ARDREN (ARDRAN, ARDERN), Lawrence (by 1523-70), of Chichester, Suss.

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 1523, s. of George Ardren of Chester, Cheshire. m. (1) by 1544, Margaret, stepda. of John Lewen of Suss.; (2) Agnes ?Newton; 4s. 4da.1

Offices Held

Mayor, Chichester 1564.2


Lawrence Ardren was a member of a merchant family of Chester. He and his brother George were probably two of its first representatives at Chichester: George Ardren, who died there in 1554, mentioned in his will of that year a brother Charles and a sister Helen who were to receive legacies if they were still alive. Lawrence Ardren was well known both in the city and among the local gentry, his friends including two of the household officials of the 12th Earl of Arundel, Thomas Carpenter and Thomas Stoughton; Peter Tolpat, Richard Lewknor of the Middle Temple; and Ralph Chauntler, three times mayor. He was to show his affection for the city by bequeathing a silver goblet which was to be handed down from mayor to mayor ‘as the cup that Master Lane of London gave the city’.3

Ardren owned many houses within the merchant quarters of Little London and the Pallant, and he also leased lands outside the west and north gates. He was evidently engaged in the cloth industry, for he bequeathed to William Ridgeway all his tools relating to the fuller’s craft, but he also owned a stable and slaughter house. Unlike his fellow-Member Peter Tolpat he was not related to a London merchant family: both his wives seem to have been local. His first wife’s stepfather had left a bond with Thomas Eliot, a Chichester shoemaker, to pay her dowry but as Eliot failed either to produce the bond or to pay any money Ardren took him to court; Ardren’s second wife was to take as her second husband Henry Payne of St. Olave’s.4

It was during Ardren’s mayoralty in 1564 that William Barlow, bishop of Chichester, reporting on the religious views of justices of the peace and local officials, described him and Ralph Chauntler, steward of the guild, as ‘notorious obstinate adversaries’ of the established Church. At least two of his sons grew up to be Catholics. John Ardren, born in 1562, was sent after the defeat of the Armada to spy on English naval forces and to sound the opinions of the nobility on the Spanish defeat; he claimed under examination in 1590 that Spanish agents had told him that his brother Robert, a canon at Toledo since 1566, would be discredited if he failed in his mission. The soundness of the bishop’s verdict on Lawrence Ardren implied by his sons’ future is of interest in connexion with his return to the last Marian Parliament. Both Members for Chichester in the previous Parliament had opposed the government’s legislative programme and it is possible that Ardren’s return represented a deliberate reaction to their attitude, especially as Chichester was inclined to conservatism in religion.5

Ardren was ‘partly sick in body’ when he made his will on 26 Sept. 1568: it contained no profession of his faith. He asked to be buried in the cathedral near his first wife and made modest bequests to the poor of his own parish, St. Olave’s, and to the cathedral. All his children were to share his goods and property; his bequests totalled £305 and he had a sizeable collection of silver household goods and crosses. He appointed Richard Lewknor, ‘of the deanery and now of the Middle Temple’, his executor, and his cousin William Newton, ‘brother’ Ralph Chauntler and cousin John Chauntler, priest, overseers. He survived the making of his will by some 18 months, being buried in Chichester cathedral on 21 Mar. 1570.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from marriage. Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 195; W. Suss. RO, wills 2, f. 21; C1/1098/34.
  • 2. A. Hay, Chichester, 569.
  • 3. W. Suss. RO, wills 2, ff. 21, 44v; 8, f. 108; original will C102.
  • 4. Ibid. PAR 41/2/1, f. 7.
  • 5. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 11; SP12/234/66.
  • 6. W. Suss. RO, PAR 44/2/1, f. 118.