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Faringdon Church
Heraldic Wall Monument

West Wall of the Unton Chapel

Monument to Sir Edward Unton in Faringdon Church, Berkshire (Oxfordshire) -  Nash Ford Publishing

Close Up of Heraldry on Monument to Sir Edward Unton in Faringdon Church, Berkshire (Oxfordshire) -  Nash Ford Publishing

A large wall monument with twin arches, a heavy entablature and escutcheon above, some strapwork, a banded 'sarcophagus' with lions' heads and interesting supporters of the Seymour Dukes of Somerset right and left of the inscription panels. There were originally two alabaster effigies of the deceased before  the blank recesses under the arches, as recorded by Richard Symonds in his Civil War diary.  One would expect these to have been small kneeling figures facing each other at prayer, with sons behind the father and daughters behind the mother. However, Symonds does not mention any children and there does not seem to be room for a central prayer desk. He does specifically mention that the shields were above the 'heads' of the couple (male on the left, female on the right), suggesting that these were quite large and high within the space. They were probably rather fine demi-figures facing out at the viewer, not unlike those still to be seen on the Goddard Monument in Bray Church in the south-east of the county. At the bottom of the Faringdon monument is this inscription in English:

Here lyeth Sir Edward Unton, Knight of the Noble Order of the Bathe, whoe married Anne Countess of Warwick, daughter of Edwarde Seymer Duke of Somersett and Protector of England, by whome he had ffive sonnes, whereof 3 died younge in the life of their father; Two, namelye Edwarde and Henry onely, survyved and succeeded him, the one after the other in their father's inheritance; and two daughters, Anne married to Sir Valentine Knightley, Knight, and Scissil married to John Wentworth, Esquire.

Sir Edward was the son and heir of Sir Alexander Unton (d. 1547) of Wadley House at Littleworth in Faringdon. As the inscription reveals, he married, at Hatford Old Church in 1555, Anne, Countess of Warwick. She was the eldest daughter of Sir Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, the Protector of England, and was the widow of John Dudley, Earl of Warwick who died s.p. in 1554, shortly after his release from the Tower of London. Sir Edward Unton was made a Knight of the Bath at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1559. He travelled, in his youth, in Italy and Germany, was Sheriff of Berkshire in 1567 and M.P. for the County in 1572 (as well as for Oxfordshire in 1563 and Malmesbury in 1554). He received Queen Elizabeth in 1574 at Wadley. In addition to Wadley, he held estates at Shellingford, Hanney, Wick (in Faringdon) and Hatford in Berkshire and certain others in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Sir Edward died on 16th September 1582; his wife in February 1588, by which time, she had, unfortunately, gone quite mad. The issue of his marriage was five sons and two daughters. Of the sons, three died in infancy, Edward and Henry (d. 1596) surviving. Anne, the elder daughter, married Sir Valentine Knightley (d. 1618), had issue and became heir to the estates of her brother Sir Henry Unton. Cecily (d. 1618, aged 57), the younger daughter, married, firstly in 1580, John Wentworth (d. 1613), Esquire of Gosfield (Essex), by whom she had issue, and, secondly, Sir Edward Hoby, Kt. of Bisham Abbey (Berkshire). Of the sons, Edward was M.P. for Berkshire in 1584 and 1586 and a Colonel commanding two hundred men of the County raised in defence against the Spanish invasion in 1588. He died of his wounds (or disease) shortly after returning from service abroad in 1589, having married, firstly, Dorothy, daughter of Sir Richard Knightley, Kt. of Norton (Northamptonshire). He married, secondly in 1581, Katherine, elder daughter of Sir George Hastings, Kt. of Leicestershire and appears to have had no issue.

Latter half edited from P.S. Spokes' 'Coats of Arms in Berkshire Churches' in the Berkshire Archaeological Journal (1933).


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