Introduction to the CHESHIRE ARDERNES

The Hunt for ARDERNES in the Arden woodpile

with the help of Charlotte Carmichael Stopes

and the Project Gutenberg EBook of Shakespeare's Family, by Mrs. C. C. Stopes

Helen Moorwood [April, 2013]

What still remains to be researched in the Midlands is at least an identification of all those who used the cross-crosslet arms from about 1500 onwards. This in itself would provide a strong reason to believe that they were Cheshire Ardernes. Even then some of them might be from junior branches of the Ardernes of Elford Staffordshire, who were in turn a junior branch of the Cheshire Ardernes. But at least it would distinguish them from the Ardens of Park Hall or anywhere else in places near the ancient Forest of Arden. Several of these have been detected by previous researchers, but at a time when it was firmly believed that this was the cross-crosslets was merely a ‘deviant’ version from the contemporary Park Hall fess chequy arms.

One source that I have found most informative was Charlotte Carmichael Stopes, Shakespeare’s Family, 1901. She was an avid pursuer of Shakespearean documents. When I first read her books I found that she had so often gone down the same path as I had, had thus almost come to the same conclusions, but had then taken a leap in another direction, and so explained all away under different headings. Her work remained in my memory, endeared by the fact that she was the mother of Marie Stopes, who, I read to my great surprise, had gained her doctorate at the University of Munich (which also now has the Shakespeare Research Library, used so often by myself) and taught at Manchester University (not too far from Cheshire Arderne territory). This was at the time when Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst of Manchester were active in the Suffragette movement, which was presumably not unconnected with Marie Stopes organizing her liberating campaign for birth control. Her mother Charlotte had devoted herself to the pursuit of Shakespeare’s biography. She was a contemporary of Sir Edmund Chambers, which resulted in her work being overshadowed by his. One would like to believe that this was not because she was female.

It was with delight that I realized that Project Gutenberg had digitized her book Shakespeare’s Family in 2008, which allowed me to read it again recently, copying relevant passages on the way. These very helpfully include clickable references, and page numbers. The blue links to references should take you to the online copy. Otherwise, just google the author and title.

In this listing of useful extracts from her work, I am very much following her own wise advice on p. 15:

We must beware of drawing definite conclusions, of making over-hasty generalizations. We only collect the bricks to help future investigators to build the edifice.

From her pages 31-32 comes the following information:

. . . three cross crosslets fitchée and a chief or. As such they were borne by the Ardens of Alvanley, with a crescent for difference. They were borne without the crescent by Simon Arden of Longcroft,[78] [Pg 32] the second son of the next generation.

Despite these arms, Stopes assumed that Simon of Longcroft was a second son of a Park Hall Arden. The family of Longcroft would bear further investigation. From the passage following on from the above come confused messages, but it seems that Yoxall in Staffordshire and the Ardens of Hawnes in Bedfordshire need further research.

It is true that among the tombs at Yoxall the fesse chequy appeared, but there is evident confusion in their use. Martin Arden of Euston was probably in the wrong to assume when he did the arms of his elder brother; William Arden of Hawnes, if the sixth son, county Bedford, bore the same arms as those proposed for Mary Arden, and it is implied that Thomas, her father, had borne them. In the Heralds' College is the draft: "Shakespere impaled with the Aunceyent armes of the said Arden of Willingcote" (volume marked R. 21 outside and G. XIII. inside).

On pp 32-33 she shows great awareness of the Cheshire Ardernes, while still believing that Thomas of Wilmcote was one and the same as Thomas, second son of a Park Hall Arden. However, she perceived, as I had also perceived independently, that Herald Robert Glover might hold some of the clues to sorting out the muddles.

If the three cross crosslets fitchée were the correct arms for Thomas Arden as the second son of an Arden, who might bear ermine, a fesse chequy or, and az., the crescent would have been the correct difference, but it had long been borne by the Ardens of Alvanley, in Cheshire, who branched off from the Warwickshire family early in the thirteenth century. The heralds therefore differenced the crosslets with a martlet, usually, but by no means universally, the mark of cadency for a fourth son at that time.[79] Thus, Glover[80] enumerates among the arms of Warwickshire and Bedfordshire: "Arden or Arderne gu., three cross crosslets fitchée or; on a chief of the second a martlet of the first. Crest, a plume of feathers charged with a martlet or." . . . . . Camden and the other heralds were only seeking correctness in their draft of the restitution of the Ardens' arms. The hesitation as to exactitude among the varieties of Arden arms was the cause of the notes. See "The Booke of Differ.," 61; see "Knights of E.I.," folios 2, 28, etc., on the draft.

On page 174 she reports several Ardern arms in Aston Cantlow, the parish in which Wilmcote lies. And Sir William Dugdale turns up as perhaps providing some of the clues. He was a later King of Arms and compiler of A History of Warwickshire, 1656. As soon as I find time, I shall return to this work.

