FANE (VANE), Mildmay (1602-1666), of Apethorpe, Northants. and Mereworth Castle, Kent

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




Family and Education

b. 24 Jan. 1602, 1st s. of Sir Francis Fane*; bro. of George†. educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1618, MA 1619, L. Inn 1622; travelled abroad (France, Switzerland, Italy) 1622-5. m. (1) 6 July 1626, Grace (d. 29 June 1636), da. of Sir William Thornhurst of Agnes Court, Old Romney, Kent, 1s. 5da. (3 d.v.p.); (2) 21 June 1638, Mary (d. 18 Nov. 1669), da. and coh. of Horatio, 1st Bar. Vere of Tilbury, wid. of Sir Roger Townshend, 1st bt.*, of Raynham, Norf., 3s. 4da. (2 d.v.p.). styled Lord Burghersh 29 Dec. 1624; cr. KB 1 Feb. 1626; styled Lord Le Despenser 28 June 1626; suc. fa. as 2nd earl of Westmorland 23 Mar. 1629. d. 12 Feb. 1666.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Maidstone 1617;2 j.p. Kent by 1625-42, 1660-d.,3 Northants. 1625-at least 1636, Hunts. and Mdx. 1629-at least 1636; 4 commr. sewers, Kent and Suss. 1625,5 Gt. Fens south of the R. Glen 1629-at least 1646,6 Kent 1631-at least 1639, Dengemarsh, Kent 1636;7 dep. lt. Northants. by 1627; asst. Rochester Bridge, Kent 1626-49, 1661-d., (snr. warden 1627, 1634, 1641, 1647, 1663),8 commr. martial law, Northants. 1628,9 oyer and terminer, Norf. and Home circs. 1629-42; 10 c.j. Rockingham forest 1629;11 commr. piracy, Cinque Ports 1630-at least 1639,12 knighthood compositions, Northants. 1630-2,13 array, Northants. and Kent 1642;14 capt. vol. horse, Northants. c.1660; ld. lt. (jt.) Northants. 1660-?d.15

Commr. swans c.1628.16

Member, Guyana Co. 1627.17

Capt. of horse (roy.) 1642.18


Fane seems to have spent part of his youth with his mother’s family at Apethorpe. In 1617 his father was reported to have appointed Edward Palavicino as his guide and tutor, both at Cambridge and abroad, at a salary of £50 p.a.19 Fane was ordered by his parents at the age of 18 ‘to assume the adult senatorial robe’ in the third Jacobean Parliament as Member for Peterborough, although he would have preferred to retain his scholar’s gown.20 He left no trace on its records, but the Member for Cambridgeshire, Sir Edward Peyton, later recalled that Fane and his father held an impromptu meeting in a small room off the lobby, where they allegedly attempted to buy off Peyton’s opposition to a fen drainage bill.21

Fane was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn on 7 Aug. 1622, but a month later he was licensed to travel abroad for three years with his tutor, and he subsequently journeyed to France, Switzerland and Italy.22 In December 1624, perhaps while he was still abroad, his father was raised to the peerage as earl of Westmorland, whereupon he acquired the courtesy title of Lord Burghersh. He had evidently returned by April 1625 when his father, ostensibly at the request of his friends ‘and divers of the principal gentlemen of this country’, nominated him a knight of the shire for Kent. In partnership with Sir Albertus Morton*, and aided by a favourable sheriff, he subsequently defeated Sir Edwin Sandys* and Edward Scott*.23 In the first Caroline Parliament he was among those appointed to confer with the Lords about a general fast (23 June) and to consider a bill concerning the draining of Erith and Plumstead marshes (28 June), in which his father may have been strongly interested.24

