Edmund Dunch, M.P.

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Edmund Dunch

Birthplace: Little Jermyn Street, London, UK
Death: Died in South Oxfordshire District, Oxfordshire, UK
Immediate Family:

Son of Hungerford Dunch, MP and Katherine Oxton
Husband of Elizabeth Dunch
Father of Harriet Montagu, Duchess of Manchester; Arabella Thompson; Catherine Dunch and Elizabeth Oxenden

Managed by: Peter James Herbert
Last Updated:

About Edmund Dunch, M.P.


Edmund Dunch (or Dunche) (14 December 1657 Westminster – 31 May 1719 Little Wittenham) was Master of the Royal Household to Queen Anne and a British Member of Parliament (MP).


Dunch was born in Little Jermyn Street, London, 14 December 1657, and baptised 1 January 1658. He joined heartily in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and seems to have been a Whig throughout life. From January 1701 to July 1702, and from May 1705 to August 1713, he represented in parliament the borough of Cricklade.In the ensuing House of Commons (November 1713 to January 1715) he sat for Boroughbridge in Yorkshire, and from the general election in January 1715 until his death he was member for Wallingford, a constituency which several of his ancestors had served in parliament. The freedom of the borough Wallingford had been conferred on him on 17 October 1695, and he was at one time proposed as its high steward, but was defeated by Lord Abingdon, who polled fifteen votes to his six.

On 2 May 1702 Dunch married Elizabeth Godfrey, one of the maids of honour to the queen, and one of the two daughters and coheiresses of Colonel Charles Godfrey, by Arabella Churchill, sister to the Duke of Marlborough. Her elder sister Charlotte, married Hugh Boscawen, afterwards Lord Falmouth. It was rumoured in June 1702 that he would be created a baron of England; gossip asserted in April 1704 that Colonel Godfrey would become cofferer of the household, and that Dunch would succeed his father-in-law as master of the jewel office; and a third rumour, in 1708, was that Dunch would be made comptroller of the household. The place of master of the household to Queen Anne was the reward of his services on 6 October 1708; when the comptrollership fell vacant on Sir Thomas Felton's death, in March 1709, Dunch tried for it in vain; he was deprived of the mastership in 1710, but was reappointed 9 October 1714.

Dench was a member of the Kit-Kat Club, a dining and gathering point for Whigs supporters and as was the custom of the club his portrait was duly painted and engraved. He also had a reputation as a gambler and bon-vivant and is said to have clipped his fortunes by his gambling. He died on 31 May 1719 and was buried in the family vault at Little Wittenham Church on 4 June, near Wallingford, in Oxfordshire (then Berkshire), in the village where the family had had their seat for over 170 years.


Many of Edmund's forebears had been parliamentarians, particularly representing Wallingford. William Dunch, auditor to the Mint for Henry VIII and Edward IV, represented Wallingford (1563), and was High Sheriff of Berkshire (1569–1570). It was William who bought the manor of Little Wittenham in 1552, which was the family seat. His son, Sir Edmund Dunch (1551–1623), represented Wallingford in 1571 and was High Sheriff of Berkshire (1586–1587). His son Sir William Dunch (1578–1611) represented Wallingford in 1603. He married Mary Cromwell in 1599, the daughter of Sir Henry Cromwell and aunt to Oliver Cromwell. It is believed that Mother Dunch's Buttocks, the variant name for the two rounded local hills Wittenham Clumps, is associated with her. William's brother Samuel (1592–1666) represented Wallingford in 1620. William's son, Edmund (1603–1678), was Governor of Wallingford Castle, and later became Baron Burnell of East Wittenham, though he lost this title at the Restoration (this being the only title conferred by the Protector and not confirmed by Charles II). He too represented Wallingford in 1627 and 1640, and was High Sheriff of Berkshire. Edmund’s son Hungerford Dunch (1639–1680) was returned for Wallingford in 1660 but elected to serve for Cricklade. Hungerford's son was this Edmund Dunch (1657–1719). Edmund, who had no sons, was the last Dunch to represent Wallingford. Edmund Dunch's daughter Arabella married Yorkshire politician Edward Thompson, Elizabeth married Sir George Oxenden, 5th Baronet (1694–1775) (MP for Sandwich 1720-1754) and Harriet married Robert Montagu, 3rd Duke of Manchester.

With the death of Edmund Dunch, the male line of this branch then became extinct, but he had cut off the entail of the property and left it to his four daughters—Elizabeth, married in 1729 to Sir George Oxenden; Harriet, the wife (3 April 1735) of the third Duke of Manchester; Catherine, who died young and unmarried; and Arabella, the wife (6 Feb. 1725) of Edward Thompson, M.P. for York. The fate of the last lady is told by Lord Hervey, in his Memoirs of the Reign of George II, ii. 346. According to this chronicler she had two children by Sir George Oxenden, and on his account was separated from her husband, and died in childbirth. An elegy to Mrs. Thompson was written by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and is printed in her ‘Letters’ (1861 ed.), ii. 484–5. Dunch was a descendant of Oliver Cromwell, and his wife, who was one of the beauties commemorated in the Kit-Cat Club verses, was half-sister to the illegitimate children of James II.

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Edmund Dunch, M.P.'s Timeline

December 14, 1657
London, UK
January 1, 1658
May 31, 1719
Age 61
South Oxfordshire District, Oxfordshire, UK