Hungerford, Sir Thomas

(d. 1469)
   As the son and heir of Robert HUNGERFORD, Lord Hungerford, an attainted and executed Lancastrian, Sir Thomas Hungerford fell under suspicion of plotting the overthrow of EDWARD IV in 1468.
   Although the ATTAINDER passed against his father in the Yorkist PARLIAMENT of November 1461 deprived Hungerford of the family lands, he was pardoned and knighted by Edward IV in 1462 and shortly thereafter restored to a portion of his father’s estates. Financial provision was also made for his mother and younger siblings. In November 1468, following the discovery of the CORNELIUS PLOT and other alleged Lancastrian conspiracies, Hungerford was arrested in Wiltshire along with the heir to another Lancastrian family, Henry COURTENAY, de jure seventh earl of Devon. Although several other suspected Lancastrian plotters were also apprehended, including John de VERE, earl of Oxford, only Hungerford and Courtenay were brought to trial.
   In January 1469, both men appeared in Salisbury before Richard, duke of Gloucester (see Richard III, King of England), who sat as head of a special commission of oyer and terminer (i.e., “to hear and determine,” a judicial commission especially useful for quick action in cases of treason and rebellion). Hungerford and Courtenay were charged with meeting agents of MARGARET OF ANJOU on 21 May 1468 for the purpose of plotting the “death and final destruction . . . of the Most Christian Prince, Edward IV” (Ross, p. 123). A jury of sixteen convicted them of treason in the presence of the king himself, and the two men were hanged, drawn, and quartered, an execution of unusual severity for persons of their rank. Whether or not Hungerford had actually committed the treason of which he was accused is now uncertain. Rumor claimed that both men were victims of Humphrey STAFFORD, a royal favorite who sought to become the leading peer in the West Country and who did become earl of Devon shortly after the trial in May 1469. However, Edward’s presence at the trial indicates how serious he considered the case to be. In any event, Hungerford’s fate illustrates how dangerous life could be during the WARS OF THE ROSES for anyone identified by past family allegiance with the party out of power.
   See also Hungerford, Sir Walter
   Further Reading: Hicks, Michael,“Piety and Lineage in the Wars of the Roses: The Hungerford Experience,” in Ralph A. Griffiths and James Sherborne, eds., Kings and Nobles in the Later Middle Ages (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986), pp. 90–108; Ross, Charles, Edward IV (New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 1998).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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