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William Arden, second Baron Alvanley was the son of Richard Arden, 1st Baron Alvanley and Anne Wilbraham-Bootle.
Alvanley chose a career as an officer in the British Army, purchased an ensigncy in the Coldstream Guards. He was promoted to captain in March 1809. He later transferred to the 50th (Queen's Own) Regiment of Foot, and exchanged to the half-pay of the 100th Regiment of Foot on 1 September 1812. Owing to his subsequent debts, he was forced to dispose of his half-pay on 10 June 1826. He later served in the Forest Troop, King's Regiment of Cheshire Yeomanry Cavalry as a cornet, but resigned on 17 January 1840.
Alvanley was a prominent member of the Prince Regent's circle, and was friends with Beau Brummell. He was popular in society and regarded as wittiest man of his day. He, Brummell, Henry Mildmay, and Henry Pierrepoint were considered the prime movers of Watier's club, dubbed "the Dandy Club" by Lord Byron. They were also the four hosts of the July 1813 masquerade ball at which the Prince Regent greeted Alvanley and Pierrepoint, but then "cut" Brummell and Mildmay by snubbing them, staring them in the face but not speaking to them. Brummell then said to Alvanley, "Alvanley, who's your fat friend?". The Prince Regent was not amused; this incident was the final and most public sign that Brummell was no longer favored by the Prince Regent Alvanley continued to support Brummell, sending money to his friend during Brummell's exile in France.
In 1835, Alvanley fought a duel with Morgan O'Connell. According to a near contemporary report, "[Alvanley] went through the business with the most perfect sang froid, but on his way to the field he whimsically intimated a singular alarm. Having descended a hollow, 'My Lord', said he to his second, 'you get me down well enough, but', alluding to his full size, 'should I fall, I do not know how the devil you will ever get me up again.'"
He had an extremely lavish lifestyle, funded by income generated by the estates that his father had bought. His prominent position in society also allowed him to have a great deal of credit. However, his debts became untenable and eventually his family estates had to be sold to pay them off. Underbank Hall in Stockport was sold by auction in 1823 and most of the Bredbury estate was sold in lots in 1825. In 1827 he sold the Willington Estate to Waterloo veteran William Tomkinson, land that would become the site of Willington Hall. The Arden Hall mansion was sold in 1833. He eventually resigned his membership of White's.
The death of George IV in 1830 saw Alvanley's society position deteriorate, which was furthered hampered by his limited income. He occasionally contributed to debates in the House of Lords. He did not marry and had no children. On his death, the title went to his only brother, the Hon. Colonel Richard Arden.
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