Sir Henry Vane the Younger

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Henry Vane, Kt.

Also Known As: "Harry Vane"
Birthplace: Raby Castle, Durham, England
Death: Died in Tower Hill, London, England
Cause of death: Beheaded for treason
Place of Burial: Shipbourne Church, Kent, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Henry Vane, the Elder and Frances Darcy
Husband of Frances Vane
Father of Frances Vane; Christopher Vane, 1st Baron Barnard; Henry Vane; Thomas Vane; William Vane and 8 others
Brother of William Vann; Sir George Vane; Sir Walter Vane (Col.); Thomas Vane; Richard Vane and 9 others

Occupation: politician, statesman, and colonial governor
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sir Henry Vane the Younger

Henry Vane the Younger

Sir Henry Vane (baptised 26 March 1613 – 14 June 1662), son of Henry Vane the Elder (often referred to as Harry Vane to distinguish him from his father), was an English politician, statesman, and colonial governor. He was briefly present in North America, serving one term as the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and supported the creation of Roger Williams' Rhode Island Colony and Harvard College. A proponent of religious tolerance, he returned to England in 1637 following the Antinomian controversy that led to the banning of Anne Hutchinson from Massachusetts.

He was a leading Parliamentarian during the English Civil War and worked closely with Oliver Cromwell. He played no part in the execution of King Charles I, and refused to take oaths that expressed approval of the act. Vane served on the Council of State that functioned as the government executive during the Interregnum, but split with Cromwell over issues of governance and removed himself from power when Cromwell dissolved Parliament in 1653. He returned to power during the short-lived Commonwealth period in 1659–1660, and was arrested under orders from King Charles II following his restoration to the throne. After long debate, Vane was exempted from the Indemnity and Oblivion Act, and was thus denied amnesty granted to most people for their roles in the Civil War and Interregnum.

Although he was formally granted clemency by Charles II, he was charged with high treason by Parliament in 1662. In a court proceeding in which he was denied counsel and the opportunity to properly prepare a defence, he was convicted by a partisan jury. Charles withdrew his earlier clemency, and Vane was beheaded on Tower Hill on 14 June 1662.

Vane was recognised by his political peers as a competent administrator and a wily and persuasive negotiator and politician. His politics was driven by a desire for religious tolerance in an era when governments were used to establish official churches and suppress dissenting views. Although his views were in a small minority, he was able to successfully build coalitions to advance his agenda. His actions were often ultimately divisive, and contributed to both the rise and downfall of the English Commonwealth. His books and pamphlets written on political and religious subjects are still analyzed today, and Vane is remembered in Massachusetts and Rhode Island as an early champion of religious freedom.

Henry Vane was baptised on 26 May 1613 at Debden, Essex.[1] He was the eldest child of Sir Henry Vane the Elder, who came from the landed gentry, and Frances Darcy, who came from minor nobility.[2] The elder Vane used the family's money to purchase positions at court, rising by 1629 to be Comptroller of the Household.[3] Vane was educated at Westminster School, where his classmates included Arthur Heselrige and Thomas Scot, two other men who would figure prominently in English politics.[4] Vane's friend and biographer George Sikes wrote that Vane was "[ignorant] of God" and of a temperament that made him "acceptable to those they call good fellows", but that he had a religious awakening at 14 or 15, after which he "and his former jolly company came to a parting blow."[5] Vane then enrolled at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, where he studied in spite of his refusal to take the necessary matriculation oaths. He then traveled to Europe, where he was reported to be studying at Leiden and possibly in France and at Geneva.[1]

Vane's father had been upset by his open adoption of Puritan views, fearing this would hamper his opportunities for advancement at court. In 1631 he sent the young Vane to Vienna as an assistant to Robert Anstruther, the English ambassador. This was apparently a quite privileged role, for Vane's writings of the time include messages written in French and in cipher.[6] During this trip the elder Vane was sent to negotiate with Swedish King Gustavus for an alliance; King Charles' unwillingness to act in the matter meant the effort was in vain.[7] He was introduced to the king after returning to England, and encouraged by his father to seek a position in the privy chamber.[8] His father engaged in numerous attempts to get him to give up his nonconformist views, without success. In order to worship as he chose, Vane then decided to go the New World, joining the Puritan migration.[9]

Vane left for the Massachusetts Bay Colony, arriving in Boston in October 1635 on a ship also carrying John Winthrop the Younger and Hugh Peter.[10] The elder John Winthrop described Vane as "a young gentleman of excellent parts", and by the following month he had already been admitted as a freeman in the colony. He began playing a role in its judicial administration, deciding whether legal disputes had sufficient merit to be heard by a full court.[11] Vane was instrumental in brokering the resolution to a dispute between the elder Winthrop and Thomas Dudley concerning matters of judicial conduct.[12] In the spring of 1637 Vane was elected governor of the colony, succeeding John Haynes.[13] The situation he faced was complex, with issues on religious, political and military fronts. His biographers describe his term in office as "disastrous".[14] .... etc.

