VANE (FANE), Sir Henry (1589-1655), of Fairlawn, Kent; Charing Cross, Westminster and Raby Castle, co. Dur.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



25 Mar. 1628
1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.)

Family and Education

b. 18 Feb. 1589,1 1st s. of Henry Fane† of Hadlow, Kent and his 2nd w. Margaret, da. of Roger Twysden of Roydon Hall, East Peckham, Kent.2 educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1604; G. Inn 1606,3 travelled abroad 1608.4 m. c.1612 (with £3,000), Frances (d. 2 Aug. 1663), da. and coh. of Thomas Darcy of Tolleshunt D’Arcy, Essex, 7s. (2 d.v.p.) 5da.5 suc. fa. 1596; kntd. 14 Mar 1611.6 d. May 1655.7

Offices Held

Carver, King’s Household c.1612-17;8 master of subpoena office, Chancery 1614-40;9 cofferer to Prince Charles 1617-at least 1622,10 cofferer (jt.) to Charles I 1625-9;11 commr. sale of Duchy of Cornw. estates 1625,12 wardrobe inquiry 1626, 1635;13 comptroller, King’s Household 1629-30;14 PC 1630-41;15 commr. inquiry, pprs. of Sir Robert Cotton* 1630, poor relief 1630, determining jurisdictions 1631,16 Admlty. 1632-8, 1642-3,17 transportation of felons 1633,18 gt. wardrobe 1633,19 fisheries 1633;20 member, High Commission 1633-41;21 abuses in cts. of justice 1633, defective titles 1635, American appeals 1636;22 treas. King’s Household 1639-41;23 sec. of state 1639-41;24 commr. Treasury 1641-4;25 member, cttee. of both kingdoms 1642-8; commr. assembly of divines 1643, exclusion from sacrament 1646, sale of bps.’ lands 1646, scandalous offences 1648, army 1652-3.26

Member, Virg. Co. 1612; freeman (hon.) Merchant Adventurers’ Co. 1631.27

Steward, Inglewood Forest and Peareth, Cumb. by 1620;28 j.p. co. Dur. 1625-d., Kent, Westminster 1630-d., Essex, Surr. 1630-42, Mdx. 1630-d., Lincs. by 1653-d.;29 commr. new buildings, London 1625, 1630, 1636,30 repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral 1631,31 sewers, Westminster 1634, Lincs. 1638;32 master forester, Barnard Castle, co. Dur. 1635;33 commr. oyer and terminer, Home circ. 1635-42,34 piracy, Suss. 1637,35 custos rot. Mdx. 1639-d.;36 ld. lt. co. Dur. 1642-5;37 commr. defence, Kent 1643, seizure of arms 1643, levying money, Mdx. 1643, South-Eastern Assoc. 1644, assessment, Kent 1644, Mdx. and Westminster 1645-52, co. Dur. 1647-52, Cumb. and Kent 1649-52, maintenance of army, Mdx. 1644, New Model ordinance 1645, Northern Assoc. co. Dur. 1645, militia, co. Dur., Kent and Mdx. 1648, Westminster 1649.38

Amb. (extraordinary) to the Utd. Provinces 1625, 1629, 1630, to the king of Sweden 1631-2.39


Vane was descended from a younger son of the Fane family, from which he distanced himself by reverting to the medieval spelling of his surname. His father, a soldier who sat for Hythe in 1593, was sent to Normandy to assist Henri IV against the Catholic League, and died at Rouen on active service, leaving Vane’s mother to purchase his wardship. When Vane came of age in 1610 he inherited the estates of Hadlow and Shipborne in Kent, worth £460 p.a., of which one-third was out in dower to his mother.40 He subsequently befriended both Sir Lionel Cranfield* and Sir Thomas Overbury. The latter sponsored him at Court, and enabled him to buy a Carver’s place in about 1612 for £5,000.41 In 1614 Vane also paid £3,250 to Sir Edward Gorges for a third share in the subpoena office in Chancery, later acquiring the reversion from the Crown. Together, these two posts were worth approximately £1,100 a year.42 In 1610 Vane promised to subscribe £75 to the Virginia Company, but his contribution was still unpaid three years later.43

