in the same year he was appointed chamberlain to the King’s younger daughter, Philippa, who was then preparing to set out for her wedding to Eric IX of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. On 18 May 1409, along with William Stourton* (one of his feoffees), Hungerford was granted the temporalities of the Cluniac priory of Monkton Farleigh during a dispute over appointment to the priorate. The matter was soon settled, and on 1 Feb. 1410 (during a session of the Parliament to which Hungerford had been returned for Somerset, and Stourton for Dorset) they were ordered to meddle no further with the temporalities. Twelve days later they received a royal pardon, after having protested that they had received none of the priory’s revenues and so could not be charged to account. On 10 Feb., however, a royal commission had been ordered to investigate allegations of wastes and delapidations at Farleigh during their custody. Evidently, the commission’s findings were damaging, for on 2 May Hungerford, in a petition to the Commons, stated that he proposed to dispute the inquest, and went on to ask that the jurymen now to be appointed should be local men with at least £20 annual income from land in Wiltshire. His petition was successful. Later in the same year, on 14 June, Sir Walter was made a commissioner to raise as quickly as possible a loan of 500 marks in Somerset. Apparently, the commissioners soon put up the sum themselves and, on 25 June, received promise of repayment out of the subsidy granted by the recent Parliament.

Direct evidence is lacking, but it seems likely that, in the political disputes of Henry IV’s last years, Hungerford supported the party headed by Henry of Monmouth, for when the prince came to the throne in March 1413, Sir Walter’s career immediately moved onto a higher plane. In April Henry V promoted him to the prestigious office his father had once held: the chief stewardship of the duchy of Lancaster estates south of Trent. The office carried with it membership of the duchy council, as well as (after March 1416) ex officio membership of commissions of the peace in all the counties of his bailiwick. Then, in May, he was returned to Henry’s first Parliament, and in his second, which met at Leicester in April 1414, he was chosen Speaker, in this, as in other respects, treading the same path as his distinguished father. With his guidance the Commons soon passed necessary measures against lollards still at large after the recent rebellion, and at their request the lands of non-conventual alien priories were confiscated to the Crown. Probably because the House was not required to make a grant of fifteenths and tenths, the Members were disinclined to express criticism of the government, and the session lasted for less than a month. Hungerford evidently impressed his royal master with the way he conducted himself in Parliament. Not long after the dissolution he was entrusted with two important embassies abroad: from July to September he was at Coblenz, negotiating for an alliance with the Emperor Sigismund; and he again left England on 27 Oct., this time as one of the King’s emissaries to the General Council at Constance. He and his colleagues were also to treat with greater urgency for the Anglo-Imperial alliance which Henry V hoped to conclude before going to war with France. It was not until May 1415 that Hungerford came home again.

Hungerford’s return found preparations for Henry V’s invasion of France well advanced, and he himself soon became immersed in the work. In July he was one of those leading subjects (bishops, members of the royal family and duchy of Lancaster officials) appointed to act as executors of the King’s will and also as feoffees of duchy lands. And in August when Edward, duke of York, mortgaged certain of his estates to cover both the expenses of his war retinue and his collegiate foundation at Fotheringhay, Hungerford appeared as one of his trustees. Meanwhile, he had assembled his own retinue, a company which, although intended to include 19 men-at-arms and 60 archers, comprised no more than 17 men-at-arms and 55 archers by 12 Aug., the day of embarkation. Sir Walter fought at the siege of Harfleur, and was with Henry V on the eve of the battle of Agincourt. It was then that he openly expressed the wish that the King had 10,000 more good English archers, whereupon Henry rebuked him for his opinion, saying that he trusted more in the power of God than in numbers. Hungerford’s personal exploits in the battle that followed are unrecorded, but his company took at least eight French prisoners.

