Arnold, Nicholas (DNB01)

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ARNOLD, Sir NICHOLAS (1507?–1580), lord justice in Ireland, born about 1507, was the second but eldest surviving son of John Arnold (d. 1545–6) of Churcham, Gloucestershire, and his wife Isabel Hawkins. His father was prothonotary and clerk of the crown in Wales, and in 1541–2 was granted the manors of Highnam and Over, also in Gloucestershire. Nicholas Arnold was one of Henry VIII’s gentlemen pensioners as early as 1526; after 1530 he entered Cromwell’s service, and was by him employed in connection with the dissolution of the monasteries. In December 1538 he was promoted into the king’s service, and a year later he became one of Henry VIII’s new bodyguard. On 10 Jan. 1544–5 he was returned to parliament as one of the knights for Gloucestershire. In the same year he was in command of the garrison at Queenborough, and in July 1546 he was sent to take charge, with a salary of 26s. 8d. a day, of Boulogneberg, a fort above Boulogne, which passed with it into English hands by the peace of that year. Arnold at once reported that the fort was not in a position for defence; but Somerset in 1547 did something to remedy the fault, and when on 1 May 1549, four months before declaring war, the French attacked Boulogneberg, they were completely defeated. Arnold had only four hundred men and the French three thousand; Arnold was wounded, but the French are said to have filled fifteen wagons with their dead (Wriothesley, Chron. ii. 11). A fresh attack was made in August, when Arnold, recognising the hopelessness of a defence, removed all the ordnance and stores into Boulogne, and dismantled the fort. For the remainder of the war and until the cession of Boulogne Arnold acted as one of the council there. He was knighted some time during the reign of Edward VI, and during the latter part of it seems to have travelled in Italy (Cal. State Papers, For. 1547–53, pp. 227, 237, 242). He returned to England in time to sit for Gloucestershire in Edward VI’s last parliament (February–March 1553).

Arnold made no open opposition to Mary’s accession, but he fell under suspicion at the time of Wyatt’s rebellion. On 9 Feb. 1553–4 the sheriff of Gloucestershire reported to the council ‘words spoken by Arnold relative to the coming of the king of Spain,’ and Wyatt compromised him by saying that he was the first to whom William Thomas [q. v.] mentioned his plot to assassinate the queen. On 21 Feb. Arnold was committed to the Fleet, being removed to the Tower three days later. He remained there until 18 Jan. 1554–5, when he was released on sureties for two thousand pounds. On 23 Sept. following he was even elected to parliament for his old constituency, but he still maintained relations with various conspirators against Mary, and in January 1555–6 was implicated in Sir Henry Dudley [q. v. Suppl.] and Uvedale’s plot to drive the Spaniards from England [see Uvedale, Richard]. On 19 April he was again committed to the Tower (Machyn, Diary, p. 104), and his deposition taken on 6 May is still extant (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–80, p. 82). On 23 Sept. following he was removed to the Fleet, where he was allowed ‘liberty of the house.’ Soon afterwards he was released on condition of not going within ten miles of Gloucestershire, and even this restriction was relaxed on 3 Feb. 1556–7.

After the accession of Elizabeth, Arnold became sheriff of Gloucestershire 1558–9, and in 1562 he was selected to go to Ireland to report on the complaints against Sussex’s administration. Froude describes him as ‘a hard, iron, pitiless man, careful of things and careless of phrases, untroubled with delicacy and impervious to Irish enchantments.’ According to a more reasoned estimate he was ‘a man of resolution and industry, who cared little for popularity, and might be trusted to carry out his orders’ (Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors, ii. 50). Sussex resented the inquiry, especially into the military mismanagement, and put obstacles in Arnold's way; but Arnold made out a case too strong to be neglected by the English government, and in 1564 he was sent back to Ireland with Sir Thomas Wroth (1516-1573) [q. v.] and a new commission. Sussex was granted sick leave, and on 24 May 1564 Arnold was appointed lord justice during the lord deputy's absence (Hist. MSS. Comm. 15th Rep. App. iii. 135). He made a rigorous inquisition into military abuses, but in the character of ruler he was hardly so successful. He trusted too implicitly in Shane O'Neill's professions of loyalty, and encouraged him to attack the Scots in Ulster; he treated the O'Connors and O'Reillys with harshness, archbishop Loftus with rudeness, and was unduly partial to Kildare. His intentions were excellent, ‘but he was evidently quarrelsome, arbitrary, credulous, and deficient in personal dignity.’ His request to be appointed lord deputy was refused, and on 22 June 1565 he was recalled. Sir Henry Sidney [q. v.] being selected to succeed Sussex.

After Arnold's return to England a series of articles was presented against him by Sussex, but, beyond calling up Arnold to reply, the council took no further steps against him. Arnold henceforth confined himself to local affairs; he had been returned to parliament for Gloucester city in January 1562-3, and on 8 May 1572 was again elected for the county. He was commissioner for the collection of a forced loan in 1569, and he was also on commissions for the peace, for the restraint of grain, and for enforcing the laws relating to clothiers. Much of his energy was devoted to improving the breed of English horses; as early as 1546 he had been engaged in importing horses from Flanders, and in his ‘Description of England,’ prefixed to Holinshed, William Harrison (1534-1593) [q. v.] writes, ‘Sir Nicholas Arnold of late hath bred the best horses in England, and written of the manner of their production.’ No trace of these writings has, however, been discovered.

Arnold died early in 1581, and was buried in Churcham parish church (Gloucestershire Notes and Queries, iv. 270, 271; Inquis. post mortem Eliz. vol. cxcv. No. 94; the order for the inquisition is dated 19 June 1581, but the inquisition itself is illegible). He married, first, on 19 June 1529, Margaret, daughter of Sir William Dennys of Dyrham, Gloucestershire, by whom he had issue two sons and a daughter; the elder son, Rowland, married Mary, daughter of John Brydges, first baron Chandos [q. v.], and was father of Dorothy, wife of Sir Thomas Lucy (1551-1605) [see under Lucy, Sir Thomas (1532-1600)]. By his second wife, a lady named Isham, Arnold had issue one son, John, who settled at Llanthony.

[Cal. Letters and Papers, Henry VIII; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547-80, For. 1547-53, Irish 1509-75, and Carew MSS. vol. i.; Cal. Fiants, Ireland, Eliz.; Hist. MSS. Comm. 15th Rep. App. iii. passim; Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Dasent; Lascelles's Liber Munerum Hib.; Lit. Remains of Edward VI (Roxburghe Club); Wriothesley's Chron.; Chron. Queen Jane and Machyn's Diary (Camden Soc.); Off. Ret. Members of Parl.; Visitation of Gloucestershire, 1623 (Harl.Soc); Bagwell's Ireland under the Tudors, vol. ii.; Froude's Hist. of England; Burke's Landed Gentry; Notes and Queries, 7th ser. vi. 287, 394.]

A. F. P.