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L. H. Pine, the editor of Burke's Landed Gentry (1952 ed.), defines "genealogy" in his Introduction to that massive work as the "study of family history and family history is in the nature of things a part of national and racial history".

It is the intent of this book to tell the story of a single family within the framework of the history of England so that, insofar as possible, "names" will assume the character of men within the social, political, and religious currents of the times.

The Arden family is particularly suitable for this purpose because, as one author has said: "Few families in the country have a descent so nationally interesting as that of the Ardens. Shakespeare's Family”, Stopes (1901).

Further, the Arden family is one of the three oldest families of England so that its story spans the whole sweep of English history, Mr. Pine has also said:

"The only three English pedigrees traceable, in the male line from Pre-Conquest times are Arden and Swinton, both in the present volume, and Berkeley, which I hope to revise for the next edition of the Peerage_ , .

"I do not wish to be understood as saying that no other English families are of Pre-Conquest English ancestry. Obviously, a vast number must be. I only ask, can they prove it" (p. xxxvi)


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It might be interesting to explore some of the reasons why the Arden family holds this ancient status. I would like to suggest five such reasons, all of which had to occur in order for it to have such a distinction.

The first reason is a happenstance of history. After the Conquest of England in 1066, most of the land of England was transferred to Norman lords, and for several generations all of the important offices in church or state were held by Normans. The native Saxons were relegated to an inferior, largely landless, position. Consequently, Saxon genealogies all but perished since land titles were the principal, and in many instances, the only, source of family history for many years after the Conquest.

For political and family reasons which will form an important part of Chapter II of this history, however, Turchill of Arden (d. ca. 1100), the first to bear the Arden surname, opposed the accession of Harold II in 1066 as the successor to Edward the Confessor (1042-1066), and consequently did not join him at Hastings to resist William the Conqueror. As a result of this neutrality, Turchill initially did not share the fate of his Saxon brethren in. having his lands seized. Furthermore, between 1066 and 1087 it appears that William the Conqueror granted him a large number of forfeited manors previously held by Saxon lords. Accordingly, Turchill enters post-Conquest English history as a "survivor" of the almost otherwise complete suppression of the Saxons.

It might also be parenthetically noted here that there are not many English families which can claim ancestry even back to the knights


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 which accompanied William to England and were with him at Hastings,

Mr. Pine, in his Introduction to the Landed Gentry, points  out that there are only twenty-six authenticated names of these knights, and only four of these knights have identifiable descendants (the families of Morris, Gifford, Malet, and Gresley) Other writers question whether there are any more than fifteen knights whose can be ascertained_

A second reason for the title of "this ancient family" Burke's gives to the Ardens, is a happenstance of records, As Mr. Pine also points out, there are unquestionably numerous families with Saxon ancestry, but the records do not exist which can bear them out.[1]

During the first centuries after the Conquest most genealogical or Hon is incidental to records of a legal or fiscal nature. Consequently, only those families likely to figure in law suits, or whose land holdings important enough to be maintained, can be traced during the 11th to 13th centuries.

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Fortunately, during this early period the Ardens figured in a number of interesting suits which are an excellent source of genealogical in­formation. For example, we are most indebted to a gentleman named Thomas de Ednesor for a suit to quiet title to his land in 1275. It is from that suit we derive the interesting bit of incidental information that Letitia de Arden, daughter of II Siward de Arden, and granddaughter of I Turchill de Arden, was a mistress of King Henry I (1100-1135) and a recipient of his largesse -- a fact of particular significance in the survival of this Saxon family, as will be developed later. Also, we are indebted to Avice de Arden, the wife of V William de Arden (Chart III), who, in a suit in 1233, complained that when it appeared that her husband was not going to return from the Crusades, her cousin Eusticia had taken all of her lands -- including some, it seems, that William had set aside for Avice's maintenance and support. We will also report several other suits involving the Ardens -- all of which had the same ending: the Ardens were willing to settle for a good horse!

