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Vane, Sir Henry

VANE, SIR HENRY - two noted Englishmen of history of that name:

(1) - VANE, SIR HENRY (1580-1654), English secretary of state, eldest son of Henry Vane or Fane, of Hadlow, Kent, a member of an ancient family of that county, by his second wife, Margaret, daughter of Roger Twysden of East Peckham, Kent, was born on the 18th of February 1589. He matriculated from Brasenose College, Oxford, on the 15th of June 1604, was admitted to Gray's Inn in 1606, and was knighted by James I. on the 3rd of March 1611. He purchased several offices at court, was made comptroller of the king's household about 1629, and in spite of a sharp quarrel with Buckingham managed to keep the king's favour, in 1639 becoming treasurer. He was returned to parliament in 1614 for Lostwithiel, from 1621 to 1626 for Carlisle, in 1628 for Retford, and in the Short and Long Parliament, assembled in 1640, he sat for Wilton. He was despatched on several missions in 1629 and 1630 to Holland, and in 1631 to Gustavus Adolphus to secure the restitution of the Palatinate, but without success. In 1630 Vane had become a privy councillor and one of the chief advisers of the king. He was made a commissioner of the Admiralty in 1632 and for the colonies in 1636. He was one of the eight privy councillors appointed to manage affairs in Scotland on the outbreak of the troubles there, and on the 3rd of February 1640, through the influence of the queen and of the marquis of Hamilton and in opposition to the wishes of Strafford, he was made secretary of state in the room of Sir John Coke. In the Short Parliament, which assembled in April, it fell to Vane, in his official capacity, to demand supplies. He proposed a bargain by which the king should give up ship-money and receive in return twelve subsidies. Parliament, however, proved intractable and was dissolved on the 5th of May, to prevent a vote against the continuance of the war with the Scots. In the impeachment of Strafford, Vane played a very important part and caused the earl's destruction. He asserted that Strafford had advised the king at a meeting of the privy council, " You have an army in Ireland; you may employ it to reduce this kingdom." He refused to admit or deny the meaning attributed by the prosecution that " this kingdom " signified England; he was unsupported by the recollection of any other privy councillor, and his statement could not be corroborated by his own notes, which had been destroyed by order of the king, but a copy obtained through his son, the younger Vane, was produced by Pym and owned by Vane to be genuine. He was on bad terms with Strafford, who had opposed his appointment to office and who had given him special provocation by assuming the barony of Raby, a title ardently desired by Vane himself. He was not unnaturally accused of collusion and treachery, and there is no doubt that he desired Strafford's removal not only on private but on public grounds, believing that his sacrifice would satisfy the demands of the parliament. Nevertheless, there has appeared no evidence to support the charge that he deliberately compassed his destruction. Suspicions of his fidelity, however, soon increased, and after having accompanied the king to Scotland in August 1641, he was dismissed from all his appointments on the 4th of November on Charles's return. Vane immediately joined the parliament; on Pym's motion, on the 13th of December, he was placed on the committee for Irish affairs, was made lord lieutenant of Durham on the loth of February 1642, became a member of the committee of both kingdoms on the 7th of February 1644, and in this capacity attended the Scots army in 1645, while the parliament in the treaty of Uxbridge demanded for him from Charles a barony and the repayment of his losses. He adhered to the parliament after the king's death, and in the first parliament of the Protectorate he was returned for Kent, but the House had refused to appoint him a member of the council of state in February 1650. He died in 1654. He had married Frances, daughter and co-heir of Thomas Darcy of Tolleshurst Darcy in Essex, by whom he had a large family of children, of whom the eldest son, Sir Henry Vane, the younger, is separately noticed.

