Login
Get your free website from Spanglefish

Ch.5 - 1485 to 1603

 

- 136 -


CHAPTER V:
 

THE ARDENS OF "PARK HALL", WARWICKSHIRE,

UNDER THE TUDORS (1485-1603).


- 137 -

 

[Bear with me - these Charts need a LOT of work !]


CHART V
XII.                WALTER ARDEN Park Hall, Warw.        The Ardens of "Park Hall",                
                (1450-1502)                        
                        Eleanor Hampden    Warwicksire, under            
                        (See Chart VA)                
                            the Tudors (1485-1603)            
                                        
                |                        
Thomas Arden    XIII.                SIR JOHN ARDEN    =    Alice Bracebridge                Martin    'Joyce        
Aston -Cantlow                Park Hall, Warw.        (See Chart VB)        Robert    Elizabeth        
Warw.    ca. 1501                Esq. to Hen. VII d. 1526                Henry    | Margaret        
                                William    ;Alice        
Robert Arden        XIV.        THOMAS ARDEN    =Mary        Andrewes        | John d. 1526        
Aston-Cantlow                Park Hall, Warw.    (See Chart VC)    | Geys                    
Warw.    (1501-1556)                (1485-1563)    Katherine                    
                    | Margaret                    
                                Agnes        
                                        
                        |                
Mary Arden    John                SIMON ARDEN    Capt. George Arden    Wm. Arden    Elizabeth Conway                    Thomas    
(7th ch.)    Shakespeare                k. at Dunkirk    d. 1546            da. Edw. Conway        Edward    
(1539-1608)    Baliff of            See Chart VI                    Joyce    
    Stratford on                                Elizabeth    
    Avon, Warw.                                Cicely    
    (1530-1601)                                Mary    
William Shakespeare    Edward Arden    Mary Throckmorton
(1564-1616)    Park Hall, Warw.    da. Sir Robt. Throckmorton (1512-1580) and Muriel, da. Thomas, 5th Lord Berkeley
    Exec. 1583 for plot    
    to assasinate Eliz. I.    
        
        
Katherine (d. 1627)    7 Sir Edward Devereux Bart., Castle Bromwich Warw. (d. 1622)    Robert Arden Park Hall, Warw. (d. 1635)    Elizabeth Corbet da. Reginald Cor-bet, Justice of Queen's Bench 1559    Margaret = John Somerville Edstone. Exec. 1583 for plot t kill Eliz. I
                
                
Walter Devereux    Sir Henry Arden    =    Dorothy Fielding        
5th Viscount Hereford (1578-1657) suc. (1646) cousin Robert, 3rd    Park Hall, Warw.        
    (1580-1616)        
Earl of Essex and 4th Viscount of            
Hereford    Robert Arden Park Hall. Warw.    of Park Hall    !Elizabeth    Dorothy = H.    Bagot
    d. 1643    Last Arden        IGodiva    = Sir Herbert Price (sold
            Anne    Park Hall in 1637)


- 138 -


    CHART VA
    Hampden Geneology


Baldwin
A "man of Archbishop Sigand"
in time of K. Edw. the Conf.
(1042-1066)
Osbert Hampden
Hampden
Hampton, Bucks.
Listed in Doomesday I
Baldwin Hampden =
Robert Hampden 
T
Alexander Hampden
Great Hampton, Bucks.
Sh. of Bucks in 1249,
1259, and d. 1272
Sir Reginald Hampden Alexander Hampden =
Reginald Hampden = suc. 1302
John de Hampden M.P. 1357, 1363 Bucks. d. 1375 Edmund Hampden
Hampden
M.P. 5 times Rich. Hen. IV, Hen. V
John Hampden    (1) Sh. Bucks. & Bed.
29 Hen. VI    |
XII. WALTER ARDFN Park Hall, Warw.
(1450-1502)
Joan Belknap Sir John Walesborough
II,    Walesborough, Cornwall
Sh. of Cornwall, 27 Hen.

Elizabeth Walesborough = (2) Sir Edmond Hampden Chamberlain to Edw., Pr. of Wales, both k at Tewkesbury, 1471
     |
Eleanor Hampden
Warw.
Sir Robert Belknap =


- 139 -


VI
CHART VB
Bracebridge  Gemology 


Sir Arthgal    See Chart II
Knt. of King Arthur's    
Round Table    
Peter de Bracebridgo = Alice
"a militarie man"
John de Bracebridge Kingsbury Park, Warw.
7
William de Bracabridge s. Kingsbury Park 1231
r.
Sir Ralph de Bracebridgo
33 Hen. III (Judge of Assize)
---
-Sir John de Bracebridge Rebelled with Barons at Kenilworth. Captured 1265
1
John de Bracebridge
Recovered Kingsbury Park 7 in 1301. d. 1316
-
Sir Ralph de Bracebridge    = At Crecy in 1346. d. 1396 |
r
Sir Ralph de Bracebridge
Knt. 1409. At Calais in
French Wars of Hen. V
Sir John Newport =
I    Joan
Ralph de Bracebridge d. 1438    Joan Newport
    
    
Richard Bracabridge    = •
ca. Hen. VI and Edw. IV

XII. SIR JOHN ARDEN = Alice Bracebridge


- 140 -


CHART VC
Andrewes  Geneology


Thomas Andrewes            Sir Roger Tokett =
Carlisle, Co. Camb.            William Tokett =
Ralph Andrewes            Madalen Tokett
            Mary Thomps
            da. & h. of
            Wm. Thomps, Kempston, Co. York
Grays Inn            
Middlesex, ca. 1311            
            
    Ralph Andrewes Kempston, Co. York ca. 1334        Jane da.    Cuckold,
    Ralph Andrewes Cuckold, Co. York        Ann da.    Whitney
                and h. Wm. Whitney
                Co. York
                Swinborne
                George Swinborne
Thomas Andrewes    Anthony Andrewes    =    Anne Thurston            
Merchant in Flanders m. Bridget, da. of    Cuckold, Co. York        da. Henry Thurston    
    |            
J. Vandernonce in    John Andrewes    Joan Wills            
Antwerp    Kilsby, served    Upton, Co. Warw.        
    Earl of Warwick            
    Richard Andrewes    =    Catherine Berbeck            
    Sawbridge, Warw.    j    da. John Berbeck            
    Thomas Andrewes    =            Joan Clarell
    Sawbridge, Warw. &            da. of Richard Clarell
    Charwelton, Northants. d. 1496            Edgecote
Thomas Andrewes    Emma Knightly
pur. Harleston,    da. Edward Knightly
Northampton in    Fawsley, Northants.
15 Hen. VII    who d. 1490
Thomas Andrewes
Charwelton, Northants. d. 1541
Sir Thomas Andrewes Charwelton, Northants. d. 1563
= Agnews Newport Sandon, Co. Herts.
Mary Henage
da. John Henage
Towse, Co. Linc.
|--
XIV. THOMAS ARDEN = Mary Andrewes


- 141 -
 

CHAPTER V:

THE ARDENS OF "PARK HALL", WARWICKSHIRE,
UNDER THE TUDORS (1485-1603).

 

XII.    Walter Arden (1450-1502) m. Eleanor Hampden
          Park Hall, Warwickshire

 

Accession of the Tudors.

