FANE, Charles, Lord le Despenser (1635-91), of Apethorpe, Northants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



26 May 1660
1661 - 12 Feb. 1666

Family and Education

b. 6 Jan. 1635, 1st s. of Mildmay Fane, 2nd Earl of Westmorland, being o.s. by 1st w. Grace, da. of Sir William Thornhurst of Agnes Court, Kent; half-bro. of Sir Vere Fane. educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1649; travelled abroad (France and Low Countries) 1652-4. m. (1) 15 June 1665, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Charles Nodes of Shephalbury, Herts., s.p.; (2) Lady Dorothy Brudenell, da. of Robert, 2nd Earl of Cardigan, s.p. suc. fa. as 3rd Earl of Westmorland 12 Feb. 1666.

Offices Held

J.p. Northants. and Peterborough July 1660-c.86; dep. lt. Northants. c. Aug. 1660-?66, commr. for assessment, Northants. Aug. 1660-6, Hunts. 1664-6, oyer and terminer, Nassaborough July 1660; capt. vol. horse, Northants. Nov. 1660; keeper of Cliff bailiwick, Rockingham forest 1682-d.1


The Fanes were established as a Kentish family by the 15th century and first entered Parliament in Tudor times. Lord le Despenser’s grandfather acquired Apethorpe by marriage in 1617 and was raised to the peerage seven years later. His father, who sat for Peterborough in 1621, was a commissioner of array in the Civil War, but was soon captured by the parliamentary forces, and imprisoned till he took the Covenant and compounded in 1644. Le Despenser, though ineligible under the Long Parliament ordinance, was involved in a double return for Peterborough at the general election of 1660, but allowed to take his seat on 26 May. An inactive Member, he was named to five committees of which the most important were to amend the order for quiet possession of sequestrated livings and to support the drainage of the fens. He was re-elected to the Cavalier Parliament, in which he was again inactive, with 20 committees in five sessions. He was appointed to the committees for the corporations and uniformity bills in 1661, and in the following year he and Sir Roger Norwich raised volunteer troops of horse, to ensure that there should be no resistance to the demolition of the defences of Northampton. His father, the joint lord lieutenant, was ordered to forward their names to Sir Henry Bennet ‘so that the King may gratify them as occasion serves’. The only gratification that can be traced is the grant of Willybrook Hundred; but le Despenser was noted as a court dependant in 1664. In the House of Lords he moved into opposition, voting for dissolution in 1675, which presumably earned him a ‘worthy’ on Shaftesbury’s list. In 1680 he voted against exclusion, but for the condemnation of Lord Stafford. Nevertheless the compiler of the list of Northamptonshire Whigs in 1682 appears to have meant to include him under the style of ‘Earl of Westminster’ with an estate of £2,500 p.a. But he remained on the commission of the peace till at least 1685. Though reckoned among the opponents of James II in 1687, he denied taking up arms for William of Orange in the following year. He died on 18 Sept. 1691 and was buried at Apethorpe. His nephew, the sixth earl, wrote of him that he ‘came into the possession of an estate above the double of what he left it, but, being one that cared not for business and having no children of his own, left all to the management of those about him’.2

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / E. R. Edwards


  • 1. Add. 344222, ff. 12-13.
  • 2. HMC 10th Rep. IV, 46; CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 560; SP29/421/216; Add. 29563, f. 352.