The Hungerford family, which acquired their name from the town of Hungerford, lived in Berkshire and Wiltshire with distinction, glory and tragedy, for some four centuries.
The family history has been studied extensively, and several volumes on the family history have been published.
This article is largely based on "Is your name Hungerford" (by Jim Davis, 1984), "BERKSHIRE, and the Vale of the White Horse" (by Roger Higham, 1977) and the Victoria County History.
There are relatively few Hungerfords in the UK, rather more can be found in Sidney Australia - and huge numbers in The United States and Canada. Large volumes about the extended Hungerfrod Family in the USA have been published.
Charing Cross Station in London was built on the site of land ownded by the Hungerford family - its name comemorated in the adjacent Hungerford Bridge over the Thames.
The lands of Hungerford formed part of the estate owned by the Earls of Leicester and Lancaster in the 12th century. The Hungerford family, who had taken the name of the town in which they lived, owed their allegience to their landlords.
The early Hungerfords:
The earlies record of a Hungerford by name occurs in a Pipe Roll of 1165, when Everard de Hungerford is listed as holding lands in Wiltshire.
In 1194 a grant of land from John de Folga to the Knights Templar was witnessed by Radulphus (or Ralph), Presbyter de Hungerford, who was, in effect, our very earliest vicar of Hungerford.
Other early Hungerfords include William de Hungerford, Abbot of Cerne, who died in 1232; William de Hungerford, Abbott of Waverley, who died in 1276, Adam Hungerford, juror at Hungerford in May 1327; and Sir Giles de Hungerford, who fought at the Battle of Crecy in 1346.
A Walter de Hungerford (the first of many with this name!), whose date of birth is not known, married Maud de Heytesbury, and they settled in the village of Heytesbury in Wiltshire, and had two sons, Robert (born c1285) and Walter (born 1286).
Walter and Maud has a son Robert (c1285-1352), later Sir Robert de Hungerford. He was closely associated with Hungerford, and lived at Standen, Hopgrass and/or Stokke Manor on the outskirts of Great Bedwyn.
Robert de Hungerford's first wife was Joan, but after her death Robert married Geva, widow of Adam de Stokke, and no doubt he acquired that manor by this marriage.
He was an important man. In 1313 he was appointed Bailiff for the Duchy of Lancaster in Berkshire and Wiltshire.
In 1322 Edward II made him "Keeper of the Southern Lands" (mostly in Wiltshire) belonging to Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, who, along with Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, were beheaded by Edward II without trial in revenge for arranging the murder of the King's favourite Piers Gaveston ten years earlier.
Sir Robert was later made a Commissioner to enquire into the possessions of the Despensers after their attainder in 1326.
Sir Robert sat in Parliament as MP for Wiltshire nine times between 1324 and 1339.
In 1327 Sir Robert was appointed commissioner to certify the possession of the Earl of Winchester and his son Hugh to the Exchequer. He was also employed to survey the dilapidation of the old castle at Sarum. In 1332 he became the steward of the Bishopric of Bath and Wells.
Sir Robert gave much land to the hospital at Calne and also gave money to other religious foundations, including the Hungerford Chantry Chapel in Salisbury Cathedral.
In 1325 he founded the Chantry of Holy Trinity, in the south aisle of the old church. He was granted a licence to give profits from certain lands for the support of a Chaplain to pray for the souls of himself, his new wife Geva, and his friends. The original indulgence tablet from the Chantry of Holy Trinity, which promised, on the word of fourteen bishops, that 'who so ever should pray for their souls should have whilst he lived and for his soul after death 550 days of pardon'. is still displayed in St Lawrence Church. In 1331 and 1336, Robert augmented the endowment by a messuage, a mill, and land in Hungerford. At the Dissolution, the value of the endowment is given as £10.3s, £12.17s, and £8 in different surveys.
Sir Robert Hungerford died on 30 June 1352 in Hungerford, and he was buried in his Chantry in the south aisle of Hungerford Parish Church. Although married twice, he left no issue; his lands were left to his younger brother Walter. His much-mutilated effigy - the Hungerford effigy dating from 1352 - still resides in St Lawrence's Church today.
