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June 4, 1526, in the eighteenth year of the reign of King Henry the Eighth. Of his five brothers, we are only concerned with Robert, who was living in 1526, being a witness to John's will. I find by an inquisition taken after the death of Sir John Arden, that his eldest son, Thomas, was then forty years old, and upwards *; and consequently he must have been born in or before the year 1484. His father indeed was married eleven years before, but probably when he was not above eighteen, his wife's father having, for the sake of his fortune, inveigled him into a marriage in his minority, a practice at that time extremely common. If we suppose Sir John Arden's brother, Robert (who must have been near three years younger than he, two other children having intervened between them), to have married in 1484, he might have been, and probably was, the father of that Robert Arden, of whom neither Dugdale, nor any of our other antiquaries, seem to have had any knowledge; who was groom or page of the bedchamber to King Henry the Seventh;
Chamberlain's Office. The writer, who was himself an esquire of the body to two successive kings, goes circumstantially through the whole of the esquire's business of the night ; from whence it will appear, that even so lately as the middle of the last century, the office was of so confidential a nature, that no despatch, letter, or message, could be communicated to the king in the night, but what was brought to the esquire on duty, and by him carried in propria personâ to the king.”
For a more particular account of this ancient office, which finally expired in the time of King William (1694), and the ceremony called the Order of All Night, see Curialiæ, or an Historical Account of some Branches of the Royal Household, by Samuel Pegge, Esq. Part I. 4to. 1782.
* Esc. 18 Hen. VIII. p. 1, n. 97.
and appears to have been a favourite of his sovereign, having been highly distinguished and rewarded by him. In the seventeenth year of his reign (Feb. 22, 1502), perhaps by the interest of Sir John his uncle, who, it may be supposed, placed him about the King', he was constituted keeper of the royal park called Aldercar 6 ; and in the following September, bailiff of the lordship of Codnore, and keeper of the park there. About five years afterwards, in September, 1507, two years before the King's death, at which time, having probably attained his twenty-second year, he is no longer styled unus garcionum camera, he obtained a lease from the crown of the manor of Yoxsall, in the county of Stafford, for twenty-one years ?; which,
s That Robert, the nephew of Sir John Arden, was placed in this situation originally by the favour of his uncle, is extremely probable, from the nature of the duty of a groom or page of the King's chamber, who attended on certain occasions on the squire for the body, as that officer did on the King. See a manuscript in the Herald's Office, already quoted, M. 7, p. 19:
“The Rome and service belonging to a Page of the kyngs Chamber to doo.
“ Item, the said Pageis at nyght, at season convenyent, must make the payletts for knyghts and squyers for the body, in suche a chamber as they shalbe appoynted unto.
“Item, the said pageis shall doo make redy the said knyghts and Squyers for the body, and bere theyr gere to the kyngs great chamber at the instaunce of the said knyghts and squyers to their servaunts: And the said pageis to receive of the said knyghts and squyers servaunts such nyght gere as they shall delyver theym for their said maistres. Thus don, the said pageis to make sure the fyers and lights in every chamber, and so to make their paylet at the chamber dore where the said knyghts and Squyers do lye." 6 See Appendis.
7 See Appendix.
were we obliged to rely on conjecture only, might be presumed to have been a very valuable grant, as the annual rent stipulated to be paid to the King was forty-two pounds, a considerable sum at that time; which yet had certainly a very small relation to the real yearly value of the manor. Concerning its extent and value, however, I am not under the necessity of having recourse to conjecture; for by an inquisition taken many years afterwards, in the thirty-third year of Queen Elizabeth (1591), it appears that this manor contained above four thousand six hundred acres 8.
As Thomas Arden', cousin-german to Robert, the
8 By an inquisition taken October 4, 33 Eliz. (1591], after the death of Sir William Holles, who died at Haughton, in the county of Nottingham, on the 26th of the preceding January, it was found, that he died possessed (inter alia) of the manor of Yoxall, with all its appurtenances, in the county of Stafford, comprising forty messuages, twenty cottages, one water-mill, two pigeon-houses, forty gardens, forty orchards, two thousand three hundred acres of meadow, one thousand acres of pasture, one hundred acres of wood, forty acres of furze and heath, two hundred acres of marsh, with a rent of ten pounds a year; and that the whole manor was worth annually forty pounds and ten-pence [the rent reserved to the crown in the grant under which Sir William Holles held]. Esc. 33 Eliz. p. 1, n. 122.
9 Beside the distinction which was shown by King Henry the Seventh to Sir John Arden, who, we have seen, was one of the squires for his body, and the lucrative grant to our poet's great grandfather, Robert Arden, the groom of the chamber; it should be noticed that Thomas Arden, the eldest son of Sir John, and cousin-german of Robert, obtained a grant of the manor of Brerewood Hall, and the rectory of Curdworth, in the county of Warwick (Esc. 5 Eliz. p. 1, n. 2); and though this grant was made by Henry the Eighth in the thirty-first year of his reign
groom of the bedchamber, and nearly of the same age, married in the year 1508, we may reasonably suppose that Robert also became a father about that time, perhaps in 1510, when he appears to have been twentyfive years old ; and if his son Robert, the father of our poet's mother, who settled at Wilmecote, near Stratford, married Agnes Webbe in 1535, at the age of twenty-four, then his fourth daughter, Mary, was probably born in 1539, and was about eighteen years old in 1557, when she became the wife of John Shakspeare. In tracing these descents, I have been the more minute, because they are wholly omitted by Dugdale in his pedigree of the Arden family, in which he has mentioned the first Robert, brother to Sir John, without noticing any of his posterity: an omission for which he is not answerable ; for to have enumerated all the minor branches of each family, and their pedigree, would have been needless labour. For the existence of all the persons above-mentioned, as our poet's maternal ancestors, I have unquestionable authority; for the progress of their respective descents, conjecture only; but conjecture strongly confirmed by the corresponding marriages and deaths of the collateral branches of this family, as may appear by inspecting the genealogical table inserted in the Appendix. From that table it may be seen, that our poet's maternal grandfather, whose will has been already noticed, was cousin-german to William Arden, heir apparent to Thomas, the owner of the great estate of
(1539), it also might have been in the contemplation of the heralds, or rather of those from whom they received their instructions, who might not have minutely attended to the date.
Park Hall and Curdworth; which William died in June, 1544 ; and that our poet's mother, Mary Shakspeare, was third cousin to Edward Arden, who became possessed of that estate in 1563, was Sheriff of the county of Warwick in 1568, and by the artifices of Robert Earl of Leicester was attainted and executed in 1584 ? Leland, who composed his Itinerary between the years 1536 and 1542, mentions that Arden of the court was a younger brother to Arden the heir ?. The principal representative of the Arden family, in Leland's time, was Thomas Arden, already noticed, who succeeded to his father's estate in 1526, and died in 1561. His only brother, John, was not, as far as I have been able to learn, preferred at court. The person about the court was probably either Robert, the quondam groom of the chamber, who, when Leland wrote, was above fifty years of age, and having once set his foot on the ladder of promotion, in the time of Henry the Seventh, might have continued to ascend it in the reign of his successor ; or his son Robert, our poet's maternal grandfather, who was then, I believe, about twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old. In the multitude of facts and places noticed by Leland, he might easily have mistaken the younger branch, for the younger brother of this family. Supposing, however, the historian to have been perfectly correct, and that John Arden, the brother of Thomas, was the person in his contemplation, that
• An account of the extremely hard usage which this gentleman received from Leicester, may be found in Peck's Desid. Cur, 4to. p. 579.
* Itin, vi. 20.