Walter Hungerford (Knight of Farley)

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Sir Walter Hungerford
Spouse(s) Anne Basset
Anne Dormer
2 children by first wife (names unknown)
Edmund Hungerford
Susan Hungerford
Lucy Hungerford
Jane Hungerford
3 illegitimate sons
1 illegitimate daughter
Father Walter Hungerford, 1st Baron Hungerford of Heytesbury
Mother Susan Danvers
Died c.1596

Sir Walter Hungerford of Farley (died c.1596) was an English landowner. In his lifetime he was popularly referred to as the "Knight of Farley" for his renowned sporting abilities. In his youth he recovered the lands forfeited by his father's attainder, and was favoured by Queen Mary, whose Maid of Honour, Anne Basset, was his first wife. In 1568 he sued his second wife, Anne (née Dormer), for divorce. He failed to prove the scandalous grounds he alleged against her, but chose to be imprisoned in the Fleet rather than support his wife or pay the costs awarded against him by the court.


Walter Hungerford was the only son of Walter Hungerford, 1st Baron Hungerford of Heytesbury, and his first wife, Susan Danvers, daughter of Sir John Danvers of Dauntsey, Wiltshire, by the heiress Anne Stradling.[1][2]

Hungerford succeeded his father on 28 July 1540.[3] By an Act of Parliament in 1542 he was restored in blood, but did not immediately regain his father's title and lands.[3] He was granted land by Edward VI in 1552, and in 1554 Queen Mary granted him the confiscated estate of Farleigh Hungerford, in Somerset, when the attainder on his father, Walter Hungerford, 1st Baron Hungerford of Heytesbury, was reversed.[citation needed] He was knighted in the same year.[3]

He was Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1557, 1572, 1581 and 1587.[3]

Hungerford excelled at field sports,[3][4] and "was present at the first recorded horse race in Wiltshire in 1585".[3]

In 1568 he sued his second wife for divorce, alleging that she had tried to poison him some years earlier, and that she had committed adultery with William Darrell of Littlecote, Wiltshire,[5] and had had a child by him.[3]

Hungerford failed to prove the allegations in court, and subsequently spent three years in the Fleet Prison for his refusal to support his wife or to pay the £250 in costs awarded against him in the divorce suit.[6][3] Two letters from Lady Hungerford, written in 1570, speak of her impoverished circumstances.[7]

Through the offices of the Earl of Leicester, Lady Hungerford obtained licence in 1571 to visit her dying grandmother, Jane Dormer (née Newdigate), who was living in the English Catholic community at Louvain.[3] She never returned to England. On 29 March 1586[8] she wrote from Namur to Sir Francis Walsingham, requesting that he protect her daughters from Hungerford's attempts to disinherit them.[9][3]

In his will, dated 14 November 1595, Hungerford left two farms to his mistress, Margery Bright, and the residue of his estate to his half brother, Sir Edward Hungerford,[3]with remainder to the heirs male of "any woman" he should "afterwards marry".[10] Hungerford died in December 1596,[citation needed] and was succeeded by his half brother, whom Hungerford's widow, Anne, and his mistress, Margery Bright, both sued for dower. Lady Hungerford was granted 'generous' dower,[3] and died at Louvain in 1603.[5]

Two portraits of Hungerford are shown as engravings in Sir Richard Hoare's Modern Wiltshire, Heytesbury Hundred; both were owned in Hoare's time by Richard Pollen, esquire, of Rodbourne, Wiltshire. In the earlier portrait, dated 1560, Hungerford is depicted in full armour, 'and about him are all the appliances of hunting and hawking, in which the inscription on the picture states that he excelled'. The later portrait, dated 1574, shows him with a hawk on his wrist.[5][11]


Hungerford married firstly Anne Basset, Maid of Honour to Queen Mary, and daughter of Sir John Basset of Umberleigh, Devon. On 11 June 1554 Robert Swyfte reported the wedding in a letter to Francis Talbot, 5th Earl of Shrewsbury, as having taken place "on Thursday which day the Queen shewed herself very pleasant, commanding all mirth and pastime".[3][12] There were two children of the marriage, who both died without issue.[6][3]

He married secondly, by 5 May 1558, Anne Dormer, sister of Jane Dormer, and elder daughter of Sir William Dormer[6] by his first wife, Mary Sidney, daughter of Sir William Sidney,[13][14][3] by whom he had a son and three daughters:[3][1][15]

Hungerford also had mistress, Margery Bright, by whom he had two sons and a daughter born during his lifetime, as well as a posthumous son. Hungerford married Margery Bright after making his will, having heard rumours that his wife was dead.[6][3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Burke 1866, p. 282.
  2. Macnamara 1895, pp. 154, 227, 235, 279-80.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 Harding 1982.
  4. Hore 1886, pp. 93-4.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Harrison 1891, p. 260.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Ashton 2004.
  7. Hardy 1881, pp. 239-40.
  8. Hardy dates the letter to 1589.
  9. Lemon 2005, p. 316.
  10. Hardy 1881, p. 242.
  11. Hardy 1881, p. 240.
  12. Harding dates the wedding to 11 June.
  13. Rylands 1909, p. 41.
  14. Ashton states that Hungerford's second wife was the daughter of Jane Dormer.
  15. Hardy 1881, p. 239.


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHarrison, William Jerome (1891). [ "Hungerford, Walter (1503-1540)" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 28. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 259–60.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Endnotes:
    • Dugdale's Baronage;
    • Burke's Extinct Peerage;
    • Hoare's Hungerfordiana or, Memoirs of the Family of Hungerford, 1823;
    • Jackson's Guide to Farleigh-Hungerford, 1853, and Sheriffs of Wiltshire;
    • Burnet's Hist. of Reformation, i. 566–7;
    • Hall's Society in the Elizabethan Age;
    • Hoare, Sir Richard (1822). Modern Wiltshire, Heytesbury Hundred. pp. 110, 112 sq.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>;
    • Brewer and Gairdner's Letters and Papers of Henry VIII;
    • Antiquary, ii. 233.