HUNGATE, Sir Henry (c.1598-by 1645), of East Bradenham, Norf.; later of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster.

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



Family and Education

b. c.1598, o.s. of William Hungate of E. Bradenham and Anne, da. of Sir Henry Woodhouse† of Waxham, Norf., wid. of Henry Hogan (d.1592) of E. Bradenham.1 educ. St. Julians and St. Albans schools, Herts.; Caius, Camb. 1613 aged 15; G. Inn 1615; travelled abroad (Neths., France) 1616.2 m. (1) 25 May 1619, Anne (d. by 1631), da. of Callibut Walpole of Houghton, Norf. and wid. of Thomas Pettus (d.1618) of L. Inn and Caister St. Edmund, Norf.;3 (2) by 1637, Martha; 2s. 2da.4 suc. fa. 1606, mother 1637;5 kntd. 20 Apr. 1619.6 d. by 1645.7 sig. Hen[ry] Hungate.

Offices Held

J.p. Norf. 1620-c.1621, Surr. from 1642;8 commr. sewers, Lincs. 1635.9

Gent. of privy chamber 1628-at least 1641;10 master of Buckhounds, Prince Charles’s Household from 1641.11

Vol. in Dutch service 1629;12 commissary or muster-master, king’s lifeguard of horse 1639.13


Hungate’s paternal ancestry is obscure. His father, William, owned two manors in East Bradenham by around 1600, and served as a Norfolk piracy commissioner during the next few years. When he died in 1606 he left his property in the hands of his redoubtable wife Anne, Hungate’s mother.14 She already had another son from a previous marriage, Robert Hogan, and in 1612, just before he too died, she persuaded him, allegedly by fraudulent means, to convey his estates to her and her own heirs, rather than leaving them to his Hogan kinsfolk. By this stratagem she acquired an additional manor and over 1,600 acres, all in the Bradenham area.15 These lands were, however, of less consequence than the fact that Anne was a niece of Sir Francis Bacon*, who seems to have influenced his great-nephew’s education. Hungate received his early schooling in St. Albans, close to Bacon’s country seat of Gorhambury, and was later admitted to Gray’s Inn, where his distinguished relative was a bencher. The connection with Bacon may also help to explain Anne’s advantageous third marriage, in 1615, to Sir Julius Caesar*, the master of the Rolls and former chancellor of the Exchequer.16 Caesar took his responsibilities towards his new step-son seriously, and in 1616 paid for Hungate’s first journey to the Continent. The tour began in the United Provinces, where the young man passed his time ‘in hunting and with gentlemen of the country of the best sort’, and also took in the Spanish Netherlands and parts of France, particularly Paris.17

Hungate was knighted in April 1619, and in the following month married into another Norfolk gentry family linked to the Bacons, the Walpoles of Houghton. He had probably just come of age, for his mother chose this moment to settle on him the reversion of his paternal estates.18 Anne’s cautious retention of the title to these lands was well-advised. In the spring of 1619, for reasons which remain unclear, Hungate borrowed the huge sum of £3,000, a debt which he rapidly proved unable to manage. As early as 1620 he was obliged to sell to one of his creditors an old Hogan property which his mother had made over to him outright.19 A further threat to the family’s finances emerged in the 1621 Parliament, when two of his late step-brother’s relatives sponsored a bill to overturn the controversial 1612 conveyance. This measure secured a second reading, on 12 May, before genuine legal doubts and a crucial intervention by Anne’s brother-in-law, Sir Robert Killigrew, brought about its rejection.20 However, while this particular catastrophe was averted, Hungate’s options remained limited. The 1621 Parliament also brought the disgrace of his great-uncle, lord chancellor Bacon, an event which ended any prospect of advancement from that direction, and probably also precipitated Hungate’s removal from the Norfolk bench, barely a year after his appointment. The best provision that his step-father could make for him was the prospect of a half-share in the profits from the first six clerkship that became vacant after Caesar’s death.21 Such intangible benefits were of no immediate help to Hungate who, in 1622, mortgaged some more Bradenham lands to his principal creditor, Sir William Russell*, presumably with his mother’s consent. Two years later, he borrowed a further £1,400 from a London Mercer.22

In mid-1625 Hungate lost yet more acres at Bradenham as the result of an Exchequer action apparently instigated by Russell, who was subsequently granted the property. Shortly before this, Hungate sought a place in the Commons, probably in the hope that the parliamentary privilege enjoyed by Members would protect him from his creditors. He almost certainly obtained his seat at Camelford in 1625 through the patronage of his uncle Killigrew, who was a major landowner in that district of Cornwall. No record survives of Hungate’s participation in the Commons’ proceedings. In the event, for reasons which remain unclear, his membership did not, in fact, safeguard him against the Exchequer suit, and the lands in question were sequestered only five days after the Parliament closed, well before his period of privilege expired.23