- Stone effigy traditionally ascribed to Sir Robert de Hungerford, died 1352.
- The Indulgence Tablet from the Chantry Chapel of the Holy Trinity.
Sir Walter Hungerford (1286-1335):
Walter Hungerford, born 1286, was the younger brother of Sir Robert Hungerford, from whom he inherited the lands of the Hungerford estate on Robert's death.
Walter had married [according to Jim Davis: Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Sir Adam Fitzjohn, of Cherhill, Wiltshire] or [Maud Heytersbury, the heiress of the extensive Heytesbury estates near Warminster]. The seat of the Hungerford family was to move to Wiltshire.
Sir Walter, like his elder brother, represented Wiltshire in Parliament, and was also Coroner for the county.
He died in 1355 and was succeeded by their son Thomas who was to achieve fame and fortune and bring the name of Hungerford to national prominence.
Thomas Hungerford (c1328-1397):
Thomas Hungerford was born c1328. Until this time, the Hungerfords had not gained a great deal by their marriages; they were mostly described as "farmers and renters", but Thomas went on to hold many important regional and national posts.
In his early days he was Registrar to Wyvil Bishop of Salisbury, and in 1360 was made Mayor of Salisbury.
In 1355 he was made Sheriff and Escheator of Wiltshire
In 1369 Thomas Hungerford bought the manor house of Farleigh Montfort (near Trowbridge, Wiltshire) for £733. It had previously been in the hands of the de Montfort family. In 1372 he obtained permission to crenellate the Manor House, turning it into a small castle. However, when he built additional fortifications over the following years he was fined for not obtaining permission.
Thomas Hungerford was knighted in 1375, and in 1377 (in the last Parliament of Edward III) he was elected Speaker of the Commons - the first person to be definitely nominated to this office.
He was a strong supporter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and in 1383 he had become Chief Steward of all the Duchy of Lancaster's vast southern English (south of the Trent) and Welsh estates.
By 1385 the "Farleigh Montfort" estate had become known as "Farleigh Hungerford", the name it has borne ever since. It was Sir Thomas Hungerford who built Farleigh Hungerford Castle in Wiltshire - which was to be for 300 years the home of the Hungerford family. Essentially a symbol of his rising status, Sir Thomas’s building (which later became the inner court of the extended castle) was a fortified mansion ranged around a rectangular central courtyard, with a tall tower at each corner, in the ‘quadrangular’ style fashionable during the 1370s and 1380s. The castle was built on the site of an earlier, possibly 13th-century manor house, which Sir Thomas had bought in 1369. Although the location lacked strategic importance or strong natural defences, it was remote from the influence of rival landowners, making it suitable for the seat of a potential Hungerford dynasty.
Thomas Hungerford became Sheriff of Wiltshire five times, and Member of Parliament for Wiltshire or Somerset 16 times. He became a wealthy landowner of estates in Wiltshire, Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Sir Thomas married twice. His first wife was Eleanor, daughter of Sir John Strug of Heytesbury.
His second wife was Joan Hussey, daughter of Sir Edmund Hussey of Holbrook. With this marriage Thomas acquired extensive lands around Hungerford, namely Hopgrass and Standen - the manor formerly known as Standen Hussey - as well as the manors of Teffon Evias and Hussey Deverill.
He was also named as an executor of John of Gaunt's will, but pre-deceased him by two years, Thomas dying in 1397. He chose to be buried in Farleigh Hungerford Castle rather than at his larger property in Heytesbury, Wiltshire. His fine monument survives in the castle chapel, which he built to serve as the parish church.
He had five sons: Thomas (who died before his father); Peter (who also died before his father); Walter (b. 22 Jun 1378); John (who died before his father) and Robert (or Rodolph, about whom little is known).
Sir Thomas Hungerford's third son Walter Hungerford was to become a great figure in English history. Much the most distinguished member of the family, Walter raised the Hungerfords to national importance.
He was an accomplished soldier, courtier, statesman and diplomat. He was appointed 1st Lord Hungerford, starting a line lasting 300 years until it ended with the sale of Farleigh Hungerford castle in 1686.
