Sir Walter Hungerford

Recently our American cousins put out a request for additional information about a painting of Sir Walter Hungerford that had been spotted in a Christie’s auction catalogue. The question was:
Question for Lesley Abrahams or other heraldic experts. See the photos of the pertinent pages of a 2012 auction below. I see the Hungerford shield and scythes. I am aware that at least one English Hungerford was a falconer (but I can’t remember the name on the print I saw somewhere). Anyone know who this man may be? He is no doubt a Hungerford.”

Lesley, of course, is our immediate past President and has a great interest in heraldry. So, her response was as follows:

Sir Walter Hungerford, Knight of Farley, “The Hawker”, (c 1532-1595) was renowned for his field sports.  He kept a good stable of hunting and racing horses, greyhounds, hawks and falcons for hunting. Sir Walter was the only son of Walter, 1st Baron Hungerford of Heytesbury, and his first wife, Susannah Danvers.

His father, Walter, was beheaded with Thomas Cromwell on Tower Hill on 28 July 1540.  Edward VI in 1552 granted him some land, but he did not regain his father’s title and lands until the attainer on his father was reversed in 1554 by Queen Mary I (Mary Tudor). He was knighted the same year and married Maid of Honor to Queen Mary, Anne Bassett on 3 June 1554. Anne was previously a lady in waiting to Jane Seymour, and was reportedly a mistress of Henry VIII and rumoured to be his next queen in 1540 and 1542.  Following Anne Bassett’s passing, Sir Walter married Anne Dormer in 1558 with the blessing of Queen Mary.  In 1568 Sir Walter sued for divorce alleging she had attempted to poison him and had had a child to William Darell (1539-1589) of Littlecote, Wiltshire. The divorce suit failed, but rather than pay costs of £250, or support Anne, he chose imprisonment for three years in the Fleet Prison.

He was Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1557, 1572, 1581 and 1587. On his death he left two farms to his mistress Margery Bright, and the remainder of his estate to his half-brother Sir Edward Hungerford (d 1607). Lady Anne Hungerford successfully sued for dower and died in Louvain (France) in 1603.

The painting of Sir Walter Hungerford is dated 1574, when he was aged 42 years. It shows some arms in the top right corner:

Left to right: 1st row: Hungerford, Heytesbury, Hussey, Peverell; 2nd row: Botreaux, Cobham, Courtenay, Moleyns; 3rd row: Burnell, Botetort, Handlo (or Lister).

Some of these have been drawn incorrectly, as noted by Canon Jackson, The Hungerford Family: Collections for their Personal History, Vol 2, page 140c 1885 (unpublished, held by Wiltshire Museum, Devizes, Co Wiltshire, England).

The painting was in the Collection of Mrs. Elizabeth Hungerford, who died in 1816.  She was the wife of George Hungerford (1704-1764). In her will she left among other property and furniture, her pictures, plate, etc. to her nephew Richard Hungerford Pollen, second son of her brother Sir John Pollen 2nd Baronet of Redenham, who died in 1814.  When Mr Richard Hungerford Pollen died in 1838, his estate passed to his eldest son Richard Hungerford Pollen who became 3rd Baronet of Redenham.  This Richard Hungerford Pollen was also an art collector.

Jackson had correspondence with an RH Pollen (undated).  When Jackson saw the painting, it was in the possession of a Mrs Hungerford Pollen,  perhaps Mrs Anne Hungerford Pollen who died in 1865, mother of the 3rd Baronet.

Prepared by Lesley Abrahams, December 2022,  from transcriptions from The Jackson Papers, notes from, The Hungerford Family Foundation Inc. webpage, and “Hungerford Heraldry”.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment