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Henry Bunbury (1509–1547) of Great Stanny, Lord de Bunbury

Photochrom of the Chester Rows as seen from Chester Cross, 1895. Did Chester look a little like this when Henry and his wife Margaret were strolling its streets in the latter days of Henry VIII’s reign?

Born in 1509, Henry Bunbury was a son of Richard Bunbury, Lord de Bunbury, and his wife Blanche (née Poole.)  He married Margaret Aldersey, daughter and sole heiress of Hugh Aldersey, a prosperous merchant who served as Mayor of Chester in 1528, 1541 and 1546. (Hugh was a younger son of Henry Aldersey of Aldersey and Spurstoe.) * In his ‘Memoir and Literary Remains‘, Sir Henry Edward Bunbury, 7th Bart, points out that Chester had ‘the most constant and intimate communication with Ireland’ at this time, more so than any other English town, and that it was ‘the favourite resort and lounging place of the Irish gentry, before Bath became the fashion with them.’ [i]

We do not know what year he married Margaret but Henry is likely to have been in his late teens or early 20s at the time, which would make it the 1530s. This was the decade in which Henry VIII, guided by Thomas Cromwell, initiated the dissolution of the monasteries and began deepening Tudor interests in Ireland. Henry would have been 24 years old when the future Queen Elizabeth was born and about 29 when her mother Anne Boleyn was beheaded in 1538.

Henry succeeded his father in 1540, the year Cromwell fell from power over the king’s disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleeves. Four years later, he obtained the 670-acre township of Great Stanney from John Warburton of Broomfield (whose family acquired it from the Cistercian Monastery of Stanlow at the Dissolution of the Monasteries) for 500 marks.

Henry died on 18 January 1547, just ten days before Henry VIII himself died. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Thomas Bunbury, then a five-year-old boy. Their other children included Edmund Bunbury and Elizabeth Bunbury, who went on to marry Henry Birkenhead of Huxly.

After Henry’s death, Margaret was married secondly to Sir Rowland Stanley (1518-1613) of Hooton and Storeton, Cheshire. A staunch Catholic, Rowland was knighted in 1553 by Queen Mary Tudor, the day after her Coronation, and went on to be the oldest knight in England by the time of his death aged 96 on 25 April 1613. Their eldest son was Sir William Stanley (1548–1630), one of the most remarkable figures of the Elizabethan Age, while they also had Edward and John, who became a Jesuit priest.

Lady Margaret does not appear to have been a strict adherent to either persuasion. Her son Thomas Bunbury was reared a Protestant whilst her younger son William Stanley was brought up a Catholic, so she had a foot in both camps. It is not yet known when she died, but Sir Rowland was married again in 1585 to the widowed Jane Brown of Capenhurst, Cheshire.

* The Cheshire Archives and Local Studies hold a receipt (ZCR 469/273) of Richard Bunbury of Chester, merchant for £20 from Thomas Aldersey of London, merchant, dated 11 November  1566.


[i] Sir Henry Edward Bunbury, ‘Memoir and Literary Remains‘, p. 234.