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In the Conqueror’s time the Manor of Watford, Northamptonshire, was recognised as belonging to Gilbert the Cooke, to whom his son Baldwin succeeded. But the next owner was Eustace de Arden, son of Alexander and Agnes Arden, in the time of Henry II. The first Eustace, born about 1140, was probably the Eustachius de Arderne who granted Watford Church to the Abbey of St. James. His son, also named Eustace, died in 1213. The dower of his widow Hawisia was in Watford and Silvesworth, and Ranulph III., Earl of Chester, became her security that she would not marry again without license from the King. Her two sons were Eustace and John de Arderne. Eustace died in 4 Edward I., 1221, leaving a son Eustace. The line ended with four daughters, coheiresses Aveline, Mary, Jane, Elena, 1275. The arms of Eustace were: Gules, on a chief argent, a label azure. I have wondered if the following entries concerned younger sons of this family: “To Master William of Watford 50 marks for his expenses going as a messenger to the King beyond the sea"; and, “Paid to William de Watford, Keeper of the Queen’s palfreys."

John, the second son of the second Eustace and brother of the third, received either an original grant, or the confirmation of a grant, from the Earl of Chester of the Manor of Aldford, in Cheshire. He was probably the son-in-law of the Richard de Aldford who preceded him. As the Earl of Chester was Hawisia’s surety, he may have been her son John’s guardian. John afterwards granted part of this fee to Peter, the Earl’s clerk, and another part to Pulton and Chester Abbey. On November 28, 1213, he compounded with the King for his father’s annual payment for lands in Watford, and granted to Eustace, his brother, the lands he had received there from his father. He executed this deed in Aldford, August, 1216. In that year he received, as a Knight of Ranulph, Earl of Chester, then in the Holy Land, a grant of the lands of Geoffrey de Sautemaris. Sir Walkelyn, his son, succeeded him in or before 1237-38. Through his wife, Agnes de Orreby, he acquired Elford, in Staffordshire, with Alvanley, Upton, and other manors in Cheshire. He was frequently at Court, as his attestations to various charters prove, about 41 Henry III. In 1264-65 he granted the Manor of Alvanley to his eldest son, Sir Peter, who succeeded to all the family estates on the death of his father, about 1268. He bore arms based not on those of Eustace de Watford, or on those of the Earl of Chester, from whom he held land, but on those of William de Beauchamp, who had succeeded to the Earldom of Warwick in 1257, as if to claim descent from the Warwickshire family. His seal appears first in 17 Edward I. in a release to Sir John de Orreby of a debt due. It bore a shield with three crosses crosslet pattees, a chief Arderne, with the motto, “Frange, lege tege.” See also the charters in the British Museum. His son and heir by Margery, his wife, was Sir John, who married Margaret, daughter of Griffin ap Madoc, Lord of Bromfield, of royal Welsh extraction.

Sir John de Arderne at the tournament at Stepney, 2 Edward II., in the retinue of the Earl of Lancaster, bore “Gules, 10 crosses crosslet, and a chief or."

But it is said that after his marriage the Arden arms were temporarily varied to gules, crusule or, and a chief or.

In 9 Edward II. he purchased part of Haselover from Geoffrey Salveyn.

In that year the “Nomina de Villarum” gives the name of “Sir Henry de Ardena” as Lord of Elford. John’s name, however, is given in the list by the Lieutenant of the Knights and men-at-arms of the county, 17 Edward II., 1324; and he was one of the Knights summoned to attend the great council at Westminster, 17 Edward II. John and Margaret had two sons John, who succeeded to Aldford, Alderley, Alvanley, and Elford, 19 Edward III., and Peter, afterwards of Over Alderley. John married, first, Alice, daughter of Hugh de Venables, and had by her two sons, John and Peter, and a daughter Margaret. His second wife was Joane, daughter and heiress of Sir Richard de Stokeport, by whom he had no issue; and his third wife was Ellen Wasteneys, by whom he had two sons, Thomas and Walkelyn, born before marriage, and two daughters, Isabel, wife of Sir Hugh Wrottesley, and Maud, wife of Robert Leigh, of Adlington, and a son, born after marriage (about 1341), who evidently died soon.

