FANE, Sir Henry (c.1650-1706), of Basildon, Berks.

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



1689 - 1698

Family and Education

b. c.1650, o. s. of Hon. George Fane† of Basildon by Dorothy, da. and h. of James Horsey of Honington, Warws., wid. of Thomas Marsh of Cambridge and Hackney, Mdx.  m. 28 Apr. 1668, aged about 18, Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Southcote of Exeter, Devon, and h. to her nephew George Southcote of Calwoodley, Devon, 6s. (2 d.v.p.) 1da. KB 23 Apr. 1661.1

Offices Held

Capt. Queen’s regt. horse 1678–9.

Freeman, Wallingford 1685.2

Commr. excise Apr.–Oct. 1689, forfeited estates [I] 1690; PC [I] 1690–d.3


Fane’s principal estates lay in Ireland and Berkshire. For the former he had to thank his aunt, the dowager Countess of Bath, who settled on him some Irish estates of the Bourchiers in Limerick just prior to his marriage in 1668. In her will she confirmed the descent of other Irish estates as laid down in a deed of 1677 which probably favoured Fane as well. His Berkshire interest was strengthened by a mortgage of lands in Basildon which she also made over to him. Fane’s political sympathies were Whiggish, sufficiently so in 1686 for the Earl of Clarendon (Henry Hyde†) to suggest alternative candidates to Sir William Rich, 2nd Bt.*, and Fane at Reading on the grounds that neither was ‘good’. Although Fane lost local office early in 1687 his parliamentary ambitions remained. By September 1688 James II’s regulators were reporting that he was making an interest in Reading ‘as hoping to carry the mobile’, and that he had the backing of Lord Lovelace (Hon. John†). His reward for supporting the Revolution was a seat in the Convention of 1689, a short spell as an excise commissioner and the office of standard-bearer of the gentlemen pensioners for his son, Henry Bourchier Fane.4

After securing re-election for Reading in 1690 Fane was well placed to exploit his connexions to obtain in May 1690 a valuable lease of some land adjoining St. James’s Park. He was also in receipt of considerable sums of money from the secret service account (payments beginning in February 1690), plus £1,000 as recompense for losing his post in the excise. Fane thus had close ties to the Court, but was still perceived to be a Whig by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) on a list of the 1690 Parliament. He was named during the first short session, on 24 Apr., to prepare the bill to appoint the oath of abjuration. Ireland now appeared as the only feasible outlet for his political ambitions and in July 1690 he was appointed to the commission of inquiry into Irish forfeited estates. In November he was sworn in as an Irish privy councillor. Irish business kept him out of England for most of the next session, although he was on the verge of returning on 28 Mar. when William Robinson reported ‘Sir H. Vane [sic] goes next week to England, having sent his equipage (the little whore at the Duke’s Head) before him’. In April 1691 Robert Harley* classed him as a Court supporter. Fane appears to have remained in England during the 1691–2 session, as on 14 Jan. 1692 he was granted leave of absence for a fortnight owing to ill-health. On a list of government officials drawn up by Lord Carmarthen between May and November 1692 he was described as a pensioner, a list of placemen for the same year putting his pension at £800 p.a. Similarly, on Grascome’s list of spring 1693, extended to 1695, he was classed as a Court supporter with both a place and a pension. On 12 Feb. 1694 Fane was ordered into custody for failing to answer a call of the House. He was excused the following day when the House was informed that he was in London but ill with gout. He missed the beginning of the following session, and did not leave Dublin until mid-December 1694. He was then granted leave of absence on 23 Feb. 1695 to go into the country for the benefit of his health.5

After a contest, Fane was returned for Reading again at the 1695 election. He was involved in managing a private estate bill in favour of Lady Katharine Fane, the daughter of his second cousin, the 4th Earl of Westmorland (Vere Fane*), which was sent down from the Lords on 10 Jan. 1696. He reported from committee on 16 Jan. that no amendments were necessary and the bill duly passed the same day. Forecast as likely to support the Court on 31 Jan. over the proposed council of trade, he signed the Association promptly and voted in March for fixing the price of guineas at 22s. In April 1696 tragedy struck when his eldest surviving son, Henry, was killed in a duel. Subsequently Fane was able to secure the succession to the office of standard-bearer of the gentlemen pensioners for his next son, Charles. Fane did not vote on the question of Sir John Fenwick’s† attainder on 25 Nov. 1696, possibly because he was absent in Ireland, where he still hoped for political advancement. In July 1697 Lord Winchester (Charles Powlett I*), one of the lords justices in Dublin, wrote to the Duke of Shrewsbury, ‘I believe our old friend Sir H. Vane [sic] would accept of being a commissioner of the revenue’. However, no appointment followed. Fane’s name appeared on one more parliamentary list, a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments in 1698, in which he was described as a Court supporter. He did not stand at Reading in 1698 and, indeed, little is known about his retirement, although he was reappointed to the Irish privy council upon Queen Anne’s accession. He was buried on 12 Jan. 1706, leaving his estates to his heir, Charles, who subsequently sat as a Court Whig in the Irish parliament and who was created an Irish peer in 1718. Fane’s grandson sat for Tavistock and Reading during the reign of George II.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Stuart Handley


  • 1. VCH Northants. Fams. i. 112–13; IGI, Kent; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 470.
  • 2. J. K. Hedges, Hist. Wallingford, 239.
  • 3. Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 523; ii. 86, 142.
  • 4. VCH Northants. Fams. 112–13; PCC 139 Bath; Clarendon Corresp. ed. Singer, i. 555; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 74; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1883), 237; CSP Dom. 1689–90, p. 53.
  • 5. Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 527, 627; xvii. 554; Chandler, ii. 426; Trinity, Dublin, Clarke mss 749/6/564, 566, William Robinson to George Clarke*, 28, 31 Mar. 1691; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Bentinck) mss PwA 2392, list of placemen; CSP Dom. 1695, p. 238.
  • 6. VCH Northants. Fams. 112; Luttrell, iv. 44, 61; Portledge Pprs. 227; HMC Buccleuch, ii. 510; CSP Dom. 1702–3, p. 144; PCC 36 Eedes.