ARUNDELL, John (1649-98)

ARUNDELL, John (1649–98)

suc. fa. 7 Sept. 1687 as 2nd. Bar. ARUNDELL OF TRERICE.

First sat 22 Jan. 1689; last sat 6 June 1698

MP Truro, 2 Oct. 1666, 1685

bap. 1 Sept. 1649, o. surv. s. and h. of Richard Arundell, Bar. Arundell of Trerice, and Gertrude, da. of Sir James Bagge of Saltram, and widow of Sir Nicholas Slanning (d. 1643); half-bro. of Sir Nicholas Slanning bt. educ. Wadham, Oxf. matric. 13 June 1667. m. (1) lic. 10 May 1675 (with £8,000), Margaret (d.1691), da. of Sir John Acland, 3rd bt. of Killerton, Devon, sis. and h. of Sir Arthur Acland, 4th bt., 1s. 1da.; (2) 14 Feb. 1693, Barbara (d.1722), da. of Sir Thomas Slingsby2nd bt. of Scriven, Yorks., wid. of Sir Richard Mauleverer, 4th bt. of Allerton Mauleverer, Yorks., 1s. d. aft. 6 June, bef. 21 June 1698; will 1 Dec. 1695, pr. 27 June 1698.1

Ensign, Pendennis Castle 1666-81, capt. lt. and dep. gov. 1681-7, gov. 1689-d.; lt. col. militia ft. Cornw. by 1679; capt. earl of Bath’s Regt. (later 10th Ft.) 1686-Apr. 1688.

Commr. assessment, Cornw. 1667-80, recusants, Cornw. 1675; alderman, Tregony and Truro 1685-7; freeman, Bodmin, Liskeard, Mitchell and Penryn 1685-Sept. 1688.

Associated with: Trerice, Newlyn, Cornw.; St James’s, Westminster.

Still a teenager when he was elected to the Commons following the death of his uncle Nicholas Arundell, John Arundell proved to be an inactive Member of that House. Apart from an occasional flash of independence he was considered to be a loyal court supporter and was consequently listed by Anthony Ashley Cooper, earl of Shaftesbury as triply vile. His major mark on public life was a personal matter. In 1673, in pursuit of a wife, Arundell found himself in competition over an heiress with a fellow Member of the Commons, Thomas Wharton, the future 5th Baron and marquess of Wharton. Arundell won the subsequent duel but relinquished the lady to Wharton, allegedly because he was impressed that Wharton, unlike his father, who had acquired a reputation for cowardice at Edgehill, had had the courage to fight.2 It is perhaps more likely that Arundell’s finances damaged his chances as a suitor. The settlement drawn up at the time of his first marriage indicates that the family estate was much encumbered by debt, thus obstructing the implementation of arrangements for a jointure and either delaying or preventing payment of the portion of £8,000 agreed by the Acland family.

The various lists of peers compiled in 1687-8 indicate that, as might be expected from a staunchly Protestant family, John Arundell and his father both opposed the catholicizing policies of James II. The family commanded considerable political influence in the West Country, but opposition to James II meant that most of Arundell’s military and local government offices were terminated in 1688. Arundell’s loss of favour may have been evident as early as the spring of 1687 when the king and his Privy Council refused to intervene on behalf of his father in a law suit resulting from the long running dispute over Sutton Pool; at his father’s death later that year neither he nor his half-brother, Sir Nicholas Slanning, were appointed to replace him as governor of Pendennis.3 By late October 1688, John Granville, earl of Bath, who was both anxious and angry about the changes being forced on him by the court, alerted Robert Spencer, 2nd earl of Sunderland, of the dangerous situation created by sidelining Arundel, warning that,

should an enemy possess himself of it [Pendennis Castle], he would be absolute master of Falmouth Harbour and force a compliance of all the country west from Plymouth. Since Lord Arundell’s death it has been commanded by a private captain … which signifies very little towards its defence; and how little assistance so small an officer, being a stranger, is like to receive from the country.4