Vane was first elected in 1614 for Lostwithiel, presumably via Court connections with the 3rd earl of Pembroke, who as lord warden of the Stannaries had influence over the borough. He was named to the committees to prepare a message to the king about undertaking (13 Apr.) and to consider the confirmation of a decree in Chancery (18 May).44 On 25 Oct. 1615 he attended Overbury’s poisoner Weston to the foot of the gallows, and after the earl of Somerset forfeited the Raby estate in Durham for his part in Overbury’s murder, it was leased to Vane.45 He sold his ancestral property in order to buy Fairlawn, near Sevenoaks in Kent, for another £4,000.46 Shortly after the formation of a Household establishment for Prince Charles in 1616, Vane bought the office of cofferer from Sir David Foulis, who thought too meanly of the place to retain it.47

At the general election of 1620 Vane was re-elected as the duchy of Cornwall’s nominee for Lostwithiel, and was also returned at Carlisle. As he had an increasing stake in the north of England he chose to sit for the Cumbrian borough. Once in the Commons he earned a reputation for being one of three ‘principal men that upon all occasions stand up for the king’, together with Sir Edward Sackville*, and (Sir) Humphrey May*, at least according to (Sir) George Calvert*.48 Vane’s appointments included committees to propose the petition from both Houses on recusancy (15 Feb.), to search for precedents for punishing (Sir) Giles Mompesson (27 Feb.), to consider the subsidy bill (7 March) and the bill against bribery, favouritism, and excessive fees in courts of justice (27 April).49 As his responsibilities required, he was included on committees to enable the prince to make leases of duchy of Cornwall lands (28 Feb.), and to confirm Prince Charles’s Westmorland tenants in their estates (10 March).50 On 5 Mar. Vane moved that the referees of monopolies might be taken into the consideration of the committee for grievances, because without them the projectors would not have achieved their purposes. ‘I speak not that I would have these great persons called here to answer’, he added, ‘but that every man’s offence be laid open in the passage’.51 His own privilege for making writs of supersedeas came under attack, when Sir Edward Coke* alleged that Chancery issued 35,000 writs a year; to which Vane responded on 26 Mar.

that there have not gone out of the Chancery above 16,000 subpoenas in any year, as the books do manifest, and which he desireth may be shown to this House, that they be not misled with an information without book.52

The failure of Sir John Bennet*, the ecclesiastical judge accused of corruption, to submit any answers to the six charges against him Vane regarded as a confession of guilt, brushing aside a plea of sickness as merely a cover for flight. He urged the House on 23 Apr. to expel Bennet from his membership of the Commons and take him into custody.53 As a member of the Irish committee, he moved to thank the king for his message of 30 Apr. concerning the state of Ireland, and to cease further investigation of the matter.54 On 7 May he advised the Speaker to end the quarrel between Coke’s son Clement* and Sir Charles Morrison*, and was named to the joint committee to resolve the difference between the Houses over the punishment of Floyd (8 May).55 Vane opposed the bill to cancel a conveyance executed under age by the stepson of Sir Julius Caesar* (12 May); the fine had been confirmed in Star Chamber, and if it were reversed no title to property would be safe.56 In the debate on free trade of 14 May Vane told the Commons: ‘the king barred us not from searching the bottom of the abuse in the Merchant Adventurers, if any, but he only forbade us searching to those private things that only concerned him merely and the state’.57 He attempted to secure a hearing for his friend Cranfield on the afternoon of 28 May; but the House was determined to adjourn.58

In the second sitting, when the Commons was anxious to debate the proposed Spanish Match, Vane doubted ‘whether the marriages of princes have used to be treated of here before it be sent hither by the king’, and maliciously desired ‘precedents in this kind from Sir Edward Coke; for [we] hath heard from him that no cognizance of war [or] marriage till the king acquaint us with it’ (3 December).59 The House appointed him to the 12-strong deputation that was designated to carry the address against the Spanish marriage to the king at Newmarket on 4 Dec., but he presciently made over the honour to Sir Edward Villiers*.60 On 15 Dec., in response to the king’s angry response to the Commons’ petition about religion, the Spanish Match, and their privileges, Vane declared that he had ‘no doubt but our liberties [are] our inheritance’, referring to the Apology of the Commons in 1604. He supported proposals for a select committee to draw up a similar protestation of parliamentary privilege, hoping thereby to enable the House to proceed with legislation.61

