HUNT, Richard (1462/63-aft.1529), of Orford, Suff.
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Family and Education
Constable, Orford, prob. 1528-9.2
Apart from his constableship of Orford, Richard Hunt is a shadowy figure. Of his origin and fortunes during the first 50 or more years of his life nothing has been discovered, but by 1524 he was established in comfortable circumstances at Orford, being assessed there in that year on goods worth £16. If he was the Richard Hunt of Orford, styling himself ‘yeoman’, who petitioned Wolsey over lands which he owned at Farnham—this was perhaps at the outset of Wolsey’s chancellorship as the bill calls the cardinal ‘William’, the christian name of Warham, the previous chancellor—Hunt may have moved into the town from this village lying a few miles inland from it. How early he was elected constable is not known, but if it was before 1526 he is likely to have been acceptable to William, 11th Lord Willoughby, who held the town and castle of the King; he may, indeed, have been a servant of Willoughby’s and, after that nobleman’s death, of his widow, as was John Nolethe, the bailiff who was to be associated with him in the fracas of March 1529.3
It was as constable that Hunt became involved in this affair, which led to his prosecution, with others, by Sir Thomas Tey in the Star Chamber. Tey, a Suffolk justice of the peace, alleged that on 6 Mar. 1529 he had been refused admission to a house in Orford called ‘Spicer’s’ belonging to him, which had been forcibly occupied by John Nolethe, Thomas Bury and two others, and that when he had charged Hunt to do his duty as constable by securing him entry Hunt not only ‘contemptuously refused’ to do so but ‘presumptuously reproved the said Sir Thomas for his coming thither saying that he would not obey his commandment nor know him for any of the King’s justices of his peace unless he saw the King’s broad seal’. On the following day Tey had braved a mob of 200 rioters by arresting Bury, and although Hunt among others threatened that if he took his prisoner out of the town ‘it should cost him his life’ he would have lodged Bury in the gaol at Melton if the keeper had been willing to accept him. On top of all this, Bury had confessed to Tey that Hunt was part of a conspiracy to have Tey murdered by some seamen who would escape overseas. Hunt’s reply to these charges was that at the time of the episode he did not know Tey and that he and a fellow-constable tried to rescue Bury because his arrest was an infraction of the town’s liberties. Depositions in the case were being taken two months later and when three months after that the borough was called upon to elect Members to the forthcoming Parliament, Hunt may have been something of a popular hero. According to John Culham’s testimony in 1554 Hunt was only ‘one time chosen burgess of the Parliament and there he served accordingly’ until Culham left the town in 1536. His further statement about Richard Poty’s Membership after his own departure leaves little doubt that Orford did not comply, at least in respect of Hunt, with the general directive of 1536 for the re-election of the previous Members. In the absence of a will or inquisition post mortem it is not known if Hunt’s death accounts for the town’s failure in this matter.4