ARDEN, Richard Pepper (1744-1804), of Alvanley, nr. Frodsham, Cheshire.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



17 Jan. 1783 - 1784
1784 - 1790
1790 - Apr. 1794
3 May 1794 - 22 May 1801

Family and Education

b. 20 May 1744, 2nd s. of John Arden of Harden Hall, nr. Stockport by Mary, da. of Cuthbert Pepper of Pepper Hall, nr. Northallerton, Yorks., sis. and h. of Preston Pepper. educ. Manchester g.s. 1752; Trinity, Camb. 1761, fellow 1767; M. Temple 1762, called 1769. m. 9 Sept. 1784, Anne Dorothea, da. of Richard Wilbraham Bootle, 3s. 4da. Kntd. 18 June 1788; cr.Baron Alvanley 22 May 1801.

Offices Held

A Welsh judge 1776-82; K.C. 1780, bencher, M. Temple 1780; solicitor-gen. July 1782-Apr. 1783, Dec. 1783-Mar. 1784; attorney-gen. and c.j. Chester Mar. 1784-June 1788; P.C. 18 June 1788; master of the rolls 1788-1801; c.j. of the common pleas 1801- d.


Arden, according to his obituary in the Gentleman’s Magazine (1804, p. 384), after being called to the bar ‘fixed his residence in Lincoln’s Inn ... and it is said he there lived on the same staircase’ with Pitt, ‘and they used to associate very much together’. Through Pitt’s influence he was made solicitor-general and shortly afterwards brought into Parliament, and when Pitt resigned Arden followed him. ‘There is great dissatisfaction in the House of Commons’, he wrote to Lloyd Kenyon on 8 Apr. 1783, ‘but what it will end in, no one can tell. For my part, I am heartily sick of politics, and should be very glad never to set my foot in the House of Commons again.’ And on 14 Apr.1: ‘I am very well, in good spirits, and appeared in the House of Commons in boots, in the character of an independent country gentleman.’

He attacked Fox’s East India bill, wrote Wraxall (iii. 180), ‘through every stage with great pertinacity and spirit, not unaccompanied with legal ability’; it was, he told the House on 8 Dec. 1783, ‘a private job’.2 On the dismissal of the Coalition he resumed his old office. ‘My constituents are so perfectly satisfied with my conduct in Parliament’, he wrote to Kenyon on 9 Jan. 1784,3 ‘that they have unanimously re-elected me.’

He was one of Pitt’s chief lieutenants on the Treasury bench, and his interventions in debate extended to subjects outside his judicial offices. On 18 Apr. 1785 he ‘very ably’ supported Pitt on parliamentary reform.4 He was also a defender of Warren Hastings: 13 June 1786, he spoke against his impeachment, and on 9 May 1788 against the motion to impeach Impey; and on 4 May 1789 moved the previous question against a motion thanking Burke for his ‘exertions and assiduity’ in the prosecution of Hastings.

‘Arden’s merit’, wrote Wraxall (iv. 151-2), ‘seemed to consist principally in the strong predilection manifested towards him’ by Pitt; without this ‘never would Arden have reached the heights of the law’.

He died 19 Mar. 1804.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. HMC Kenyon, 515.
  • 2. Debrett, xii. 404.
  • 3. HMC Kenyon, 517.
  • 4. Stockdale, v. 354.