Probably because of his earlier contacts with the Emperor Sigismund, Hungerford was appointed to escort him and act as overseer to his household when he arrived in England in May 1416 to help negotiate for peace with France. (It was then, too, that Sir Walter was appointed to treat with an embassy from the archbishop of Cologne.) Long before the end of the imperial visit, however, he was involved in the organization of a naval expedition to relieve the garrison of Harfleur, then under Franco-Genoese blockade. On 26 July he was appointed one of the two admirals of the fleet which was under the general command of the duke of Bedford, his own squadron lying off Winchelsea. He must therefore have assisted at the great English naval victory of the Seine on 15 Aug., following which, on the 28th, he was given sick-leave.

In or before February 1417, Sir Walter was appointed a member of the royal council, and shortly afterwards made steward of the Household. Naturally enough, when Henry V’s second expedition sailed for Normandy he accompanied the King, this time with a retinue of 60 lances and 85 archers. He was to spend the next three-and-a-half years in continuous military service, interrupted only by negotiations with the French for the surrender of fortresses, and by other diplomatic exchanges. In September, for example, he helped to negotiate the surrender of Caen, Henry V’s first major conquest in Normandy; and in the following two months he served on an embassy treating for a truce with the enemy. During January 1418 he and his men besieged Falaise. Between then and the following September he served with the duke of Gloucester in the Côtentin; and this force, after capturing St. Lô and various minor strongholds, took its main objective, Cherbourg, at Michaelmas. It was in August, that is even before Cherbourg actually fell, that Hungerford had been appointed captain of both the town and castle, a post he was to retain for at least 13 years. Then, rejoining the royal army proper, he took part in the long siege of Rouen, and indeed helped to arrange its surrender on 19 Jan. 1419. Meanwhile, Henry V continued to negotiate with the Dauphin Charles and also Duke John of Burgundy: from October 1418 to May 1419 he engaged Sir Walter to treat with their envoys, and in November following (after the duke’s murder by the Dauphinists) to help conclude the English alliance with the new duke (Philip), which ultimately led to the recognition of Henry as regent and heir of France. As steward of the Household, Hungerford was most likely with the King throughout 1420, and in February 1421 he accompanied him back to England, for the coronation of Queen Katherine.

Hungerford was well rewarded for his labours in Normandy. Apart from his captaincy of Cherbourg, and not counting his wages and profits of war, he also received several grants of the captured lands of Norman ‘rebels’, notably the castle and barony of Hommet, awarded him in December 1418. Such gains of war enabled him to rebuild Farleigh castle on a grand scale in the 1420s. His prowess in the field found recognition in his election on 3 May 1421 (during the royal visit to England) as a knight of the Garter. In June Sir Walter returned to France with the King, there to take part in the siege of Meaux (October 1421 to May 1422). During the attack on the fortified suburb called The Market he took command of the western sector, where the fighting was particularly fierce, and cannon and siege-engines under his charge finally succeeded in breaching the walls. It was at Meaux that Henry V fell sick, and when, on 31 Aug., the King died, Hungerford was himself present. The royal will had already appointed him as one of the guardians of the infant heir to the throne, and the dying King verbally confirmed the choice. Doubtless he accompanied Henry’s body back to England.

As a close associate of the late King, an active executor of his will and a guardian of his heir, Hungerford was naturally appointed by the first Parliament of Henry VI’s reign as one of the new council of Regency in England. He was sworn in on 26 Jan. 1423, and in the following year his annual stipend was fixed at £100. He was to remain a royal councillor for the next 26 years, and records show that (except when abroad) he attended frequently. In February 1423, he received conciliar permission to go to France with the duke of Exeter, and although he did not depart until the summer he probably remained overseas until spring 1424, when he not only resumed his attendance at meetings of the English council but was also re-appointed to the office of steward of the royal household. In October following, he was among the grantees of the temporalities of the see of Bath and Wells vacated by the death of Bishop Bubwith, of whose will he was an overseer. His membership of the Council long continued to pay him dividends: for example, in February 1425 he became chamberlain of the duchy of Lancaster, an office which made him chairman of the duchy council; and in May following he and Philip Courtenay, his son-in-law, acquired a seven-year lease of the borough and manor of Lydford, the manor of Teigncombe, and the royal lands on Dartmoor, all in Devon.

