DUNCH, Edmund (1603-1678), of Little Wittenham, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.)

Family and Education

b. 22 Feb. 1603,1 1st s. of Sir William Dunch* and Mary, da. of Sir Henry Cromwell alias Williams† of Hinchingbrooke, Hunts.2 educ. G. Inn 1621.3 m. ?8 Feb. 1630,4 Bridget, da. and h. of Sir Anthony Hungerford of Down Ampney, Glos., 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. fa. 1611; gdfa. 1623. cr. Bar. Burnell of East Wittenham 26 Apr. 1658. bur. 4 Aug. 1678.5 sig. Edm[und] Dunche.

Offices Held

Commr. subsidy, Berks. 1624, 1628, 1641-2,6 charitable uses 1626-at least 1638;7 freeman, Wallingford, Berks. 1628;8 sheriff, Berks. 1633-4, Oxon. 1667-8;9 commr. sewers, Berks. and Hants 1633, 1657, Glos. and Wilts. 1635, Glos. 1654, Berks., Bucks., Glos., Oxon. Surr. and Wilts. 1662, perambulation, Wychwood, Shotover and Stowood forests, Oxon. 1641,10 levying of money, Berks. 1643, assessment, Berks. 1643-60, Oxon. 1644-60, Glos. and Wilts. 1660, execution of ordinances, Berks. and Oxon. 1644;11 j.p. Wilts. 1646-at least 1657, Oxon. 1647-at least 1657, Berks. by 1650-at least 1657, Glos. 1651-at least 1653, 1655-at least 1657;12 commr, militia, Berks. and Oxon. 1648;13 oyer and terminer, Oxf. circ. 1654-7,14 Poll Tax, Berks. 1660.15

Gent. of the privy chamber extraordinary 1635-at least 1641.16

Gov. Wallingford Castle 1655.17


Dunch’s father, Sir William, died in 1611, but his paternal grandfather and namesake, Edmund Dunch† senior, survived until November 1623, when Dunch himself was less than four months short of his twenty-first birthday. Edmund senior, anticipating that his heir would still be a minor when he drew up his will in January 1622, instructed his executors, Dunch’s uncle Samuel* and his cousin John Hampden*, to purchase the wardship if necessary.18 However, although Dunch did become a royal ward there is no evidence that his wardship was ever sold, possibly because it was inevitably brief (Dunch being nearly of age on his grand-father’s death). Nevertheless, a note in the records of the Court of Wards indicates that Samuel paid £100 for Dunch’s marriage in June 1625. This may indicate that Dunch entered into a contract for marriage during his minority, although apparently he was not actually married until 1630.19

Dunch was returned for Berkshire for the first time in 1624, despite still being a ward.20 He played an appropriately modest role in the House, making no recorded speeches, but being named to committees to consider a private land bill (9 Mar.), a bill for making the Thames navigable to Oxford (20 Mar.), and one for drainage of certain Kentish marshland (10 April).21 Re-elected in 1625, he was named to only one committee, for a naturalization bill (11 Aug.), but was nonetheless returned a third time in 1626.22 On the last occasion he left no trace on the parliamentary records. Two years later he was returned for Wallingford, four miles from his home at Little Wittenham, and again he left no mark in the House.

In 1629 Dunch was among those nominated as sheriff of Berkshire; but it was his uncle Samuel who was pricked.23 He escaped compounding for knighthood because he had not held his estate for three years before the coronation.24 By 1635 he had married the daughter and heir of Sir Anthony Hungerford, the son of Sir John*, almost certainly a wealthy match, although the claim that she inherited £60,000 on the subsequent death of her father is almost certainly an exaggeration.25

Re-elected for Wallingford both in the spring and autumn of 1640, Dunch sided with Parliament in the Civil War, despite his post in the privy chamber, for which he was indicted of high treason by the royalists.26 He received one of the two hereditary peerages created by his cousin Oliver Cromwell* with the title of Baron Burnell, to which his wife, described by Bulstrode Whitelocke* as ‘high conceited’, was a coheir.27 He survived the Restoration, although his peerage was not recognized after the fall of the Protectorate, and was still ‘well in body’ when he made his will on 1 Mar. 1675. He was buried at Little Wittenham on 4 Aug. 1678. His son, Hungerford, had been elected at Wallingford at the general election of 1660, but chose to serve for Cricklade.28

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. WARD 7/68/178.
  • 2. VCH Berks. iv. 382; B.W. Greenfield, ‘Ped. of Dunch of Little Wittenham, Berks.’ Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 3), ii. 45.
  • 3. GI Admiss.
  • 4. GL, St. Anne Blackfriars par. reg., where the groom’s name is given as ‘Miles’, although ‘Edmund’ is recorded in the bishop’s transcript. Ex inf. Wendy Hawke.
  • 5. Greenfield, 45-6; CP, ii. 436; M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 161.
  • 6. C212/22/23; E115/144/112; SR, v. 82, 149.
  • 7. C93/10/22; 93/11/13; C192/1, unfol.
  • 8. Berks. RO, W/AC1/1/1, f. 115v.
  • 9. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 6, 110.
  • 10. C181/4, f. 147v; 181/5, ff. 21v, 211; 181/6, ff. 19, 261, 152.
  • 11. A. and O. i. 170, 227, 455, 456, 541-2, 961, 972, 1078, 1090; ii. 30, 41, 293, 306, 461, 474, 657, 672, 1061, 1077, 1246, 1364, 1369, 1376, 1381.
  • 12. C231/6, pp. 43, 84, 221, 307; C193/13/3; 193/13/5; CUL, Dd.viii.1.
  • 13. A. and O. i. 1234, 1241.
  • 14. C181/6, ff. 11, 231.
  • 15. SR, v. 209.
  • 16. LC5/134, p. 87; LC3/1, unfol.
  • 17. CP, ii. 436.
  • 18. PROB 11/142, f. 497.
  • 19. WARD 9/506, ff. 17v-18.
  • 20. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 543.
  • 21. CJ, i. 680a, 744a, 762a.
  • 22. Procs. 1625, p. 457.
  • 23. Harl. 7000, f. 271v.
  • 24. Keeler, 161.
  • 25. Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv-vii), 676; M. Noble, Mems. of Protectorate-House of Cromwell (1784), ii. 198.
  • 26. Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 270.
  • 27. Diary of Bulstrode Whitelocke ed. R. Spalding, 267.
  • 28. PROB 11/358, f. 34.