Matthew Arundell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Arms of Arundell of Wardour Castle

Sir Matthew Arundell of Wardour Castle in Wiltshire (ca. 1532/3/4 – 24 December 1598), known between 1552 and 1554 as Matthew Howard and after his death sometimes called Matthew Arundell-Howard, was an English gentleman, landowner, and member of parliament in the West of England.

Although the ancestor of a family of Roman Catholic recusants, Arundell himself conformed to the Church of England.


A member of the ancient knightly family of Arundell of Cornwall, Arundell was the son of Sir Thomas Arundell (attainted and executed in 1552) and of Margaret Howard (died 1571), a sister of Queen Katherine Howard. His maternal grandparents were Lord Edmund Howard (died 1539), the third son of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, and Joyce Culpeper (c. 1480–1531). His great aunt Elizabeth, Countess of Wiltshire, was the mother of Anne Boleyn, who was thus the first cousin of Arundell's mother as well as being the mother of Queen Elizabeth I.[1] He was a descendant of the 11th century landowner Roger de Arundell, who possessed a substantial estate of twenty-eight manors in Wiltshire and Dorset at the Domesday Book survey,[2] and his ancestors on his mother's side included the Varangian chieftain Rurik (ca. 830–879), founder of the Rurikid dynasty.[3]


Present-day ruins of Wardour Castle

Arundell had a younger brother, Charles, and two sisters, Dorothy and Jane.[2] Little is known of their early lives, except that after the execution of their father in 1552 their mother took her children to live in the Holy Roman Empire, where the family used the name of Howard. For this reason, Arundell is sometimes referred to as Matthew Arundell-Howard.[4][5] In 1554, two years after his father's death, when he was about twenty-one, the Arundells were "restored in blood", meaning that their father's attainder was reversed so far as it affected them, and Arundell gradually succeeded in regaining most of his father's lost estates in Dorset and Wiltshire.[2]

Arundell had been contracted to marry Katherine, one of the daughters of Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton, but in the event she married Sir Thomas Cornwallis.[6] In 1559 Arundell married Margaret Willoughby, a daughter of Sir Henry Willoughby, of Wollaton, Nottinghamshire, and wife Anne Grey. As a child Margaret and her sister and brother had been taken in by Henry Grey, 3rd Marquess of Dorset, and his wife, Frances Brandon, after their father was slain in the suppression of Kett's Rebellion in 1549, and had grown up with Dorset's daughters, Lady Jane Grey, Lady Katherine Grey, and Lady Mary Grey. Margaret was present at Mary Grey's secret marriage on 16 July 1565 to the Queen's serjeant porter, Thomas Keyes, and was bequeathed a tankard of gold and silver in Mary Grey's will. As a young lady Margaret had previously served in the household of Princess Elizabeth at Hatfield House.[7]

Sir Thomas Arundell's main seat, Wardour Castle, had been held by knight service of the Earl of Pembroke, so had escheated to Pembroke in 1552. In 1570 Arundell was able to buy it back to live in, together with the manor of Sutton Mandeville, and the next year Lord Pembroke granted him the site of Shaftesbury Abbey.[8] As well as living at Wardour, the Arundells kept a town house in London.[2] They had two sons.[1]

Arundell served in several official capacities, including as Sheriff, custos rotulorum, and Deputy Lieutenant of Dorset.[9][10] Apart from his administrative tasks in the West of England, where his estates lay, Arundell was twice a Member of Parliament. The borough of Shaftesbury in Dorset sent him to sit as one of its burgesses in the House of Commons in the parliament of 1555. In 1563 he was elected as the knight of the shire for Breconshire in Wales. At Westminster he followed the powerful William Cecil, and in 1574 was knighted by his cousin Queen Elizabeth.[10]

His brother Charles Arundell (died 1587) was openly a recusant and fled the country after the Babington Plot. In the 1580s he was seen as a leader of the English Roman Catholic exiles in France.[11] Arundell's own elder son was imprisoned as a suspected Imperial spy, but Arundell himself conformed to the Church of England. In 1588, Arundel was one of a small number of knights considered for a peerage on account of "great possessions". The following year he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for Wiltshire.[10]

