UNTON (UMPTON), Edward (1534-82), of Wadley, Berks.; Langley, Oxon. and London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. ?May 1534, 1st s. of Sir Alexander Unton of Chequers, Bucks. and Wadley by 2nd w. Cecily, da. of Edward Bulstrode of Hedgerley, Bucks.; bro. of Henry. educ. I. Temple, adm. 3 Feb. 1551. m. 29 Apr. 1555, Anne, da. of Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, wid. of John Dudley, and Earl of Warwick (d. 21 Oct. 1554), 5s. inc. Edward and Henry 2da. suc. fa. 17 Dec. 1547. KB 15 Jan. 1559.2

Offices Held

Keeper, Malvern chase, Worcs. and Cornbury park, Oxon.; commr. musters, Berks. 1560, 1569, muster of horses, Oxon. 1565, 1580; j.p. Berks., Oxon. 1561-d.; sheriff, Berks. 1567-8.3


Edward Unton’s family was not an ancient one. His grandfather Thomas Unton, the first to achieve prominence, obtained a grant of arms under Henry VIII, was living at Wadley near Faringdon by 1514, and was knighted at the coronation of Anne Boleyn. His father’s first wife was the elder daughter and coheir presumptive of John Bourchier, 2nd Lord Berners. Alexander Unton added to the lands around Faringdon by buying the manor of Wyke and died holding the manors of Sheepbridge, Berkshire, Aston Rowant, Oxfordshire, and Stokenchurch and Chequers, Buckinghamshire, and other lands in all three counties. There were also small estates, appurtenances of Sheepbridge, in Wiltshire and others in the Isle of Wight, claimed by Sir Alexander as heir to his childless younger brother Thomas, who had died in 1542; Edward Unton was to bring a suit in the court of requests against Morgan Cottesmore, the uncle of Thomas’s widow, over lands in the Isle of Wight, and was to establish his right to at least part of the property there.4

In July 1548 the wardship of Edward Unton was granted to his mother with £20 a year from the manor of Wyke. Three years later he followed his father to the Inner Temple, where he was excused all offices for a fine of 40s. By February 1553 his mother had married Robert Keilway II, formerly legal adviser to the Protector Somerset and still surveyor-general of the court of wards, who had been an overseer of Sir Alexander Unton’s will. Keilway, a Wiltshireman, may have helped to procure both Edward Unton’s return for Malmesbury while still under age and his younger brother’s for Heytesbury: Keilway had been an overseer of and a beneficiary under the will of Sir Edward Baynton, a former steward of Malmesbury abbey, whose daughter and widow had successively married Sir James Stumpe of Malmesbury. The Unton brothers could also claim kinship through the Hyde family of South Denchworth, Berkshire, with the sheriff of Wiltshire, John Erneley (either the Elizabethan knight of the shire for Wiltshire of that name or his father); in 1542 Thomas Unton had appointed his ‘uncle’ William Hyde and his ‘cousin’ John Erneley overseers of his will. A more distant kinsman, Sir Maurice Denys, for whom Keilway had probably acted as feoffee, sat for Malmesbury in 1547.5

In Easter term 1555, as Edward ‘Umpton’ of London, Unton was prosecuted in the King’s bench for having been absent from Parliament without licence early in January 1555. In Michaelmas term of the same year he appeared in person and was allowed to make his answer in Hilary term. There was no further process until 1558 when he was fined 53s.4d. It was also in 1555 that Unton married the late Protector’s daughter, six months after the death of her previous husband, who had been heir to the attainted Duke of Northumberland; the marriage was presumably arranged by his stepfather Keilway. The ceremony took place quietly at Hatford church, near Wadley, and seems to have given no offence to the crown since Unton was licensed to enter on his inheritance a month later. On the other hand, the marriage may have been concealed: on 11 Nov. the Privy Council ordered the warden of the Fleet to bring ‘Mr. Umpton’ before it and he was not discharged until 18 Dec. His ‘secession’, his marriage or his Protestant sympathies may explain Unton’s failure to sit again under Mary, although this may have been due to nothing more than his youth. Whatever the official attitude to his marriage, the crown later granted Unton’s wife, who continued to be styled Countess of Warwick, a life interest in many of the lands which had been forfeited by her first husband and his father. In May 1558 the manor of Coombe and other property in Warwickshire was leased to Robert Keilway during Anne’s life for an annual rent of £198; these payments, together with the reversion of the lands, were granted to Anne herself three days later. Further surrenders of royal claim on the Warwick land were to be made under Elizabeth, whose favour Unton enjoyed. He died on 16 Sept. 1582 and was buried at Faringdon.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., Wards 7/4/21, 29, 42. J. G. Nichols, Unton Inventories, pp. xxx-xxxii, xxxv-ix, xlv-ix; DNB (Unton, Sir Henry); Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvii), 222.
  • 3. Nichols, pp. xlii, xliv; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 156, 340, 690; APC, vii. 251.
  • 4. Nichols, pp. xvii, xxi-ii, xxx-xxxiii; VCH Berks. iii. 271; iv. 494; VCH Oxon. viii. 21-22; VCH Bucks. iii. 97, 99; VCH Hants, v. 193-4, 207; PCC 30 Populwell; Req. 2/8/263.
  • 5. CPR, 1547-8, p. 321; 1553, p. 112; Cal. I. T. Recs. i. 159; PCC 30 Populwell, 28 Pynnyng, 20 Spert; Nichols, pp. xx, xxv-viii; Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 100.
  • 6. KB27/1176, 1188; Nichols, pp. xxxvii, lxxii; CPR, 1554-5, p. 14; 1557-8, pp. 103, 289; APC, v. 193, 205; C142/203/61; Pevsner, Berks. 140.