John FitzAlan, 1st Baron Arundel

For other people with the same name, see John Fitzalan (disambiguation).

John FitzAlan (D' Arundel), 1st Baron Arundel (c. 1348 16 December 1379) was a Lord Marshal or Marshal of England.


He was born in Etchingham, Sussex, England to Richard Fitzalan, 10th Earl of Arundel and his second wife Eleanor of Lancaster (Eleanor Plantagenet). His brother was Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury. His sister was Joan Fitzalan, Countess of Hereford.

High office

Betchworth Castle

John was appointed Lord Marshal of England by Richard II of England in 1377, and summoned to the House of Lords on 4 August 1377, by writ directed Johanni de Arundell. He served as Lord Marshal until 1379.

On 26 July 1379[1][2] he was given licence to crenellate (i.e., permission to fortify) a stone castle on the site of an 11th-century earthwork fortress in Surrey. Over the years since then the structure was rebuilt and remodelled and its remains are now known as Betchworth Castle.

Being in command of a naval expedition in aid to the Duke of Brittany, he defeated the French fleet off the coast of Cornwall.

Death at sea

Commanding a force with the purpose of bringing relief to the Duke of Brittany, Sir John was compelled to wait for stronger winds. During this wait he decided to take refuge in a nunnery, where his men "took no notice of the sanctity of the place and... violently assaulted and raped"[3] those they found inside. Further to this Sir John "allowed his men to ransack the countryside as they liked and to impoverish the people".[3] When the force eventually set out to sea, carrying with them goods stolen from a nearby church and under a pronouncement of excommunication from the wronged priests, the expedition was caught in a storm. Thomas Walsingham reports that during the panic of the storm, Sir John murdered those of his men who refused to make for shore for fear of being shipwrecked upon the rocks. Subsequently, after safely arriving on an island off the Irish coast, Sir John and his boat captain were swept back into the sea and drowned.[3]

According to Thomas Walsingham's story, FitzAlan's men profaned a convent at or near Southampton, and abducted many of its occupants. The fleet was then pursued by a violent tempest, when the wretched nuns who had been carried off were thrown overboard to lighten the ships. The vessels were, however, wrecked on the Irish coast, near Scariff according to some authorities, but at Cape Clear Island according to others. Sir John Arundell, together with his esquires, and other men of high birth, were drowned, and twenty-five ships were lost with most of their crews. Froissart's account of the event differs essentially from Walsingham's, in the omission of the story of the desecration of the convent.


He was buried in Lewes, Sussex.

He was also an ancestor of the poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Marriage and children

On 17 February 1358, FitzAlan married Eleanor Maltravers (Mautravers) (1345 10 January 1404/1406), daughter of John Maltravers and Gwenthin. They had at least five children (some references list more):



  1. Betchworth Castle Betchworth Park Golf Course Brockham Leatherhead Mole Valley Surrey England English
  2. Betchworth Castle Licence to Crenellate
  3. 1 2 3 Thomas Walsingham, "Chronica Maiora"
  4. Richardson, D. Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial And Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, 2011 (via pg 676


Political offices
Preceded by
The Countess of Norfolk
Lord Marshal
Succeeded by
The Duke of Norfolk
Peerage of England
Preceded by
New Creation
Baron Arundel
Succeeded by
John FitzAlan
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