In 1626 Hungate was again elected to Parliament, this time at Newport, doubtless with Killigrew’s backing. However, three returns were made for the two seats, and on 10 Feb. the committee for privileges heard a petition from local inhabitants which alleged that Hungate had been elected on too narrow a franchise. In the event the third candidate withdrew, and on 17 Mar. the Commons agreed that Hungate should take up his place without further question. He is not otherwise known to have contributed to the Parliament’s activities.24

Killigrew continued to influence Hungate’s life during the next few years. He may, for instance, have helped persuade Sir Edwin Sandys* to lend Hungate £2,000 in 1627, as it was Killigrew who had provided parliamentary seats at Penryn for Sandys in both 1625 and 1626.25 As a client of the duke of Buckingham, Killigrew probably also arranged his nephew’s introduction to the royal favourite’s circle. Hungate was soon active in the duke’s service. In 1627 he personally delivered a cargo of supplies to Buckingham’s beleaguered camp on the Ile de RĂ©, and carried messages between London and the West Country in connection with the expedition. He also participated in an inquiry into its failure, despite featuring on a list of people ‘now employed and much entrusted’ who were deemed by one anonymous observer to have contributed to the defeat.26 In May 1628, upon the news that the earl of Denbigh had aborted his mission to relieve La Rochelle, Hungate was dispatched to intercept the fleet and order its return to France. As his progress reports to Buckingham reveal, he attempted during his journey to promote the war effort, though with little success.27

Hungate was now reputedly the duke’s ‘bosom friend’, a position which brought with it certain financial benefits. Conceivably, Buckingham afforded him some protection from Sir William Russell, who as the former navy treasurer had been one of the duke’s subordinate officers for many years. Other rewards were more tangible. When, around this time, Sir Julius Caesar bribed Buckingham with £1,000 to guarantee his unchallenged patronage of the next six clerk’s appointment, the duke bestowed the money on Hungate, though the latter found it expedient to hand almost half of it to Buckingham’s Admiralty secretary, Edward Nicholas*.28 Ironically, Hungate’s intimacy with the duke may have contributed indirectly to his patron’s death. Hungate, on account of a long-standing grudge towards Buckingham’s assassin, John Felton, allegedly persuaded the duke to block Felton’s promotion in the army, thus triggering the events which led to Buckingham’s murder. Certainly, Hungate took a close interest in the subsequent investigation.29

It is difficult to say how serious a set-back Buckingham’s demise was for Hungate in the long term. In July 1628, before the duke’s murder, he was passed passed over for the lieutenancy of Dover Castle, but following the assassination he was appointed a gentleman of the privy chamber, apparently on account of his earlier associations with Buckingham.30 During 1629, Hungate undertook military service in the Netherlands, participating in the siege of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Thereafter, he continued to make himself useful around the Court, accompanying the king to Scotland in 1633, delivering government correspondence to Ireland later the same year, and travelling to France in 1635, again probably in an official capacity.31 In the meantime, the battle to stabilize his finances continued, with some success. He managed to repay the Sandys loan in 1632, and found the money to back a fen drainage scheme in Lincolnshire, an investment which brought him a return of £1,350 in 1635. In another speculative venture, in 1634 he teamed up with a fellow courtier, Lord Goring (Sir George Goring*), to secure a monopoly over the export of butter from Wales, and subsequently also from northern England, though this proved troublesome to enforce.32 However, these efforts merely disguised the underlying weakness of Hungate’s position. The piecemeal sale of his Bradenham lands continued, and in 1632 he had to obtain royal protection from arrest. A year earlier, he even lied to the administrators of Buckingham’s estate in a bid to recover the £480 donated to Edward Nicholas.33 In 1638 he had still not paid off the original loans of 1619, and much of his property was vested in trustees appointed by Sir William Russell. Hungate’s own interests were represented by a second set of trustees, who were meant to redeem the lands from Russell’s agents, and establish a jointure for Hungate’s second wife. By this stage the picture had been further complicated by Hungate’s mother, Lady Caesar, who had designed a rescue package of her own in her will of March 1637. She provided for the sale of her personal effects, the proceeds to be used to redeem some additional mortgages. In return, she wished Hungate to entrust the three Bradenham manors and certain other lands to her executors, effectively to preserve them for her grandsons. This scheme was clearly unworkable, and the two sides ended up in Chancery, whereupon the king himself appointed arbitrators. A revised settlement in December 1638 went some way towards meeting Lady Caesar’s objectives, with Hungate guaranteeing a somewhat reduced inheritance for his sons, and Russell being substantially paid off, but within months the deal seems to have broken down.34