Clarendon invariably speaks of Vane in terms of contempt and reproach. He describes him as merely fit for court duties, " of very ordinary parts by nature and . . . very illiterate. But being of a stirring and boisterous disposition, very industrious and very bold, he still wrought himself into some employment." He declares that motives of revenge upon Strafford influenced not only his conduct in the impeachment but his unsuccessful management of the king's business in the Short Parliament, when he " acted that part maliciously and to bring all into confusion." The latter accusation, considering the difficulties of the political situation and Vane's total want of ability in dealing with them, is probably unfounded. On the general charge of betraying the king's cause, Vane's mysterious conduct in the impeachment, his great intimacy with Hamilton, and the favour with which he was immediately received by the Opposition on his dismissal from office, raise suspicions not altogether allayed by the absence of proof to substantiate them, while the alacrity with which he transferred himself to the parliament points to a character, if not of systematic treachery, yet of unprincipled and unscrupulous time-serving. Materials, however, to elucidate the details and motives of his ill-omened career have hitherto been wanting.

(2) - VANE, SIR HENRY (1613-1662), English statesman and author, known as " the younger " to distinguish him from his father, Sir Henry Vane (q.v.), was baptized on the 26th of May 1613, at Debden, Essex. After an education at Westminster, where he was noted for his high and reckless spirits, and at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, where he neither matriculated nor took his degree, he was attached to the embassy at Vienna and at Leiden and Geneva. He had already acquired strong Puritan views which, in spite of the personal efforts of Laud, who made the attempt at the king's request, he refused to give up. In 1635, in order to obtain the free exercise of his religion, he emigrated to Massachusetts, where he was elected governor in 1636. After one year in office, during which he showed some administrative ability, he was defeated by Winthrop, the former governor, chiefly on account of the protection he had given to Mrs Hutchinson in the religious controversies which she raised. He, however, never lost his interest in the colonies, and used his influence hereafter on several occasions in their support.

Vane returned to England in August 1637. He was made joint-treasurer of the navy with Sir W. Russell in January 1639, was elected for Hull in the Short and Long Parliaments, and was knighted on the 23rd of June 1640. Accidentally finding among his father's papers some notes of Strafford's speech in the council of May 5, 1640, he allowed Pym to take a copy, and was thus instrumental in bringing about Strafford's downfall. He carried up the impeachment of Laud from the Commons, was a strong supporter, when on the committee of religion, of the " Root and Branch " bill, and in June 1641 put forward a scheme of church government by which commissioners, half lay and half cleric, were to assume ecclesiastical jurisdiction in each diocese. During the absence of Pym and Hampden from the House at the time of Charles's attempted arrest of the five members, Vane led the parliamentary party, and was finally dismissed from his office in December 1641, being reinstated by the parliament in August 1642. The same month he was placed upon the committee of defence. In 1643 he was the leading man among the commissioners sent to treat for a league with the Scots. Vane, who was bitterly opposed to the tyranny of the Presbyterian system, was successful in two important points. The aim of the Scots was chiefly the propagation of their discipline in England and Wales, and for this they wanted only a " covenant." The English desired a political " league." Vane succeeded in getting the bond termed the Solemn League and Covenant, and further in substituting the whole expression " according lo the word of God and the example of the best Reformed churches " for the latter part alone. He succeeded to the leadership of the party on Pym's death. He promoted, and became a chief member of, the committee of both kingdoms established in February 1644, and was sent to York in the summer of the year to urge Fairfax and Manchester to march against Prince Rupert, and secretly to propose the king's deposition. In 1643 he was one of the negotiators of the treaty of Uxbridge. He was, with Cromwell, a prime mover in the Self-Denying Ordinance and the New Model, and his adherence to the army party and to religious tolerance now caused a definite breach with the Scots. Vane had at the Westminster Assembly, writes Baillie indignantly, " prolixly, earnestly and passionately reasoned for a full liberty of conscience to all religions," a policy directly opposed to Presbyterianism, and his leadership terminated when the latter party obtained the supremacy in parliament in 1646. During the subsequent struggle he was one of the six commissioners appointed to treat with the army by the parliament, and endeavoured to effect a compromise, but failed, being distrusted by both the Levellers and the Presbyterians. His views of government may be studied in The People's Case Stated, written shortly before his death. " The power which is directive, and states and ascertains the morality of the rule of obedience, is in the hand of God; but the original, from whence all just power arises, which is magistratical and coercitive, is from the will or free gift of the people, who may either keep the power in themselves or give up their subjection and will in the hand of another." King and people were bound by " the fundamental constitution or compact," which if the king violated, the people might return to their original right and freedom.