Sir John Harington (1561–1612), a courtier often claimed as the inventor of the water closet, reported an occasion at Wardour in the early 1590s at which a conversation about sanitation first prompted his interest in the subject. Apart from Harington, those present were Arundell and his son Thomas, Thomas's wife, Mary, her brother Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, and Sir Henry Danvers. However, fifty years later Wardour Castle still depended on medieval garderobes as privies.[12]

In his final months Arundell was in pain from bladder stones. Following his death on 24 December 1598 he was buried at the parish church of Tisbury. In his Will, proved on 6 February 1598/99, he gave £2,000 – at the time an enormous sum, equal to almost twice the annual income of his more powerful connection the Earl of Southampton[13] – to the poor.[10][14] As Custos Rotulorum of Dorset he was succeeded by Sir Walter Raleigh.


Arundell's son Thomas distinguished himself in battle against the Turks in the service of the Emperor Rudolf II, who created him a Count of the Holy Roman Empire. This foreign title annoyed Queen Elizabeth, who in 1597 imprisoned Thomas Arundell in the Fleet as a suspected Roman Catholic spy, but nothing could be proved against him and Thomas was soon released into Arundell's custody.[15] In 1605, some years after Arundell's death in 1598, his elder son was summoned to the House of Lords by King James I as Baron Arundell of Wardour[1] and was briefly suspected of being one of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators.[9]

The title survived until the death of John Arundell, 16th Baron Arundell of Wardour (1907–1944), when it became extinct.[16]



  1. ^ a b c George Edward Cokayne & Vicary Gibbs, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, vol. I (London: St Catherine Press, 1910), p. 263
  2. ^ a b c d 'Wardour Castle' in John Preston Neale & Thomas Moule, Jones' views of the seats, mansions, castles, etc. of noblemen (Jones and Co., 1829): "Sir Thomas Arundell, second son of Sir John Arundell, Knt. of Lanherne in Cornwall, lineal descendant of Roger de Arundell, recorded in Domesday Survey to be possessed of twenty-eight manors in the Counties of Dorset and Wilts... His estates were confiscated, and Wardour Castle was granted to the Earl of Pembroke, of whom it was soon after purchased by Sir Matthew Arundell, eldest son of Sir Thomas Arundell..."
  3. ^ Descendants of Rurik, Prince of Novgorod, 23rd generation Archived 21 February 2013 at, accessed 21 November 2012
  4. ^ Harry Wright Newman, Anne Arundel Gentry (Baltimore, MD, 1933), p. 240
  5. ^ Aaron Lewis Mehring, The Ancestors & Descendants of Henry Howard (1966), p. 6
  6. ^ G. P. V. Akrigg, Shakespeare and the Earl of Southampton (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1968), pp. 6, 27
  7. ^ Leanda De Lisle, The Sisters Who Would Be Queen; The Tragedy of Mary, Katherine & Lady Jane Grey (London: HarperPress, 2008), pp. 59, 162, 172, 252-53, 289-90.
  8. ^ S. T. Bindoff, The House of Commons: 1509-1553 (London: Secker & Warburg, 1982), p. 336
  9. ^ a b Andrew J. Hopper, 'Arundell, Thomas, first Baron Arundell of Wardour (c. 1560–1639), army officer' in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2009)
  10. ^ a b c d Matthew Arundell Howard[unreliable source] at, accessed 19 November 2012
  11. ^ H. R. Woudhuysen, 'Sidney, Sir Philip (1554–1586), author and courtier', in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2007)
  12. ^ 'Privy Politics' in Jason Scott-Warren, Sir John Harington and the Book as Gift (Oxford University Press, 2001) p. 56
  13. ^ G. P. V. Akrigg, Shakespeare and the Earl of Southampton (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1968), pp. 15–21
  14. ^ Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry: a study in colonial and medieval families (ISBN 1461045207), p. 45: "SIR MATTHEW ARUNDELL died 24 Dec. 1598, and was buried at Tisbury, Wiltshire. He left a will proved 6 Feb. 1599 (P.C.C. 12 Kidd)."
  15. ^ G. P. V. Akrigg, Shakespeare and the Earl of Southampton (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1968), p. 59
  16. ^ 'ARUNDELL of Wardour’, in Who Was Who 1941–1950 (London: A. & C. Black, 1980 reprint; ISBN 0-7136-2131-1)

External links[edit]