VANE, Christopher (1653-1723), of Raby Castle, co. Dur.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



25 Oct. 1675 - Jan. 1679
1689 - 18 Nov. 1690

Family and Education

b. 21 May 1653, 7th but 2nd surv. s. of Sir Henry Vane†, of Fairlawn, Shipbourne, Kent by Frances, da. of Sir Christopher Wray† of Ashby, Lincs.; bro. of Thomas Vane†.  educ. I. Temple 1671.  m. lic. 9 May 1676, Lady Elizabeth, da. of Gilbert Holles†, 3rd Earl of Clare, and coh. to her bro. John Holles†, 1st Duke of Newcastle, 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 4da. (1 d.v.p.).  suc. bro. 1673; cr. Baron Barnard of Barnard Castle 25 July 1698.

Offices Held

Commr. for recusants, co. Dur. 1675; freeman, Durham 1675; ranger, Teesdale forest and forester of Barnard Castle 1689–d.1

PC 6 July–Dec. 1688.2


The son of a regicide, Vane had been a Whig collaborator under James II, being included in 1688 as one of the executors of the King’s will. However, Vane supported the Revolution, and following a petition in March 1689, he was granted the office of ‘master forester and chief warden of all his Majesty’s forests and chases within the lordships of Barnard Castle . . . and of chief keeper of the forest of Teesdale and the chase of Marwood’ in Durham county, which originally had been granted to his grandfather but had been forfeited on the attainder of his father. Having been appointed as one of the deputy-lieutenants for Kent on 20 May 1689, Vane was reappointed in January 1690. Despite his family connexions with Kent, and the fact that he was one of the largest landowners in Durham county, he was returned for a Yorkshire constituency, Boroughbridge, in 1690. Following the election he was classed as a Whig and a government supporter by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†). He was otherwise inactive before being unseated on petition later in the year.3

His earlier association with James II was presumably the reason why, in April 1692, he was invited to St. Germain to witness the birth of James’s daughter. It is not evident if such links were responsible for the fact that he did not stand for Parliament again, but he did continue to take an interest in Durham elections, and in 1695 was active in securing the return of his friend Sir William Bowes for the county. In July 1698 Joanna, sister of Lord Cutts (John*), reported that ‘my cousin [Christopher] Vane, to the surprise of everybody, is a peer of England. It is not known yet who has got his money, but most think it went into the bargain with his father-in-law the Duke of Newcastle’s Garter.’ Vane was allowed the arms and quarterings of his father, despite the fact that his father’s attainder had not been reversed, which in theory meant that the family armorial ensigns remained forfeit. At the election of that year he secured the return of his cousin Lionel Vane for the county. In his property dealings he employed his brother-in-law Sir James Tillie, an attorney who later defrauded him, and this, together with his own litigiousness, made his neighbours regard him as ‘a sort of plague of Egypt upon us’. His eldest son, Gilbert, was weak-minded, and did not sit in Parliament. However, his younger son, William, was successful for the county in 1708, with his father’s support. He died on 28 Oct. 1723 ‘at his seat in Fairlawn near Sevenoaks’, and was buried at Shipbourne, Kent. According to Vane’s funeral sermon, his retirement from politics had been due to ‘a very long ill state of health’. According to the same source, when there was a run on the Bank of England in 1711, he sent in large sums of his own money in order to sustain public credit. He was the grandfather of Fitz-Frederick, the bastard son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, by Anne Vane.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. CJ, xiii. 192; CSP Dom. 1689–90, pp. 20, 52.
  • 2. Portledge Pprs. 38; Burnet, iii. 217.
  • 3. Clarke, Jas. II, app.; CSP Dom. 1689–90, pp. 20, 52; Add. 42596, ff. 35–36, 47.
  • 4. DZA, Bonet despatch 1/11 Apr. 1692; Letters addressed to Ralph Thoresby (Thoresby Soc. xxi), 44–45; HMC Astley, 92–93; CSP Dom. 1699–1700, p. 87; Collins, Peerage, iv. 522–3; The Gen. n.s. vi. 24.