Then occurred an extraordinary hitch in the history of primogeniture. His eldest son, John, had died without issue before his father. Peter, the second son, and natural heir of his brother and father, then aged twenty-four, on his father’s death found by the inquisition that he died possessed of “no lands," all his vast possessions being settled on himself and his wife Ellen only for life, and secured by a deed of gift, in reversion to Thomas, the elder illegitimate son of Ellen Wasteneys. By an appeal, however, to the courts, based on the previous settlement on his great-grandfather, Peter, the legitimate heir recovered Alvanley. He married Cicely, daughter and heiress of Adam de Bredbury, who inherited Hawarden from her father, and henceforward Alvanley and Hawarden were the chief seats of the Cheshire Ardens. It is evident, therefore, that the root-meaning of Hawarden, or Harden, has no relation to the family name.

The favoured Thomas received Aldford, Etchells, and Nether Alderley, Cheshire; and Elford, Staffordshire. He was knighted before 1359, and died 1391. He married Katherine, daughter of Sir Richard Stafford, heiress of Clifton Campvile, Pipe, Haselover, and Statfold, and was buried in Elford Church, where his beautiful marble monument still remains. He is represented in full knightly armour, wearing a rich collar, with the letters “S.S.” interwoven, his basinet bearing the words “The Nazarene.” His wife lies by his side, richly robed, and also wearing a collar with “S. S.” His son and heir, John, born at Elford, March 12, 1369, was over twenty-one at his father’s death, 15 Richard II. He married Margaret Pilkington, and died in 1408, leaving no male heir. A large monument in memory of him in Elford Church is almost decayed.

In his inquisition, his nearest male relatives are stated to be Robert de Legh, of Adlington, aged forty, and Hugh de Wrottesley, aged eight. His only daughter was Matilda, aged twelve, who was granted Alderley and Etchells only. She married Thomas de Stanley. John’s widow, Margaret, took for her second husband Sir Robert Babthorpe, and died 1423. Her Inquisition Post Mortem is very interesting. She died seized of Nether Alderley only, which reverted to her daughter, Matilda Stanley.

“The Prince of Wales as Earl of Chester versus Margaret, formerly wife of John, son of Thomas de Arderne, to determine the right to the manors of Aldford, Alderdelegh, and Echells, the advowsons, and 10 marks a year from the manor of Upton, in Wyrehale. It mentions that Thomas and Walkelyn were illegitimate; but Walkelyn died s.p., and pleaded the settlement.

Another Chester Plea Roll records the suit of Richard, son of John de Radcliff and Matilda his wife, against Isabella, formerly wife of John de Legh, Chivalier, for land in Modberlegh, which John de Ardene gave to John de Legh for his life, with remainder to John, son of John de Legh and Matilda, daughter of John de Ardene, and to the heirs of the bodies of John de Legh and Matilda.

Sir Thomas Arden and Sir John bore as arms the three crosses crosslet, and the chief or, the same as the legitimate family.

Hugh, the son of Peter Arden, of Alvanley and Hawarden, carried on the main line, and had full possession of his estates by 1372. He married twice first, Agnes Hulme, by whom he had Peter and Ralph; and second, Cicely de Hyde, by whom he had John, who lived in the service of the King. The seal of Peter, son of Hugh de Arderne, of Macclesfield, co. Chester, 1372, is preserved in the British Museum, and bears three crosses crosslet and a chief Arderne. Old and infirm, Hugh was granted exemption from military service in 1408.

Charles Arden, son of John, son of Peter, married Elizabeth Radcliffe in Edward III.’s time, and through her inheritance became owner of Timporley, and founded the Timporley branch of Ardens.

The pedigree of the family is given in extenso in Drummond, Earwaker, Ormerod, and the Visitations of Cheshire, so that it is unnecessary to repeat it here. Further intermarriages with the Hydes are recorded. Ralph Ardern, of Harden, led his tenantry against the Royalists, 1642, and died 1657. Sir John, head of the family, in 1660 was Sheriff of Cheshire. One of his brothers was the Rev. James Arden, Dean of Chester, 1691.

