FIENNES, Hon. James (c.1602-74), of Broughton Castle, Oxon.

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



19 July 1625
Apr. 1640
Nov. 1640

Family and Education

b. c.1602, 1st s. of William, 1st Visct. Saye and Sele by Elizabeth, da. of John Temple of Burton Dassett, Warws. and Stowe, Bucks.; bro. of John Fiennes and Nathaniel Fiennes. educ. Queens’, Camb. 1618, Emmanuel 1622; travelled abroad 1624-5; L. Inn 1628. m. bef. 1631, Frances (d. July 1684), da. and coh. of Sir Edward Cecil, 1st Visct. Wimbledon, 3s. d.v.p. 2da. suc. fa. as 2nd Visct. 14 Apr. 1662.2

Offices Held

J.p. Oxon. ?1626-35, by 1641-48, aft. 1653-56, Mar. 1660-d., commr. for execution of ordinances 1644, assessment Oxon. 1644, 1657, Jan. 1660-2, appeals, Oxf. Univ. 1647, militia, Glos. and Oxon. 1648, Mar. 1660, dep. lt. Oxon. c. July 1660-8, ld. lt. 1668-d.; freeman, Oxford 1668.3

Commr. for exclusion from sacrament 1646, scandalous offences 1648.


Fiennes was descended from a Boulonnais baron, Enguerrand, who married an English heiress and was killed at Acre in 1189. One of the family sat for Sussex in 1429, but they migrated to Oxfordshire and acquired a peerage soon afterwards. Fiennes’s father, nicknamed ‘Old Subtlety’, headed the local resistance to ship-money and was one of the most prominent parliamentary peers in the Civil War. Although an Independent in religion, he made strenuous efforts for a peaceful settlement in 1648. Fiennes, who had ‘always been reputed an honest Cavalier and a quiet man’, did not sit after Pride’s Purge, and like his father retired from active politics during the Interregnum, although his brother Nathaniel became a staunch Cromwellian. He was among those who presented the Oxfordshire address for a free Parliament in February 1660, and was returned for the county a few weeks later. He made no recorded speeches and sat on only three unimportant committees in the Convention. Father and son both sued out their pardons, and in September Fiennes petitioned the King to refuse his assent to the bill to restore the Flintshire estates of the Earl of Derby, part of which had been acquired by his son-in-law. Fiennes probably did not stand in 1661. In the Lords he was an opponent of Clarendon, whom he succeeded as lord lieutenant. He died on 15 Mar. 1674 and was buried at Broughton, the last of the family to sit in the Lower House.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Leonard Naylor / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. Did not sit after Pride’s Purge, 6 Dec. 1648, readmitted 21 Feb. 1660.
  • 2. Keeler, Long Parl. 176.
  • 3. 0xford Council Acts (Oxf. Hist. Soc. n.s. ii), 27.
  • 4. The Gen. n.s. xii. 149-50; A. Wood, Athenae Oxon. iii. 550; Keeler, 176-7; CSP Dom. 1659-60, p. 361; 1660-1, p. 291; E. T. Rogers, Protests of the Lords, i. 36; A. Beesley, Hist. Banbury, 475.