Walter Arden was 2 1/2 years old at the time of the execution of his father as a Yorkist, shortly before the outbreak of the War of the Roses. To some extent, this was fortunate for the survival of the Arden family because it meant that Walter was a minor and, therefore, could not participate in this bloody Civil War during which so many of the prominent families of England were simply wiped out. The savagery that developed during that internecine conflict was never matched in England,
before or since, and reflected itself in the gruesome custom of the victors (Lancasterians or Yorkists, as the case might be) lining up the defeated nobles after each battle, and chopping their heads off. Most English historians touch only lightly upon this nadir of English history. England no longer had any influence whatever in the courts of Europe where Lancasterian and Yorkist claimists to the throne were continual suppliants
for support. Internal conditions reached the state of brigandage and central authority had all but disappeared.
Shakespeare, as Churchill rightly points out, has done the best job of painting this bloody era, only occasionally marked with heroism, in his three-part play of Henry VI and in Richard III. These plays cover the early period of Henry's reign and the events following 1461 when Edward, son of Richard, Duke of York who had been killed at Wakefield, ascended the throne
as Edward IV, and Henry VI was imprisoned in the Tower. In 1470 Edward lost the throne temporarily when Warwick, irritated at Edward's independence 



- 142 -


in a choice of a wife and other actions, joined with Margaret of Anjou, defeated Edward, and brought Henry out of the Tower to be King again. Thenin 1471 Edward (aided by Burgundy) landed at Ravenspur and defeated Warwick. Edward's brother, Richard of Gloucester, killed Henry VI and sent his agents to repeat the same deed with the two sons of Edward (Edward V and the Duke of York, the princes in the Tower). He 1/ ascended the throne as Richard III in 1483.
It is some indication of the depletion of the English nobility that
Henry Tudor could take advantage of the fact that, even in this age of blood, the English people would not accept the murder of the princes on the Tower by Richard, and that he could set forth a respectable claim to the throne.
Henry's father, Edmund Tudor, was the son of a Welsh gentleman, Owen 2/ Tudor, with no claim whatever to the throne of England.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

1/    Modern scholars entertain considerable doubt of Richard's part in the murder of the princes. They suggest this story, as well as the generally evil character of Richard 111,which Shakespeare so effectively portrayed, was a Tudor invention to justify Henry Tudor's usurpation. Costain's scholarly demolishment of the source material upon which the historical character of Richard III rests in The Last  Plantagenets (1962) deserves close consideration.
2/    His only relationship to the throne was his marriage with Catherine of France, the widow of Henry V. But Churchill suggests that Owen never married Catherine which would make their son, Edmund Tudor, illigitimate.


- 143 -


Henry's only claim to the throne was through his mother, Margaret Beaufort, the great granddaughter of one of the bastards of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, third son of Edward III, by Catherine Swynford, who had been legitimized by Parliament. From such a relatively obscure origin sprang England's greatest line of kings who ascended the throne in 1485 after Henry Tudor defeated Richard III at Bosworth Field. He brought the War of the Roses to an end by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward II, thus merging for the first time Lancaster and York.


Recovery of "Park Hall".

When Walter Arden's father, XII Robert, was executed as a Yorkist all of his lands were seized by the Lancasterians, 1/
leaving his wife, Elizabeth and son Walter (then 2 1/2, as noted above) landless. The custody of the lands were committed to Thomas Littleton, Sargeant at Law, Thomas Greswould, and John Gamelle. Elizabeth, however, was apparently a lady of considerable force, and within two years (1454) she was successful in securing an order from Henry VI to the aforesaid gentlemen, to whom the Arden lands had been committed, to return at least so much of the lands as had been hers, inas-
much as the attainder of her husband did not embrace her. With the accession of Edward IV, the Yorkist King in 1461, the remaining lands seized at Ralph Arden's execution as a Yorkist in 1452, were returned to his heir, Walter, including Park Hall.
1/    This Elizabeth probably was another first name for Isabelle
Clodshale whom XII Robert Arden married. If not, she was a
second wife married in the last year or two of Robert's life.


- 144 -
 

Marriage.

Walter Arden married Eleanor Hampden around 1457, the second daughter of John Hampden, an ancestor of the man of the same name, who was to play such an important role during the Civil War, and the descendant of an old family in  Buckinghamshire (See Chart VB).
Eleanor's mother, Elizabeth Walesborough, was the daughter of Sir John Walesborough, a Sheriff of County Cornwall in 27 Hen. VI (1449), who had first married his older brother Edmond, a Chamberlain to Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Henry VI, both of whom were killed at Tewkesbury in 1471 during the War of the Roses.
Eleanor's paternal line, the Hampden family, alleges to trace its
beginnings back 10 generations from John Hampden to Baldwin "a man of 1/  Archbishop Stigand" in the time of King Edward the Confessor (1042-1066).
More authentically, seven generations back from John, the manor of Great Hampton, in Buckinghamshire, was held by one Alexander Hampden in the time of Henry II. He was the Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire in 1249 and 1259, and died in 1272. Later John de Hampden was Knight of the shire in Parliament in 24 Edw. III (1351) and 36 Edw. III (1363), and died in 1375. John's son, Edmund, the father of John Hampden, was likewise sheriff of the two counties, and was in Parliament five times during the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V, and married Joan Belknap.
Archbishop Stigand was consecrated by an anti-pope, annointed Harold, and languished in a prison of William the Conqueror until his death. See p. 52 above.


- 145 -
 

John Hampden, the father-in-law of Walter Arden, was Sheriff in 1456.
In 1446 he obtained a "charter of liberties" regarding his manor of Great 1/ Hampston "granting him a view of frankpledge twice a year, with the 2 assize of bread, wine, and ale, and other privileges including a "license to enclose and impark 500 acres of land and 100 acres of wood in the manor."
Walter Arden's life. We know little of the life of Walter Arden
after he emerged from his minority during the War of the Roses, recovered his lands, and died around 1502 in the 17th year of the reign of Henry VII.
Such a lack, of drama is to be expected because the reign of Henry VII was pedestrian compared to the drama of the preceding decades - much to the relief of a people who were sick of internal strife. Henry was cautious and thrifty. He dedicated his reign to strengthening the throne against the
nobles, instituting governmental reform, and making alliances (particularly through the marriages of his children), rather than fighting with Scotland, France, and Spain. Perhaps it was the rather undramatic nature of Henry VII's reign that caused Shakespeare to stop just short of him in the sequence of his historical plays. I/    

In old English law the "view of frankpledge" was an examination to see if every freeman above 12 years of age within the district had taken the oath of allegiance.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2/    In old English law "assisa panis et cerevislice" was the name of a statute in 51 Hen. III containing regulations for the sale of bread and ale.


- 146 -
 

Walter Arden's death.

Walter Arden was buried in the church of
St. Peter and St. Paul at Aston, near Birmingham. In the chancel floor of the Aston Church there is a sepulchral brass, representing the figure of Walter and his wife, Eleanor, with the inscription around the four sides of the slab reading as follows:
"Of your charyte pray for the sowles of Walter Arderne squyer and Eleanore his wyf, the which Walter deceased the fifth day of August in the yeare of our Lord God a thousand and fyve hundred and two, on whose sowlys almighty Jhu have mercy. Amen."
Walter is bareheaded but otherwise in a complete suit of plate armour. In the sinister corner are the arms of Hampden impaling Walesborough; in the dexter corner a shield with a shield with the arms of Arden. On the base is a shield of 8 quarters showing Arden, Clodshale (Walter's mother's family),
Hampden (his wife's family), Walesborough (his wife's mother's family), and the same four arms repeated. Beneath his feet is a plate with figures of his seven sons. There were, apparently plates for his daughter but they have been lost.
One of the seven sons depicted on this sepulchal brass is Thomas Arden (ca. 1501) mentioned in the will of his brother John, who, as noted by Chart V, was the grandfather of Mary Arden (1539-1608), the mother of William Shakespeare (1564-1616). This relation of the Arden family to Shakespeare
will be discussed in the Interlude following this chapter.