John, who was Sheriff in 1760, married Sarah Pepper, who brought Pepper Hall into the family. Their son, Richard Pepper Arden, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, was created Baron Alvanley 1801. He had three sons, John, William, and Richard. The title became extinct 1857. The arms were the three crosses crosslet and a chief or; crest, a double row of ostrich feathers out of a ducal coronet.

There is a curious will at Somerset House (January 9, 1614) of Thomas Arden, of Hornsey, gentleman, who seems to have been connected with this family. After trifling legacies, he leaves his lease in Cheshire of Melton Farm to his dear and well-beloved sister, Ann Ardern. “Executors, my beloved sister Anne Arderen, ever faithful friend, and Richard Drape of Hornsey gent.” proved January 17, 1614. But another similar will of the same man was again proved, 1615, by Anne and another co-executor.

In Berry’s “Sussex Genealogies” we find that George Ardern, son of George Ardern, born in Chester, came to Chichester, married Catharine, daughter and coheir of Robert Palmer, Esq., and had three sons George, John, and Richard. Richard married Margaret, daughter of Thomas Green, and had three sons and a daughter Thomas, George, Richard, and Catherine.

An important official Arden was John, who in the reign of Henry V. was Clerk of the Works. His patent was renewed under Henry VI., and payments are recorded to him for making the tomb of King Henry V. in St. Peter’s, Westminster, of Caen stone, L23 6d.; for repairs in the Tower; in the palace of Westminster; and in the castle of Wallingford. He was also Clerk of the Works at York, and in 22 Henry VI. was made Baron of the Exchequer, and had various grants.

Foss believes him to be the father of Sir Peter Arderne, also in royal service. In 18 Henry VI. he was deputy of William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, chief seneschal of the Duchy of Lancaster. He took the coif February 14, 1443, and was made King’s Serjeant and Chief Baron of the Exchequer May 2, 1448. Dugdale does not mention him as a Judge of Common Pleas, but he received his patent July 7, 26 Henry VI., and must have held double office. In 1461 his patents were renewed, but in the following year there was a new Chief Baron, though Sir Peter retained his other offices. He had a tun of wine annually for life. His will is so interesting from a literary point of view, as well as a genealogical one, that it is worthy of fuller notice. He and his wife Katharine had founded a chantry in Netteswell, Essex, and a chapel in the parish of Latton, Essex, where they resided. He left to these and many other charitable purposes handsome legacies; and to his wife, Dame Katharine, he left his “daily Primer,” much plate and furniture, a crucifix, the furniture of a chapel, his “book of legends in English, and his English translation of ’Bonaventura de vita et passione Christi.’” To his “son, John Bohun,” armour, and his book in English of “Boys de Consolacione Philosophiae, with the booke of Hunting therein.” To his daughter, Anne Bohun, furniture, and a French booke, “Giles de Reginum Principii.” To his daughter, Elizabeth Skreene, furniture and a mass-book. To his son, John Skreene, “myne owne volume of old statutes with the Register, and ye new Lawes therein; my newe statutes and a boke of termes of parchemyn, and a good boke compiled of Law with a yallow leather covering, and a booke of law of termes of 2 Ed. II. in parchemyn, a greate booke of gramer, with the Siege of Troy borded, a greate booke called Catholicon borded, and a good new bounden fair little book compiled of Assises.” “To my ward, Thomas Bibbesworth, his own marriage free to himself, my best Register of Lawe, my owne gret compiled booke of Lawe covered with red leather, and a horn upon it ... a booke of lawe in parchemyn compiled and bokeled, a boke of terms of Law on paper, with A 32-A 39 and other yeares therein.” “To my niece, Margaret Newport, a table of ivory with the Salutation of our Lady in ymages of silver. To my brother, Master Thomas Arden, my scarlet gowne furred, my book flowered Barthm. his own booke of Lucerna, conscience, his Sawter glosed, my booke of the Life of St. Thomas of Canterbury.” To his cousin, Master John Roclif, a hoode; to his brother, parson of Hadham, a cloke; to his nephew, Guy Arden, a gowne. Other remembrances follow. His interest in the forest of Galtuce, in Yorkshire, in the towns of Hoby and Esmeswold, to be sold to pay his debts. His wife to have all the residue if she remain unmarried. The manors of Monkhall and Enfield to his wife, reverting to his daughters; the manor of Swale in Godilston to his wife, and to any heir she chooses. Executors: Dame Katherine Arden, his wife, and Master Thomas Ardern, his brother, and others, February 20, 1466, proved July 10, 1467. A rubbing of the sepulchral brass in memory of Sir Peter and his wife at Latton is preserved in the British Museum. His arms were: Or, three pellets azure on a chief gules, three lozenges argent. Bobbingworth Hall, Ongar, Essex, was conveyed to Richard Ardern 1423, and to Sir Peter Ardern 1446. In that year also Gregory Wery released Latton Hall, Harlow Half Hundred, to Peter Ardern and his heirs for ever. The will of the Guy Arden, nephew of Sir Peter, was drawn up July 24, 1498. He left legacies to the master, every brother, and every servant of St. John’s College, Cambridge; to Sir Christopher Wright, Fellow of St. John’s, his journal; to Mr. Bowes, of King’s College, his great beads; to the Lady Prioress of Crabhouse, “2 portuess of written hande and x^s, and to her convent 6^s 8^{d}.” The residue to Dr. William Robinson and Master John Basse, Bach. of Civill Lawe.