In August 1425, Hungerford (after full consultation with his colleagues on the Council) went to France to act as advisor to the duke of Bedford. He was to stay there for six months. His business was probably diplomatic, and perhaps connected with the quarrel between the dukes of Gloucester and Burgundy. Doubtless he returned to England in December when Bedford came home to try to settle the dangerously bitter dispute between Gloucester and Bishop Beaufort. It is likely that Hungerford himself sympathized with the latter, or at least belonged to a moderate group which was opposed to Gloucester’s extending the powers of the Protectorate at the expense of the Regency Council. This party unquestionably felt a need to strengthen itself, and perhaps to encourage his support in January 1426 Sir Walter received his first summons to Parliament as a baron. This Parliament was principally concerned with reaching an accommodation between Gloucester and Beaufort, and it may have been as part of an agreed compromise that, on 16 Mar., Hungerford replaced the duke’s friend, Bishop John Stafford, as treasurer of the Exchequer.

As treasurer, Lord Hungerford’s official wages (including his now increased councillor’s fee of 200 marks) amounted to £500 a year, quite apart from the incidental fees and perquisites of his office and his duchy of Lancaster stipend. He was to retain office for the next six years, during which (as treasurer and councillor, chamberlain and chief steward of the duchy of Lancaster, and executor and feoffee of Henry V) he was foremost in controlling the finances of the Crown. Naturally a party to all the most important acts of the Council, he was present at assays of coinage, and entrusted with the royal regalia and jewels. His position was made no less onerous by the decline of English military fortunes in France. Reverses in the field were attributed to lack of funds and, during the Parliament of 1431, Hungerford asked for it to be specifically recorded that he himself had frequently urged that the earl of Salisbury (killed at Orléans in 1429) should be better supplied, that the wages of other commanders should be promptly paid, and that all financial matters should be directed with the war-effort in view. In domestic politics, Lord Hungerford continued to uphold the conciliar party against the encroachments of the duke of Gloucester, and in November 1431 he was among those who vetoed any increase in the duke’s salary as the King’s lieutenant and chief councillor. Hungerford’s opposition to Gloucester was to cost him dear, and when Henry VI’s return from France (in February 1432) gave Duke Humphrey an opportunity to make changes in the administration, he was removed from the treasurership and superseded by Gloucester’s friend, John, Lord Scrope.

During Hungerford’s treasurership there had been no question of him taking up any military duties, but his two elder sons, Sir Walter junior and Sir Robert, both served in France with the duke of Bedford. The former, a knight banneret, had the misfortune to be captured at the battle of Patay in 1429 and was held to ransom for 12,000 ‘saluz’. Not until February 1433 was the ransom finally paid (the Lords Cromwell, Scales and Tiptoft* and the duke of Brittany all having contributed), but by that time the young man had died in prison. Not long afterwards the financial loss, at least, was made good. In July 1432 Lord Hungerford himself had embarked for France with a large retinue of 50 lances and 250 archers, and during the following autumn had participated in the recapture of Provins, near Paris. It was probably at this time that he took prisoner John de Vendôme, Vidame of Chartres, an important nobleman whose substantial ransom was to be negotiated in the following year.

By October 1432 Hungerford was back in England. Though no longer treasurer, he continued to discharge his other offices, and was still an influential member of the royal council. In April 1433 he and John Kemp, archbishop of York, were commissioned to go to the general council at Basel (where efforts were being made to bring about peace between England and France) and to confer with the duke of Bedford on the way. Whether he actually undertook this mission is unknown, but his presence was recorded at the Parliament which met from July to December. He was still much occupied, as executor and feoffee, with the administration of Henry V’s will, and, in fact, it was only after another ten years that the duchy lands placed in his keeping by Henry were finally surrendered.