Hungate belonged to Charles I’s bodyguard during the first Bishops’ War of 1639, but during the next three years he was principally employed to ferry government correspondence around the country.35 Clearly recognized as a Court loyalist, he was granted a minor post in Prince Charles’s Household in 1641, and appointed to the Surrey bench on the eve of the Civil War. No record of his death has been found, but he predeceased his eldest son, who died in 1645. His will was never proved. His estate was ultimately too debt-laden to support his bequests, and administration was finally granted in 1648 to a creditor. However, some of his property was eventually recovered, and thus his younger son still owned East Bradenham manor when he died in 1668. None of Hungate’s descendants are known to have entered Parliament.36

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Al. Cant.; F. Blomefield, Hist. Norf. ix. 353; L.M. Hill, Bench and Bureaucracy, 243.
  • 2. Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.; Add. 12497, f. 207.
  • 3. Vis. Norf. ed. G.H. Dashwood, i. 367; PROB 11/132, ff. 388-91v.
  • 4. CCC, 2755; C2/Chas.I/B90/25.
  • 5. PROB 11/108, f. 246v; 11/175, ff. 170-2.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 171.
  • 7. CCC, 2755.
  • 8. C231/4, f. 110; 231/5, p. 532; C193/13/1.
  • 9. C181/5, f. 42.
  • 10. LC5/132, p. 52; LC3/1 unfol.
  • 11. C66/2890/10.
  • 12. H. Hexham, Historicall Relation of the Famous Siege of the Busse (Delft, 1630), sig. C.5v.
  • 13. E351/292.
  • 14. Blomefield, vi. 136; C2/Chas.I/H1/16; E179/152/473; C181/1, ff. 21v, 77; PROB 11/108, f. 246r-v.
  • 15. WARD 7/52/59; Harl. 6806, f. 12; Hill, 244.
  • 16. Blomefield, ix. 353; Hill, 242.
  • 17. APC, 1615-16, p. 424; Add. 12497, ff. 207, 209, 211.
  • 18. Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 302; C2/Chas.I/B90/25.
  • 19. C54/2615/120-1; Blomefield, vi. 48.
  • 20. CD 1621, iii. 212, 241-3; Blomefield, ix. 353; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 270.
  • 21. CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 279.
  • 22. C54/2504/27; 54/2614/106.
  • 23. C54/2835/14; C66/2420/3.
  • 24. DCO, ‘Warrants, letters etc. 1623-6’, f. 133v; C66/2424/2; Procs. 1626, ii. 16, 305.
  • 25. LC4/200, f. 277v; J.K. Gruenfelder, Influence in Early Stuart Elections, 144.
  • 26. CSP Dom. 1627-8, pp. 318, 340, 445, 454; Add. 26051, ff. 5, 16.
  • 27. CSP Dom. 1628-9, pp. 118-20, 122-7, 130.
  • 28. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 419; Hill, 217; CSP Dom. 1629-31, pp. 510-11.
  • 29. Autobiog. of Sir Simonds D’Ewes ed. J.O. Halliwell, i. 382-3; Birch, i. 400, 402, 426-7.
  • 30. Autobiog. of Sir Simons D’Ewes, ii. 202; Birch, i. 419; J. Bavington Jones, Annals of Dover, 63.
  • 31. Hexham, sig. C.5v; Northants. RO, IC 4313; Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 162, 490; CSP Dom. 1635-6, p. 353.
  • 32. LC4/200, f. 277v; C54/3072/1; CSP Dom. 1634-5, pp. 197, 586-7; 1635, pp. 281-2, 566; 1635-6, pp. 32, 163; 1637, p. 522.
  • 33. C54/2835/14; 54/2927/2; 54/2966; LC5/132, p. 308; CSP Dom. 1629-31, pp. 506, 510-11.
  • 34. PROB 11/175, ff. 170-1; C2/Chas.I/B90/25; Univ. Chicago Lib., Bacon mss 4253-4.
  • 35. CSP Dom. 1640-1, pp. 4, 15, 57; 1641-3, p. 171; HMC Cowper, ii. 317.
  • 36. CCC, 2755; PROB 6/23, f. 87v; Blomefield, vi. 136.