DUNCH, William (c.1508-97), of Little Wittenham, Berks.

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.1508. educ. ?G. Inn. m. Jan. 1548, Mary (d.1605), da. of William Barnes of London, sis. and coh. of John Barnes, porter of town and castle of Guisnes, 2s., Edmund and Walter.1

Offices Held

Household official 1540; auditor of mint 1546-51 (with brief spell in prison 1549); esquire of body to Queen Elizabeth; escheator, Oxon. and Berks. 1559; j.p.q. Berks. by 1559-c.77, sheriff 1570-1; commr. musters, Berks. 1573.2


Dunch was living in London by 1540, when he drew up The MS of William Dunche, which gives details of ceremonies and menus for court banquets during the period when Katherine Howard was Queen and a little later (1540-3), together with a list of Household officials. By the time of Queen Elizabeth he had amassed sufficient fortune to buy Little Wittenham, some four miles from Wallingford, from the mint official Sir Edmund Peckham, and a good deal of other property in Berkshire. He presumably had enough personal standing in the Wallingford district not to need a patron for his return to Parliament in 1563. The only reference to him in the journals is as a member of the succession committee, 31 Oct. 1566. He continued to buy land fairly steadily, his largest purchase being from William Paulet in 1582; this included the manor of Charney Bassett, Berkshire, and several advowsons in the county. He also had property in Wiltshire (some of it on crown leases), Somerset, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.3

Dunch subscribed £100 to the Armada fund. He died 11 May 1597, and was buried at Little Wittenham. His will, made 12 July 1596, was proved three weeks after his death. It mentions his new chamber at Gray’s Inn (though nothing else has been found to connect him with an inn of court) and bequeathed £40 to buy plate or a diamond ring for the Queen

whereas that next under Almighty God I stand most bounden to, for that I was a sworn servant to her most noble father and to her brother and sister as also to herself, and hath received good benefit and great princely favours from them,

and £30 to be spent on cups for Lord Keeper Thomas Egerton, Lord Burghley and Sir Robert Cecil. Besides charitable legacies to Abingdon and Wallingford, £2 annually in perpetuity went to the poor of Dorchester, Oxfordshire. He appointed his heir Edmund executor and residuary legatee. His brass in Little Wittenham church shows himself and his wife kneeling at a faldstool, their two sons behind him, and an inscription giving his offices and the date of his death.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. PCC 59 Cobham; Genealogist, v. 252; n.s. xxix. 12 seq.; Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 87; Mar. Lic. Fac. Off. (Harl. Soc. xxiv), 12.
  • 2. Genealogist , n.s. xxix. 12 seq.; LP Hen. VIII, xxi(2), p. 241; APC , ii. 312; viii. 98; Berks. N. and Q. i. 5; CPR, 1550-3, p. 54; E. Ashmole, Berks. i. 59-60; information about the mint from Dr. C. E. Challis.
  • 3. Genealogist, n.s. xxix. 13; xxx. passim; PCC 59 Cobham; APC, ii. 312; CPR, 1550-3, p. 54; 1553 and App. Edw. VI, p. 59; 1566-9, p. 94; VCH Berks. iv. 24, 31, 382, 401, 468-9, 474; Berks. N. and Q. i. 5; D’Ewes, 127; C142/249/84.
  • 4. T. C. Noble, Names of Those who Subscribed, 2; C142/249/84; PCC 59 Cobham; Berks. N. and Q. i. 5; Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Jnl. xiv. 83; xv. passim.