English affairs in France were by then in a serious state, and in August 1435 Hungerford joined the delegates to the Congress of Arras, by which it was hoped to reach a diplomatic compromise between England, her reluctant ally, Burgundy, and the French. Negotiations broke down on 6 Sept. (when Hungerford returned to England), an event which was quickly followed by the death of Bedford and the defection of the duke of Burgundy to Charles VII. The English conquest was now in great danger, and in February 1436 Hungerford was among those called on to make loans for the equipment of Bedford’s successor, the duke of York. Furthermore, by that August, he had himself raised a sizeable force (consisting of two bannerets, 30 lances and 378 archers) for service in France. That Hungerford approved of a vigorous anti-Burgundian policy is suggested by a contemporary tract, The Libelle of Englyshe Policye, which advocated the blockade of Flanders and the maintenance of naval supremacy: its author himself stated that his work had been given to ‘the wyse lorde baron of Hungerforde’ who read it in a night and ‘seythe that thow arte trewe ... nexte the gospell’.

Hungerford was still in constant attendance on the royal council (being re-appointed in November 1437, by which date Henry VI was deemed to have come of age). Although his annual salary was then reduced to 100 marks, he was to have this for life, even if unable to attend meetings.3 During 1437 and 1438 he made further substantial loans towards the war. His diplomatic experience was still in demand, and from 11 June to 8 Aug. 1439, and again from 28 Aug. until 2 Oct. he was a member of the important embassy to Calais, to negotiate for peace with the French and Burgundians which, however, resulted only in a short truce with the latter.4 This was to be Hungerford’s last mission: he was well out of it, for the diplomacy of defeat and withdrawal can hardly have been congenial to one who had seen the great days of Henry V. In September 1440 he was proposed for membership of a council of nine which was to help the duke of York, now lieutenant-general in France, but nothing seems to have come of this. Now over 60, he was beginning to withdraw from public life. In 1437 he had ceased to be one of the two chief stewards of the duchy of Lancaster, making way for the King’s preferred choice, the earl of Suffolk, and in 1438 he was also replaced as constable of Windsor castle. In November 1441 he secured the reversion of the duchy chamberlainship for his younger son, Sir Edmund, and relinquished the office to him three years later. He continued, however, to attend meetings of the royal council and to serve on local commissions. In fact, he was in Wiltshire early in 1443 when, hearing of a riotous assembly at Salisbury, he rode there posthaste, ‘not sparing his body nather goodes’, and put down the insurrection: for this he was especially thanked by the Council (and also asked to keep an eye on the city in case of further trouble). He is last known to have been present at a council meeting in May 1443; and in 1444 he was excused from further attendance at annual chapters of the Order of the Garter. Nor is it likely that, though summoned, he attended Parliament after this date. His long diplomatic experience, however, was still valued, and in October 1446 he was specially invited to an assembly of the Council which was to consider a proposed meeting between Henry VI and Charles VII to treat for peace. Though by now virtually retired, Lord Hungerford was by no means out of favour or lacking in influence. In 1446 he obtained a grant in tail-male of the duchy of Lancaster manor and borough of Hungerford, Berkshire, where he already owned property; and in 1447 the manor, park and hundred of Mere (which he had held by a grant for life since 1416) were awarded in survivorship to him and his younger son, Sir Edmund. The latter was doing well at Court, being an associate of the duke of Suffolk, with whom the family was also connected by the marriage of Lord Hungerford’s grandson, Robert, to Eleanor, Lady Moleyns.

Throughout his long and active life, Hungerford had been closely associated with many of the greatest nobles and magnates of the realm. Quite apart from his family connexions and his political and professional links with fellow councillors and duchy officials, he had very frequently acted as a feoffee-to-uses for the leading figures of his day. During Henry V’s reign, to name only the most important, he had assumed positions of trust for Edward, duke of York, Thomas, earl of Salisbury, Chief Justice Sir William Hankford and Sir John Tiptoft; and in Henry VI’s reign he had also served in this way Richard, duke of York, Humphrey, earl of Stafford, Ralph, Lord Cromwell, Reynold, Lord de la Warre, and William, Lord Lovell. He had also (and especially while treasurer) been in demand as a supervisor of wills: in 1426 he had been thus appointed by Thomas Beaufort, duke of Exeter, in 1429 by John Mowbray, duke of Norfolk, in 1431 by John Wodehouse*, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster and a fellow executor to Henry V, and in 1438 by Bishop Sidenham of Chichester. In 1436 he appeared as an executor for his neighbour, Sir John Paulet† of Somerset. Of a different character, but no less interesting, are Lord Hungerford’s links with those of the minor gentry, lawyers, and burgesses of Wiltshire who at one time or another sat in the House of Commons. Among these, Robert Long*, Richard Milborne*, William Chesterton*, William Stirrop† and Thomas Tropenell† were his servants, estate officials or legal counsellors, while (Sir) John Hody* c.j.KB, William Alexander*, Robert Andrew II*, John Giles*, John Rous III* and John Stourton I* were all closely associated with him as feoffees or guarantors.