Dugdale gives us the arms depicted on the roof of the chancel of Aston Cantlow Church, three varieties: "Gules, a fesse betwixt six cross-crosslets or" (Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick); "Argent 6 cross-crosslets fichée Sable, upon a chief Azure two mullets or" (Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon); "Argent, 3 cross-crosslets fichée Sable upon a chief Azure a mullet and a Rose Or." But Dugdale does not know the family this represents. Could it be a variety of the Ardens?

Removing Stopes’s repeated insistence that Thomas of Wilmecote was an Arden of Park Hall, we are left with other possible leads.

The Thomas Arden who resided here paid subsidy of 26s. 8d. on £10 land, being one of the largest landholders in the parish. He bought certain lands at Snitterfield on May 16, 16 Henry VII., associated with certain gentlemen whose names are suggestive, as I have shown on page 28. John Mayowe transferred his property to Robert Throgmorton, Armiger,[403] afterwards knight, Thomas Trussell[404] of Billesley, Roger Reynolds [Pg 175] of Henley in Arden, William Wood of Woodhouse, Thomas Arden of Wilmecote, and Robert Arden, the son of this Thomas Arden. We know that Robert Throgmorton was an intimate friend of the Ardens of Park Hall, and his association with Thomas of Wilmecote strengthens . . . We know that this Thomas was the father of Robert Arden, who was the father of Mary, Shakespeare's mother, and her six sisters. It does not seem unlikely he bore arms, and was the Esquire witness of Walter Arden's will, who has never been located elsewhere. If he bore arms, it is more than likely that, as a younger son, they were derived from the Beauchamps, and might even have been those found by Dugdale in the Aston Cantlow Church, where he was buried. It is probable that Robert bore the cross-crosslets with a difference, as did his contemporary, William Arden of Hawnes. We have at least Glover's[405] testimony that among the arms of Warwickshire and Bedfordshire are "Arden or Arderne gu, three cross-crosslets fitchée or; on a chief of the second a martlet of the first. Crest, a plume of feathers charged with a martlet or." When, therefore, John Shakespeare made application to impale the arms of his wife in his new coat, it might seem natural that the fesse chequy, arms of the head of the house, should be struck out, and those substituted more customary for a younger son, and probably borne by Thomas, his wife's grandfather, or by Robert Arden, his wife's father.

Stopes returns to THE ARDENS OF LONGCROFT on p. 183. I suspect that re-examining Simon of Longcroft might produce interesting results. It might well be that there were two contemporary Simons as well as two contemporary (Sir) Johns, Thomases and Roberts.

This main line of Ardens having thus become extinct, we have to go back some generations to find the younger branch that carried on the name. Simon, the second son of the Thomas Arden who died in 1563, brother of the William Arden who died 1546, and uncle of Edward Arden, who was executed 1583, seems to have been an important man in his own day. He was much trusted by his father and nephew, and was elected Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1569, when he bore as arms three cross crosslets fitchée, and a chief or.[427]

Perhaps on his coming to Longcroft he found the old Arden arms there. Before the grant to his grand-uncle Robert there had been Ardens in Yoxall.[434] Certain it is that after that date they appear in Longcroft Hall and in the parish church. The headship of the family fell to his heirs in 1643. Simon's son[435] Ambrose[436] married Mary Wedgewood 1588, and died 1624. His son Humphrey[437] married Jane Rowbotham at Marchington, December 1, 1630. Of his family, Henry married Catherine Harper, but died without children, November 26, 1676; John, of Wisbeach, married Anne, and died without heirs, April 2, 1709, aged 84;[438] Humphrey, of Longcroft, who married the daughter of —— Lassel, and died January 31, 1705, aged 74. His daughters Elizabeth and Katharine died unmarried. His son Henry married Anne Alcock, and[Pg 187]died 1728, aged 63. Humphrey's son and heir, John, was born 1693, and died 1734, aged 40. He married, first, Anna Catherine Newton, and second, Anne, daughter of the Rev. John Spateman, Rector of Yoxall, 1730. He was High Sheriff of the County in 3 George II. His son, Henry Arden, of Longcroft, married Alethea, daughter of Robert Cotton, Esq., of Worcester, and died June 22, 1782. The full pedigree is given, and the monuments at Yoxall are described in Shaw's "Staffordshire," and in French's "Shakespeareana Genealogica." Descendants still survive in this country and the Colonies.

