GUNTER, James (by 1519-58), of Abergavenny, Mon. and London.
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Family and Education
b. by 1519, yr. s. of Watkin Gunter of Porth-y-parc, Abergavenny by Gwenllian, da. of John Meurig Llwyd of Llangatwg, Mon. educ. G. Inn, adm. 1536. m. by 1544, Anne, da. of Richard Wescott of London, 1s. 1da.1
Keeper of King’s woods, Almondsbury, Glos. by 1540; receiver, former rents of Tewkesbury abbey May 1543, commr. chantries, Mon. and northern and central Welsh counties 1546, relief, Mon. 1550; escheator, Mon. 1550-1; dep. surveyor, S. Wales in 1553.2
James Gunter was a younger son in a junior branch of the Gunter family of Gunterstone, Breconshire: it was his grandfather who had first settled at Abergavenny. He trained as a lawyer but by 1540 he had entered the royal service as keeper of the woods at Almondsbury, some eight miles north of Bristol; three years later he leased the pasture within the lordship of Almondsbury. Dividing his time between the west country and London, Gunter was an active speculator in monastic lands, whether on his own behalf or as an agent for local men: his partners in these transactions included his cousin Richard Gunter of Oxford. Two cases of alleged dishonesty in his dealings were to come to light after his death. In the first he was said to have sold a moiety of the manor of Walton Cardiff or Walton Basset in Gloucestershire twice over, first to Sir Thomas Heneage and Sir William Willoughby, 1st Baron Willoughby of Parham, and then to Thomas Berrow. In the second he was found to have deprived Abergavenny corporation (for which he also acted in land transactions) of Badgeworth rectory, also in Gloucestershire, granted to the town for the maintenance of its grammar school, by fraudulently including the rectory in a particular of former possessions of Usk priory of which he then obtained a grant.3
By 1553 Gunter had become deputy to John Herbert of Buildwas, Shropshire, a cousin of the 1st Earl of Pembroke, as surveyor of South Wales. His relations with another of the Herbert family, Pembroke’s brother (Sir) George Herbert, were less happy, for he was sued by Sir George in the common pleas for a debt of £200 and incurred an outlawry which he discharged in February 1557. Yet it may have been to Sir George’s master William Somerset, 3rd Earl of Worcester, for whom Gunter acted as a feoffee to uses in 1550, that he owed his return as knight of the shire for Monmouthshire to Mary’s second Parliament. In December 1554 he sold lands in Abergavenny to another Monmouthshire knight, the civilian Dr. David Lewis.4
James Gunter died intestate at London on 15 Aug. 1558. According to an inquisition taken in 1579, at his death he had held lands worth £3 16s.2d. and possessed goods worth £40 6s.8d., but in an exchequer action of the same date (for which the inquisition was evidently ordered) the plaintiff, Charles, 2nd Baron Willoughby, claimed that Gunter had passed to his heir Robert Gunter lands and goods to a considerably greater value.5
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: P. S. Edwards
- 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Bradney, Mon. ii. 160; Jones, Brec. iii. 46-47; CPR, 1555-7, p. 239; Augmentations (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xiii), 135-6; London Rec. Soc. iii. 139-40.
- 2. LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xviii, xxi; CPR, 1553, p. 360; Augmentations, 244, 476.
- 3. LP Hen. VIII, xvi-xxi; Exchequer (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. iv), 243, 254; VCH Glos. viii. 238-9; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 226, 228, 278; 1549-51, pp. 56, 213; 1553, p. 221; 1554-5, p. 247; 1555-7, p. 335.
- 4. CPR, 1549-51, p. 168; 1554-5, p. 134; 1555-7, p. 239.
- 5. E178/1511; Exchequer, 243.