Hungerford died at Farleigh Hungerford on 9 Aug. 1449, having ten days previously handed over all his property to his sons, Sir Robert and Sir Edmund, and his grandson, Robert, Lord Moleyns. His will, which had been made on 1 July previous, was proved on 21 Aug., among his executors being the chief justice (Sir) John Fortescue and Master John Chedworth (provost of King’s college, Cambridge, and subsequently bishop of Lincoln). The will’s supervisors included ‘carissimus dominus meus’ John’ Viscount Beaumont, Hungerford’s son-in-law, Sir Philip Courtenay, and Master Gilbert Kymer (dean of Salisbury). It was no light burden that these administrators undertook. Though Hungerford had already built a new church at Farleigh Hungerford, founded chantries at Farleigh, in Salisbury cathedral, at Heytesbury and Chippenham, Wiltshire, and at St. Stephen’s, Westminster, and constructed a causeway over the Standerwick marshes near Warminster, the provisions of his will were formidably varied. Bequests were made to the canons of Salisbury and to religious houses at Bath, Bruton (Somerset), Maiden Bradley, Edington, Amesbury, Lacock and Longleat (all in Wiltshire). The Carthusian friaries at Hinton Charterhouse and Witham (Somerset) and at Sheen (Surrey) were given especially generous gifts. Smaller sums went to other mendicants (with something of a preference for the Dominicans). Order was also given to complete a gift of £100 towards the bell tower of Merton college, Oxford. Hungerford’s charity is reflected in generous gifts to the poor, notably £100 which was to be divided between his impoverished tenants (especially those who had many children or were sick and bedridden) in no less than a score of Wiltshire and Somerset parishes, and in each of these places the church bells were to be tolled and funeral masses said. Personal bequests to Hungerford’s family and retainers were equally generous and numerous, while his second wife, the countess of Arundel, was to have all his gold and silver plate and £100 for her incidental expenses for the year after his death. Also remembered were many friends and associates (like William Alnwick, bishop of Lincoln) and family retainers. Legacies of books, both devotional and secular, reveal Lord Hungerford’s literary interests, and his family pride is reflected in gifts of furniture and of altar-frontals embroidered with his device of a sickle. Beds decorated with Lancastrian badges, and more especially the bequest (to Viscount Beaumont) of a cup from which John of Gaunt had often used to drink, recall Hungerford’s own and his family’s long connexion with the house of Lancaster.

Hungerford was to be buried, beside his first wife, in his own chantry in the north aisle of the nave of Salisbury cathedral. A notable soldier, diplomat and politician (as well as a careful promoter of his family’s interests), Hungerford’s qualities can perhaps best be summed up by the name he gave to his personal herald: ‘Devoir’.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Authors: J. S. Roskell / Charles Kightly


Except where otherwise noted, all information in this biography is derived from J.S. Roskell, ‘Three Wilts. Speakers’, Wilts. Arch. Mag. lvi. 301-41; J. L. Kirby, ‘The Hungerfords’ (London Univ. M.A. thesis, 1939); and CP, vi. 613-21.

  • 1. Bull. IHR, xxxi. 88.
  • 2. The Ancestor, viii. 172-83.
  • 3. Bull. IHR, xliii. 155-7.
  • 4. Ibid. xl. 1-38.
  • 5. CPR, 1436-41, p. 360.