DUNCH, Walter (c.1552-94), of Gray's Inn and Avebury, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1552, yr. s. of William Dunch, and bro. of Edmund. educ. prob. Magdalen, Oxf. in or bef. 1564; G. Inn, called 1579, pens. 1591. m. Deborah, da. and coh. of James Pilkington, bp. of Durham, 1s. 4da.

Offices Held


Although Dunch’s family originated in Suffolk—indeed the surname may be derived from Dunwich—there is no obvious reason for his return for the borough. Perhaps his father used his influence with friends at court; alternatively Dunch himself may have been of service to the borough, or to the family of Lord Wentworth, the most influential local magnate. Little is known of him, except that he was a practising lawyer who kept chambers at Gray’s Inn, and in April 1591 was elected a pensioner there. As a younger son, he had little land of his own, but by 1594 he owned property in Wiltshire at Avebury, Leigh Delamere, Sevington and Berwick, and the manor of Exford in Somerset. Some of this was presumably settled on him by his father, who outlived him. His wife succeeded to her inheritance in 1576, but there is no mention in Dunch’s will of any estates in the north of England. In 1585 he bought a lease in reversion of the parsonage of Avebury, the parish named in the heralds’ visitation as his main seat. However, it is likely that he spent most of his time at Gray’s Inn, where his son William followed him. The latter, or another member of the family, was fined by the governing body of the Inn for non-attendance at communion, but there is no evidence that Dunch himself was anything but orthodox in religion.

He died on 4 June 1594; his will, made a fortnight before his death, was proved early in the following year. A devout preamble bequeathed his soul to God, ‘beseeching Him to strengthen my faith and to guide with His Holy Spirit unto the end, and in the end trusting my Lord and Saviour Jesus’. He was evidently wealthy, able to leave £1,500 as a marriage portion to each of his four daughters. Among the bequests to friends and relatives was one of a ring worth 40s. to his wife’s uncle, ‘Mr. Serjeant Kingsmill’ George), who with Edmund Dunch was asked to act as an overseer. The widow and sole executrix married as her second husband (Sir) James Marvyn.

C142/249/84; Rylands Eng. ms 311; Vis. Berks.(Harl. Soc. lvi), 87; Genealogist, v. 252; DNB (Pilkington, James); PRO Index 6800, f. 30; PCC 51 Dixy.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.C.H.