Vane did not accompany the prince to Spain in 1623, but wrote to Buckingham on 25 Mar. to desire directions for furnishing a Catholic chapel for the Infanta either at St. James’s or Denmark House.62 He was elected at Beverley in 1624 on the nomination of the Prince’s Council, but continued to serve for Carlisle in the next three Parliaments, thereby freeing a seat for Cranfield’s son-in-law, Sir Henry Carey II*.63 In the last Jacobean Parliament he was appointed to 11 committees, including the committee for privileges (23 Feb.) and those to consider the revived duchy of Cornwall leases bill (9 Mar.) and the bill against the removal of suits from inferior courts (9 March).64 He was also named to the conference of 11 Mar. at which the prince delivered a statement of the king’s estate. On 19 Mar., in his only recorded speech, Vane - along with several privy councillors and other royal officials - urged the granting of supply to enable war to be declared:

[he] would not that foreign ambassadors should hear that we do here debate of the poverty of our country. That there is no kingdom that hath better conditions for the subject than this hath, and he would not that our carriage this day should draw us to as bad conditions as others have beyond seas, and that we should also so carry ourselves this day as that we distaste not the prince, to whom we are so much bound in this business. He would have us by order in the House resolve that we will give for the war six subsidies and twelve fifteenths if the business require it, and that the war go on and we continue in Parliament; and that a committee of the whole House should have debate of the sum that is fit now to be presently given. The order for the whole will not bind us, but advantage us in reputation with our friends and dishearten our enemies.65

The conditions proposed for supply were no doubt intended to improve the government’s credit status without alarming the country, but may have strengthened an impression of a lack of urgency.66 He was named to bills committees to confirm the prince’s purchase of Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire (23 Mar.) and to enfranchise county Durham (25 Mar.), and appointed to attend the recusancy conference on 6 April.67 On Vane’s motion, exemption was obtained from the monopolies bill for offices not previously condemned by proclamation, and he was assigned to manage the conference. His own patent for the subpoena office was the subject of a proviso entered on 7 Apr., to which the Commons consented ‘in order that the bill should pass’.68 He was also among those appointed to confer with the Lords on 1 May about the limitations bill and pleadings in the Exchequer.69

On the accession of Charles I, Vane found himself ‘well rooted in the king’s heart, with a world of great and fast friends at Court’.70 He became joint cofferer of the Household, and was sent to The Hague in April 1625 ‘to draw on these folks to a war offensive’ against Spain.71 He succeeded in establishing himself in the good graces of King Charles’s sister Elizabeth of Bohemia, who found him ‘very just in performing his commissions’, and Tobie Matthew* reported on 17 Apr. 1625 to (Sir) Dudley Carleton* that Vane had been lately received into Buckingham’s favour. At the general election he was involved in an unresolved double return at Lostwithiel, but he opted to sit for Carlisle once again in the first Parliament of the new reign. He made no speeches, and was named to only two committees, to confer with the Lords about a petition to the king for a general fast (23 June) and to consider a bill for the king’s Macclesfield tenants, though he attended neither of the latter’s two meetings.72 In 1626 he again remained silent, but was appointed to seven committees. He was named to the conferences of 4 Mar. on the summons to Buckingham and of 8 Mar. on defence, and on 25 May he was added to the committee to draft the preamble to the subsidy bill.73

Vane can never have regarded the Carlisle seat as safe, and at the general election of 1628 he was beaten by a local gentleman, Richard Barwis. He obtained a nomination at Thetford, presumably from the earl of Arundel, at the election held to replace Sir Henry Spiller, who had plumped for Middlesex. In the first session he was named to six committees and made four speeches. He was among those ordered to draft a bill about the pressing of soldiers and designation to foreign employment (3 Apr.), and showed his grasp of figures in two brief interventions on the value of subsidies (4 Apr.) and purveyance (30 April).74 During the debate on scandalous ministers of 16 May he whispered to John Newdigate: ‘I would not lay a greater punishment upon a spiritual man than a layman for a criminal cause’; but he did not venture to address the House on the subject.75 On 19 May he was added to the committee for the Medway navigation bill.76 In the debate of 22 May on the Lords’ amendments to the Petition of Right sponsored by Arundel, Vane said:

I stick at two things not yet touched upon, which when the lawyers shall resolve we shall be ready for a conference. The first is some think these words larger in the petition than in Magna Carta. Secondly, we say no more than what is already professed by the Lords and us.77