- 147 -
 

The most prominent memorial in the Church of Aston is that of a raised tomb with a full length effigy in alabaster of Walter and Eleanor.
Walter is in a complete suit of plate armor, and his wife is in the attire the period. Walter's feet rest upon a boar, the crest of the family, and those of his wife on a dog. There are two rows of shield, 6 in each tier, with the bottom row empty. The upper row has the shields of 5 successive 1/ generations of Ardens.
Walter Arden's will, to be found in Somerset House, and dated 1502, is the first extant Arden will which is complete. It is a fascinating document giving an interesting insight into the customs of the period and reading in part as follows:
"In the Name of Our Lord God Amen, the last day of moneth of Juyll in the yer of our Lord God mo vij and the yere and reigne of Kinge Henry and vijth the xvij. I Walter Arderne Esquire sike in my body as nevertheless I have sufficiently my mine make this my p'sent Testament and last Will in man' and forme
followinge, First I bequest my soule to Almyghtie God, the Holy Trinity, the fader, Sonne, and Holy Ghost, and oure Lady Saint Marye moder Crist, and to all the corn-panye of Hiven, and my body to be buryed in the Churche of Saint Peter and Paul of Aston beside Byrmyngh'm. Also I bequeath to the Vicar of Aston for my mortuayre an thites forfotin my best Oxe and to the Cathedral church of Coventr' and light iij sh iiij d, and att the tyme of my buriall be made vj torches and xij lb waxes to be made in

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

1 /    Do you recall the mystery of the lady resting next to XI Ralph de Arden who died in 1357 and who was also buried in the Aston Church? (p.112 ,supra) You may recall that at least one observer has pointed out the lady next to Ralph is in the headdress of a lady of the period Henry VII's reign (1485-1509) - a century later. A solution to the mystery may be that the lady next to Ralph is really Eleanor Hampden, the wife or XIII Walter Arden, who died in 1502 during the reign of Henry VII, and that somebody has erred by mixing up Isabel, the wife of Ralph, with Eleanor, the wife of Walter, on their respective tombs!


- 148 -
 

light, And vj pore men to have vj blak guones to bere the said vj torches, this to be doon wt part of xx marks that was awarded to be paid to me by my Sonne John for my buriel, and the residue thereof to be disposed by myn Executrix and my esequires for my soule, and all cristin soules, And I will also that a Trentall of Masses be doon for my soule, and the soules of my fader and moder and all cristin soules."
There follows various bequests and the appointment of Eleanor, his wife, as Executrix, and Edward Belknap (a relative of Eleanor's), John Bracebridge (of whom more shortly), and John Boteller of Solihull, as overseers. 
The interesting custom of "mortuayre" for which Walter  requested his best "Oxe" will be explained in greater detail with regard to the will of his son, John.


XIII. Sir John Arden (1448-1526) m. Alice Bracebridge
         Park Hall, Warwickshire.


Bracebridge Family. Sir John's wife, Alice Bracebridge, was from
an old family in Warwickshire (Chart VB) and has already been mentioned several times in this history. Alice's great, great, great, great, great, great granduncle, John de Bracebridge, was sued by Thomas de Arden in 7 John (1207), over the ownership of Kingsbury Park. (p. 95, supra) You may recall that this Thomas claimed the property from his ancestor, Turchill of Arden, while John de Bracebridge claimed it through his
vunia ancestor, Levevunia, the second wife of Turchill of Arden, who had inherited it from the Lady Godiva. There had been challenges to a duel, but Thomas eventually settled for a horse!


- 149 -


The Bracebridge family had been prominent in Warwickshire for the generations between the time of Thomas Arden, who sued John de Bracebridge in 1207 over Kingsbury Park, and XIV Sir John Arden, who sued Alice Bracebridge for her hand in 1474. John de Bracebridge's nephew, Sir Ralph, was a judge of the Assize in 33 Hen. III. His son, Sir John, rebelled with the Barons against Henry III; was captured at Northampton; imprisoned at Shrewsbury; escaped and went into hiding with the young Simon Montfort; and finally submitted to the Dictum of Kenilworth with its required fines. These fines caused Sir John so much financial distress that he was required to sell all of his lands in 53 Hen. III (1269) to one Robert de Typetot for 500 li. Sir John's son, who died in 9 Edw. II (1316) recovered Kingsbury Park in 1301. John's son, Sir Ralph, had summons "to fit himself with Horse and Arms against the Feast of S. Lawrence to attend the King into France" in 19 Edw. III (1346), the year of the Battle of Crecy (see p. 79 above), and later in 22 Edw. III (1349) secured a special patent from the King exempting him from service on juries or from having to be sheriff or coroner or hold any other office unless he wanted to! Sir Ralph's son, also of the same name, was knighted in 10 Hen. IV (1409) and was with the Earl of Warwick with 9 lances and 17 archers at Calais during Henry V's campaign at Agincourt, as was X Ralph Arden (p. 124 above). This second Sir Ralph's son, Ralph, was married in 1412 while still a child (a frequent custom of the medieval period to form 'family alliances) to the daughter of Sir John Newport. This third Ralph Bracebridge, who died in 1438, was the father of Richard Bracebridge of 


- 150 -
 

Kingsbury Park, the father of Alice Bracebridge who was married to John 1/ Arden.
The marriage of Sir John and Alice. This background of the Bracebridge family is necessary to an understanding of the story of the marriage of Sir John Arden and Alice Bracebridge in 1474 during the reign of Edward IV (1461-1483) which is one of the most famous romances of the 15th century in Warwickshire. It is mentioned in most of the Arden genealogies, and many of the histories of Warwickshire. I have selected to quote here the romanticized version given by Burgess in his The Legends, Traditions, and Romances of Warwickshire (1876) beginning at p. 204:-
"On a steep eminence overlooking the river Thame not far from the ford which gives the hundred of Hemingford its name, is the fortified mansion of the Bracebridges and the Church of Kingsbury. In the time of the Heptarchy some of the Mercian kings held their Court on this fair spot. In later times, it was the early home of the Brace-bridges and the descendants of that Lincolnshire squire, Peter de Bracebridge, who in the Norman times left his home in the fens and came wooing to Warwickshire where

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
1 /    Four generations after Alice Bracebridge married into the Arden family, the Bracebridge family degenerated, as Dugdale sadly reports. It seems that one Thomas Bracebridge, after his
first wife "of good family died", married a second wife of "mean parentage". His children by his first wife did not take kindly to this second marriage and their father promptly disinherited them. The children then instituted a lengthy suit but it didn't make any difference whether they won or not for, it seems, said Thomas gambled away Kingsbury Park (which had been in his family for 13 generations) and died "in misery" after a riotous life!


- 151 -
 

he wedded the fair Amicia, granddaughter of Turchill of Arden. 1/ "Within these walls there dwelt during the War of the Roses Alice Bracebridge. She thought that she was loved and that John Arden dreamed of her fair face as he wandered about Park Hall and thought of his Saxon ancestry and the misfortunes of his house. 2/ His mother belonged to another race, for his father, Walter Arden had wedded Eleanor, the daughter of John Hampden, the ancestor of the famous Buckinghamshire squire. They did not look with favour upon the alliance of their son with the proud Bracebridges who owed to the Ardens their estate and position in Warwickshire. 3/ See Chart VA.

