ARUNDELL, John I (by 1527-90), of Lanherne, St. Mawgan-in-Pyder, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1527, 1st s. of Sir John Arundell of Lanherne by 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of Gerard Dannett of Dannett’s Hall, Bruntingthorpe, Leics.; bro. of Thomas. m. c.1560, Anne, da. of Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby, wid. of Charles, 8th Baron Stourton, 2s. 5da. suc. fa. 7 Nov. 1557. Kntd. 27 Nov. 1566.2

Offices Held

Esquire of the body by 1558; commr. musters, Cornw. 1558, 1569, subsidy 1563, piracy 1566; j.p.q. 1569-77.3


John Arundell may have been no more than 18 years old when he was elected to the last Parliament of Henry VIII. He owed his nomination not so much to his family’s standing in Cornwall as to his uncle, Sir Thomas Arundell, who oversaw the elections in the south-west on behalf of Queen Catherine Parr. The Parliament originally summoned for January 1545 was prorogued until the following November, and Sir Thomas Arundell utilised this delay and his office in the duchy of Cornwall to procure the return of his nephew and Richard Heywood for Helston; the indenture naming the two Members was dated 20 May, at least four months after most constituencies had held their elections. John Arundell was obliged to the same uncle in his capacity as lord of Shaftesbury for a seat in the next Parliament, the first of Edward VI’s reign, but the ‘Mr. Arundell’ mentioned in the Journal as active in this Parliament was Sir Thomas Arundell. Arundell’s father did not rally to the Council’s call to arms during the western rebellion, and although charges of treason arising from his failure to do so were dropped for lack of evidence he remained under suspicion while Edward VI lived. Sir Thomas Arundell’s fall and execution further reduced his family’s influence and deprived John Arundell of his early patron, as well, it seems, as the opportunity to sit in the Parliament of March 1553.4

On the accession of Mary the fortunes of Arundell’s family revived, although it was not until 1555 that he had further experience of the House. His name and that of John Herle were written over an erasure on the Preston indenture, which suggests that they were not the borough’s own choice; Arundell’s patron was probably the Earl of Derby, one of whose daughters he was to marry several years later. By the next Parliament his father was dead and Arundell was able to rely on his recently inherited position to take the senior place for his native county.5

In 1564 the bishop of Exeter listed ‘the great Arundell’ among those who were not justices, ‘yet being of some authority are judged no favourers’ of the government’s religious policy. In spite of the bishop’s report, Arundell was appointed to the bench and was employed extensively in local affairs, but he did not sit in Parliament again. In 1569 he refused to subscribe to the Act of Uniformity and in the following year he was obliged to enter a recognizance for his ‘good behaviour’, but it was not until 1577 that his Catholicism came to be looked upon as a source of danger to the realm. On 29 Nov. in that year Cuthbert Maine, the seminary priest, was hanged at Launceston; in his speech from the scaffold he described Arundell as a ‘good and godly’ gentleman with the result that two weeks later Arundell, whose refusal to attend church had been noted, was placed under arrest. On his release he was required to live near London and took up residence in Clerkenwell. During his absence from Cornwall his house was searched and subsequently charges against him were laid before the Council in September 1579. In 1585 Arundell was lodged in the Tower, allegedly because of his association with his wife’s cousin, Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel. At the same time he was fined 1,000 marks in the Star Chamber for contempt of the proclamation regarding recusants. Released from the Tower in 1586, he went to live at Muswell Hill and remained there until the early months of 1590, when he was imprisoned at Ely. He was set free in the summer and settled in Isleworth, where he died on the following 17 Nov. His body was carried with great pomp to Cornwall and buried beside those of his ancestors at St. Columb Major, where a monument was later erected to his memory.6

In his will dated 12 Dec. 1589 and proved on 9 Dec. 1590, Arundell made generous bequests to a number of his servants and left his wife £100 and all the plate and household stuff received from her at marriage. He required his elder son and heir, whom he appointed sole executor, to make his own will immediately, so that there would be no danger of his dying intestate and the family property passing into alien hands.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: J. J. Goring


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/111/19. Vis. Cornw. ed. Vivian, 4; CP, xii(1), 307-8; Paroch. Hist. Cornw. i. 230; N. and Q. (ser. 9), iii. 491.
  • 3. CPR, 1557-8, p. 311; APC, v. 264; A. L. Rowse, Tudor Cornw. 332.
  • 4. CJ, i. 5-7, 14.
  • 5. C219/24/87.
  • 6. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 69; SP12/60, f. 81; 67, f. 136; 187, f. 107; R. Challoner, Mems. Missionary Priests, 6, 198; Cath. Rec. Soc. ii. 239; xxi. 112; xxii. 76; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 353; Add. 1566-79, p. 523; APC, xi. 265, 345; xvii. 415; xix. 393; J. Morris, The Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers, ii. 162; J. H. Pollen, Eng. Catholics, 162; CSP Span. 1580-6, p. 604; HMC Hatfield, ii. 126; N. and Q. (ser. 9), iii. 397; HMC 5th Rep. 406; Paroch. Hist. Cornw. i. 230; Rowse, 362-3.
  • 7. PCC 83 Drury.