Arthur Gorges

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Sir Arthur Gorges (c. 1569 – 10 October 1625), was a sea captain, poet, translator and courtier.

Early life[edit]

He was born the son of Sir William Gorges of Charlton (Charlton in the parish of Wraxall, Somerset) and his wife Winifred Budockshede, heiress to the manor of Budockshede.[1] Sir William Gorges died in Dec 1584, in the Tower of London: he was knighted in Ireland in 1579, Vice Admiral of the Fleet in 1580, and Constable of the Tower of London.[2]

Arthur Gorges' brother Tristram Gorges (circa 1562 - 8 May 1608, St. Budeaux, Devonshire, England) was entrusted by Sir Francis Drake with the custody of Don Pedro de Valdez who was captured in the fight with the Spanish Armada. He took Don Pedro to the Tower of London.[3]

The Gorges family in the Elizabethan era include Sir Ferdinando Gorges, founder of the Province of Maine, and Arthur Gorges' uncle, Sir Thomas Gorges of Longford Castle, married to Helena, Marchioness of Northampton.


A cousin of both Walter Raleigh and Charles Arundell, Arthur Gorges was a member of the Howard circle (the Oxford-Howard circle of Catholic courtiers in the late 1570s [4]) - Arundell claimed Oxford had tried to have Gorges murdered on the Richmond Green.[5]

He was elected Member of Parliament in 1584 for Yarmouth, IoW, in 1589 for Camelford, in 1593 for Dorset and in 1601 for Rye.[6]

He fought in the campaign against the Spanish Armada. In 1597 he commanded the War-Spite, in which Walter Ralegh sailed as Vice Admiral under the Earl of Essex, Robert Devereux, on the Islands Voyage.

He was one of nine who were knighted on 29 Oct 1597.

Family life[edit]

He lived at Gorges House (later named Milman House).[7]

His family possessed considerable property in Chelsea in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and he built "Brickills" - later named Stanley House - there.[8] Sir Robert Stanley, second son of William, sixth Earl of Derby, married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Arthur Gorges, and Stanley then seems to have lived at Stanley House.[9]

Arthur Gorges married twice, first to Douglas Howard in 1584, with whom he had one daughter. Douglas Howard was the daughter and heir of Henry Lord Howard, Viscount Bindon. Henry Howard’s father, the first Viscount (Thomas Howard, Viscount Howard of Bindon), was the second son of Thomas Howard, the third Duke of Norfolk, uncle to Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, two wives of Henry VIII.

Gorges' second marriage was to Elizabeth Clinton Fiennes in 1597, with whom he had twelve children.

On the death of Arthur Gorges' first wife, Edmund Spenser wrote the poem Daphnaïda. In the poem Alcyon is Sir Arthur Gorges.


An elegie vpon the death of the noble and vertuous Dovglas Howard, daughter and heire of Henry Lord Howard, Viscount Byndon, and wife of Arthur Gorges Esquier.

Dedicated to the Right honorable the Ladie Helena, Marquesse of Northampton.

By Ed. Sp.[10]

His monument is in Chelsea Old Church. A brass plate, now fixed to the north wall, is engraved with the kneeling effigies of Sir Arthur Gorges and his six sons on one side of a small table, and his wife and five daughters on the other.[11]


His works include "Lucans Pharsalia" (with a preface in poetry by Walter Raleigh), and a translation into English of Francis Bacon's The Wisedome of the Ancientss:The Wisdom of the Ancients from the original Latin.

He is included in the Oxford Book of Sonnets (2000) published by the Oxford University Press, along with Walter Ralegh, Edmund Spenser, Michael Drayton, and other poets of the time.


  • Arthur Gorges, Spenser's Alcyon and Ralegh's friend. Author: Helen Estabrook Sandison. Publisher: [n.p., 1928?]
  • Poems. Author: Arthur Gorges, Sir; Helen Estabrook Sandison. Publisher: Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1953.
  • The Story of a Family through Eleven Centuries, Illustrated by Portraits and Pedigrees: Being a History of the Family of Gorges. by Raymond Gorges, Frederick Brown; Merrymount Press, 1944. 293 pgs.


  1. ^ Arthur Gorges' mother, before her marriage, was Winifred Budockshede, heiress to the manor of Budockshede. This appears to be the same place as St. Budeaux, where some of the Gorges family lived.

    The name St. Budeaux comes from St Budoc, the Bishop of Dol (Brittany). The village is documented in William the Conqueror's Domesday Book of 1086. Known as Bucheside, it was valued at 30 shillings (around six times the amount of neighbouring manors). Over the course of the next few hundred years, Bucheside became Bodekishide, Budeokshed, and even Bottockishide. The modern name, St. Budeaux, is itself a Frenchified "elegant" form.
    (from the page St. Budeaux)

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  6. ^ "History of Parliament". Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
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  10. ^ Retrieved 15 March 2010.
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