Vane and his wife Frances had ten children. Of their five sons, only the last, Christopher, had children, and succeeded to his father's estates. He was created Baron Barnard by William III.[198]

.... etc.



  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 58
  • Vane, Henry (1613-1662) by Charles Harding Firth
  • VANE, Sir HENRY, the younger (1613–1662), statesman and author, eldest son of Sir Henry Vane the elder [q. v.], was baptised on 26 May 1613 at the church of Debden, near Newport, Essex, and educated at Westminster school under Lambert Osbaldeston (Wood, Athenæ, iii. 578; private information). ‘I was born a gentleman,’ he said in his speech on the scaffold, ‘and had the education, temper, and spirit of a gentleman as well as others, being in my youthful days inclined to the vanities of the world, and to that which they call good fellowship, judging it to be the only means of accomplishing a gentleman.’ About the age of fifteen he became converted to puritanism, and regarded his former course of life as sinful (Trial, p. 87; cf. Sikes, Life of Vane, p. 8). At sixteen Vane was sent to Oxford, and became a gentleman commoner of Magdalen Hall, ‘but when he was to be matriculated as a member of the university, and so consequently take the oath of allegiance and supremacy, he quitted his gown, put on a cloak, and studied notwithstanding for some time in the said hall’ (Wood, iii. 578). After leaving the university he spent some time at Geneva or Leyden (Clarendon, Rebellion, iii. 34; Strafford, Letters, i. 463). In 1631 his father sent him to Vienna in the train of the English ambassador, and a number of his letters are among the foreign state papers in the record office (Hosmer, Life of Vane, p. 6).
  • On his return in February 1632 Sir Tobie Matthew [q. v.] found him extremely improved. ‘His French is excellently good, his discourse discreet, and his fashion comely and fair; and I dare venture to foretell that he will grow a very fit man for any such honour as his father's merits shall bespeak, or the king's goodness impart to him’ (ib. p. 8). A familiar story represents Vane's later hostility towards the king as caused by an insult which Charles put upon him at court during his early life. He himself says, however, that the king showed him great favour, and promised to make him one of the privy chamber in ordinary .... etc.
  • .... On 1 July he married at St. Mary's, Lambeth, Frances, daughter of Sir Christopher Wray of Barlings, Lincolnshire, his father settling upon him, at the marriage, Raby, Fairlawn, and all his lands in England, which were of an estimated value of 3,000l. per annum (Dalton, pp. 101, 115). At this time Vane seemed, according to Clarendon, ‘to be much reformed in his extravagances,’ and appeared ‘a man well satisfied and composed to the government’ (Rebellion, iii. 34). But his religious views were unchanged, and an accidental discovery brought him into close connection with the parliamentary opposition. About September 1640 Vane was searching among his father's papers with the leave of the latter for a document required in connection with his marriage settlement, when he found his father's notes of the council meeting of 5 May 1640. Impressed by its ‘high concernment to the Commonwealth,’ he began to copy it. .... etc.
  • Vane was executed on Tower Hill on 14 June 1662. Though reputed a timid man by nature, he bore himself with great composure and cheerfulness, and seemed, it was said, when he appeared on the scaffold, ‘rather a looker-on than the person concerned in the execution.’ Vane's dying speech, in which he justified the cause for which he suffered, was thrice interrupted by the sounding of trumpets and beating of drums, to hinder him from being heard by the people (Trial, p. 95; Ludlow, ii. 338). ‘In all things,’ was the verdict of Pepys, ‘he appeared the most resolved man that ever died in that manner,’ and four days later he noted that people everywhere talked of Vane's courage at his death as a miracle. Like Burnet, he thought that the king had lost more than he gained by his execution (Pepys, ed. Wheatley, ii. 258, 260, 264; Burnet, i. 286). Charles permitted Vane's family to remove his remains for decent interment, and he was buried in Shipborne Church, Kent, on 15 June 1662 (Dalton, ii. 123).
  • Frances, lady Vane, died in 1679, and was also buried in Shipborne Church. Of his family of seven sons and seven daughters, the eldest son, Henry Vane, died on 2 Nov. 1660, aged 18; Christopher, the fifth son, inherited Raby, and was created by William III Baron Barnard of Barnard Castle (8 July 1699); Thomas, the next surviving son, was elected one of the first members for the county of Durham on 21 June 1675, and died four days later. Of the daughters, Frances married Edward Kekewich; Albinia, John Forth, alderman of London; Dorothy, Thomas Crisp of Essex; and Mary, Sir James Tillie of Pentillie Castle, Cornwall. Of the rest of the family an account is given in Dalton's ‘History of the Wrays’ (ii. 125–36).
  • Vane's abilities as a statesman were admitted by the common consent of friends and foes. .... etc.
  • From:,_Henry_(1613-1662)_(DNB00)