Peter was a "militarie man". Possibly the "fair Amicia" first saw him at a colorful tournament for it is recorded that he gave a certain William lands at Ethoc, which William thereafter was to serve Peter by carrying his "pointed lances to London or Northampton as he might have occasion to use 'in a tournament there" and by accompanying Peter "overseas" to various tournaments.  2/    Burgess is apparently referring to the seizure of Turchill's lands by William II. See p. 68, supra.
3/    This allusion of Burgess is somewhat difficult to understand. I find nothing where the Bracebridges owed anything to the Ardens, unless it be that Kingsbury Park came into the Bracebridge family by reason of the marriage of Peter de Bracebridge with Amicia, the granddaughter of Turchill. But even in 1474 this event had occurred 9 generations before! In another version of the story, Burgess gives the more plausible explanation of why the Ardens, who had been neighbors of the Bracebridges for four centuries, were somewhat "stuffy" about the marriage: "Although the Bracebridges were a warlike race and upheld the great traditions of their ancient seat by jousts, tournaments, and feats of arms, the Ardens were the holders of large estates and their intermarriages with wealthy families gave them a somewhat higher status."


- 152 -
 

"Richard Bracebridge of Kingsbury was not made of that yielding stuff to brook in silence or in disdain the rejected alliance of his family by his kinsmen the Ardens of Park Hall. ... His daughters sighs and tears melted the old squire. Early one morning he called his retainers to boot and saddle and rode to the hall of the Ardens and brought away the unreluctant heir to his moated house at Kingsbury.
"The raid was unexpected and the disconsolate parents on their return home were loud in their demands for redress. To steal a man's daughter was a venal offense, but to abduct a son was unpardonable! The Ardens appealed to law - they represented the matter to King Edward IV, to the lords of the land, and demanded justice and restitution of their son and heir, but in the meantime John remained within the strong walls of Kingsbury and comforted himself with the company of Alice Brace-bridge. It was a soft inprisonment and it mattered but little to them what kings, lords and lawyers may say or do. They little cared when Sir Simon Montfort of the Coleshill and Sir Richard Birmingham, the judge then living at Middleton, took the matter into their grave deliberation and decreed the pair should be married in February 1474 andthat the lady should have a portion of 200 marks as a jointure settled upon her.
"Richard Bracebridge, in expiation of the trespass which had been committed, was ordered to give Walter Arden the best horse that could be chosen in Kingsbury Park. When Walter died, he named John Bracebridge as one of his executors. For more thantwo centuries the descendants of John Arden and Alice Bracebridge lived lords of Park Hall, and they founded the Staffordshire family of that name."

Life of Sir John.

Sir John's life spanned the reigns of Edward IV, Richard III, Henry VII, and the first fifteen years of the reign of Henry VIII
who ascended the throne in 1509.


- 153 -
 

In 2 Hen. VIII (1510) Sir John made substantial additions to Park Hall, including 140 acres of wood and pasture which, according to subsequent Subsidy Rolls, made it one of the most substantial manors in Warwickshire. He apparently did not fill in the ancient moat surrounding the house, but, rather turned it into a lake for his swans. This we know from one of his bequests in his will, dated June 4, 1526, to his son Thomas of "a paire of swannys breedying in the mote".
Sir John held the most distinguished national post of any post-
Conquest Arden in this family history. He is reported as being one of the Esquires to the Body of Henry VII. A manuscript of the Herald's Office, M. 7, entitled "The Services of Divers Offices of the Courte" written during the reign of Henry VII gives some idea of the duties involved in this post:
"As for the Squyers for the body, they ought to aray the kyng and unaray, and no man else to sett hand on the kyng. ... the yeman or grome of the robes to take to the Squyer for the body all the kyngs stuffe, as weld his shone as his other gere. And the Squyer for the body to down theymn on. And the Squyer for the body ought to take the charge of the cupborde for all nyght; and if please the kyng, to have a palett about his traverse for all night; there must be two Squyers for the body, or ells one knyght for the body; or else to lye in their owne chambers.
"Item. A Squyer for the body or gentlement usher ought to sett the kyngs sworde at his head bed.
"Item. A Squyer for the body ought to charge a secret grome of page to have the kepying of the said bedd, with
a light until the tyme the kyng be disposted to go unto ht."
There were many other duties. The Squire of the Body at such time as he was commanded to do so by the gentlemen usher was required to be present at dinner and supper to serve the king his "pottage". The most


- 154 -
 

complicated court procedure, however, was the "Order for All Night". Came night-time, a bevy of palliasses was broken out and set up all around the palace. On a palliass in the same room with the king rested the gentlemen or lord of the bedchamber; in the ante-room slept the groom of the bedchamber; in the privy chamber adjoining were 2 gentlemen in waiting; and lastly, in the presence chamber reposed Sir John, the Squire for the Body "under the cloth of estate". No wonder that William III (1689-1702) got exhausted with all this communal living and abolished the whole business! 
It further appears that Henry VII visited Sir John at Park Hall at
which time the room in which the king slept thereafter became known as the "King's Bedchamber". Another of the bequests of his will, mentioned above, to his son Thomas was "the bedde in the king's chamber with all that belongeth of the best, with a hanging of the same rede and grene. " 

It may initially seem strange that Sir John, only a knight, held a post heretofore usually occupied by the nobility. It further may seen strange that Sir John, whose grandfather had been executed as a Yorkist, held such a post

in the household of a king who, although the first Tudor, was a Lancastrian by birth. The answer lies in a studied policy of Hen. VII, one of England's great, although undramatic, kings to heal the wounds of the War of the Roses, which had almost destroyed England. He married Elizabeth of York, the daughter
of Edw. IV, and brought Yorkists, as well as Lancasterians, into his court.
He instituted the Star Chamber (which later became a most dispised institution) as a forum for complaints by his subjects against powerful nobles. He studiously drew his ministers, not from the hereditary nobility, but from men of 


- 155 -
 

obscure origin. So it was that we find his personal household also contained men from the landed gentry. No doubt Sir John was recommended to Hen. VII by Edward Dudley, the Earl of Warwick, who was one of his trusted agents in the South of England.
Hen. VII was the right king at the right time. He conserved the national resources. Much has also been written of his personal fragility. But he was also shrewd enough to realize the necessity of a "calculated pagentry", as Churchill phrases it. He wore "magnificent clothes, superb jewels, rich and glittery collars" - which Sir John had to put on. He also held a "Court where about seven hundred persons dined daily in the Tower at his expense and was entertained by jesters, minstrels, huntsmen and his famous leopards" - with Sir John serving the king his "pottage" at the right time !

Will of Sir John.

