The ARDEN Family of Dorchester

Mayors of Dorchester 16 times

© Compiled by Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester April 2011
[Variations in spelling: Arden, Ardin, Ardyn, Harden] Last updated November 2016

The ARDEN Family has long held a place of distinction in Dorchester. Most families would be proud of an ancestor who had managed to attain the prestigious position of Mayor of a large town like Dorchester. The Arden Family however can claim that distinction no less than sixteen times over a period stretching from 1671 to 1852. The first to become Mayor of the town was Daniel ARDEN in 1691 and the Municipal records of Dorchester show that he was Governor of the Company of Freemen of the city as early as 1670 and again in 1686. He also signed the Oath of Loyalty to Charles II on 31st Aug 1681. He is likely to be the direct descendant of Daniel ARDEN (1623-1671) a gold and silver smith that was buried at St Peters in Dorchester. Although it has since vanished there used to be an Altar-tomb on the south side of the graveyard which according to John Hutchins(10) had an inscription in Latin which roughly translated said " In the hope of future resurrection with two of his natural sons lies the body of Daniel ARDEN gold and silver smith, who died 8th Nov 1671 in the 48th year of his age.". It seems likely that it was the Mayor's daughter Mary who married James RICHARDS a merchant from London that purchased the manor of West Knighton with the farm attached in 1690(1).

There were more generations however with that name as a Daniel ARDEN was also elected Mayor of Dorchester in the years 1706; 1718; 1724; 1735 and 1744. Daniel ARDEN's also served 11 times as Bailiff of Dorchester between the years 1689 and 1745 and the parish registers for St Peters show burials with that name in 1671, 1723 (two), 1730 and 1755. The Will for the last of these has survived at the National Archives and I have transcribed a copy for this site. His son George ARDEN was elected Mayor in 1750, 1751 and 1760 before his grandson Christopher ARDEN was Mayor in 1794 and his great grandson Christopher ARDEN junior served 5 times as Mayor between 1816 and 1852. The family therefore have held influential positions in the Corporation over a long period of time and I have attempted to establish some family relationships and recorded what I know below in the hope that more information will eventually help fill in some of the blanks.

    Daniel ARDEN (1623-1671)(11) was a gold and silver smith by trade and died on 8th Nov 1671 at Dorchester when he was still only 48 years old. His young age, and for an obviously wealthy man the absence of a Will, suggests that he may have died rather suddenly. St Peters burial registers (which only survive from 1653) shows that a Martha the daughter of a Daniel ARDEN baptised on 16th April 1668 predeceased him by 3 months, being buried there on 5th August 1671. So death may have been from a contagious disease like smallpox which was a major killer at this time. Daniel, as befitted a man of his status, was duly buried in an alter-tomb on the south side of the graveyard at St Peters Church on 16th Nov 1671. Having died intestate a Letter of Administration for his estate was granted to his relict and widow Mary ARDEN on 2nd Dec 1671. Daniel and Mary undoubtedly had a number of children. The text on his tomb (if I have transcribed it correctly?) refers to 2 sons that predeceased him, and prior to Martha there is another baptism for an Elizabeth the daughter of a Daniel ARDEN on 5th Oct 1665. There are no more baptisms for 9 years after Daniel's death so they are likely to be his children. Mary his widow may have remarried to Joseph FRY at St Peters Church on 30 May 1678

