by the Rev JE Jackson and transcribed by Peter Sherlock
This is a reprint of an article originally published in HAFS Journal Vol 2 No 1 May 1993. To read how HAFS acquired our copy of the Jackson Papers (including the generosity of several members), see this article.
In the year 1832, having never before been in the West of England, I went to reside at Farley Castle near Bath as companion to my elder brother, then Curate of the Parish. In 1832, I was ordained to the Curacy and resided at the Rectory house until Christmas 1845 when I left for Leigh Delamere.
Finding in the printed description of Farley Castle and the account of the Hungerford Family, much inaccuracy and confusion, and taking much interest in the place and its history, I set to work to collect all I could about both. After two previous editions I have in 1879 printed a 3rd edition of my guide to Farley Hungerford, which contains the substance of all my researches as to the Village and Castle of Farley and the Monuments of the Hungerford Family there.
The Collection to which this is the Preface, consists of:
I Memoranda of the Principal Members of the Hungerford Family.
II The Hungerford Terrar: an Alphabetical Gazetteer both of all the Places and Estates in England with which that Family and all its Branches has been found by me to have been in any way connected.
To the owners of land, more particularly in the Counties of Somerset and Wiltshire, and to persons interested in the topography and genealogical history of those two counties, these Collections may be useful.
No old family name is better known in that part of England than that of Hungerford: yet as the surname of a living Somersetshire or Wiltshire Family it is extinct. This circumstance, together with that of the accidental connexion with the principal residence of the older line of Hungerford, attracted my curiosity, and induced me to an attempt to put together in a more complete form, all that I might be able to collect concerning them.
The Hungerfords have not made any very remarkable figure as Public men since the Reign of the Three Henries. At that time the Heads of the family were, for two or three generations, men of high political position. They have only in later times filled the usual station of ordinary gentlemen of good family and fortune.
Their possessions in land were at one time very large. In the County of Wilts more particularly their name is almost ubiquitous. “Hungerford’s Coate”, said John Aubrey 200 years ago, “is a Parietaria which flourishes on every wall, so great possessions have they alias had.” In four volumes of MS I have collected all the information I could upon this part of their history. Those four volumes contain a record, not only of the different manors, etc., which at one time or other (of course never all at once and the same time) belonged to various branches, members of various brances of the family. They also include the places at which any memorial such as monuments, foundations of charities, arms in church windows, remains of Houses, etc., may have existed, or may still be seen.
A large part of the possessions of the oldest branch was obtained by a succession of fortunate marriages. In compensation, as it were, for a long continued notoriety, Time has inflicted upon them its usual revenge. Of direct male lineage from the Hungerfords of Farley Castle all representations, in England at least, have long since ceased. There are several families who have had a female ancestor of that House. Among them may be mentioned as the most direct, but shadowy as to descent by blood, through females, Lord Delaware, the Earl of Huntingdon, Lord Massiareere, Sir Anthony Lechmere of the Rhyd, co. Worcester. From Hungerfords of the younger houses there are also some families that claim to be descended by a female line. But descent is in most cases, very remote and circuitous.
In the South of Ireland however, particularly in the County Cork, are still some families of Hungerfords whose ancestors were younger sons serving in the English Army in that country in the 17th century, and obtaining grants or east purchases of forfeited lands, finally settled there (See Vol IV, Irish Hungerfords).
The present Volume I refers chiefly to the Heads of the Eldest Branch, of Heytesbury and Farley, and the immediate members of their families. These are set out in the Two Parts of the Tabular Pedigree No 1 (see above, pp ii & iii). That pedigree is believed to be nearly, if not quite trustworthy, being capable of proof by satisfactory evidence. But in the other pedigrees of the Branches of Down Ampney, Cadenham, Windrush, Chisbury, etc., there are several parts in the genealogy which cannot quite be vouched for, though in the main, fairly correct.
In fact, so numerous did the Hungerfords at length become and so frequent is the recurrence in Parish Registers of the same Christian names, without any specific circumstance of age or parentage to enable them to be identified, it be difficult to find authentic accounts of a family that has vanished that the later portions of the pedigrees of some of the junior Branches have not been satisfactorily established. The Office of Registry of Wills, now at Somerset House, being now more accessible than it used to be when I began these Collections, would probably supply information on minute points, should any one wish to carry the research out.
The principal works which contain any methodical accounts of the Hungerfords are Dugdale’s Baronage Sir RC Hoare’s Hungerfordiana, and his History of the Hundred of Heytesbury. Many detached notices of them and of their property occur in other books as Aubrey’s Collection for N Wilts, Gough’s Sepulchral Monuments, The Wiltshire Visitation, Collectarea Topographica. Of Farleigh and its family Chapel there, a description drawn up with more than his usual care is given in Collinson’s Somerset. Of these works, some are scarce and expensive, and none altogether accurate in the accounts of the Family.
Among the unpublished manuscript sources of information to which I have had access has been the very fine Chartulary belonging to the late Rt Hon Henry Hobhouse of Hadipen, co. Somerset, containing copies of above 1300 deeds all relating to estates of the Hungerfords. The Earl of Radnor’s copy of this Chartulary also kindly lent to me in 1879, was found to contain a large portion of the same Documents as Mr Hobhouse’s. Another valuable MS is a folio vol of 300 pages, found by me among the late Col Houlton’s papers at Farley and presented to me by kith, being a Rent Roll of Estates, temp Elizabeth AD 1582. Also another survey or Rent Roll taken a few years later, viz 1609, when the Farley Castle estates were held by an Earl of Rutland for his life, jure uxoris. This is also in my possession, a gift of the same gentleman.
Other sources of information have been Title Deeds, MSs in the British Museum, Wills, Parish Registers, and Monuments. I have depended as little as possible upon second hand statements but have personally examined all memorials I could hear of, as at Down Ampney, Salisbury Cathedral, Black Bourton, Heytesbury, Wellow, etc.
The late Mr John Peach Hungerford of Dingley near Leicester in a letter written just before his death in 1809 speaks of a Collection of Materials for the History of the Hungerfords made by himself at great expense, and ready for publication, for which purpose he was then meditating a journey to London. Inquiry has been made of his representatives, at Dingley, co. Northampton, but nothing whatsoever is known of any such papers.
A large collection of Illustrations and Additions to Sir RC Hoare’s volume of Hungerfordiana, is mentioned in the Catalogue of the Stourhead Library.
These “Collections” of mine, gradually formed and constantly added to for 48 years (1832-1880), are so far remarkable that they present the posthumous history of a family which for many generations “lay field to field”, and manor to manor; perhaps, imagining as others before and since, similarly busy, have done that “their Houses should endure for ever, calling the lands after their own Names” (Psalms LXIX 11). Baseless fabric of a Vision! Their accumulated Manors have been dispersed into a hundred different ownerships, the Rent Rolls, Surveys, Title Deeds, thrown into corners Beattarun et timearun epulce, and their very monuments themselves needing memorials. Datur insis quoque fata sepulchris.
JE Jackson, 1 Jan 1880