As in the case of his father, we have a complete copy of the will of Sir John dated June 4, 1526. Its bequests contain practically an inventory of a well-appointed Tudor home, including such items as "a great paire of gobbaras", and a "paire of andyrons for the hall". Sir John carefully disposed of his clothes, too, including " a goune furred with foye, a blak goune furred with booge, and a black velvet doublet" bequested to son John.
Of primary interest, however, is the elaborate steps which Sir John took to make sure that he was properly escorted into heaven. A portion of his will, in considerably more modern English than that in which he wrote, is as follows:

 


- 156 -
 

"Item, I bequeath for my mortuary or "cors presente" a black Gelding Amling, that Almighty God may the rather take my soul into his mercy and grace.
"Item, I bequeath to the high alter of Aston aforesaid for tithes and offerings negligently forgotten iiis iiii d.
"Item, I bequeath my White Harness complete to the
Church of Aston for a George to wear it, and to stand on my Pew, a place made for it, provided always, that if the said George be not made within a year after my decease, that then I will that mine Executors do fell it, and hire a Priest to sing in the Chapel of Aston so long as the money will extend.
"Item, I will at the day of my burial that 12 poor women of my Tenants shall have each of them a black Gown with a Hood, a pair of shoes, Four pence, and a Dinner, to bear each of them a Torch about my hearse.
"Item, I will have burning about my hearse 23 tapers, and each taper of half a pound of wax.
"Item, I will every months day, during the year, be sung a solemn Dirge, and on the morrow, mass of Requitum, for my soul, and all Christian souls of note; and at every Dirge and Mass to be bestoed iii s iiii d amongst Priests and Clerks, Ringing and Lights.
"Item, I will a Priest sing at Aston two whole Trentalls of St. Gregorie, with the Dirges belonging, that is for two years, and to have vl a year, etc.
"Item, my best gown of black Damask to my parish Church of Aston to make a Cope with all."

One is particularly amused by the prayers for "Christian souls of
note". Apparently Sir John wasn't going to have prayers, at his expense, for just anybody!

 


- 157 -
 

The "mortuary" or "cors presente" referred to in the first item
of the will is an interesting medieval custom, with origins tracing back to the laws of Canute. It signifies a present from the corpse (cors presente) as tribute to be paid for the safety of the soul. It was to be paid to the priest at the time of the interment of the body, and was actually considered an enforceable debt at law. The present of the corpse was one of the deceased's best animals - Sir John gave a horse (a black Gelding Amling) and his father, Walter, gave his "best ox". This was the source of the custom of the practice of a horse being led, and armor carried, before the corpse of the funerals of great persons. 

XIV. Thomas Arden (1485-1563) m. Mary Andrews,
        Park Hall, Warwickshire.
We now come to Thomas Arden, the last of the Arden's of the direct line with whom we are here concerned to live at Park Hall. It was his second son, Simon, who emigrated to neighboring Staffordshire, and established the family responsible for the continuation of the Arden line. The dramatic
events which led to the extinction of the Ardens of Warwickshire will be later recorded in this chapter.
Thomas Arden was born in the year Henry VII defeated Richard III at Bosworth Field and became the first Tudor King of England. His life thus spanned the reigns of Henry VII (1485-1509), Henry VIII (1509-1547), the boy-King Edward VI (1547-1553), Mary Tudor (1553-1558), and the first five years of the reign of Elizabeth I who ascended the throne in 1558 - almost the 


- 158 -
 

full gambit of the Tudor monarchs. We know little of his life at Park Hall to which he succeeded when he was 40 years old, except that in 1540 he purchased of Henry VIII certain lands in Curdsworth which had belonged to the Abbot of St. Mary's in Leicester. This was the year in which Henry, recognizing that the English monasteries would be loyal to the Pope, rather than to him, and casting a covetous eye upon the wealth of these monasteries, seized them and put them up for sale (the "Dissolution"). Thomas Arden, and his second son, Simon, purchased for the sum of cclxxii sh the aforesaid lands in Curdsworth, to be held of the King by the xxth part of a Knight's fee, with a yearly rental of sh iiiid to be paid into the Exchequer. Interestingly enough these lands bought from Henry VIII by Thomas Arden, were the same lands owned by his great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather, V William de Arden, who had given them to the Abbot of St. Mary's in 1224 "on the condition that the canons there celebrate divine service for the health of [my] soul and the souls of [my] predecessors and heirs". ( p. 89 above)

Park Hall was an extremely valuable property at this time. In the subsidy rolls of 37 Hen. VIII (1546) Thomas was assessed 4.80 on Park Hall - one of the highest assessments in the county. A "subsidy" was an aid, or tax, or tribute granted by Parliament to the king for urgent occasions of the kingdom to be levied on every subject according to the value of his lands or goods. This particular subsidy was required by Henry VIII during one of the most critical periods in English history. James V of Scotland had just died
 


- 159 -
 

leaving an infant girl -- the famous Mary Queen of Scots. Her marriage, although she was still a squalling baby in a cradle, immediately became a matter of international concern. Henry claimed her for his own son (the future Edw. VI) But the Queen Mother was a Guise of France and looked to a French prince as the husband for her daughter.    Henry couldn't countenance such a strong alliance of Scotland, on the north, and France, On the southeast, against his country which still only contained around 3 million inhabitants. So, in alliance with Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry sent Edward Seymour, brother of Queen Jane, with an army to Scotland to fight the Scots, while he crossed the channel to join up with Charles V in an attack on France. But everything went wrong. Seymour was defeated at Ancrum Moor and Henry, although he successfully beseiged Boulogne which fell on September 14, 1544, was suddenly deserted by Charles V. Thus without a single ally, England was faced with an invasion from both France and Scotland. Extreme sacrifices were required from the English people. Henry melted his plate and mortgaged his estates. The Subsidy of 1546 - in which Thomas Arden paid £80 on Park Hall - was the the heaviest ever levied. Fortunately, however, the crisis gradually passed and the next year a peace treaty was signed which left Boulogne in English hands for 8 years, at the end of which time France was to buy it back at a heavy price.

Thomas married (ca. 1508) Mary Andrews, the daughter of Sir Thomas Andrews of Cherwelton, Northampton, whose genealogy is set out for some 11
 


- 160 -
 

generations in Chart VC. They had a large family one of whom, George held the rank of Captain in the Army. According to  some authorities, George was killed during the capture of Boulogne which fell on September 14, 1544, in the critical period in English history described above. 1/
According to other authorities, however, George was killed at "Dunkirk". Another of the sons of Thomas Arden was Simon who emigrated to neighboring Staffordshire and founded the "younger" branch of the Ardens. He is the subject of the leading biography in the next chapter. The oldest son of Thomas was William (1509-1546), the father of Edward Arden (1531-1583) about whom we shall now speak.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
1/

If this is so, I have been unable to ascertain in which of many wars with France during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary Tudor his death occurred. He was obviously too young (his father only having been married in 1508) to have participated in the war of 1512-1514 when Henry VIII, seeking to emulate Henry V, joined with the Pope, Ferdinand of Spain, and Maximillian, the Holy Roman Emperor, in a "Holy League" against France. George may have served in the English invasions of France in 1522 and 1523 when Henry joined Charles V, then Holy Roman Emperor, in a war against Francis I, with whom Henry had met only two years earlier on the Field of the Cloth of Gold in a pledge of eternal friendship. The next war was in 1543-1546, referred to above, involving the capture of Boulogne. Again, in 1549, France declared war on England when the Duke of Somerset, Edward VI's uncle, was his protector. This war was settled by the Earl of Warwick, and the Duke of Northumberland (who succeeded Somerset after securing his execution with a bogus plot) by abandoning Scotland to the French. Finally in 1557 Mary Tudor joined her husband, Philip of Spain, in another war with France which only brought the humiliating loss of Calais to England in 1558. None of these wars specifically involved a battle at Dunkirk.
 


