VANE (FANE), Sir Ralph (by 1510-52), of Hadlow, nr. Tonbridge, Kent.

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 1510, o.s. of Henry Vane of Hadlow by Alice Fisher of Hadlow. m. by 1540, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Roland Brydges of Clerkenwell, Mdx. and The Ley, Weobley, Herefs., s.p. suc. fa. 1533. Kntd. 30 Sept. 1544, kt. banneret 18/25 Sept. 1547.2

Offices Held

Servant of Cromwell by 1531; gent. pens. 1540, lt. by 1545-d.; chief gov. Cage and Postern parks, Kent, and Tonbridge warrens 1542; keeper, North Leigh park, Kent 1546; j.p. Kent 1547; commr. sewers 1540, chantries 1548, relief 1550.3


Sir Ralph Vane’s Membership of the Parliament of 1547 is known from a reference in the Journal, recording that on 14 Jan. 1549 privilege was granted to John Keysar, ‘servant to Sir Ralph Vane’. His name does not occur on the list of Members for the final session in 1552, although he was only indicted of treason the day before its opening and he was not executed until a month later. Presumably he was replaced as a Member shortly after his arrest in the previous autumn. His attainder was confirmed by an Act (5 and 6 Edw. VI, no. 37) passed before the dissolution. His constituency remains a matter for speculation but as one close to the Protector Somerset with experience of court and war he could have been found a place almost anywhere.4

Sprung from a family established at Tonbridge, Vane inherited a house and other property at Hadlow. As a young man he attached himself to Cromwell who in 1538 recommended his transfer to the royal service. During Wyatt’s embassy to Charles V between 1537 and 1540 Vane was several times the bearer of despatches between the minister and the ambassador. Named to the King’s new bodyguard early in 1540 he attended the reception of Anne of Cleves at Blackheath. Unharmed by the palace revolution which destroyed Cromwell he kept his post in the Household and obtained two manors and three rectories in Kent in 1541 and the lease of demesne lands at Hadlow a year later. He served in the continental campaigns of 1543 and 1544, being knighted by Henry VIII at the fall of Boulogne, and was then charged with three others to hire mercenaries in Germany for the army. After being relieved of that task he travelled to the Neherlands to help raise he money to pay the mercenaries.5

It was presumably as a gentleman pensioner involved in the war effort that Vane became familiar with the Earl of Hertford, later the Protector Somerset. As one of Henry VIII’s executors Somerset designated him as one of the unnamed royal servants to be beneficiaries under the King’s will, and as a consequence in October 1547 Vane received a new grant of the rectory at Hadlow, with that of Tonbridge, as well as several manors. He attended the obsequies in memory of the King, was put on the Kent bench in the spring and went with Somerset to Scotland in the summer, capturing the Earl of Huntley at the Pinkie and being made a knight banneret at Roxburgh. In reward for capturing Huntley and other services in Scotland he received somewhat belatedly in July 1550 the former chapel and college of St. Stephen, Westminster (save for the upper chapel already given by Edward VI to the Commons for its use) and various of the college properties. Nothing has been discovered about his part in the coup d’état against Somerset in 1549 but when Somerset was arrested in October 1551 Vane fled. Found hiding under straw in a Lambeth stable and taken to the Tower with other adherents of Somerset he was accused of conspiring to kill the Earl of Warwick, with whom he was at variance over rights at Postern in Kent. Condemned of felony in treason in January 1552, although protesting his innocence like a ‘ruffian’, he was hanged on Tower Hill on the 26th of the following month.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: P. S. Edwards


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament; CJ, i. 6.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 4 Hogen; Vis Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxv), 43; LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xvii, xix.
  • 3. M. L. Robertson, ‘Cromwell’s servants’ (Univ. California Los Angeles Ph.D. thesis, 1975), 484-5; LP Hen. VIII, v, xiii, xv-xvii, xix-xxi; E179/69/62, 63, ex inf. W. J. Tighe; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 85, 233; 1548-9, p. 135; 1553, p. 355.
  • 4. CJ, i. 6; Hatfield 207.
  • 5. PCC 4 Hogen; LP Hen. VIII, v. xii, xiii, xv-xx.
  • 6. CPR, 1547-8, p. 175; 1550-3, p. 12; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 219, 353, 391 and n.; LC2/2, f. 41v; W. K. Jordan, Edw. VI, i. 64; ii. 64, 80, 85, 87-88, 110; APC, iii. 244-6, 279, 296; B. L. Beer, Norhumberland, 116; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 4; Rymer, Foedera, vi(3), 216; Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 10, 15; DKR, iv(2), 230-2; Wards 7/6/26.