  • Sir Henry Vane the Younger1
  • M, #106844, b. 26 May 1613, d. 14 June 1662
  • Last Edited=16 Dec 2011
  • Sir Henry Vane the Younger was baptised on 26 May 1613.3 He was the son of Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Vane the Elder and Frances D'Arcy.3 He married Frances Wray, daughter of Sir Christopher Wray, Bt., on 1 July 1640.3 He died on 14 June 1662 at age 49 at Tower Hill, The City, London, England, beheaded for high treason.1,3
  • He was educated at Westminster School, Westminster, London, England.3 He was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford University, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England.3 He held the office of Governor of Massachusetts from 1636 to 1637.3 He held the office of Joint Treasurer of the Navy in 1639.3 He was invested as a Knight on 23 June 1640.3 He held the office of Member of the Council of State in 1649.3 He held the office of Chief Commissioner of the Navy during the Commonwealth and Protectorate.3 He fell out with Cromwell through his desire to widen the franchise.3 Between September 1656 and 31 December 1656 at Carisbrooke Castle, Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight, England, he was imprisoned.3 He held the office of Member of Parliament (M.P.) for Hull and Whitchurch in 1658.3 At the Restoration he was pardoned, but the ultra Parliament of 1661 voted for his execution.3 He lived at Fairlawn, Kent, England.3 He lived at Raby Castle, Durham, County Durham, England.1
  • Children of Sir Henry Vane the Younger and Frances Wray
    • 1.Thomas Vane1 d. 1673
    • 2.Christopher Vane, 1st Baron Barnard of Barnard's Castle+1 b. 21 May 1653, d. 28 Oct 1723
  • Citations
  • 1.[S6] G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I, page 425. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.
  • 2.[S3409] Caroline Maubois, "re: Penancoet Family," e-mail message to Darryl Roger Lundy, 2 December 2008. Hereinafter cited as "re: Penancoet Family."
  • 3.[S8] Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, 2 volumes (Crans, Switzerland: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 1999), volume 1, page 191. Hereinafter cited as Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition.
  • From:


  • Frances DARCY
  • Born: 1591
  • Died: 1663
  • Father: Thomas DARCY
  • Mother: Camilla GUICCIARDINI
  • Married: Henry VANE (Sir) BET 1620 / 1648
  • Children:
    • 1. Margaret VANE
    • 2. Richard VANE
    • 3. Thomas VANE
    • 4. William VANE
    • 5. Catherine VANE
    • '6. Henry VANE (Sir)
    • 7. Frances VANE
    • 8. George VANE (Sir)
    • 9. John VANE
    • 10. Walter VANE (Sir)
    • 11. Charles VANE
    • 12. Edward VANE
    • 13. Anne VANE
    • 14. Elizabeth VANE
    • 15. Ralph VANE
    • 16. Algernon VANE
  • From: DARCY1
  • _____________________
  • VANE (FANE), Sir Henry (1589-1655), of Fairlawn, Kent; Charing Cross, Westminster and Raby Castle, co. Dur.
  • b. 18 Feb. 1589,1 1st s. of Henry Fane† of Hadlow, Kent and his 2nd w. Margaret, da. of Roger Twysden of Roydon Hall, East Peckham, Kent.2 educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1604; G. Inn 1606,3 travelled abroad 1608.4 m. c.1612 (with £3,000), Frances (d. 2 Aug. 1663), da. and coh. of Thomas Darcy of Tolleshunt D’Arcy, Essex, 7s. (2 d.v.p.) 5da.5 suc. fa. 1596; kntd. 14 Mar 1611.6 d. May 1655.7 ....
  • .... 'Vane’s eldest surviving son, Sir Henry†, sat for Hull in the Short and Long Parliaments, and was selected to ‘die for the kingdom’ at the Restoration', but the family retained and improved the estate and in 1675 two of his grandsons became the first regular knights of the shire for county Durham. ....
  • From:
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Sir Henry Vane the Younger's Timeline

May 26, 1613
Raby Castle, Durham, England
May 26, 1613
Debden, Essex, England
Age 18
Age 20
July 1, 1640
Age 27
St. Mary's, Lambert, Surrey, England
Age 27
Kent, England
Age 28
Age 30
Age 32
Age 34