Thomas Arundell of Wardour Castle

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Sir Thomas Arundell
London Tower Hill Scaffold Site.JPG
Site of the scaffold on Tower Hill
Spouse(s) Margaret Howard
Father Sir John Arundell
Mother Eleanor Grey
Born c.1502
Died 26 February 1552
Tower Hill, London
Buried Church of St Peter ad Vincula
Arms of Arundel of Lanherne, Cornwall, later Baron Arundell of Wardour: Sable, six martlets argent. These are early canting arms, based on the French for swallow hirondelle. They were recorded for Reinfred de Arundel (d. circa 1280), lord of the manor of Lanherne, Cornwall, in the 15th-century Shirley Roll of Arms

Sir Thomas Arundell (c. 1502 – 26 February 1552) was a Cornish administrator and alleged conspirator.


Thomas Arundell, born about 1502, was the younger of the two sons of Sir John Arundell (1474–1545) of Lanherne, Cornwall, Receiver General of the Duchy of Cornwall and "the most important man in the county",[1] by his first wife, Eleanor Grey (d. by December 1503), the daughter of Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset.

Arundell was educated at Lincoln's Inn, and began his career in the household of Cardinal Wolsey, where he was a contemporary of Thomas Cromwell. He was knighted at the coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn.[2]

Arundell held a number of administrative positions, principally in the West Country. He was the first receiver of the Court of Augmentations for Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset, and in 1533 succeeded his father as Receiver-General of the Duchy of Cornwall. He was a Justice of the Peace for Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset during the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, and was appointed to commissions for gaol delivery, oyer and terminer, and the defence of the counties of the south-west coastline.[2] He commanded the Dorset militia during both the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536-7, and King Henry VIII's expedition to France in 1544. He was twice High Sheriff of Dorset and Somerset (1531), was keeper of the royal parks in Dorset, and in 1539 sat on the Council of the West with his father. He was elected Member of Parliament for Dorset in 1545 and 1547.

Both his cousin, Henry Grey, 3rd Marquess of Dorset, and Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland, employed Arundell in the management of their estates. He also served as receiver to Queen Anne of Cleves, and Chancellor of the Household to Queen Catherine Parr.[3][4]

Arundell's role as one of the commissioners for the dissolution of the monasteries in the West Country enabled him to acquire a number of properties formerly belonging to religious houses.[2] In 1547 he purchased Wardour Castle in Wiltshire.[3]

Arundell was connected by birth and marriage to the crown and to several of the most important families in England, and by the time of the death of King Henry VIII was one of the most experienced government officers in England. However, those in power at the beginning of the reign of King Edward VI removed his name from the late King's list of proposed honours, reflecting their concern with his influence and his family's devotion to the old religion. Vague and unproven allegations of complicity in the south-western rebellion in 1549 were made against him and against his brother, Sir John Arundell (c.1550-1557), leading to their imprisonment in 1550 and again in 1551, and marking the end of Sir Thomas Arundell's career. In late 1551 he temporarily aligned himself with the Protector Somerset, thereby putting himself in conflict with John Dudley, Earl of Warwick. He was arrested and charged with conspiring to overthrow the government and murder the Earl. Arundell consistently protested his innocence, but was convicted, beheaded on Tower Hill on 26 February 1552, and buried in the Church of St Peter ad Vincula. His property was confiscated, although in June 1552 the Crown began restoring it to his widow and, from 1553, to his son Matthew Arundell. His widow, Margaret, died 10 October 1571, and was buried at Tisbury, Wiltshire.[3][4]

Marriage and issue

By settlement dated 20 November 1530 Arundell married Margaret Howard (c. 1515 – 10 October 1571), the daughter of Lord Edmund Howard (third son of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, by his first wife, Elizabeth Tilney), and Joyce Culpeper.[3][4] Margaret was the sister of Queen Katherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII, and a first cousin of the King's second wife, Queen Anne Boleyn.

By Margaret Howard, Arundell had two sons and three[5] daughters:[6]

  • Charles Arundell (d. 9 December 1587), who died unmarried and without issue.
  • Margaret Arundell.
  • Dorothy Arundell (c. 1535 – c. 1578), who married Sir Henry Weston.
  • Jane Arundell (born c. 1536), who married Sir William Bevyle.

The Arundells of Lanherne, Cornwall, and of Chideock, Dorset, are descended from Sir Thomas Arundell's elder brother, Sir John Arundell (c.1550-1557) of Lanherne.[citation needed]


  1. De Lisle states that she predeceased her husband by 18 months.
  1. Byrne 1981, p. 307.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Arundell, Sir Thomas (c.1502-52)", The History of Parliament
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Stanton 2004
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Richardson I 2011, p. 44.
  5. Richardson mentions only two daughters, Dorothy and Jane.
  6. Stanton 2004; Richardson I 2011, p. 44.
  7. Richardson I 2011, p. 44; Richardson II 2011, pp. 234, 307, 311; De Lisle 2008, pp. xvii, 59.


  • Byrne, Muriel St. Clare, ed. (1981). The Lisle Letters (6 vols). Chicago & London volume=1: University of Chicago Press. p. 307. Missing pipe in: |location= (help)CS1 maint: location (link) CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • De Lisle, Leanda (2008). The Sisters Who Would Be Queen; The Tragedy of Mary, Katherine & Lady Jane Grey. London: HarperPress.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G. (ed.). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. I (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1449966373.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G. (ed.). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. II (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1449966381.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Stanton, Pamela Y. (2004). "Arundell, Sir Thomas (c.1502–1552)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/725.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

External links

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Custos Rotulorum of Dorset
bef. 1547–1552
Succeeded by
Lord Thomas Howard