Arundell took his seat in the Lords on the first day of the 1689 Convention and then attended on 28 per cent of sitting days of that session, during which he was named to only two committees. His opposition to James II’s policies did not translate into automatic acceptance of the new regime. He voted in favour of a regency and against the resolution to declare William and Mary king and queen and refused to agree with the Commons that James II had ‘abdicated’ rather than ‘deserted’ the throne and that the throne was ‘thereby vacant’. His conscience was, nevertheless, easily assuaged and on 18 Mar. 1689 he took the oaths to the new monarchs. He was absent for much of April and almost the whole month of May, presumably through illness as he was excused for this reason at a call of the House on 22 May. He returned to the House on 31 May 1689 in time to vote against the bill to reverse the judgments of perjury against Titus Oates and in July voted in favour of adhering to the Lords’ amendments to the bill. In a list compiled between October 1689 and February 1690, Thomas Osborne, marquess of Carmarthen and later duke of Leeds, classified him as among the supporters of the court.

Arundell’s attendance dropped markedly in the following session when he was present on only 11 per cent of sitting days. He did not attend at all during the first three sessions of the 1690 Parliament. His next appearance in the House was on 4 Nov. 1692; he then attended 45 per cent of sittings that session. He supported the place bill and entered a protest on 3 Jan. 1693 against the Lords’ decision to reject it. A zealous Anglican, he was listed by Thomas Bruce, 2nd earl of Ailesbury, as an opponent of the attempt by Henry Howard, 7th duke of Norfolk, to divorce his wife. On 19 Jan. 1693, following a conference with the House of Commons, Arundell dissented not only from the Lords’ decision not to refer their amendment to the land tax bill to the committee for privileges but also from their subsequent decision to withdraw the proposed amendment. His second marriage in February reinforced his Tory ties, although that same month he found himself in predominantly Whig company when he voted Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun, not guilty of murder.

The 1693-4 session saw Arundell present on 48 per cent of sitting days. On 17 Feb. 1694 he voted in support of the decision of the court of chancery to dismiss the appeal of Ralph Montagu, earl (later duke) of Montagu, in the Albemarle inheritance case, thus favouring his powerful west country neighbour, Bath. He did not attend the following (1694-5) session at all, covering his absence with a proxy to Ailesbury that was registered on 26 Dec. 1694, possibly for use in divisions on the treason trials bill in January 1695.

Arundell attended on 31 per cent of sitting days during the first (1695-6) session of the 1695 Parliament. Along with his friend Ailesbury and other prominent Tories in March 1696 he refused to sign the Association.5 His attendance the following (1696-7) session was uncharacteristically high at 56 per cent. The early part of the session was dominated by proceedings against Sir John Fenwick. Arundell consistently opposed them. On 15 Dec. 1696 he entered a dissent against the Lords’ decision to allow Goodman’s information to be read; on 18 Dec. he protested against the second reading of the bill and on 23 Dec. he both voted against the third reading and entered another protest at its passage.

Arundell’s attendance remained comparatively high, at 42 per cent, during the 1697-8 session. On 15 Mar. 1698 he appears to have voted against committing the bill for punishing the banker Charles Duncombe, although a mark on the list suggests he had initially been thought to have voted in its favour. Arundell’s last reported attendance in the House was on 6 June 1698; by 21 June he was dead. In his will he left lands in Newlyn as surety for his wife during her lifetime together with their house in St James’s, Middlesex and all his goods and chattels. He also directed the disposal of lands in Cornwall and Devon in order to raise a portion of £6,000 for his daughter, Gertrude Arundell. He was succeeded by his eldest son, also named John Arundell, 3rd Baron Arundell of Trerice; his widow married Thomas Herbert, 8th earl of Pembroke, in September 1708.6


  • 1 Cornw. RO, X1005/1/1; TNA, PROB 11/446.
  • 2 HP Commons, 1660-90, iii. 698.
  • 3 TNA, PC 2/71, 4 Mar. 1687.
  • 4 CSP Dom. June 1687-Feb. 1689, pp. 315, 321-2, 328.
  • 5 HMC Portland, iii. 574.
  • 6 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 354.