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    Daniel ARDEN (bur. 1755) was a goldsmith by trade and his Will lets us know that his wife pre-deceased him. The only likely candidate that I can trace is the burial of a Diana ARDEN at St Peters on 19th May 1730. An order survives in the Municipal Records, dated 19th Nov 1731, which states "Ordered that Samuel Stanning gentleman , the town steward, do forthwith pay unto Mr. Daniel Arden the summe of fifty six pounds for the new maces lately by him provided for the use of the said Corporation". He was churchwarden of St Peters church in 1734 as the 1st of St Peter's eight bells bears the inscription "Mr Daniel ARDEN, Mr Joseph GIGGER church wardens. Mr Renaldo KNAPTON saw me cast ye 21 Sep 1734". The burgage rate for the parish of St Peters in the year 1737 also included his house, which was rated at the higher level of 6d. He was also listed in 1749 & 1750 as one of the Freeholders who owed suit and service at the Court Leet and law days. His Will also makes it clear that Daniel had two surviving sons Kitt (2) and George ARDEN. Kitt appears to be living in London as the Will is written in the form of letters to him, so its possible that he is the Christopher ARDEN gentleman of Newman Street, Oxford Street London whose will is at the National Archives and proved 20th March 1807. His son George also worked in the trade as a silversmith and being resident in Dorchester carried out administration of his fathers estate in 1755. As George named one of his children Diana this makes it more likely that the Diana buried in 1730 was his mother. As all the other Daniel Arden's died prior to 1730 we know that he was the Daniel ARDEN that was Mayor in 1735 and 1744 and bailiff of Dorchester in 1733; 1736; 1742 & 1745. From the letters to Kitt he obviously knew he was dying as early as 8th August 1754 but he was actually buried in St Peters Church on 30th June 1755 with administration of his estate being granted on 12th August 1755. Link to transcription of his will

    His son George ARDEN (bur. 1768) married Frances CROWE (bur. 1779) in St Peters Church Dorchester on 3rd Oct 1743. They remained in the parish where George traded as a silversmith and had the following 7 children baptised there. He was admitted to the Company of Freemen on 9th January 1748 and elected Mayor in the years 1750, 1751 and 1760. He was also Bailiff in the years 1748; 1752; 1758 & 1761. When one of the existing Alderman John Channing died George was elected on 2nd Oct 1758 to replace him. George died and was buried in St Peters on 1st July 1768. His widow Frances followed on the 5th Jan 1779.

      1. Daniel ARDEN (1744-1748), baptised 27 Mar 1744; buried 28 Apr 1748

      2. Frances ARDEN (1745-?), baptised 30 July 1745

      3. Diana ARDEN (1746/7-1748), baptised 4 Feb 1746/47; buried 20 Jun 1748

      4. Mary ARDEN (1749-?)baptised 8 Jan 1749; married Thomas STEELE Captain of 85th Regiment Holy Trinity Church Dorchester 12th Dec 1785.

      5. Christopher ARDEN (1751-1811), bap 23 Oct 1751 bur 15 Nov 1811 aged 60 [See below]

      6. George ARDEN (1754-?), baptised 22 Oct 1754

      7. John ARDEN (1754-1759), baptised 21 May 1754; buried 25 Apr 1759
    His son Christopher ARDEN Senior (1751-1811) was admitted to the Company of Freemen on 11th September 1793 when he was described as a gentleman. He married Mary 'UNKNOWN' (1758-1809) circa 1786 and they had the following 5 children baptised in Holy Trinity Church Dorchester. Christopher was Bailiff of Dorchester 7 times between 1792 and 1809. Mary was buried at St Peters 18 Jan 1809 aged 51. Christopher trained as a surgeon and plied his trade in Dorchester for many years. The Vestry Minutes for Holy Trinity Church for example refer to him being asked to inoculate the poor of the parish at 5 shillings each on 28th April 1789. He was elected Mayor in 1794. He was buried at St Peters church on 15 Nov 1811.

      1. Mary ARDEN (1787-1820), baptised 8 Feb 1787; married Sir John OLDFIELD, Baronet of Spalding , Lincolnshire, a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers who was born 29 May 1789. They married at Holy Trinity Church in Dorchester on 12 Mar 1810. They raised a family of at least 4 children in Westborne Sussex one of which John Rawdon Oldfield (born 31 Jan 1842) was one of the executors on her sister Ann's will in 1872. there is a memorial plaque on the north wall of the chancel of the parish church which states " This tablet is erected in memory of an attached wife and an affectionate mother, Dame Mary Oldfield, who died at Le Mans, in France, July 6th, 1820, aged 32. Jane, daughter of the above, born Oct. 6th, 1819, died May 8th, 1856. Sir John remarried on 8th July 1822 to Alicia the daughter of the Rev Dr Hume late rector of Ardee in the county of Louth.