A curious group of wills seem to prove that the Alice Green who married John Holgrave, one of the Barons of the Exchequer, must have previously married an Arden, and had children by him. Sir John Holgrave’s will was drawn up on August 6, 1486. After church bequests, he leaves to his son Thomas some plate, “of the gift of Elizabeth Greene, my mother-in-law,” forty marks to his son John, and fifty marks to his daughter Elizabeth. “To the brotherhood of the Clerkes of London, wher I am a brother, 13/4.” To Katherine Coleyn, 100^{s}; to Alice Green, 100^{s}; to Richard Arden, towards his learning, 10 marks, and one of his best gowns; to Master Walter Ardern, parson of Cheyham, 100^{s}; the residue to his wife Alice. Executors: Alice, his wife, Thomas Holgrave, his son, Master Walter Arden, and Richard Ardern. If his sons and daughters die without heirs, his estate to go to Richard Arden, his son-in-law, and Master Walter Arden. His wife Alice made her will in 1487. Her son Thomas was to have fifty marks, her son John L100, and her daughter Besse L100. “Also to Richard, my son, 100 marc; to Mr. Wat, my son, 100 marc; to Katerine, my daughter, L40; to Elizabeth, my daughter, 10 marc.” “Cousin Alice Skreene" was to have 10 marks also. There were gifts of plate to her sons Thomas and John and daughter Besse, to Richard and Mr. Water, her sons, and her daughter Katharine. Executors: My son Mr. Walter Ardern, my son Richard Ardern, my son Thomas Holgrave. Overseers: Master Litton and my daughter Katharine. Proved September 21, 1487.

The above-mentioned Master Walter Arden, parson of Cheyham, Surrey, September 13, 1482, left legacies to every household in his parish; and 10 marks each to Richard, my brother, to Thomas, my brother, to John, my brother, to Elizabeth Ardern, my sister, to Elizabeth Holgrave, my sister, to the daughters of my sister Collyns, and to various cousins. Also to the daughters of Mr. Codyngton, and 10 marcs to poor scholars. Twenty shillings to reparation of St. Mary’s, Cambridge. The residue to Richard Arden, my brother. Executors: John Deye, Sir John Norwood, and John Codyngton, the younger, with 10 marks each. Proved October 2, 1492.

Seven years afterwards Richard Arden, of Bosham, Sussex, and of Bermondsey, left legacies to various churches, and to his brothers Thomas and John Holgrave. Johane, his wife, sole heir and executor, with reversion to John Holgrave. Overseers: John of Lee, of Addyngton, Richard Culpepper, of Ardyns Lee, and John Chaloner, Huwild, 1499.

