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Saye And Sele, William Fiennes, 1st Viscount

SAYE AND SELE, WILLIAM FIENNES, 1ST VISCOUNT (1582- 1662), was the only son of Richard Fiennes, 7th Baron Sayeand Sele, and was descended from James Fiennes, Lord Saye and Sele, who was lord chamberlain and lord treasurer under Henry VI. and was beheaded by the rebels under Jack Cade on the 4th of July 1450. Born on the 28th of May 1582 Fiennes, like many of his family, was educated at New College, Oxford; he succeeded to his father's barony in 1613, and in parliament opposed the policy of James I., undergoing a brief imprisonment for objecting to a benevolence in 1662; and he showed great animus towards Lord Bacon. In 1624, owing probably to his temporary friendship with the duke of Buckingham, he was advanced to the rank of a viscount, but notwithstanding this he remained during the early parliaments of Charles I. champion of the popular cause, and was in Clarendon's words " the oracle of those who were called Puritans in the worst sense, and steered all their counsels and designs." Afterwards his energies found a new outlet in helping to colonize Providence Island, and in interesting himself in other and similar enterprises in America. Although Saye resisted the levy of ship-money, he accompanied Charles on his march against the Scots in 1639; but, with only one other peer, he refused to take the oath binding him to fight for the king to " the utmost of my power and hazard of my life." Then Charles I. sought to win his favour by making him a privy councillor and master of the court of wards. When the Civil War broke out, however, Saye was on the committee of safety, was made lordlieutenant of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Cheshire, and raising a regiment occupied Oxford. He was a member of the committee of both kingdoms; was mainly responsible for passing the self-denying ordinance through the House of Lords; and in 1647 stood up for the army in its struggle with the parliament. In 1648, both at the treaty of Newport and elsewhere, Saye was anxious that Charles should come to terms, and he retired into private life after the execution of the king, becoming a privy councillor again upon the restoration of Charles II. He died at his residence, Broughton Castle near Banbury, on the 14th of April 1662. On several occasions Saye outwitted the advisers of Charles I. by his strict compliance with legal forms. He was a thorough aristocrat, and his ideas for the government of colonies in America included the establishment of an hereditary aristocracy. His eldest son James (c. 1603-1674) succeeded him as 2nd viscount; other sons were the parliamentarians Nathaniel Fiennes (q.v.) and John Fiennes. The viscounty of Saye and Sele became extinct in 1781, and the barony is now held by the descendants of John Twisleton (d. 1682) and his wife Elizabeth (d. 1674), a daughter of the 2nd viscount. Saybrook (q.v.) in Connecticut is named after Viscount Saye and Lord Brooke.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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