Walter Hungerford

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Sir Walter Hungerford (1503–1540) was the first person to be executed under the Buggery Act 1533.

He was born at Heytesbury, Wiltshire and became squire of the body to King Henry VIII. He married three times, and had two sons and a daughter. He is said to have behaved badly to his third wife, keeping her a prisoner, trying to divorce her, and even attempting to have her poisoned.

In 1532 he obtained an introduction to Henry VIII's chief minister Thomas Cromwell, and in 1533 Cromwell arranged for him to be appointed Sheriff of Wiltshire. In 1536 he became Baron Hungerford of Heytesbury.

By 1540 Cromwell had fallen out of favour with the King. Cromwell and Hungerford were both condemned to death by attainder (a procedure allowing people to be condemned by act of parliament, without a trial) and were both beheaded at Tyburn on the same day. The charges against Hungerford included sympathising with the Pilgrimage of Grace (a Catholic rebellion in the north of England) and using magic to discover when the king would die, as well as buggery.