      2. Christopher ARDEN (1788-1861), bap 10 Apr 1788 buried at Dorchester Civic Cemetery 12 Apr 1861 [See below]

      3. George ARDEN (1789-1868), Bap 15 Oct 1789; member Co Freemen 5th Oct 1812. He married Maryanne WESTON from Weymouth under a marriage settlement circa 1820, and they lived at 8 St Mary's St, in Melcombe Regis for many years. He was an Attorney at law and raised 6 children there (3), the 3rd of which was Charles Frederick ARDEN who was baptised at Weymouth on 13th Oct 1829 and also became an attorney and was executor of his sister Ann's Will. George ARDEN died at Weymouth on 30th Oct 1868 and his Will was proved on 6th July with Marianne as executrix.

      4. Frances ARDEN (1792-1878) , Bap 28 Jun 1792; she remained a spinster and in the 1841 census is living with her sister Ann in South street Dorchester when they were both shown to be of independent means. She is at 4 Shirehall place as a lodger in 1861 aged 69 and described as a fundholder. She died on 11th Sep 1878 and like her sister Ann appointed her nephews John Rawdon OLDFIELD and Charles Frederick ARDEN as executors of an estate under £4,000 (4)

      5. Ann ARDEN (1793-1872) Bap in 1793 she also remained a spinster. Initially she lived with her sister Frances but when her brother's wife Jane died in 1849 she moved into 8 High West St with him and his son Henry (also a qualified surgeon) to help run their business. They had a housemaid, cook and footman also living with them. When her brother became ill in 1861 they had to vacate the premises which were taken over by George PANTON another surgeon before 8th April that year. Christopher was buried on the 12th of that month at which time Ann was still at number 8 High West Street employing 2 servants. Her two nephews John Rawdon OLDFIELD of Oldfield Lawn and of Ticehurst both in the county of Sussex a Colonel in the Army and Charles Frederick ARDEN of Weymouth both came to the funeral and stayed with her. When she died on 26th Jan 1872 she left an estate of under £3,000 and named these nephews as her executors.(5)
    His son Christopher ARDEN junior (1788-1861) also became a Freeman of Dorchester on 2 May 1809 when he too was described as a gentleman. He married Jane (UNKNOWN) (1782/86-1849) circa 1815 and they had the following 3 children baptised in Holy Trinity church Dorchester. He followed his fathers trade becoming a surgeon, presumably carrying on the business when his father died in 1811. He was Bailiff of Dorchester 7 times between 1813 & 1831. When the existing Govenor of the Company of Freemen, George STICKLAND suddenly died in office in 1824, he stepped into the breach serving as Govenor from 12th February to 4th October that year, when Joseph STONE took over. He was to be elected Mayor of Dorchester six times in the years 1816; 1824; 1832; 1837; 1848 and 1852. When his wife Jane died during 4th qtr of 1849 his sister Ann came to live with him at No. 8 High West Street in Dorchester. Christopher Arden died at the age of 73 and was buried on 12 April 1861. He had died a few days before as the 1861 Census taken on 8th April only shows Ann living at 8 High West street. He left a will and an estate of under £6,000 (6)

      1. Jane ARDEN (1816-1873) bap 24 Oct 1816. In 1841 she is still living with her parents in High West Street and her cousin Jane OLDFIELD (bap 7 Jan 1819 - buried Oldfield lawn Westbourne Sussex 1856(9)) is staying with them. The two families remained close as Jane Arden married the brother (her cousin) John Rawdon OLDFIELD on 26th May 1846 in Holy Trinity church Dorchester who was a Captain (later Colonel) in the Indian Army. They lived at Dalehill Tilehurst in Sussex in 1871 which is where Jane died in the 1st qtr 1873 but her husband John Rawdon Oldfield died in Dorchester 22nd Nov 1883 leaving a will and an estate of £29,920 11s 7d. (7)

