HUNGERFORD, Sir George (1637-1712), of Cadenham House, Bremhill, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. 1637, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Edward Hungerford of Cadenham by Susan, da. of Sir John Pretyman of Driffield, Glos.; sis. of Sir John Pretyman, 1st Bt.†, of Loddington, Leics. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1653; L. Inn 1656. m. 3 Apr. 1665, Frances (d. 1715), da. of Charles Seymour†, 2nd Baron Seymour of Trowbridge, Wilts., sis. of the 5th and 6th Dukes of Somerset, 5s. (2 d.v.p.) 5da. (1 d.v.p.). Kntd. bef. Apr. 1661; suc. fa. 1667.1
Hungerford was from a minor branch of an extensive and prominent Wiltshire family which had settled in Bremhill in the mid-16th century. Their status rose with the accumulation of local properties, and was to become sufficient to secure them a seat in any of several north Wiltshire constituencies. Despite this, Hungerford’s father and uncles chose the law, the cloth or medicine over politics, and thus he became the first MP in the family since his grandfather, John Hungerford†, in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. Having undertaken a gentleman’s education, Hungerford received part of his inheritance when Cadenham manor and lands worth £1,200 p.a. were secured on his wife, Frances, as her jointure. The greater part of the estate, comprised of numerous manors, was inherited at his father’s death in 1667. His mother’s reneging on the payment of an outstanding mortgage of £2,500 on the Cadenham property led to considerable family acrimony, which was still an issue when Hungerford drew up his own will in 1709.
Having sat for the local constituencies of Cricklade and Calne during the Restoration, Hungerford was reported by Henry Bayntun* to have ‘designs’ of putting up again at Calne in 1690 but he did not do so. Subsequently defeated in a by-election there in 1691, he was eventually returned without opposition as knight of the shire in 1695. He was forecast as likely to support the Court in the division of 31 Jan. 1696 over the council of trade, and he later signed the Association. His only tellership was on 17 Apr. in favour of receiving the report on the bill regulating abuses relating to garbling spices and drugs. In the following session, on 10 Nov. 1696, in a debate on the conduct of the navy, he moved that Sir Clowdesley Shovell* be sent for ‘to give his part’. He voted on 25 Nov. against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. He also managed through the House a bill to ‘restore’ the Blackwell Hall and Welch Hall markets ‘to the clothiers’. In the following session, given his hostility towards a standing army during Charles II’s reign, it is likely that he was the ‘Hungerford’ who spoke against a standing army and he was one of three Members who early in January 1698 voted against the bill to secure the prisoners accused of having taken part in the Assassination Plot. He presented a bill on 2 Mar. 1698 for the improvement of woollen manufacture, which was withdrawn because it specified the penalties for non-compliance. Hungerford then presented a fresh bill, reporting it from committee on 12 Apr., but it, too, failed to reach the statute book. Re-elected in 1698 he was classed as a member of the Country party in a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments. In one of his few speeches he supported the Country side in the committee of ways and means on 3 Feb. 1699 to limit the naval estimates to ‘10,000 men and no more’. He was named to draft another bill relating to Blackwell Hall, and was named to a conference committee on the resultant bill. In the next session he spoke on 13 Feb. 1700 in defence of Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt.*, his relative by marriage, after the latter was criticized for selling offices. Hungerford noted that half of those in the House were themselves recipients of grants or pensions. Returned again in January 1701, Hungerford was named to draft several bills, including another relating to Blackwell Hall. On 29 Mar., in a debate on the Partition Treaty, he ‘moved for constructive treason’, to extend the scope of the blame. He also intervened on 23 Apr. when Exchequer bills were under consideration, but ineffectually, since according to Sir Richard Cocks, 2nd Bt.*, his ‘notions were all loose’. He was later blacklisted as one who had opposed the preparations for war.2
At the request of the Country Whig Lord Shaftesbury (Anthony, Lord Ashley*), Hungerford withdrew from the county election in November 1701 in favour of Hon. Maurice Ashley*. In writing to Shaftesbury, Hungerford described himself as
really sensible of the honour you bestow on me, in not only admitting me as your servant but in your styling me likewise your friend . . . In gratitude I can assure you that you shall always find me sincere and faithful in both capacities, and though I cannot promise to be personally at the election of your brother, yet I shall . . . encourage my friends in our dirty parts to appear for him.
At the same time his interest for the other seat went to a Tory, Robert Hyde*. Shaftesbury’s private opinion was that Hungerford was an ‘inveterate Tory’, who was better out of the House, and his failure to secure an alternative seat at Calne caused the Earl no regret.3
Hungerford did not stand again, but he retained an interest in local politics. On 10 Feb. 1709 he was summoned before the committee of privileges to answer charges that he had ejected George Duckett’s* tenants, and on 22 Dec. 1710 he was called as a witness in the disputed Calne election. In his will, made in 1709, he asserted that his estate had been severely reduced by the demands and expenses of his children. The hope that this estate would be bolstered by the dowry obtained from the marriage of his eldest son, George, was dashed by the latter’s early death. Maintaining his son Ducie in London had cost him several thousand pounds, and he had been forced to borrow £4,000 to satisfy his daughters’ marriage portions. Some years earlier his eldest surviving son, Walter*, who owed him £2,000, had brought a ‘groundless and unchristian suit’ against him which had cost him £2,800 in expenses. In all, his children’s extravagances had cost him ‘seven or eight twenty hundred pounds’, with the result that his affairs were ‘much entangled and in confusion being in consequence of such my unexpected disappointments and misfortunes’. Nevertheless, Hungerford left the larger part of his estate to Walter, which was still considered ‘a great fortune.’ He was buried adjacent to his son, George, in the family vault at Bremhill on 9 May 1712.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: D. W. Hayton / Henry Lancaster
- 1. R. C. Hoare, Hungerfordiana, 22–24; Add. 33416, ff. 106, 135; Vis. Glos. ed. Fenwick and Metcalfe, 20.
- 2. Bath mss at Longleat House, Thynne pprs. 24, f. 164; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 56; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 19; Camden Misc. xxix. 359, 393; Cocks Diary, 77, 103; Som. RO, Sanford mss DD/SF 4107(a), notes on debate 13 Feb. 1700; PCC 128 Carr.
- 3. PRO 30/24/20/89, 91, 93, 101–2, Hungerford to Ashley, 28 Nov. 1701, same to Shaftesbury, 3 Dec. 1701, same to Robert Hall, 3 Dec. 1701, Shaftesbury to Benjamin Furly, 29 Dec. 1701; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xlvi. 80.
- 4. PCC 82 Aston.