ARNOLD, Michael (d.1690), of Great Peter Street, Westminster.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

1st s. of Michael Arnold, brewer, of Westminster, by Mary, sis. of Peter Guillim alias Williams. m. by 1646, Jane, 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 4da. suc. fa. 1659.1

Offices Held

Churchwarden of St. Margaret’s, Westminster 1662-3, 1666-7; jt. farmer of excise, London, Mdx. and Surr. 1665-6; commr. for assessment, Westminster 1677-80, 1689; capt. of militia ft. Mdx. by 1678, maj. 1680-?89; j.p. Westminster 1680-89; dep. lt. Mdx. Jan.-Oct. 1688.2

Brewer to the King ?1674-July 1688.3


Arnold inherited a brewery established in Westminster by his grandfather, and large enough by the reign of Charles I to pollute the atmosphere of Lambeth Palace in one direction and Whitehall in the other. His father was prosecuted in Star Chamber for this offence, gave evidence against Archbishop Laud in 1645, and was appointed to the Westminster militia committee in 1648. Arnold himself was an Anglican, becoming an active churchwarden after the Restoration. His enthusiasm for archery brought him friends at Court, such as John Ernle, and he was one of the excise farmers nominated by the Brewers’ Company in 1665; but he withdrew from the farm in the following year after sustaining serious losses owing to the Plague and the economic dislocation of the second Dutch war. The board of green cloth appointed him brewer to the King after William Forth had got into difficulties in the Irish revenue farm, and before the first general election of 1679 it was reported that ‘Captain Arnold, the brewer’ had ‘a great party in Westminster’. But he was doubtless persuaded to give his interest to Stephen Fox, formerly clerk comptroller of the green cloth.4

Arnold was returned in 1685 as a Tory after a contest, and became a moderately active Member of James II’s Parliament. He was appointed to five committees, including those on the bill to make St. James Piccadilly parochial and to estimate the yield of a tax on new buildings. He earned himself a small place in history by his conduct as a juryman at the trial of the Seven Bishops in 1688. The jury retired at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, and by midnight all but Arnold were agreed to find the bishops not guilty. He was said to have remarked: ‘Whatever I do, I am sure to be half ruined. If I say not guilty, I shall brew no more for the King, and if I say guilty, I shall brew no more for anybody else.’ He stood out until six in the morning when he finally agreed to an acquittal. He was buried at St. Margaret’s on 31 Aug. 1690, the only member of the family to sit in Parliament. In 1691 his son and namesake obtained a discharge of £102 excise duty left unpaid by him against a debt of £200 owed to their brewery by James II.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Mems. St. Margaret’s Westminster, 200, 208, 216, 223, 231, 242, 247, 254, 627, 633, 647, 654; St. Margaret’s Westminster (Harl. Soc. Reg. lxiv), 63, 94; PCC 99 Pell.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 664; iv. 846-7; CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 597; 1665-6, p. 417; 1678, p. 440; HMC Lords, i. 185; Mdx. RO, WJP/CP1, 2.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 152; ix. 1736.
  • 4. HMC 4th Rep. 54; HMC 6th Rep. 90-91; HMC Lords, n.s. xi. 383-4; CSP Dom. 1665-6, p. 417; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1736; Epistolary Curiosities Herbert Fam. ed. Warner, i. 105.
  • 5. Bramston Autobiog. (Cam. Soc. xxxii), 310; Luttrell, i. 446, 448; Macaulay, Hist. 1412; St. Margaret’s par. reg.; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1412, 1736.