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Thomas, first Lord Arundell of Wardour

Born 1560; died at Oxford, 7 November, 1639. He was the son of Sir Matthew Arundell of Wardour Castle, Wiltshire. The Arundells were a very old Norman family settled in Cornwall and dating back to about the middle of the thirteenth century. Thomas, first Lord Arundell of Wardour, was grandson of a Sir John Arundell, of the Arundells of Lanherne, "the Great Arundells," a Catholic branch of the family. Sir John had become a Catholic (Dodd, Church History ) through Father Cornelius, a native of the neighbouring town of Bodmin. Owing to his defence of Cornelius, Sir John Arundell was imprisoned for nine years in Ely Palace, Holborn. (Challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, 1803.) Thomas, first Lord Aundell of Wardour, called "the Valiant," was strongly adverse to the Reformers and refused to attend Protestant services. Elizabeth committed him to prison in 1580. When he was freed, he travelled, and entered the Austrian service under Archduke Matthias, brother of Emperor Rudolph II. He distinguished himself fighting against the Ottomans in Hungary, and at the siege of Gran, or Strigonium, 7 September, 1595, he was the first through the breach and, scaling the tower, plucked the Crescent thence and planted in its place the Imperial Standard. The Emperor created him and his posterity Counts of the Holy Roman Empire, 14 December, 1595. On his return to England the peers decided that no privilege or precedence should be shown to his title. James I, recognizing Arundell's deserts and loyalty, rewarded him by creating him a peer with the style and title of Baron Arundell of Wardour, 1605. Charles I at the beginning of his reign forbade the new peer to bear arms, because he was a Catholic, though Thomas had contributed liberally to avert the danger of the Spanish Armada. Lord Arundell of Wardour died at the age of seventy-nine. His portrait, by Van Dyck, 1635, is at Wardour.

Thomas, second Lord Arundell of Wardour

Succeeded his father in 1639. In the trouble between Charles I and the parliament, the House of Commons ordered Arundell's arrest, November, 1641, but he evaded capture, and when the royal standard was unfurled at Nottingham, 22 August, 1642, he raised a company of horse and fought for His Majesty's cause. He was wounded in battle, and died at Oxford, 1643. His wife, the heroic Lady Blanche Arundell, was the sixth daughter of Edward, Earl of Worcester, an admirable Catholic, and a discreet and loyal subject. She is known by her spirited defence of Wardour Castle, Wiltshire, during the absence of her husband. With only twenty-five men at her command, she withstood thirteen hundred rebels, under Sir Edward Hungerford and Colonel Strode, for eight days. When obliged to capitulate she did so on honourable terms, signed 8 May, 1643. She left the castle destitute, and was provided with lodging at Salisbury by Lord Hertford. She died at Winchester, 28 October, 1649, and was buried with her husband at Tisbury.

Henry, third Lord Arundell of Wardour

B. 1606; d. 1694, was the sole male issue of Thomas, second Lord, and Lady Blanche Arundell. When he succeeded to the title, in 1643, his wife and sons were prisoners, and Wardour Castle was in the hands of the Parliamentary forces under General Ludlow. To dislodge them, he sacrificed his castle by springing a mine under it. He was subsequently wounded in several battles, his estates were sequestrated, and he was forced to leave the country. When the monarchy was restored he recovered his property by an expenditure of £35,000. In 1669 he was employed by Clifford in arranging the famous preliminaries of the secret treaty of Dover between Louis XIV and Charles II. But the king whom he had served so well almost suffererd him to become a victim of the infamous Titus Oates, on whose perjured statement Lord Arundell of Wardour was thrown into the Tower at the instance of the House of Commons, in October, 1678, with four other Catholic peers. During his confinement he wrote some poems, which were published under the title of "Five Little Meditations in Verse" (London, 1679). After five years of imprisonment, during which time one of the peers, Stafford, had been beheaded, and another had died in the Tower, Arundell and his two remaining companions were released, and their indictments annulled, on the ground of perjury. James II made Arundell Keeper of the Privy Seal, 1687. In 1688 he presented an address in behalf of the Roman Catholics, but he opposed the admission of Father Petre into the privy council. At the Revolution of 1688 he retired from public life. He was praised for his piety and for his kindness to poor Catholics.


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