But, of course, the main sources of genealogical information is from land titles -- which fact sounded the death knell of the pedigrees of the dispossessed Saxons, and of any Norman families but the most prominent.

The first, and most important of these land records was he famous Domesday Book of 1087 -- so called because in subsequent years, in any litigation, there was no appeal from the statements contained in Domesday.

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Holdsworth, in his History of English Law, Vol. 2, p. 155, gives an interesting account of the origin of this Book:

"The object of the survey was to compile such a description of the holdings of various classes of persons having rights in the land as would afford an adequate basis for the assessment of the 'Danegeld'. From about the year 991, the Dane-geld had been levied and paid over to the Danes as a tribute to buy off their invasions. In its later form (from 1012), it was a tax levied to pay the wages of a Danish fleet which entered the service of the English crown. The tax was abolished by Edward the Confessor (around 1051) when the Danish ships had been paid off. William I was naturally not inclined to relinquish so valuable a prerogative as that of imposing direct taxation."

William, therefore, appointed commissioners (including Henry de Ferrers, perhaps one of the Arden ancestors on the distaff or maternal side – see Chart IIIA) to tour England, collect the information, and send the returns to Winchester within the year. It is from this book that we establish the vast land holdings of Turchill of Arden, who as Freeman points out in his Norman Conquest  (1871), "stands out more conspicuously in Domesday than any other Englishman".

From Domesday we may also discover some of the land holdings of Turchill's father, Alwin, the Saxon Sheriff of Warwickshire (d. 1066), because Domesday, in addition to naming the then present title holder of the land also indicated the immediately preceding owner. Domesday also contains much other incidental information, such as the tremendous munificence of the Countess Godiva, another Arden ancestor on the distaff side, to the monasteries of the midlands of England.

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Another early source of land titles is the Great Survey of 1166 given in the Black  Book  or the Liber  Niger Scaccarii. Here, for example, we find a historically interesting example of the Norman custom of "Paragium", followed in the first century after the Conquest, whereby lands did not descend by primogeniture, but were divided between sons. III Henry de Arden held at that time 5 knights fees, whereas his brother Sir Hugh de Arden, held 5-1/2. Chart III. It is also indicative of quite a change in the fortune of the Arden family from the 52 fees held by their grandfather, I Turchill de Arden, as an independent lord in Domesday, whereas the vastly depleted estates of Henry and Hugh were held under the Earl of Warwick. The reasons for this change in fortune are set forth in Chapter III.

Jumping to the 20th century, we are very much indebted to the monumental. County Histories  published by the Victoria Society, particularly that of Warwickshire published in 1904. These histories trace the ownership of every acre of land in each of the counties. Their high degree of accuracy requires some changes in the early Arden genealogies and furnish some additional interesting bits of incidental information.

A third reason for the ancient stock of the Ardens is a happenstance of nature -- families do die out in the male line. No one can help but be impressed from a reading of the enormous source material in genealogical research by how often names died out for the lack of a male descendent. It will also be noted in this history that Arden men frequently married the "daughter and heiress of", indicating marriage to a possibly only daughter of a then extinct line.

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XXVIII Roger Arden (Chart VIII), the son of XXVII John Philip Humphrey Arden, is the 28th in direct male descent from I Turchill de Arden (d. ca. 1100), a period covering 900 years. Drummond, in giving the lineage of the Arden family in Histories of Noble British Families (1846), writing over a century ago said: "There are few families in Europe and still fewer in Great Britain that can boast a descent in an uninterrupted male line so ancient as this . . ." And, as noted in the quotation from Burke, there are only two other English families which can claim this distinction.

A fourth reason for the Arden's ancient lineage is that somehow they avoided playing too prominent a part in English history -- which was an exceedingly dangerous business in the early years of the dynastic, political, and religious quarrels of England. One reads time and time again that “Earl so-and-so" was attainted[2] , executed, and all of his lands seized and given to a favourite of the King (or Queen). Sims, in his History of England, suggests that in view of the continued oppression of the nobility by the English kings in the early times and the destruction of the noble families by the civil wars in the reigns of the Henrys and the Edwards, it is remarkable that any of the families survived! In this connection, it is interesting to note that there are only three earldoms in England today (called the "catskin" earls -- a name of unknown derivation) which even predate 1700.

