FIENNES, Richard (1520-73), of Broughton Castle, Oxon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. June 1520, 1st s. of Edward Fiennes, de jure 5th Lord Saye and Sele, by Margaret, da. of Sir John Danvers of Dauntsey, Wilts. m. by 1555, Ursula, da. of Richard Fermor of Isham and Easton Neston, Northants. and London, 1s. Richard 1da. suc. fa. 7 July 1528. Kntd. Aug. 1568.1

Offices Held

J.p. Oxon. 1544-7, 1558/59-d., q. 1562; escheator, Oxon. and Berks. 1546-7, sheriff 1550-1, 1558-9, Oxon. 1567-8; commr. subsidy 1563, musters 1569.2


Although Richard Fiennes was the fifth in direct descent from James Fiennes, created Lord Saye and Sele in the reign of Henry VI, none of his family had been summoned to Parliament since the 2nd Lord, who had been forced to sell or mortgage much of his land. He had married Margaret Wykeham of Broughton Castle and most of the ‘fair lands’ held by the Fiennes family in Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Somerset in the 16th century had come to them from this marriage.3

Richard Fiennes was eight when his father died and his wardship was sold for £200 to Henry Norris, the husband of his kinswoman Mary Fiennes, daughter of Thomas, 8th Lord Dacre of the South. Norris, who was to be executed in 1536 as the alleged lover of Anne Boleyn, may have arranged his ward’s marriage to Ursula Fermor, whose uncle William Fermor (an executor of Edward Fiennes’s will) was to take a Norris as his fourth wife; the marriage is, at any rate, unlikely to have taken place after Richard Fermor’s attainder in 1540. Fiennes’s connexion with the Norris family may also have conduced to his return for the county in 1547, when the senior knight was Sir John Williams, father-in-law to Henry Norris’s son. In January 1553 a royal letter to the sheriff recommended the return of the same pair to the forthcoming Parliament, but in the event the Duke of Northumberland’s brother, Sir Andrew Dudley, was returned with Williams.4

His removal from the commission of the peace under Mary is an indication that Fiennes did not share his father-in-law’s Catholicism. On the accession of Elizabeth he was immediately pricked sheriff for the second time and soon restored to the commission of the peace. In 1564 he was one of the Oxfordshire gentry commended to Archbishop Parker as being favourably disposed in religion. He was present at an election dinner held at Oxford on 17 Sept. 1572.5

Fiennes added little by way of purchase to his estate but in 1563 and 1568 he obtained leases of the rectory, prebend, castle and hundred of Banbury, thus greatly increasing the influence of his family in North Oxfordshire. By 1554 he had begun additions to Broughton Castle which he continued till his death. Although he seems to have made no attempt to establish his right to the title of Saye and Sele, he was, like his father, conscious of his descent from the Wykeham family. He had his son admitted to Winchester College as ‘founder’s kin’ and challenged the claim of the Wickhams of Swalcliffe, Oxfordshire, to be related to Bishop Wykeham; in 1572 he wrote to Burghley on this and also about a bill which he proposed for the punishment of robberies in colleges.6

Fiennes made his will on 20 Mar. 1571. He recorded that he possessed lands of little above £140 in yearly value, since his mother had both jointure and dower of all his father’s lands. Yet he was still able, after leaving various lands and the Banbury leases to his son, to leave £1,000 to his daughter. His executors included his nephew Sir Thomas Lucy and William Walter of Wimbledon, the father of Robert Walter. He died on 30 Aug. 1573, leaving as heir his son Richard, aged 17 years.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Harding


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m. C142/49/4, 18, 50/91. CP; Vis. Oxon. (Harl. Soc. v), 296.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xx; CPR, 1547-8, p. 88; Lansd. 8(18), f. 79; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 341, 343.
  • 3. Leland, Itin. ed. Smith, ii. 14; VCH Hants, iv. 199, 200, 206, 215, 279; Collinson, Som. i. 178, 180.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, iv, xvi; Index 10217(1), f. 8v; PCC 2 Jankyn; Strype, Eccles. Memorials, ii(2), 65-66.
  • 5. APC, vii. 112, 114; Oxf. Recs. 294, 344; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 367; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 81.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, xx; VCH Oxon. iii. 160; x. 40; CPR, 1566-9, pp. 153-4; Country Life, lxvii. 89-90; PCC 2 Jankyn; T. F. Kirby, Winchester Scholars, 142; H. Rashdall and R.S. Rait, New College, 157; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 443, 449, 454; Bodl. Wood F28, ff. 118-27.
  • 7. PCC 36 Peter; C142/167/72.