Lord Spencer claimed at the next general election that Burghersh intended to stand for Northamptonshire, but this was probably no more than an excuse for his own breach of an electoral agreement with Lord Montagu (Sir Edward Montagu*).25 In fact, Burghersh was satisfied with regaining the Peterborough seat. He took no part in Parliament, apart from attending the conference of 7 Mar. 1626 on defence.26 On his mother’s death later in the year he assumed the courtesy title of Le Despenser, while remaining a commoner. One of the original adventurers in the Guiana Company in 1627, he was still in arrears for two thirds of his stake of £100 two years later.27 Re-elected in 1628, he was named only to a committee for a bill to enable his kinsman Sir Thomas Neville, the son and heir of the 2nd Lord Bergavenny (Sir Henry Neville II*), to make provision for his wife and children (17 May).28

Le Despenser succeeded as earl of Westmorland shortly after the dissolution of the third Caroline Parliament. Following the death of Lord Spencer in 1636 he sought appointment as custos rotulorum of Northamptonshire, but the office was granted instead to (Sir) Christopher Hatton*.29 He joined the king at the outbreak of the Civil War, but was taken prisoner in October 1642, and compounded in 1644 for £1,000.30 He lived in retirement till the Restoration, writing poetry and plays. His entries in the family commonplace book show genuine piety and great affection for his sons.31 He drew up his will on 22 Sept. 1662 ‘in the evening of my days and past sixty years old yet in good health’.32 He died on 12 Feb. 1666, and was buried at Apethorpe. His sons Charles and Vere sat for Peterborough from 1660 to 1679.33

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. VCH Northants. (geneal. vol.). Northants. Fams. 100-1; CP; Add. 34220, ff. 6-10; Al. Cant.; C. Leech, Mildmay Fane’s Ragnaillo D’Oceano (Materials for Study of Eng. Drama, xv), 9-10; Shaw, Knights of Eng. i. 161.
  • 2. W.B. Gilbert, Antiqs. of Maidstone, 123.
  • 3. Cal. Assize Recs. Kent Indictments, Chas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 1, 421; Cal. Assize Recs. Kent Indictments, Chas. II, 1660-75 ed. J.S. Cockburn, 4, 145.
  • 4. C231/4, f. 184; C66/2527; SP16/405.
  • 5. C181/3, f. 172.
  • 6. C181/4, f. 20; 181/5, f. 269.
  • 7. C181/4, f. 75; 181/5, pp. 80, 292.
  • 8. Traffic and Pols. ed. N. Yates and J.M. Gibson, 294.
  • 9. APC, 1627-8, p. 299; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 567.
  • 10. C181/4, ff. 13, 26, 48, 140; 181/5, f. 173v.
  • 11. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 3, p. 84.
  • 12. C181/4, f. 48; 181/5, p. 292.
  • 13. E178/7155, ff. 39, 85, 107.
  • 14. Northants. RO, FH 133.
  • 15. CP; CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 459; 1661-2, pp. 47, 424; 1663-4, p. 477.
  • 16. C181/3, f. 267v.
  • 17. Bodl. Tanner 71, f. 161.
  • 18. CP.
  • 19. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 105.
  • 20. Add. 34220, ff. 6-8.
  • 21. W. Scott, Secret Hist. of Jas. I, ii. 440. Fane is referred to by Peyton as earl of Westmorland, the title he held at the time Peyton was writing.
  • 22. APC, 1621-3, p. 323. In his autobiog. Fane states that he set out on his travels in 1620, but the passport and Peyton’s recollection of his presence at Westminster in 1621 demonstrate that his memory was faulty.
  • 23. Add. 34220, f. 10; Procs. 1625, p. 687; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 615.
  • 24. Procs. 1625, pp. 228, 257; Add. 34218, f. 149v.
  • 25. Cf. J.K. Gruenfelder, ‘The Parlty. Election in Northants. 1626’, Northants. P and P, iv. 163-5.
  • 26. CJ, i. 832a.
  • 27. Bodl. Tanner 71, f. 161.
  • 28. CJ, i. 899a.
  • 29. Bodl. North c. 4, f. 16.
  • 30. CP; CCC, 832.
  • 31. Leech, 11-14; A. Harbage, ‘An Unnoted Caroline Dramatist’, Studies in Philology, xxxi. 28-34; N and Q, ccxxx. 167-8; Northants. RO, W(A) misc. vol. 35.
  • 32. PROB 11/322, f. 368.
  • 33. CP.