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This is not to say, of course, that the Ardens escaped the quarrels which racked England. A couple 01 Ardens, and many Arden ancestors on the distaff side, as we shall see, lost their lands, and frequently their heads, in these quarrels. Thus XI Robert Arden, a direct ancestor (Chart IV), was executed as a Yorkist in the preliminary action leading up to the War of the Roses. And Edward Arden (Chart V), the great-grandfather of the last of the Arden's of Warwickshire, was tortured and hanged at Tyburn[3] when he alienated Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, and favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, by "certain harsh expressions touching his private accesses to the Countess of Essex". Leicester successfully implicated him in the plot of Edward's son-in-law, John Somerville (a Roman Catholic), to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I in 1583. These and other instances of a violent change in Arden history will be recounted in the ensuing pages.

A fifth and final reason for the ancient stock of the Ardens is, perhaps, a combination of some of the foregoing reasons, but is at least im­portant to the geneologist. That is the fact that the Ardens "stayed put" for many generations, which makes it very easy to trace family history and to acquire biographical material.   J. H. Round, who wrote much of the intro­ductory material to the Victoria Society History of Warwickshire, quoted in Burke's, has this to say, for example, about the Ardens of Warwickshire:

"The family of Arden of Park Hall enjoyed a distinction perhaps unique. For it had not only a clear descent from Aelfwine, Sheriff of Warwickshire in the days before the Conquest, but even held of the great possessions of which Domesday shows us its ancestors as lords, some manors which had been his before the Normans landed, at least as late as the days of Queen Elizabeth."

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For eight generations from I Turchill (d. ca. 1100) through VIII Ralph de Arden (ca. 1323) the Ardens in this study were, with but one exception, residents of Warwickshire. For the next six generations, from IX Sir Henry de Arden (d. 1400) through XIV Thomas Arden (1485-1563) they lived in one location, the manor of "Park Hall" in Curdworth, Warwickshire. For the next eight generations, from XV Simon Arden (d. 1600) through XXII Rev. John Arden (1752-1803), they lived again in one location, the manor of "Longcroft" in Yoxall, Staffordshire.

It is only with the 23rd generation, when the XXIII Rev. Thomas Arden (1796-1861), as the 9th son, could not inherit "Longcroft", that a degree of mobility begins. Thomas, a priest of the Church of England, served in parishes all over England. His son, XXIV Rev. Albert A. Arden (1841­1897) was a missionary in India as well as a priest in several counties of England and an instructor at Cambridge. Albert's son, XXV Edward Cooper Arden (1868-1939), after a period in Canada, returned to England where he eventually selected Devonshire in which to live. One of Edward's sons, XXVI Edward Turchill Arden, emigrated to Australia.


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Now, as to source material, I was fortunate in having available to me the facilities of the Library of Congress in Washington, D. C. , which, with its over 12,000,000 books and over 47,000,000 volumes, manuscripts and other items is today the largest library in the word. I was astounded to find at least a dozen Arden genealogies and hundreds of books on Warwick­shire, Staffordshire, and the other counties of England which play a part in this history. To indicate, in advance, the minutiae which the Library seemed to possess, my information on the Rev. Edward Cooper came from a copy of the parish records[4] of the parish of Hamstall-Ridware in Staffordshire from 1780 to 1812!

I was also privileged to be able to use the research facilities of the Folger Shakespearian Library in Washington, D. C. , which has a most significant collection of Shakespeariana and one of the best collections on the Elizabethan and Stuart periods in the United States. As will be noted, XII Walter Arden (1450-1502) was the great-grandfather of

Mary Arden (1539-1608), the mother of William Shakespeare. Consequently, Arden genealogy is discussed in many of the 25 or so biographies of Shakespeare which I perused. Other interesting data was also obtained from the treasury of source material which this fascinating library/museum contains.

