ARNOLD, Nicholas (by 1509-80), of Highnam Court, Glos. and Llanthony, Mon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. by 1509, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of John Arnold of Churcham and Highnam Court, Glos. by Isabel, da. of one Hawkins; bro. of Richard. educ. L. Inn, adm. 14 Feb. 1524. m. (1) settlement 19 June 1529, Margaret, da. of Sir William Denys of Dyrham, Glos. by Anne, da. of Maurice, de jure 3rd Lord Berkeley, 2s. 1da.; (2) Margaret, da. of John Isham of Braunston, Northants., at least 1s. John; at least 1s. 1da. illegit. suc. fa. 12 Sept. 1545. Kntd. c.1550.2

Offices Held

Servant of Cromwell by Apr. 1537; member, bodyguard of spears 1539; gent. pens. 1540-49/50; j.p. Mon. 1543, 1545, 1579, Glos. 1547, 1558/59-d.; receiver, former estates of St. Peter’s abbey, Gloucester 1543; capt. Queenborough castle, Kent and I. of Sheppey c.1545-6, Boulogneberg 1546-9; member, council of Boulogne c.1546-50, in the marches of Wales c.1551-4, 1560-d.; commr. chantries Glos. 1546, relief 1550, musters c.1569, goods of churches and fraternities Glos. and Hereford 1553, [I] 1562-3; custos rot. Glos. 1558/59-d.; sheriff 1559-60; steward, feodary, and bailiff, duchy of Lancaster, Glos. and Herefs. 1559; ld. justice [I] Apr. 1564-June 1565.3


Nicholas Arnold came from a minor Gloucestershire family which, although it did not own much property, was connected by marriage and descent with the principal county families, especially the Berkeleys and the Porters; it was also distantly allied with the Wriothesleys. His father was prothonotary and clerk of the crown in Wales and appears to have been in the service of Thomas, 5th Lord Berkeley. Arnold entered Lincoln’s Inn at the same time as his brother-in-law, Arthur Porter, and they shared the same chambers there. In 1532 he was appointed one of Lord Berkeley’s feoffees and in the following year he received an annuity under Berkeley’s will. Nothing else has come to light about his advancement before 1537 when he is mentioned as being one of Cromwell’s servants. In 1538 the minister considered him for preferment in the King’s service and not long afterwards he entered the Household as a member of the royal bodyguard.4

Arnold attended the reception of Anne of Cleves in 1540 and fought in France four years later. He profited by his services, securing valuable church property, his most important acquisition being lands on the Gloucester-Monmouthshire border formerly belonging to the monastery of Llanthony. By the end of Henry VIII’s reign he had made a name for himself as a resourceful soldier, and he stayed at Boulogne, as one of the council there, until it was given up.5

A convinced Protestant, Arnold remained in favour under Edward VI, receiving about 1550 an annuity of £80 for his service and acting on local commissions to survey church property. With the new reign he was soon in trouble. Accused of complicity in Wyatt’s rebellion, he was imprisoned between 21 Feb. 1554 and January 1555, but was never brought to trial and was granted a pardon on 4 Mar. 1555. Later that year in Parliament he opposed a government bill, and he was soon implicated in the Dudley plot. This time he was sent to the Tower, where he remained from April to September 1556. He was then transferred to the Fleet and finally released on 3 Feb. 1557.6

A Member for his county three times before 1558, Arnold may have owed his initial election to his relationship with the Berkeleys rather than to his service under the crown. His opposition in 1555 foreshadowed an active parliamentary career under Elizabeth, when he became known as a regular committeeman and debater. He died in April or May 1580 and was buried at Churcham.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/73/74, 81. John Rylands Lib. Eng. ms 311; Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 4; Vis. Northants., ed. Metcalfe, 182; HMC Hatfield, vii. 487; CPR, 1549-51, p. 320; 1553, p. 354.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, iv, xiii, xiv, xviii-xxi; APC, i. 337, 446, 487, 495-6; viii. 10, 53, 116; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. lvi. 211n; Somerville, Duchy, i. 637, 639; CPR, 1550-3, p. 394; 1553, pp. 414, 416; 1555-7, p. 111; information from A. J. A. Malciewicz; Stowe 571, f. 19; P. H. Williams, Council in Marches of Wales, 342-3; CSP Ire. 1509-73, pp. 199-225, 235-77; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 339.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xiii; DNB (Arnold, Richard); C142/73/74, 81; PCC 3 Hogen, 2 Alen; M. L. Robertson, ‘Cromwell’s servants’ (Univ. California Los Angeles Ph.D. thesis, 1975), 440.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xiii-xv, xviii-xxi.
  • 6. CPR, 1549-51, p. 320; 1550-3, p. 394; 1553, pp. 414, 416; 1554-5, pp. 47-48; D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 96, 125, 210-11, 223, 228, 233, 265; Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2.
  • 7. CSP Ire. 1509-73, pp. 199-225 et passim; CPR, 1555-7, p. 94; 1558-60, p. 569; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xix. 390; W. Harrison, Description of England (1807), 371; PCC 17 Arundell.