      Memorial Plaque in St Peters Church Dorchester
      © Michael Russell FIPD

      2. Rev George ARDEN (1818-1890) bap 22 Sep 1818 educated at Wadham college oxford matriculated 3rd Mar 1836 aged 17 BA 1840; MA 1842; He married in 1847 to Eliza Hannah TRENOW who was born in Bristol but was then resident at Langton Herring under a marriage settlement which is held at the DHC (Ref DD\SB/24/4). This marriage settlement refers to him as being of Winterborne Came so he may have been vicar or served his curacy there. He was appointed Vicar of Dunsford Devon where he served from 1866-1888 (8) A stained glass window was erected in St Mary's church Dunsford in 1880 to E.H.Arden his son, and a lancet window was erected in honour of George himself by WH Kelland Esq after he died in 1890.

      3. Rev Henry Alban ARDEN (1820-1888) bap 12 Dec 1820 he initially trained as a surgeon, was awarded his licentiate and at the age of 22 was admitted to the Apothecaries Hall Dorchester on 26th May 1842. In 1851 he was still living with the family in Dorchester; he became a Dominican friar at Woodchester Priory Gloucestershire and in 1881 was at the St Dominics Priory at Southampton as a Roman Catholic priest - He is also said to be grandson of the late Rev Abon GWYNE MA Rector of Benworth Hampshire. He died in 1888

Genealogical Notes:-    

(1). Link to comments about Mary daughter of Daniel Arden of Dorchester
(2). 'Kitt' was used in the 18th century as an abbreviation for the name 'Christopher' in the same way as we now use 'Chris'
(3). Their 6 children were all baptised at Weymouth:- Mary Weston Arden bap 8th Jan 1821; Fanny Churchill Arden bap 14th Nov 1822; Eliza Churchill Arden bap 2nd Dec 1825; Charles Frederick Arden bap 13th Oct 1829; Georgina Bankes Floye Arden bap 30th dec 1830 died a spinster 28 Oct 1908 left £8,968. 15s 7d to sister Caroline; and Caroline Rose Arden 18 apr 1834 died 15 Aug 1915 at 5 Westerhall Weymouth left £10,886. 3s 4d to public trustees.
(4). National Probate Calander index entry Frances ARDEN died 11 Sep 1878 Probate 23 Oct 1878 - transcription of index entry available under Dorchester Wills Index 1801-1900. These Wills can be ordered by post £6 charge at Sep 2011 form downloadable on line
(5). National Probate Calander index entry Ann ARDEN died 26 Jan 1872 Probate 30 Mar 1872 - transcription of index entry available under Dorchester Wills Index 1801-1900
(6). National Probate Calander index entry Christopher ARDEN died 06 Apr 1861 Probate 30 Apr 1861 available under Dorchester Wills Index 1801-1900
(7). National Probate Calander index entry John Rawdon OLDFIELD died 22 Nov 1883 Probate 08 Mar 1884 - transcription of index entry available under Dorchester Wills Index 1801-1900
(8). Oxford University Alumni, 1500-1886
(9). National Probate Calander index entry for Jane OLDFIELD states Letters of Administration of the Personal estate and effects of jane oldfield late of oldfield lawn in the parish of Westbourne Sussex spinster deceased who died 8th may 1856 at oldfield Lawn aforesaid were granted at the Principal Registry to John Rawdon Oldfield of oldfield lawn aforesiad a Colonel in Her majesty's Army one of the executors of the Will of John Oldfield the father and next of kin of the said deceased he the said John Rawdon Oldfield having been first sworn. effects under £600
(10). The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset” by John HUTCHINS 3rd Edition published 1868 Page 385
(11). Dorset Archdeaconry Court Letter of Administration granted to Mary ARDEN for the estate of her deceased husband Daniel ARDEN 1623-1671 Held at the Dorset History Centre Ad/Dt/A/1671 record 32 . Image also now available on for members
(12). An Oliver ARDEN a goldsmith by trade of Sherbourne - Administration bond, commission, inventory dated 1684 - survives at Wiltshire Archives - a copy of the will can be bought on line for a small fee which I have not accessed.

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