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Now a word on the Arden genealogies. My principal sources were for the Ardens of Warwickshire, Dugdale, Antiquities of Warwickshire  (1730); for the Ardens of Staffordshire, Shaw, History of Staffordshire (1798); and for the Ardens of both counties, Drummond, Noble British Families  (1846), French, Shakespeariana Genealogies (1869), and Burke, Landed Gentry (1952 edition) referenced above. Most of the other Arden genealogies appears to have used one or more of the foregoing as a source. (References throughout this work will be to Dugdale, Shaw, Drummond, French, and Burke. )

None of these five genealogies are in agreement in the 12th to the 13th centuries. Their differences, however, are not in the names but, in instances such as whether two men were brothers or held a father-son relation­ship, which, therefore, only affects the number of generations, and not the line. After considerable study, I have elected to follow Burke for the direct Arden line. In some instances of collateral and distaff lines, however, I believe that the evidence suggests adoption of the arguments presented in one or the other of the works named above, and have noted such deviations.

Of course, Burke (and the other genealogies) do riot trace the

distaff lines into which the Ardens married. I have tried to do so wherever possible, and particularly where the line promised some good historical material.

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For English histories, I have relied for the dry facts and dates upon the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Oxford History series; for historical analysis upon Trevelyn's History of England; and for charts and colorful com­mentaries, upon Winston Churchill's recent History of the English Speaking  Peoples. These sources will be cited as Encyclopedia Britannica, Oxford, Trevelyn, and Churchill.

*    *    *    *    *

A few words of a technical nature. The format of the history can be ascertained from the Index. Preceding each chapter is a chart or charts dealing with the persons therein discussed, although in many instances, there will he frequent cross-references. The charts showing the direct Arden line are numbered consecutively from I through VIII. Distaff genealogies as well as certain royal genealogies pertinent to the discussion, are labeled IA or IIA, etc. Collateral lines of descent and vital statistics pertaining thereto are only indicated where there is an interesting story connected therewith or there is a later "tie-in" with the direct descent. A broken line indicates a doubtful genealogical descent, or one with intervening generations.


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Most of the abbreviations on the charts are self evident:

b.                  born

ca.                circa (about)

d.                  died

da.                daughter

emi.              emigrated

ex.                exiled

exec.             executed

ha..               heiress

H. E. I. Co.     Honorable East India Co.

k.                  killed

knt.               knighted

K. O.              King's Own (Dragoons)

li                    living, lived

m.                 married

s.                  succeeded

W. I.              West Indies

W. W.             World War (I and II)

Most dates are calendar years. However, reference may be made to the year of a reign, such as 5 Hen. VII (5th year of Henry VII). For those who can't recite the years of every king's reign, there follows a chart published by the London Museum which gives the names and dates of all kings and queens.

Finally, every work needs a "thank you" and a "dedication".

Thanks here are due to my patient wife, Jill nee Arden. The dedication, of course, is to our children who, I hope, will enjoy reading this magnificent heritage of their mother.


[1] There are approximately thirty generations between 1066 and 1966. Accordingly, everyone living today had 534, 310, 913 grandparents (2 to the 30th power) living in 1066, Since the whole population of England in 1066 is estimated to have been only 1.5 million persons, it is clear that a very large number of .English families have Saxon ancestry,

[2]   A loss of all civil rights by reason of conviction for treason or felony.

[3]  Now “Marble Arch”, where the Edgeware Road meets Oxford Street.  There is a plaque in the middle of the road marking where the gallows stood.  The Tyburn – a small river – now runs piped underground.

[4] In 1535, by virtue of the Act of Supremacy, Henry VIII appointed Thomas, Lord Cromwell, to be Vicar General, and thereafter parishes were required to record baptisms, marriages and burials.

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