The name “Collins” makes one think there may be some connection with the following: Walter Arden, of Hampton, in Highworth, Wilts, makes his will on April 1, 1540. He leaves to Thomas Ardern, the elder son of my brother, Richard Arden, L40 and farm stock; to Johane Arden, my servant, sister to Thomas, L20; to Margaret Sewell, my daughter, L100 and all my lands; to Elizabeth Palmer, my sister’s daughter, and to other grandchildren, money gifts. My daughter Elizabeth sole executrix; Simon Yate supervisor.

The goods of Edith Arden, Hampton Turvil, Wilts, were administered in 1578, and those of Richard Arden, of Chilton, 1641.

John Arden, of Hampton Turville, Highworth, Wilts, yeoman, August 16, 1585, leaves half his goods to his wife Amy as long as she is unmarried, reversion to Thomas Arden, his son; to Editha Collyns, L6 13d.; to Agnes Collyns, 20s.; to Elizabeth Collyns, 20s.; to Walter Arden, my godson, 10s.; to Elizabeth Arden, the daughter of my brother, Henry Arden, a sheep; to each of the children of my brother Richard a sheep. All the residue to my son, Thomas Arden, executor. Overseers, brothers Thomas and Virgill Arden, who were also witnesses. Proved November 28, 1585.

The will was proved of Thomas Arden, of Hampton Turvill, Highworth, Wilts, yeoman, February 3, 1621. His wife Agnes to live in the house in convenient rooms and have L10 a year, payable out of the manor of Westthroppe, in the parish of Heynes; or, if she does not like her diet, L20 a year. He stands possessed for a terme of 1,000 years in the moitie and one-half part of one-fifth of the manor of Westthropp, to be given to eldest son, Thomas Arden, and heirs male; if no heirs, to John Arden, his second son; then to Edward Arden, his third son; to Nicholas Arden, his fourth son, each of which are to have L100. To Henry Arden, my son, L4 a year, and his dwelling in the house at Hampton and good usage there, and if he does not like his treatment, to have L10 a year. To John, my son, my tenements in Birdlip, Gloucester; to Edward, my son, a house in Highworth and the Chantrey House. My kinsman, Thomas Arden, of Fairford, Gloucester, oweth me L40. I give this to Agnes, my daughter, wife of Henry Gearinge. Thomas, his son, sole executor. His loving brother, Thomas Stratton, and Henry Gearing, overseers.

The Ardernes of Cottesford and Kirtlington, Oxford, bore the same arms as the Park Hall Ardens, with a mullet for difference; but the relationship is not given in the pedigree of the Visitation. It only starts with Robert Arden of Cottesford, whose son William married Agnes Stotesby of Evenley, and he had, first, Thomas, second, John, third, William, fourth, George. His daughter Alice married Thomas Thorne of Northampton. Thomas predeceased his father and John succeeded, who married, first, Isabel Woodward, widow of Richard Swillington, who bore him a son, Leonard, who became a priest, and Eleanor, married to Anthony Yate. John married, second, Isabell, daughter of John Gifford, of Twyford, Bucks, by whom he had John Arden, of Cottesford (who married Catharine, daughter of John Cheyney, and whose son was John Arden), Richard, and Anthony, who married Margery, daughter and heir of Walter Coxe, of Kirtlington, through whom he acquired this property. Anthony’s family consisted of John, Thomas, Henry, Alice, Margaret, and Mary.

There were Indentures drawn up between Henry VIII. and “John Arderne, of Cotisford” (see Cromwell’s “Remembrances,” 1534).

The will of John Arden, of Cottesford, Oxfordshire, gentleman, November 12, 1557, furnishes us with some particulars. He wished to be buried before the cross in Cottesford beside his father’s tomb. To Katharine, his wife, if she claimed no jointure, an annuity of L13 6d. (to be paid by brother Richard Arden, in the lordship of Willaston), 300 marks, and the house they dwell in, with half the furniture, etc. “To every of the children of Roger Arndern, of Evynley, now living, twenty shillings.” To his cousin, Robert Thorne, to his cousin, Nicholas Thorne’s wife, to his sister, Eleanor Yates, legacies. “To John Ardern, son of Anthony Ardern, my young brother,” tenements, etc.; failing whom, they were to pass to Henry Ardern, third son of his said brother. To the wives of Richard and Anthony, his brothers, four angels. To Richard, his brother, all his titles to Cottesford and Willaston, and to Anthony, his younger brother, the title of his lease of Shelliswell. Residue to his brothers, the executors; desiring Mr. Walter Wright, Doctor of the Civil Law and Archdeacon of Oxfordshire, to be overseer. Witnesses, Nicholas Thorne, Walter Prior, and John Tench. “Memor.: Laurence Pate, parson of Harwicke, had to hide the will in his coffer till Arden’s death."