In spite, however, of these free opinions, Vane still desired the maintenance of the monarchy and the constitution. He voted for a declaration to this effect on the 28th of April 1648, and had consistently opposed the various votes of " nonaddresses." Several communications had already been fruitlessly attempted with Vane from the king's side, through the agency of Lord Lovelace in January 1644, and through that of John Ashburnham in March 1646. Vane now supported the renewal of negotiations, and was appointed on the 1st of September 1648 one of the commissioners for the treaty of Newport. He here showed a desire to come to terms on the foundation of toleration and a " moderate episcopacy," of which Cromwell greatly disapproved, and opposed the shaking off of the conferences. He absented himself from parliament on the occasion of " Pride's Purge," and remained in retirement until after the king's death, a measure in which he took no part, though he continued to act as a member of the government. On the 14th of February 1649 he was placed on the council of state, though he refused to take the oath which expressed approbation of the king's execution. Vane now showed himself an able administrator. He served on innumerable committees of importance, and was assiduous in his attendance. He furnished the supplies for Cromwell's expedition to Scotland, and was one of the commissioners sent there subsequently to settle the government and negotiate a union between the two countries. He showed great energy in colonial and foreign affairs, was a leading member of the committee dealing with the latter, and in 1651 went on a secret mission to negotiate with Cardinal de Retz, who was much struck with his ability, while his knowledge of foreign policy, in which he inclined in favour of Holland, earned the praise also of Milton. To Vane, as chief commissioner of the navy, belongs largely the credit of the victories obtained against Van Tromp.

In domestic politics Vane continued to urge his views of toleration and his opposition to a state church. On the pth of January 1650 he brought forward as chairman the report of a committee on the regulation of elections. He wished to reform the franchise on the property basis, to disfranchise some of the existing boroughs, and to give increased representation to the large towns; the sitting members, however, were to retain their seats. In this he was opposed to Cromwell, who desired an entirely new parliament and the supremacy of the army representation. On the 20th of April Cromwell forcibly dissolved the Long Parliament while in the act of passing Vane's bill. On the latter's protesting, " This is not honest; yea, it is against morality and common honesty," Cromwell fell a-railing at him, crying out with a loud voice, " O Sir Henry Vane, Sir Henry Vane; the Lord deliver me from Sir Henry Vane!" (Ludlow, Mem. i. 353). Hitherto they had lived on intimate terms of friendship, but this incident created a permanent breach. In his seclusion at Raby he now v/rote the Retired Man's Meditations (1655). In 1656 he proposed in A Healing Question (reprinted in the " Somers Tracts," vol. vi. ed. Scott) a new form of government, insisting as before upon a Puritan parliament supreme over the army. The seditious movements of the Anabaptists were also attributed to his influence, and on the 2pth of July 1656 he was summoned before the council. Refusing to give security not to disturb the public peace, he was on the 9th of September sent prisoner to Carisbrooke Castle, and there remained until the 31st of December. He addressed a letter to Cromwell in which he repudiated the extraparliamentary authority he had assumed. In the parliament of Richard Cromwell he was elected for Whitchurch, when he urged that the protector's power should be strictly limited, and the negative voice of the new House of Lords disallowed.

Subsequently he allied himself with the officers in setting aside the protectorate and in restoring the Long Parliament, and on Richard Cromwell's abdication he regained his former supremacy in the national counsels. He was a member of the committee of safety and of the council of state appointed in May, was commissioner for the navy and for the appointment of army officers, managed foreign affairs and superintended finance. He adhered to Lambert, remained a member of the government after the latter had turned out the Long Parliament, and endeavoured to maintain it by reconciling the disputing generals and by negotiating with the navy, which first deserted the cause. In consequence, at the restoration of the Long Parliament he was expelled the House and ordered to retire to Raby.