He served three Lancastrian kings (Henry IV, V and VI), he was knighted upon the accession of Henry IV, and he fought with Henry V at Agincourt (25 Oct 1415), and throughout the king’s subsequent triumphs in France.
Created a Knight of the Garter, Walter was appointed a guardian of the baby Henry VI on Henry V’s death, and served as Treasurer of England (1426–32).
By 1428 the VCH says that the manor of Charlton (Charnham Street and Hopgrass at Hungerford) was held by Walter Lord Hungerford. Charlton then descended with Hungerford Engleford to Margaret, widow of Robert Lord Hungerford. The VCH also states that in 1465 his widow Margaret with consent of Sir Thomas her grandson & Anne his wife, granted the manor of Charlton (including Hopgrass) to John Tughill or Tukill, weaver, the first Constable of Hungerford
Sir Walter was at the Siege of Rouen with Henry VI, after which he was made a Knight of the Garter. On his return to Hungerford in 1446 Henry VI granted him "Lordship of the Manor of Hungerford, the Town and Borough and our Park at Hungerford, the Fee of Sanden for Realty and twentry marks years at the Feasts of St Michael the Archangel and the Anunciation of the Blessed Mary in equal propertions".
He married twice, firstly to Catherine Peverell, daughter and co-heir to Thomas Peverell, and secondly to Eleanor, Countess of Arundel, daughter and heir of Sir John Berkeley. Both his marriages brought lands: estates in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire from the Peverells, and in 1422 he inherited from Catherine's mother, the London property that later became Hungerford Market, much later demolished to make Charing Cross station.
Lord Walter Hungerford died in 1449, a very rich man, owning more than 100 manors and other estates, mainly in the west of England. In his will he styled himself "Lord of Hungerford, Heytesbury and Homet", and directed that his body should be buried at Salisbury. His memorial is in Salisbury Cathedral.
Robert Hungerford, (born 1431) was the second son of Walter, 1st Lord Hungerford (the first son, Walter had died with no issue). Robert became Second Baron Hungerford. He was taken prisoner at Castillon, a disaster for the English at the end of the French Wars in 1452, and remained a prisoner for seven years. On returning home, he was just in time, as a Lancastrian, to be on the losing side, was attainted by Edward IV's first parliament; he was taken prisoner at Hexham, and executed in 1464.
Sir Thomas Hungerford: son of Robert, although changing sides, was no luckier, because when he reverted to Henry VI's cause and supporter Warwick's attempts to restore him, he was caught and executed at Salisbury in 1469.
Robert Hungerford: brother of Thomas, equally inconsistent, finally backed the right horse: he obtained a precarious pardon from Richard III which was withdrawn when Henry Tudor landed, but he escaped from custody, joined Henry, and at Bosworth killed Sir Robert Brackenbury, under whom he had previously served; he was knighted by the usurper on the battlefield, and, like Sir William Norris, was rewarded by the restoration of the family estates.
Sir Edward Hungerford: son of Robert, was a most unsavoury character. His second wife had murdered her husband in order to marry him, and ended at Tyburn after his death.
..?.. Hungerford: Edward's son by his first wife was even worse. He was ambitious, procured from Thomas Cromwell several favours including a barony, treated his third wife with outstanding cruelty, and finally, entangled in an assortment of charges, was beheaded along with Cromwell in 1540.
Sir Walter Hungerford: Their (whose?) son, had an appalling record of matrimonial troubles, finishing by marrying his mistress while his second wife, who he had said had committed adultery, and tried to poison him, was still alive.
Several related Hungerfords of the 17th century, all confusingly called Anthony, fought on both sides of the Civil War.
The son of one of them, Sir Edward, last in the series, was knighted at Charles II's coronation. In 1669 his London home, Hungerford House, was burned down, whereupon he established a market on the site. [Christopher Wren built it. He squandered money, and died in 1711]. The market house was removed in 1860 when Charing Cross Railway Station was built. The bridge which carries the trains to the South Bank of the Thames is still called Hungerford Bridge.
- "Is your name Hungerford?", by E.L. (Jim) Davis, 1984