Saturday, January 27, 2018

Humphrey Arundell and the Prayer Book Rebellion

Humphrey Arundell, leader of the Prayer Book Rebellion, was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn Tree on January 27, 1550. As this website states,

Humphrey was born in 1512 or 1513. His uncle was Sir John Arundell of Lanherne, one of the richest and most powerful men in Cornwall. The Arundell family were also very faithful Catholics. Humphrey married Elizabeth Fulford and together they had three children. By 1537, both of Humphrey’s parents had died and he took over the family home at Helland, near Bodmin.

Although he had been a loyal military servant of the Crown, the imposition of Archbishop Cranmer's ENGLISH Book of Common Prayer was not acceptable to Arundell and many in Cornwall:

Although Humphrey was a member of the ruling class he was also upset about the religious changes happening in Cornwall. In June 1549, Humphrey and a man called John Winslade (sometimes spelled Wynslade) gathered an army of over 3,000 Cornish people at Castle Canyke, near Bodmin. Humphrey made a list of complaints about the religious changes and sent it to the English government. He was particularly frustrated about the new English language Prayer Book and church service, because some Cornish people could not understand English.

They preferred the Mass in Latin to the new service in English:

The English government refused to listen to Humphrey’s complaints. By this time, people in Devon had also gathered an army to resist the religious changes. Although Humphrey had not wanted to fight, he was left with no choice. Humphrey’s army quickly captured St Michael’s Mount, Trematon Castle and Plymouth. The Cornish and Devon armies joined together and surrounded Exeter for five weeks. The English government became so worried they brought foreign soldiers from Germany and Italy to fight against Humphrey’s army.

Arundell's army was defeated and he was eventually captured, brought to London, tried, sentenced, and executed as a traitor.

More about the Prayer Book Rebellion here. Humphrey's cousin, Thomas Arundell of Wardour Castle, would be executed a little more two years later because Edward VI's government did not trust the Arundell's of Cornwall, suspecting Thomas's older brother John on complicity with the Prayer Book Rebellion and general rejection of religious change. John survived to thrive during the reign of Mary I but Thomas did not:

Arundell had not hitherto been closely linked with the ex-Protector, and indeed was thought by Cavendish, Wolsey’s servant and biographer, to have been the Earl of Warwick’s ‘chief counsellor’ in Somerset’s overthrow in the autumn of 1549. The imperial ambassador likewise considered him a ‘prime mover’ in uniting the Council against the Protector, who had refused to allow him to enter the service of Princess Mary; after Somerset’s fall Arundell, an open Catholic, was accepted by Mary into her service. The interrogatories prepared for the duke in 1551 implied no great trust between him and Arundell but one of the questions, ‘By how many noblemen and others would Sir Thomas Arundell be assisted?’, probably provides the clue to Arundell’s arrest. He was allied by birth and marriage to some of the greatest in the land and could have been dangerous. Whether, as was alleged at his trial on 28 Jan. 1552, he had plotted against Warwick while in the Tower cannot be known, but he can hardly have been guilty of the second charge, of conspiring with Somerset at Syon house on 2 Oct. 1551, two days before his release from the Tower. Arundell pleaded not guilty and the jury was reluctant to convict, but after a night without food, fire or light it found him guilty of felony, not guilty of treason. He was condemned to be hanged, but in the event was beheaded, on Tower Hill, on 26 Feb. 1552. His death was noted on the list of Members in use during the last session of the Parliament of 1547, but no attempt seems to have been made to replace him. His attainder was confirmed by Act (5 and 6 Edw. VI, no.37) and his possessions were forfeited to the crown.

Image credit: St. Michael's Mount painted by British painter James Webb in the 1890s.


  1. Thanks for posting about the prod reformation, and I do not understand why you are not on Twitter, there I am silvestromedia, after all we are a team 'Roman Catholics' not just a group of individuals..united we are strong divided not as much. john

    1. You're welcome, except that I really post more on the English Reformation. I don't wish to use twitter, thanks. Digital platforms do not a team make.

  2. Actually, I still do have a twitter account! Posts I make on facebook appear there automatically! @smannwichita