Though Shakespeareans are only concerned with the Ardens who remained in their own county, genealogists are interested in the fortunes of the whole family. A volume would be necessary for a complete account, and at present I only attempt to collect and preserve the scattered facts I have found in various printed and manuscript authorities.[Pg 194]

Stopes also devotes space to ‘THE ARDENS OF CHESHIRE’ from page 196 onwards. Having myself scrutinised all publications of Ormerod and Earwaker, the major genealogical sources on Cheshire families, which allowed me to produce the CHESHIRE ARDERNE Family Trees, I did not find Stopes’s comments of much use. It is interesting nevertheless that she picked up all the following information in 1901 in her Shakespeare searches, and that no one else, it seems, has ever been back there until now. Her condensed version is therefore repeated:

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.[472] 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 [Pg 198] in 17 Edward I. in a release to Sir John de Orreby of a debt due.[473] It bore a shield with three crosses crosslet pattées, a chief Arderne, with the motto, "Frange, lege tege." See also the charters in the British Museum.[474] 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.[475]

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."[476]

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 [Pg 200] 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,[482] 15 Richard II. He married Margaret Pilkington, and died in 1408, leaving no male heir.[483] 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.[484] 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" (Chester Pleas, 10 Henry IV., m. 9, Genealogist, New Series, vol. xv.).

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[Pg 201] Ardene, and to the heirs of the bodies of John de Legh and Matilda (Genealogist, New Series, vol. xiii.).

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;[485] and second, Cicely de Hyde,[486] 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,[487] 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.

On page 212 she also covers an area which requires more research, namely the Catholic priest John Arden in the Tower with John Gerard. On the Family Tree THE ARDERNES OF ALVANLEY & (H)ARDEN, CHESHIRE (page 3) I placed him tentatively as the son of Ralph(1), both of whom mysteriously disappeared from Cheshire documentation between the Visitation Pedigree of 1566 and Glover’s Visitation Pedigree of 1580. Maybe Stopes’s clues will lead somewhere?

In a search for Arden and other prisoners who had escaped, Popish relics were found in the house of Francis Yeates, of Lyfford,[530] February 12, 1587. "The examination of John Arden,[531] 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[532] 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 "Athenæ Oxonienses"; and also "John Arden(?), late prebendary of Worcester, accused of heresy 1561.")

On pages 222-223, referring back to a previous page, Stopes mentions Thomas Arderne Sr, who moved from Cheshire to Leicestershire shortly after Bosworth, and emphasizes in italics why she assumes that Thomas Arden of Park Hall was the Thomas Ardern in Aston Cantlow. Unfortunately, for this claim to hold up, one has to assume that “it was through a careless mistake of the heralds that the fesse chequy was struck out”, whereas in other places she defends the integrity and accuracy of the heralds.

Page 27.—Another opinion of the derivation of Thomas Arden has been discussed. It has been supposed possible that he might have been descended from Thomas Arden of Leicestershire, son of Ralph Arden of Alvanley, by his wife Catharine, daughter of Sir William Stanley, of Hooton. This would account for the grant of the Cheshire arms, and would not thrust him out of the Arden pedigree; but the theory is not satisfactory on other grounds. One main objection is that there was no known Thomas of suitable date in that family. But in the Park Hall family there was a Thomas known to be alive during the period between 1502 and 1526, who has never been traced, if he did not go to Aston Cantlow. [Pg 223] Members of the Arden family accept him as the missing brother of Sir John, and believe that it was through a careless mistake of the heralds that the fesse chequy was struck out, and that the Shakespeares resented the substitution of another in place of the arms to which they had a right, and never accepted the grant. During the discussion John Shakespeare died.

As one final extract, on page 231, Stopes provides another instance where the cross-crosslets and fess chequy arms appear in the same list:

Stow MS. 692 contains the arms of the gentry and the grants by Sir Christopher Barker, 1536-49. Among these are: "Ardern goules, a cheff engrayled and three cross crosslets fitchée in gold. Ardern silver, a fesse chequy, gold and azur between three cressards gules. Arderne, Sir Robert, Ermine a fesse or and azur, Warwickshire." Among the grants is one to William Arderne, of Struton, Oskellyswade, Bedford, Clerk of the Market to the King's most honourable household. It omits the shield and only gives, "Crest a boar quarterly, gold and silver and Fleurs de luce, goules." As the Park Hall Ardens had a boar on their crest, he may have claimed connection.

All of this still leaves us with the questions:

- What happened to Thomas Arderne Esq. Sr’s lands in Leicestershire?

- Were they connected with the early death of his son and heir Sir John?

- Can we ever hope to reconstruct an accurate picture of the Cheshire Ardernes in and around the Forest of Arden?

We can but continue the search for Ardernes and cross-crosslets in and around the ancient Forest of Arden. Proverbially, it is so often the case that one can hardly see the wood for the trees. It is also useful to recall George Bernard Shaw’s statement, having decided that he had been pursuing the wrong Dark Lady: “After all, the wrong road always leads somewhere.”


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