- 161 -
 

The fall of the House of Arden in Warwickshire. Smith, in his
History of Warwickshire (1830), in describing the environs to Birmingham, states:
"Near to Castle Bromwich, on the banks of the river
Tame, is the site of Park Hall, and for many years
part of the vast estate of the ancient and unfortunate
family of Arden ... . "
By the time of his writing, there were no longer any Ardens in Warwickshire for the Arden family in Warwickshire died out in 1643 after a series of dramatic events which will now be recounted.
The story begins with William Arden (d. 1546), the eldest son of XIV Thomas Arden, who married, in 1530, Elizabeth Conway, the daughter of Edward Conway, a gentleman usher to King Henry VIII. He died 14 years later, in 1544, at age 35, some 17 years before his father's death. William's will was drawn up in London, proved April 14, 1546 and at his request, he was
buried in the "Parish church of Saint Brigyde in Fleet Street in the suburbs of London."

William's son, Edward Arden (d. 1583) inherited Park Hall from his grandfather XV Thomas Arden. (Chart V)

Edward Arden was unquestionably one of the most distinguished Ardens in this history. Both he and his children married into some of the most prominent families in England.
Edward Arden himself married Mary Throckmorton, the daughter of Sir Robert Throckmorton (1512-1580), about whom we shall speak later, and of Muriel, the daughter of Thomas, the 5th Baron of Berkeley (b. 1472). Thomas
Berkeley held a command in the Battle of Flodden in 1513, during Henry VIII's


 


- 162 -
 

absence in his war against France, where the Scotch, under James IV, were defeated. Among the members of the Berkeley family, whose geneology is set forth in Burke's Peerage, was Maurice, the 4th Baron of Berkeley (b. 1469) who was made a knight of the Bath at the coronation of Henry VIII; William, the 2nd Baron, who was also Earl of Nottingham in 1483; James the 1st Baron, who married Isabel, daughter of Thomas Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk (1366-1399)(whose duel with Henry Bolingbrooke, later Henry IV, opens Shakespeare's  Richard II); Thomas de Berkeley (b. 1245) to whom was committed the custody of Edward II (1307-1327) and who was later accused (but acquitted) of participation in his murder; and Robert Fitzharding, who obtained the lordship of Berkeley for his fidelity to the Empress Maud and her son, Henry II (1154-1189). The family of Berkeley, along with that of Arden and Swinton, are the only three English pedigrees traceable to Pre-Conquest times in the male line.
Edward Arden's daughter, Katherine, married Sir Edward Devereux (d. 1622), the Sheriff of Warwickshire (1593-1594), M. P. for Tamworth (1588-1589) and 'created a baronet in 1611. Sir Edward's father was Walter Devereux (d. 1558), who was created the 1st Viscount Hereford by Henry VIII for his part in the French wars. The son of Sir Edward Devereux and Katherine Arden, Walter, succeeded to the title of 5th Viscount Hereford after the death of Robert Devereux (1591-1646) who was the 3rd Earl of Essex and 4th Viscount Hereford; was one of the first (and somewhat incompetent) generals in the Parliamentary Army during the Civil War; is interred in Westminister Abbey, and was the son of the famous Robert, 2nd Earl of


 


- 163 -
 

Essex and 3rd Viscount Hereford, the favorite of Queen Elizabeth who 1/ was beheaded in 1601.

Edward's daughter, Margaret, married John Somerville (about
whom more later) of Castle Bromwich, Aston Parish, Warwickshire, whose family had been prominent in Warwickshire for 9 generations. His son, Robert, married Elizabeth Corbet, a daughter of Reginald Corbet, a Justice of the King's bench. 

Now, as to the circumstances leading up to Edward's destruction.

When his grandfather XV Thomas Arden died, Edward was an
infant and his father, William, was dead. Thomas placed him by his will in wardship to Sir George Throckmorton of Coughton, Warwickshire. Sir George was the overseer of Thomas' will. It was his granddaughter Mary whom Edward Arden was eventually to marry, as noted above.

The Throckmortons were one of the most important Roman Catholic families of England, being involved, at one time or another, in various 2/ plots against Elizabeth I, and later, in the "Gunpower Plot" against 3/ James I.    Sir Robert Throckmorton, himself, was the High Sheriff of 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

1/    There is a magnificant memorial to Sir Edward Devereux, ordered by his wife, Katherine Arden, in the Aston Parish Church near Birmingham where many of the Ardens are buried as noted above. Sir Edward also built a magnificent Tudor mansion in Castle Bromwich.
2/    Francis Throckmorton was tortured and executed in 1584 as part of the Guise plot.
3/    Elizabeth Throckmorton married William, Lord Monteagle, to whom a warning letter was addressed in 1604 to stay away from Parliament on the day of James I's visitation. The letter was purloined leading to the discovery of the Plot.


- 164 -

Warwickshire and Leicestershire, during the 1st year of the reign of "Bloody" Mary (1553). With such a close alliance to the Throckmorton family, it is obvious that Edward Arden would follow their lead. This fact alone would not be sufficient to cause the dramatic events of the Fall and Winter of 1583,
described below, however, because there were many Roman Catholics in England, who, although faithful to their Faith, were also loyal to England and to the Queen. In Edward Arden's case, however, it appears that there was an added factor. According to William Camden, one of the major Elizabethan historians and antiquaries Edward was also an out-spoken and avowed enemy of Robert Dudley, the powerful and ruthless
Earl of Leicester (1532-1588). Leicester, a "remarkably handsome man", and was an early favorite of Queen Elizabeth, upon whom she conferred Earldom in 1564 and to whom she granted the castle of Kenilworth, in Warwickshire, nearby to the ancient seat of the Ardens at Park Hall. Leicester played a prominent part in the affairs of England during the early years of the reign of Elizabeth.

It seems that Edward Arden wasn't going to have anything to do with Leicester, the new neighbor of his at Kenilworth Castle. It is said he would not accommodate the Earl by selling him part of his lands which the Earl wanted to round out his estate at Kenilworth. Camden also records. that Edward would not wear Leicester's livery (which, apparently, most of his Warwickshire neighbors did, deeming it an honor), and, further,
branded, Leicester as a "new upstart". In 1575 when Edward was the


- 165 -

Sheriff of Warwickshire, and therefore, the Chief Official of the county, Elizabeth I journeyed through Warwickshire to visit Leicester at Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire for one of the most magnificent entertainments ever 1/ recorded in Elizabethan times." Edward was obviously not there!
It seems also that Edward went even further in his antipathy to
Leicester. As Dugdale puts it, he "galled" the Earl "by certain harsh expressions touching his private accesses to the Countess of Essex". 

Edward was absolutely right in these charges, however, leaving aside for a moment the "harsh" manner in which they were expressed! The Encyclopedia Britannica states that Leicester had two children by the Countess of Essex while her husband, Walter, Earl of Essex, was absent in Ireland. Some even went so far as to Leicester "poisoned Walter so he 2/ could marry her. "!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

1/

The "party" lasted 17 days. Elizabeth was met with a floating island upon a pool, blazing with torches, upon which were clad in silks the Lady of the Lake and two nymphs, waiting on her, who made a speech to the Queen in meter. Other entertainment included bear baiting, fireworks, Italian tumblers, a country bride-ale (wedding), and dancing: Perhaps the best indication that the party was a success was the fact that 320 hogsheads of beer were consumed!

2/    

As noted in the biography of Dudley, mentioned above, Leicester's earlier marriage to Amy Robstart ended when she was found dead at the foot of a flight of stairs -- some claiming Leicester "pushed" her down.