He was among those named to inquire into recusancy compositions (24 May).78 Vane informed the House on 21 June that Sir Simon Harvey, one of the clerks of the Green Cloth, desired to be heard about his part in revising the book of rates in conjunction with (Sir) Edmund Sawyer*, and he was among those sent to the king on 22 June to desire access for the Speaker to inquire about the date of prorogation.79 He left no trace on the records of the second session until the outbreak of violence on the final day, when he spoke ‘with as troubled a soul as any man’ in support of Jerome Weston* for defending his father, lord treasurer Sir Richard Weston*:

I shall never condemn any man upon jealousies or except the fact be proved. When the particulars shall be debated, he will be able to acquit himself. I never found [any] man in religion more clear nor more true ... If to vote this would advance anything to a quiet conclusion of this Parliament I should consent; but this [is] not the way. Let Mr. Speaker go to His Majesty. To think of some form to send to the king, and to present something by which we shall agree upon to work our peace.80

This was the strongest speech made for the government in the whole debate, and averted a personal attack on Weston, but could not turn the tide.81

Vane paid £18,000 for the freehold of the Raby estate in 1629, and was promoted to the comptrollership on the retirement of Sir John Savile*. He entertained the king at Raby during the royal progress to Scotland in 1633, and by 1634 was in receipt of a pension of £500 a year.82 He continued to hold high office in the Household till the eve of the Civil War. His brief forays into Protestant diplomacy also earned him appointment as secretary of state in place of (Sir) John Coke* in 1639. However, he lost all his offices after allowing his son, the mystic radical, to copy his Privy Council notes in order to bring the earl of Strafford (Sir Thomas Wentworth*) to the block.83 He supported Parliament in the Civil War and continued to sit in the Rump, though Clarendon (Edward Hyde†), considered that ‘he had no inclination to change, and in the judgment he had liked the government both of church and state, and only desired to raise his fortune’. By 1649 his income had risen to £3,000 p.a.;84 but looking back over his life when he came to draw up his will on 12 Jan. 1655 he wrote: ‘I have found nothing but vanities and vexations, and for minutes of peace and prosperity I have had months of trouble and disquietness’.85 He died at his house in Kent in the following May.86 Clarendon whose hostility may have reflected the fact that they were on opposing sides in the Civil War, later remarked of Vane that he was

of very ordinary parts by nature, and he had not cultivated them at all by art ... but being of a stirring boisterous disposition, very industrious and very bold, he still wrought himself into some employment.87