At the Restoration Vane was imprisoned in the Tower by the king's order. After several conferences between the houses of parliament, it was agreed that he should be excepted from the indemnity bill, but that a petition should be sent to Charles asking that his life might be spared. The petition was granted. On the meeting, however, of the new 1 parliament of 1661, a vote was passed demanding his trial on the capital charge, and Vane was taken back to the Tower in April 1662 from the Scilly Isles, where he had been imprisoned. On the 2nd of June he appeared before the king's bench to answer the charge of high treason, when he made a bold and skilful defence, asserting the sovereign power of parliament in justification of his conduct. He was, however, found guilty, and executed on Tower Hill on the 14th of June 1662. He had married, in 1640, Frances, daughter of Sir Christopher Wray of Barlings, by whom he had a large family of sons and daughters. Of these Christopher, the fifth son, succeeded to his father's estates and was created Baron Barnard by William III.

Vane's great talents as an administrator and statesman have been universally acknowledged. He possessed, says Clarendon, " extraordinary parts, a pleasant wit, a great understanding, a temper not to be moved," and in debate " a quick conception and a very sharp and weighty expression." His patriotism and assiduity in the public service, and complete freedom from corruption, were equally admirable and conspicuous. His religious writings, apart from his constant devotion to toleration and dislike of a state church, are exceedingly obscure both in style and matter, while his enthusiasm and fanaticism in speculative doctrine combine curiously, but not perhaps incongruously, with exceptional sagacity and shrewdness in practical affairs. " He had an unusual aspect," says Clarendon, " which . . . made men think there was something in him of the extraordinary; and his whole life made good that imagination." Besides the works already mentioned and several printed speeches, Vane wrote: A Brie} Answer to a certain Declaration of John Winthrop (reprinted in the Hutchinson Papers, publ. by the Prince Society, 1865); A Needful Corrective or Balance in Popular Government ... in answer to Harrington's Oceana ; Of Love of God and Union with God; two treatises, viz. (i) An Epistle General to the Mystical Body of Christ on Earth, (2) The Face of the Times: A Pilgrimage into the Land of Promise . . . (1664). The Trial of Sir Henry Vane, Knight (1662), contains, besides his last speech and details relating to the trial, The People's Case Stated (reprinted in Forster's Life of Vane), The Valley of Jehoshaphat, and Meditations concerning Man's Life. A Letter from a True and Lawful Member of Parliament to one of the Lords of His Highness's Council (1656), attributed to Vane, was written by Clarendon; and The Light Shining out of Darkness was probably by Henry Stubbe; while The Speech against Richard Cromwell is the composition of some contemporary pamphleteer.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. Article by C. H. Firth in Diet, of Nat. Biog.; Life and Death of Sir Henry Vane, by G. Sikes, 1662 (a treatise on the " course of his hidden life "); and Lives by John Forster, in Lardner's Cabinet Encyclopaedia: Eminent British Statesmen, vol. iv. (1838); by C. W. Upham in "Library of American Biography," vol. iv. (1851) ; by J. K. Hosmer (1888) ; and by C. Dalton in Hist, of the Family of Wray (1881), ii. 93-137; also Wood's Ath. Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 578, and Biographia Britannica. See especially S. R. Gardiner's Hist, of England, his Great Civil War and his Commonwealth, and Clarendon's Hist, of the Rebellion, and the contemporary memoirs and diaries; Hist. MSS. Comm. MSS. of duke of Buccleuch, ii. pt. ii. 756; Masson's Life of Milton, iv. 442 and passim; the sonnet addressed by Milton to Vane; and W. W. Ireland, Life of Sir Henry Vane the Younger (1907). (P. C. Y.)

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

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