 


- 166 -
 

Thus, as one writer puts it: "With the confidence of one whose family claimed a descent from Guy of Warwick, if not from King Alfred himself, Edward Arden referred to his neighbor at Kenilworth, the Earl of Leicester, 1/ as an upstart and adulterer, being right on both counts. "    No wonder that Camden records that Edward Arden incurred the "Earl's heavy displeasure!"

In the meantime, Roman Catholic opposition to Elizabeth I was growing.
Hope was never lost that Mary Queen of Scots, whose grandmother, Margaret, was a daughter of Henry VII and had married James IV of Scotland, would ascend the throne and restore Roman Catholicism to England. In 1570 Pope Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth. Pope Gregory XIII, who succeeded in 1572, actually approved the assassination of Elizabeth, with a promise of plenary indulgence for the assasin, and established a Jesuit mission in Rome in the winter of 1579-1580 to train under-cover missionaries in England for the 2/
 reconversion of England to Catholicism.    Trevelyan described these "Jesuits from abroad" traveling "through the island, -passed on in disguise from hall to hall, and hiding in 'priest-holes' behind the wainscot ... ."
A Mr. Faunt, writing in November, 1583, records that "treacheries of the Papists here are daily increasing" and that "two serious and deep conspiracies against her majesty's estate and person" had just been discovered.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
1/    Reese, Shakespeare (1953).
2/    In 1582 a rather dim-witted man named Juarequy had made an attempt on the life of William the Silent, Prince of Orange, a leader in the revolt of Protestant Netherlands against Philip II of Spain. He had been paid $3, 000 by a Domican priest. An Agnus Dei had been hung around his neck, a wax taper and a dried toad were stuffed into his pocket, and he was told that they would render him invisible!


- 167 -
 

With this background it is now appropriate to quote from Froude's History of England  (1870), Vol. V, Ch. XXXI, pp. 609, etc    (Froude's quoted footnotes are lettered.)

"At the beginning of October (1583) one of the half dozen plots exploded which have been alluded to for the murder of the Queen. The attempt of Juarequy, which had so nearly succeeded, had quickened the imagination and spurred the ardour of the would-be regicides. While Guise I/ lingered, one blow boldly struck for Holy Church would place Mary Stuart on the throne; and the carcass of the Jezebel cast, as she had deserved, to the dogs. The faith of Christ would be reinstated in its old supremacy. So for ever say the Jesuits, and many a youth was found to listen wistfully, and dream of writing his name among the chivalry of heaven by one brave shot or dagger stroke.
"The Ardens of Park Hall, in Warwickshire, were among those who were waiting for the good time which was so long in coming. They kept a priest, his name was Hall, who lived with them disguised as a gardener, and was an eloquent preacher of this kind of wickedness. Among his most attentive hearers was the son-in-law of the house, a certain John Somerville, who had married an Arden, and resided in his father-in-laws family. 2/ This young gentleman had a friend at Coventry, who had seen the Queen of Scots when she was brought thither by Lord Huntington in 1569, and had done her service there, and had been rewarded by a couple of gold buttons, which he wore

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

1/  

 Henry of Lorraine, 3rd Duke of Guise (1550-1588) was the leader of the Catholic Party in France and active in the massacre of the Huguenots on St. Bartholomew's Day. He formed with the Jesuits a "holy league" for the defense of the Roman Catholic Church and (unsuccessfully) planned an invasion of England in 1581 to put. Mary, and her son, James, jointly on Elizabeth's throne. He had also engineered the plot against William the Silent, referred to in the preceding footnote.

2/    

As noted above, John Somerville married Margaret Arden. He was 23 years old at the time these events took place.


- 168 -
 

ostentatiously on his doublet. The buttons excited Somer-ville's emulation. a/ The priest filled him with pamphlets of Allen and Parsons and Sanders 3/ till he had come to look on Elizabeth as the spawn of a devil and a witch. b/ He began to talk of killing her at old Arden's table, and Arden said nothing to forbid it. Then he took his friends into confidence; he told them that he was going to London to shoot the Queen with his dagg (a rude form of pistol), and he hoped to see her head set upon a pole for she was a serpent and a viper. c/
"Though Guise's emissary had failed, there was no real difficulty. The only requisite was courage. Never was a Princess more easy of access than Elizabeth, or more entirely regardless of the danger to which she knew that she was exposed. Nor was escape, although unlikely, at all impossible. There was a danger, of course, of being killed upon the spot, but the Royal Household was full of friends of the Queen of Scots, who might seek to please her ... .

Leaders of the Jesuit priests in England.

Parsons later escaped to Spain where he worked for an invasion of England. Allen trained priests for infiltration in England at his seminary at Douai, France. "Examination of R. Cross, Thomas Sanders, and others before John Dougley of Merton," Oct. 1583 MSS.
"He admits that he was moved to that wicked resolution touching her majesty being moved to hatred by certain speeches of one Hall, a priest, which touched her majesty, and also by certain English books, containing exhortations to that wicked enterprise." Somerville's Confession, Oct. 31-Nov. 10. MSS
"Examination of Somerville in the Tower, Oct. 6-16, 1583, MSS."


 


- 169 -
 

Somerville had studied Juarequy's exploit, and notwithstanding his fate, imitated him in his preparations. He, too, assumed an Agnus Dei for an amulet, and confessed and received the sacrament from Father Hall before setting out on his journey; a/ but he was a loose-tongued blockhead, and betrayed on the road by idle speeches. Some one of whom he was overheard by sent notice to the Council. He was intercepted and carried to the Tower where the rack, or the threat of it, made short work of him. He was craven and made a full confession. He denounced his father-in-law as his accomplice, and the priest, as the instigator of his crime. They were all three tried, found guilty, and sentenced to be executed. Somerville strangled himself in his cell; Arden was hanged at Tyburn, and his head and Somerville's were set on London Bridge beside the skull of the Earl of Desmond. 1/ The priest was spared, having paid, it is easy to see, the only price by which he could have saved himself, and undertaken to be a spy. 2/ "
It is obvious that Froude was highly prejudiced against Edward
Arden's case. To him Arden was justly executed because his religion led him into a treasonable act. Let us then record another version of these events, so different in tenor as to make one wonder if we are talking about the same event and man. It is from Linquist's  History of  England (1883), Vol. VI, pp. 364-6:
"To discover the extent of the danger (from the Romanists) and to guard against the designs of the disaffected, Elizabeth's chief dependence was on the industry and ingenuity of Walsingham 3/, who, nurtured in intrigue himself, was the better qualified to detect and unravel the intrigues of others. Secret agents in his pay were spread out over the continent ... It became,

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
1 /    

Gerald Fitzgerald, the 15th Earl of Desmond (d. 1583) was a leader in the Irish revolts during Elizabeth's reign.

2/    

Froude implies Hall turned Queen's evidence. The sole basis for
this supposition is apparently the fact that Hall wasn't executed.

a/    

"MS endorsed 'Mr. Wilkes touching the cause of Somerville, Nov. 7-17). "

3/    

Sir Francis Walsingham (1530-1590) Elizabeth's Secretary of State, whose virulent Protestantism led him to spend most of his life after 1583 in ferreting out plots against Elizabeth's life.


