COVERT, Walter (c.1549-1632), of Slaugham, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. c.1549, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Richard Covert of Slaugham by his 1st w.; bro. of John. educ. G. Inn 1567. m. (1) Timothea (d. by 10 June 1610), da. of John Lennard of Chevening, Kent, s.p.; (2) Jane, da. of John Shurley II of Isfield. suc. fa. 1579. Kntd. 1591.2
Sheriff, Surr. and Suss. 1583-4, 1592-3; j.p. Suss. from 1581, q. by c.1585; dep. lt. Suss. 1585.3
The Covert family had been living in the Horsham district of Sussex from at least the early thirteenth century, gradually acquiring considerable property in the county. By the later sixteenth century they held lands scattered between Crawley, on the northern border, and Hangleton, near the south coast, and were among the wealthiest of the Sussex gentry. They bought Slaugham in the late fifteenth century and made it their principal residence during the reign of Henry VIII. Covert first entered Parliament at a by-election; at the next general election he was unable to represent his county as he was sheriff. Instead, he was returned for a Cornish borough, probably through the influence of Lord Burghley. Covert was knight of the shire again in 1586, missed the 1589 Parliament, was returned for a borough during his second term of office as sheriff (Petersfield, in the hands of the Weston family of Sutton, Surrey) and did not sit again during the Elizabethan period. In the House of Commons, apart from the subsidy committee on 22 Feb. 1587, which he would have been entitled to attend as first knight of the shire, he was named to the committee for the bill on the preservation of woods, 28 Jan. 1581, and to that for the relief of the poor, 12 Mar. 1593.4
Covert contributed £100 to the Armada loan, the highest rate known in Sussex, and at the turn of the century he built a new house at Slaugham. He also bought more property, including, in 1583, a fourth part of the manor of Cuckfield from the Earl of Arundel for £500, and, in 1615, another portion of the same manor with other lands, from Edward Neville I, Lord Bergavenny. Before he died, he had added to his inherited lands several manors, including Thornden in Kent and Pepperharrow in Surrey.5
Covert died 22 Jan. 1632. In his will, made on the previous 29 July, he asked to be buried in the ‘new erected chapel’ at Slaugham. He made bequests to his godchildren, his household servants, the poor of nine Sussex parishes, and the minister of Slaugham. All his lands, except the rectory of Ebury, he had devised by a deed of 23 July 1631 for 21 years to Sir Thomas Pelham, and three other gentlemen, his executors, who were to use them to meet any proper charges and for the support of the widow. He also left to his widow all the household stuff recently brought from the house at Pepperharrow to Hangleton, together with her jewels and some silver plate. The residue of his goods, and after the widow’s death the profits from his lands, were to go to a cousin of the Kentish branch of the family. Sir Thomas Pelham was left £40 to buy a piece of plate ‘in token of remembrance of the love’ Covert had borne him.6
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament. C219/283/40.
- 2. Suss. Rec. Soc. xiv. 62; W. Berry, Co. Genealogies, Suss. (Comber’s copy at Chichester), 18.
- 3. Mousley thesis, 279-80; Suss. Arch. Colls. xl. 2 seq.
- 4. St. Ch. 5/G3/6; Mousley 473 seq.; CJ, i. 120; D’Ewes, 409, 499.
- 5. APC, xxi. 91; xxv. 110; xxvi. 242; xxxiii. 428; HMC Hatfield, iii. 297; Suss. Arch. Colls. i. 32, 36 et passim; xlvi. 170 seq.; xlvii. 136; W. V. Cooper, Hist. Cuckfield, 71, 73; Wards 7/83/147; C142/191/70.
- 6. PCC 12 Audley; Wards 7/83/147.