Robert Arden, of Berwyck, writes to the Earl of Leicester about Mr. Arden, of Cotesford, March 1, 1588.

John Arden in 1595 prays some Court service. But in January, 1595-96, he has been sent to the Marshalsea on suspicion of treason, when he was about to marry. Nicholas Poutor, in October, 1601, promises to pay L100 to John Ardern, of Kirtlington, in October, 1602.

These Ardens are evidently connected with those of Evenly in Northamptonshire. Thomas Arden, of Evenly, died between 1520-26; Roger Arden, of Evenly, 1537-40; William Arden, of Norton, 1548-61. The Inventory of the goods of John Arden, of Evenley, gent., was taken November 9, 1559. On the back of this is a settlement, dated 1576, between John and Thomas Arden, and others.

It is not clear whether the Cottesford Ardens are in any way connected with a family residing at Henley-on-Thames, co. Oxon. In a will of Robert Arden he left everything he had to his wife Margery, August 8, 1493; and on February 24, 1525, John Arderne, of Henley, drew up a will leaving to his daughter Margery L6 13d.; and to his wife Johane all his lands and tenements, with remainder, first to his son and heir, Humphrey Arderne, after him to his son Robert, after him to his son John, after him to his son Edmund or their heirs. His wife Johane, executrix; James Hayles, overseer. Proved May 4, 1526.

Beyond the more important habitats, we find Ardens in many English counties. John Yate, the elder, of Bockland, Berks, gent., in his will, January 12, 1578, mentions his son-in-law, Mr. John Arderne, and Anthony Arderne, son of his daughter Bridget, deceased. John Daubeney, of Woolmeston, gent., April 6, 1625, mentions his brother-in-law, Guy Arden, of West Chinnock.

The State Papers mention this family.

The names of such of the guard under the Earl of Leicester “as have been lately preferred to your excellency in Holland, and by whom:

“John Arden, by Mr. Thomas Dudley, January 12, 1585.”

“The names of the Household, Flushing, July 21, 1585, Clerk Comptroller, Thomas Arden."

John Arderne, will June 5, 1605; ob. s. p. December 17, 1605. Inq. at Woodstock, 5 Jac. I. Oxford and Berks. Thomas, brother and heir, ae.

Thomas Arderne, ob. s. p. August 31, 9 Jac. I. Inq. at Oxford, November 12, 14 Jac. I., Oxford. Henry, brother and heir, ae.

Henry Arderne, ob. May 4 ult. Inq. at Oxford. August 22, August 20, 20 Jac. I. Oxford and Somerset. Margaret, d. and h., ae years 11 months 14 days.

Of this family probably sprung the Arden mentioned in Bishop Scory’s letter from Whitborn: “Messrs. Mug, Blaxton, Arden and Gregory, popish priests, were driven out of Exeter, but received elsewhere, and feasted in the streets with torch-light.” August 17, 1561.

In a search for Arden and other prisoners who had escaped, Popish relics were found in the house of Francis Yeates, of Lyfford, February 12, 1587. “The examination of John Arden, gent., son of Laurence Arden, of Chichester, concerning an attempt made against the King of Spain, and his dealings with Dr. Hall and other fugitives. His brother Robert had been 24 years a Canon of Toledo in Spain.” December 27, 1590 (?). A prisoner named Arden is noted for years among the accounts of the Tower for the boarding of prisoners, and a Mr. Arden escaped thence with Father Gerard by the assistance of John Lily and Richard Fulwood, October 8, 1597.

Thomas Arden, Canon of Worcester 1558, was deprived for Catholicism in 1562. (See Wood’s “Athenae Oxonienses”; and also “John Arden(?), late prebendary of Worcester, accused of heresy 1561.”)