 


- 170 -

according to the testimony of Camden, difficult for the
most loyal and the most cautious to elude the snares which
were laid for their destruction. The first victim was
Arden, a gentleman of an ancient family in Warwickshire,
whose misfortune it was to have incurred the enmity of
Leicester, by refusing to sell a portion of his estate for
the accommodation of that powerful favorite. In the pro-
gress of the quarrel he had the imprudence to brave the
resentment of his antagonist; he 'rejected the earl's
livery, which was worn by the neighboring gentlemen; he
opposed him in all his pursuits in the country and was
accustomed to speak of him with contempt as an upstart,
an adulterer, and a tyrant. Arden's daughter had married
Somerville, a neighboring Catholic, subject to fits of
insanity. In one of these he attacked, with a drawn sword,
two men on the highway; and, at the same time declared,
or it was reported, that he would murder every Protest-
ant, and the Queen as their head. Somerville was soon
lodged in the Tower; and in a few days was fonlowed by his
father and mother-in-law, his wife, his sister, and Hall,
a missionary priest. Arden and Hall were put to the
torture; the former persisted in maintaining his innocence;
from the latter was drawn a confession that Arden had, in
his hearing, wished the queen were in heaven. On this
slender proof, along with the previous conduct of Somer-
ville, that gentlemen, Hall, Arden, and Arden's wife were
convicted of a conspiracy to kill the queen. Somerville,
on pretence of insanity, was removed to Newgate, and found,
within two hours, strangled in his cell; Arden the next day
suffered the punishment of a traitor. The justice of his
execution was generally questioned and the pardon granted
to the others strengthened the belief that his blood was to
be charged not to his guilt but to the vengeance of Leicester,
who gave the lands of his victim to one of his own
dependents." a/

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

1/
Stopes, another author, gives a version similar to that of Linguist: Camden, 405; Bridgewater 317; Richton's Diarium, Dugdale's
Warwickshire. Shakespeare's Family, (1901).


- 171 -
 

"Edward Arden was a temperate follower of the old faith; but his son-in-law, John Somerville, an excitable youth, seemed to chafe under the increasing oppression of the Catholic Church, and its adherents. "
She then goes on to report that Somerville started off to London attended by only one boy who soon left him terrified. When he reached a little inn by Aynho on the Hill, he said he was going to London to kill the Queen. This was reported: Arden and Somerville were carried to the Tower on December
19, 1583; and Arden was subsequently executed. She concludes thus:
"This first noble victim of the tyrannical Royal Commission was praised by all writers of his time and pitied by all Europe. Burghley 1/ lived to be ashamed of his part in the matter; and in his "Life" one can still read in the index on the case of Arden an explanation which has been excised from the text."
One of the writers to whom she referred was Camden, who alludes to Arden's death as the sad ending of a noble man - "Tristus hic exitus nobilis viri."
There are thus the two versions of this affair - Froude directly implicating Arden in the plot to kill the queen, and Linguist claiming that it was all due to Leicester who took advantage of an event involving an insane boy talking about killing the queen to take his revenge against a man who would not lick his boots!

No one, of course, will ever know the precise truth. The Encyclopedia Britannica in its article on "English History" simply
lists, without comment, the plot of "John Somerville and Edward Arden (1583)"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
1 /    

William Cecil, Baron Burghley (1520-1598), one of Elizabeth's most cautious and trusted advisers, was, at this time Lord High Treasurer.

 


- 172 -
 

as among the five plots in the life of Elizabeth "ferreted out" by Walsingham. Churchill speaks highly of Walsingham who "tracked down Spanish agents and English traitors" and states that Elizabeth was "well served by him". Linguist, as well as almost all biographers of Elizabeth who mention this historic event, take the position that Walsingham, having developed his extensive spy system, pounced upon the first case to show how
alert he was; that Arden was unjustly convicted, and that the "Arden-Somerville plot" is to be completely distinguished from later, deadly, plots against Elizabeth's life.

One way to look at the matter is to judge the evidence upon which these writers rely. Froude, who directly implicates Arden, relies entirely upon original sources involving the Tower examinations and depositions, which would tend to give authenticity to his account. But these sources could be highly colored by scribes writing down what was needed for an execution and because the testimony, at least that of Arden, was apparently taken under torture. Linguist and others, on the other hand, sympathetic to Arden, rely almost entirely upon Camden (who was also the source for Dugdale's comments). Camden was a respected historian but, writing in the time of James 1, he was accused of being sympathetic to James' mother, Mary Queen of Scots, in order to curry favor. Further, as we shall see in the interlude following this chapter, Camden was personally acquainted with the Arden family when Shakespeare applied to impale the Arden arms and when he conducted the Visitation to Warwickshire in 1619. This may, on the one hand, have colored his thinking, or, on the other hand, have meant that he had more direct sources for the truth.


 


- 173 -
 

*        *       *        *

After Edward Arden was executed, all of his lands, including
Park Hall, were seized by the Crown and turned over to one Edward Darcy, of Dartford, Kent, a Groom of the Privy Chamber. 1/    Edward's wife retired to the Throckmorton estate at Coughton in Warwickshire.

In November, 1592, she was listed as among the recusants of Warwickshire -- those who refused to obey the statute of 1585 compelling attendance at Church of England services. 2/  The following year, due to the suspicious character of those who frequented the Throckmorton home at Coughton, the Privy Council sent an order for her arrest. 3/

Edward Arden's heir was Robert Arden (d. 1635). Dugdale reports that Robert "being a prudent person and well read in the Laws; by virtue of an entail made upon his marriage (in his father's life time), after many long suits, recovered all again, the Manors of Curdworth and Minworth excepted; and lived to a great age. " I am not quite clear as to the legal loophole utilized so successfully by Robert, but I assume his claim was
.that Edward, during his life time, had settled a life estate upon himself, with the remainder to his son Robert. If this is so, it could have been 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

1 /    
Darcy's claim to fame is a famous law case involving his monopoly of playing cards!

2/    
Men who refused to obey the statute were disarmed and their arms turned over to the "Queen's loyal subjects".

3/    
I have been unable to find any indication of her release or of the date of her death.

 


- 174 -
 

argued that the attainder of Edward only authorized the crown to seize the life estate which ended, of course, upon Edward's execution. 

Robert Arden's son, Sir Henry Arden (1580-1616) was knighted by James I and died during his father's life time. Therefore, at Robert's death, Park Hall was inherited by his grandson,  another Robert, who Dugdale reports was "more accomplished with learning and other excellent parts" and who was a Colonel as well as Sheriff of Warwickshire. This Robert died of smallpox at Oxford in 1643 bequeathing, at his death, the famous Rous' Roll of the Earls of Warwick referred to in Chapter I of this History. He died childless and was the last of the family of Arden in Warwickshire - a family which had lived there for 7 centuries and 19 generations. At Robert's death, all of the Arden manors, many of which had been in the family for
centuries, passed to Robert's four sisters. One sister, Godiva, was a Lady of the Privy Chamber to the Queen Mother and inherited Park Hall. Her husband, Sir Herbert Price, sold it 4 years later (1637) so that it passed out of the family completely. Another sister, Dorothy, married Henry Bagot,
one of the Gentleman Pensioners of Charles II, and their daughter, Elizabeth, later the Countess of Falmouth, was a "noted beauty at the Court of Charles II" 1/ and one of the Maids of Honor to the Duchess of York in 1664.

Hamilton  in his Memories of the Compte de Grammont  says that Elizabeth " ent queque en de sagesse et de beaute". Her portrait would confirm that fact! (See Vol. 9, New Series, p. 104, Staffordshire History Collection)


- 175 -
 

We can now return, therefore, to XV Simon Arden, a second son of XIV Thomas Arden, who emigrated to Staffordshire. It is through him that the Arden family survived, but first an interlude.

 

 

 

 

Click for Map WikanikoWork from Home
sitemap | cookie policy | privacy policy | accessibility statement