Hungerford, Robert (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 28
Hungerford, Robert

by Sidney Lee
Contains subarticles on his sons Thomas Hungerford (d. 1469) and Walter Hungerford (d. 1516).

HUNGERFORD, ROBERT, Lord Moleyns and Hungerford (1431–1464), was son and heir of Robert, lord Hungerford, and was grandson of Walter, lord Hungerford (d. 1449)[q.v.] He married at a very early age (about 1441) Alianore or Eleanor (b. 1425), daughter and heiress of Sir William de Molines or Moleyns (d. 1428), and he was summoned to parliament as Lord Moleyns in 1445, in right of his wife, the great-great-granddaughter of John, baron de Molines or Moleyns (d. 1371). Hungerford received a like summons till 1453. In 1448 he began a fierce quarrel with John Paston regarding the ownership of the manor of Gresham in Norfolk. Moleyns, acting on the advice of John Heydon, a solicitor of Baconsthorpe, took forcible possession of the estate on 17 Feb. 1448. Waynflete, bishop of Winchester, made a vain attempt at arbitration. Paston obtained repossession, but on 28 Jan. 1450 Moleyns sent a thousand men to dislodge him. After threatening to kill Paston, who was absent, Moleyns' adherents violently assaulted Paston's wife Margaret, but Moleyns finally had to surrender the manor to Paston (see Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner, i. xxxi, lxix, 75-6, 109-12, 221-3, iii. 449).

In 1452 Moleyns accompanied John Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury, to Aquitaine, and was taken prisoner while endeavouring to raise the siege of Chastillon. His ransom was fixed at 7,966l., and his mother sold her plate and mortgaged her estates to raise the money. His release was effected in 1459, after seven years and four months' imprisonment. In consideration of his misfortunes he was granted, in the year of his return to England, license to export fifteen hundred sacks of wool to foreign ports without paying duty, and received permission to travel abroad. He thereupon visited Florence. In 1460 he was home again, and took a leading part on the Lancastrian side in the wars of the Roses. In June 1460 he retired with Lord Scales and other of his friends to the Tower of London, on the entry of the Earl of Warwick and his Kentish followers into the city; but after the defeat of the Lancastrians at the battle of Northampton (10 July 1460), Hungerford and his friends surrendered the Tower to the Yorkists on the condition that he and Lord Scales should depart free (William of Worcester [772-3], where the year is wrongly given as 1459). After taking part in the battle of Towton (29 March 1461)—a further defeat for the Lancastrians—Hungerford fled with Henry VI to York, and thence into Scotland. He visited France in the summer to obtain help for Henry and Margaret, and was arrested by the French authorities in August 1461. Writing to Margaret at the time from Dieppe, he begged her not to lose heart (Paston Letters, ii. 45-6, 93). He was attainted in Edward IV's first parliament in November 1461. He afterwards met with some success in his efforts to rally the Lancastrians in the north of England, but was taken prisoner at Hexham on 15 May 1464, and was executed at Newcastle. He was buried in Salisbury Cathedral. On 5 Aug. 1460 many of his lands were granted to Richard, duke of Gloucester (afterwards Richard III). Other portions of his property were given to Lord Wenlock, who was directed by Edward IV to make provision for Hungerford's wife and young children. Eleanor, lady Hungerford, survived her husband, and subsequently married Sir Oliver de Manningham. She was buried at Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire.

Sir Thomas Hungerford (d. 1469), the eldest son, lived chiefly at Rowden, near Chippenham. After giving some support to Edward IV and the Yorkists he joined in Warwick's conspiracy to restore Henry VI in 1469, was attainted, and was executed at Salisbury. He was buried in the chapel of Farleigh Castle. He married Anne Percy, daughter of the Earl of Northumberland, who married two husbands after his death—Sir Lawrence Raynesford and Sir Hugh Vaughan —and, dying on 5 July 1522, was buried in St. Margaret's Church, Westminster. Hungerford left by her an only child, Mary, who became the ward of William, lord Hastings [q.v.], and in 1480 married Sir Edward (afterwards Lord) Hastings, her guardian's son. The attainders on her father and grandfather were reversed in her favour in 1485, and her husband was summoned to parliament as Lord Hungerford. George Hastings, first earl of Huntingdon [q.v.], was her son.

Sir Walter Hungerford (d. 1516), youngest son of Robert and Eleanor, was M.P. for Wiltshire in 1477, and, as a partisan in earlier days of the house of Lancaster, obtained a general pardon from Richard III on his accession in 1483. He was, nevertheless, arrested by Richard on the landing of the Earl of Richmond in 1485, but escaped from custody, and joined Richmond's army. At the battle of Bosworth he slew, in hand-to-hand combat, Sir Robert Brackenbury, lieutenant of the Tower, under whose command he had previously served, and was knighted by Henry VII on the battlefield. Farleigh Castle and some other of the forfeited family estates, though not the family honours, were restored to him, and he was made a member of the privy council. In February 1487 he was sent on a diplomatic mission to Rome, and executed a will before his departure (Materials for the Reign of Henry VII, Rolls Ser. ii. 122-4). In 1497 he assisted in quelling Perkin Warbeck's rising. In 1503 he went in the retinue of Henry VII's queen to attend the marriage of the Princess Margaret with the king of Scotland. After the accession of Henry VIII he continued a member of the privy council, and, dying in 1516, was buried at Farleigh. His wife was Jane, daughter of Sir William Bulstrode, and his only son Edward was father of Walter, lord Hungerford (1503-1540) [q. v.]

[Dugdale's Baronage; Hoare's Hungerfordiana; Letters, &c., of Henry VIII; Materials for the Reign of Henry VII (Rolls Ser.); Paston Letters, passim, ed. Gairdner; Hoare's Mod. Wiltshire, Heytesbury Hundred; Collinson's Somerset, iii. 355.]

S. L.