Vane’s eldest surviving son, Sir Henry†, sat for Hull in the Short and Long Parliaments, and was selected to ‘die for the kingdom’ at the Restoration, but the family retained and improved the estate and in 1675 two of his grandsons became the first regular knights of the shire for county Durham. Portraits of Vane are preserved at the National Portrait Gallery and Raby Castle.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. WARD 9/158, f. 195v.
  • 2. Collins, Peerage, iv. 505.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; GI Admiss.
  • 4. Add. 11402, f. 138.
  • 5. C. Dalton, Wrays of Glentworth, ii. 113-5.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 150.
  • 7. Nicholas Pprs. ed. G.F. Warner (Cam. Soc. ser. 2. l, lvii), ii. 354, iii. 20.
  • 8. Dalton, ii. 113.
  • 9. C66/1981; CSP Dom. 1640, p. 88.
  • 10. SC6/Jas.I/1680, 1685; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 443; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 58.
  • 11. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 66.
  • 12. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 1, p. 214.
  • 13. Rymer, viii. pt. 2, p. 98; pt. 4, p. 127.
  • 14. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, ii. 16.
  • 15. APC, 1630-1, p. 5.
  • 16. Rymer, viii. pt. 3, pp. 127, 148, 178.
  • 17. SP16/225/44; C115/106/8414.
  • 18. Rymer, viii. pt. 3, p. 259.
  • 19. Ibid. viii. pt. 4, p. 29.
  • 20. SP16/241/80.
  • 21. R.G. Usher, Rise and Fall of High Commission, 350; CSP Dom. 1633-4, p. 326.
  • 22. Rymer, viii. pt. 4, p. 55; ix. pt. 1, p. 6; pt. 2, p. 8.
  • 23. Collins, Peerage, iv. 513.
  • 24. CSP Dom. 1639-40, p. 419; Rymer, ix. pt. 2, p. 249.
  • 25. Rymer, ix. pt. 3, p. 47; Collins, Peerage, iv. 516.
  • 26. A. and O. i. 181, 382, 437, 853, 905, 1208, ii. 562, 689.
  • 27. A. Brown, Genesis of US, 545; Add. 28079, f. 59.
  • 28. SC6/Jas.I/1683, 1684.
  • 29. C193/13/2, f. 12v; SP16/405, ff. 17v, 64, 85; C231/5, pp. 36, 37, 38, 355, 530, 532, 533; HMC Westmorland, 502-7; CUL, Dd.viii.1, ff. 59, 62v, 134v.
  • 30. Rymer, viii. pt. 3, p. 114; ix. pt. 2, p. 8.
  • 31. Ibid. viii. pt. 3, p. 173.
  • 32. C181/4, f. 191, C181/5, f. 101.
  • 33. Rymer, ix. pt. 1, p. 77.
  • 34. C181/5, ff. 8v, 163, 174, 193, 204, 222.
  • 35. C181/5, f. 68.
  • 36. C231/5, f. 355.
  • 37. A. and O. i. 1, 3, 4.
  • 38. A. and O. i. 232, 247, 400, 451, 536, 541, 622, 636, 707, 964, 970, 1081, 1087, 1236, 1238-9, ii. 20, 32, 33, 36, 38, 295, 297, 300, 303, 463, 465, 469, 471, 659, 661, 665, 668-9.
  • 39. Handlist of British Diplomatic Representatives comp. G.M. Bell, 144, 145, 198, 199, 274; HMC Mar and Kellie, ii. 231; Birch, ii. 25, 123, 134, 178, 191, 199; C115/105/8136; Rymer, viii. pt. 3, p. 203.
  • 40. C142/246/128; Dalton, ii. 113.
  • 41. M. Prestwich, Cranfield, 343; Dalton, ii. 113.
  • 42. G.E. Aylmer, King’s Servants, 85-6.
  • 43. Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iii. 45.
  • 44. CJ, i. 464a, 489a.
  • 45. Letters and Life of Francis Bacon ed. J. Spedding, v. 211; Surtees, Dur. iv (1), 166.
  • 46. Dalton, ii. 113; E. Hasted, Kent, v. 47-8.
  • 47. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 58.
  • 48. Harl. 1580, f. 168v.
  • 49. CJ, i. 523a, 530b, 544a; CD 1621, iii. 22.
  • 50. Ibid. 531b, 548b.
  • 51. CD 1621, ii. 169.
  • 52. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 226.
  • 53. CJ, i. 587b.
  • 54. Ibid. 598b.
  • 55. Ibid. 611b, 614b.
  • 56. CD 1621, iii. 243.
  • 57. Ibid. 247.
  • 58. Nicholas, ii. 122.
  • 59. CJ, i. 656a; Nicholas, ii. 271.
  • 60. R. Zaller, Parl. of 1621, p. 156.
  • 61. Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, i. 46-52; CD 1621, ii. 526; CJ, i. 665b; Zaller, 170-1.
  • 62. Harl. 1581, f. 260.
  • 63. R.E. Ruigh, Parl. of 1624, p. 61.
  • 64. CJ, i. 671b, 680a, 680b.
  • 65. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 94.
  • 66. Ruigh, pp. 218-23; C. Russell, PEP, 188.
  • 67. CJ, i. 747a, 749b, 754a.
  • 68. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 118; Russell, 191.
  • 69. CJ, i. 695b.
  • 70. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 10.
  • 71. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 608; HMC Mar and Kellie, i. 177; ii. 231.
  • 72. C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 227; Procs. 1625, pp. 228-9.
  • 73. CJ, i. 830a, 832a, 864a.
  • 74. CJ, i. 879a; CD 1628, ii. 311; iii. 181.
  • 75. CD 1628, iii. 440.
  • 76. CJ, i. 900a.
  • 77. CD 1628, iii. 538.
  • 78. CJ, i. 904a.
  • 79. CD 1628, iv. 407; CJ, i. 917a.
  • 80. CD 1629, p. 242.
  • 81. Russell, 370-2, 391.
  • 82. LS13/251, p. 70; Collins, Peerage, iv. 510.
  • 83. Oxford DNB sub Sir Henry Vane† the younger.
  • 84. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 370-1.
  • 85. PROB 11/245, ff. 421-3.
  • 86. Mercurius Politicus 1655 ed. P.W. Thomas (Eng. Rev. III; Newsbooks 5, xi), 162.
  • 87. Clarendon, Hist. of the Rebellion ed. W.D. Macray, ii. 548.