FANSHAWE, Thomas (1632-74), of Ware Park, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1661 - May 1674

Family and Education

bap. 17 June 1632, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Fanshawe I by 2nd w.; bro. of Charles Fanshawe and Henry Fanshawe. educ. M. Temple 1657. m. (1) 3 Apr. 1648, Catherine (bur. 13 June 1660), da. of Knighton Ferrers of Bayfordbury, and h. to her gdfa. Sir John Ferrers, s.p.; (2) Apr. 1665, Sarah, da. of Sir John Evelyn I of West Dean, Wilts., wid. of Sir John Wray, 3rd Bt., of Glentworth, Lincs., 1s. 3da. KB 23 Apr. 1661; suc. fa. as 2nd Visct. Fanshawe of Dromore [I] 26 Mar. 1665.1

Offices Held

Commr. for oyer and terminer, Home circuit July 1660, assessment, Herts. 1661-d., Lincs. 1673-d.; j.p. Herts. 1661-6, St. Albans 1668, Lincs. (Holland and Kesteven) 1670-d.; commr. for loyal and indigent officers, Herts. 1662, dep. lt. 1665-?9.

King’s remembrancer in the Exchequer 1665-d.


Fanshawe was described by his aunt, the wife of Sir Richard Fanshawe, as ‘a handsome gentleman of an excellent understanding and of great honour and honesty’. The Ware Park estate of £1,652 p.a. was made over to him when he came of age, in exchange for his first wife’s inheritance, which had to be sold to meet his father’s debts. He was involved in plans for a Royalist rising in 1659 and sent to the Tower. As a Cavalier’s son he was ineligible at the general election of 1660, but he was returned for Hertford, two miles from Ware, in 1661. A moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he acted as teller in five divisions and was appointed to at least 116 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in 11 sessions, and possibly to more as he is not always distinguishable from his father in the first session. He received the order of the Bath at the coronation, and as Sir Thomas Fanshawe junior he was named to the committees for confirming public acts and restoring bishops to the House of Lords. He was teller for committing the corporations bill on 20 June, and was appointed to all the committees for the Clarendon Code. On the bill of pains and penalties he acted as teller against a proviso relating to the estate of Sir John Danvers. In 1663 he was among those ordered to report on defects in the Corporations Act, to consider a petition from the loyal and indigent officers, and to inspect the laws on the sale of offices. He acted as teller for the bill to authorize the levying of tolls on the Newmarket road, which passed through his estate. Like his father, he was listed as a court dependant.2

Fanshawe succeeded in 1665 to an Irish peerage, a post in the Exchequer, and an estate burdened with debts and legal complications following his father’s intestacy. His financial worries must have aggravated his hereditary tendency to high blood pressure. As acting lord lieutenant during the second Dutch war he sent to gaol as disaffected several gentlemen who had been Parliamentarians during the Civil War, and, when Sir Harbottle Grimston remonstrated, he replied that Grimston ‘has as deep a hand in the late horrid and bloody rebellion as any man’. Clarendon wrote to Grimston deploring the ‘unwarrantable folly’ of his old friend Fanshawe, adding that his ‘passion and animosity’ did the King no service. He was among those appointed to inspect the tax returns in the Exchequer on 18 Oct. 1666. His attitude to the fall of Clarendon is not known, but in 1667 he was appointed to the committees to report on the charges against Lord Mordaunt, to consider the bill for assigning debts in the Exchequer, and to examine the accounts of the loyal and indigent officers fund. In the debate on bribery he was among those who ‘could not deny that they had wine given them ... not as bribes, but out of the vintners own kindness’. On 17 Feb. 1668 he was among those ordered to attend the lord chief baron ((Sir) Edward Turnor) about easing the passage of sheriffs’ accounts through the Exchequer. He was also named to committees to prevent restraints on jurors and to relieve the wives and children of intestates. On 11 Mar. in his only fully recorded speech he bitterly attacked toleration for Protestant dissenters:

If these tender consciences were so good as is pretended to, then they should live without offence to God and men; but what villainies did these men commit when they had the power in their hands is most notorious. Let us not ... stand in fear of their number, of which there is so much noise, but let the laws be put in execution against them and they will soon be brought under, as he had the experience of some persons in Hertfordshire who frequented unlawful meetings, and, upon the execution of the laws, they have conformed and come in good order to church.

He was appointed to the committee for extending the Conventicles Act, and told for it on the third reading.3

After selling Ware to Sir Thomas Byde for £26,000 he took up residence with his second wife’s father for a time. He wrote to Joseph Williamson from West Dean on 28 July:

I am now settled in Wiltshire and, were it not for the entertainment received from Sir John Evelyn, would have to converse with dogs and horses. I know no man living here besides Sir John. It will be kindness to let me have the ordinary news once a week, for the stock of old Cavaliers wish and pray for the prosperity of the King and would be glad to hear of his happiness, although we are not fit for anything but ruin. I wish His Majesty may never find the mischief of it... Let me know whether Parliament will sit in August that I may steer my course accordingly.

Parliament did not in fact sit again till 1669, and Fanshawe moved to Glentworth, his wife’s dower, perhaps to keep out of reach of his creditors, though his profits of office, a pension of £600 p.a. inherited from his mother and the expectation of £4,000 on Evelyn’s death should have enabled him to stave them off. He was appointed to the committees to consider the conventicles bill and to receive information about conventicles, and acted as teller against the suspension of Sir George Carteret. As a court dependant his name figures on both government and opposition lists in 1669-71, and in Flagellum Parliamentarium he was described as a pensioner and much in debt. His parliamentary activity decreased, his last important committee being to prevent the growth of Popery on 2 Mar. 1671, and he applied unsuccessfully for the embassy at Constantinople. He was named to the committee on the bill for ease of sheriffs on 24 Jan. 1674. His name appeared on the Paston list, but in May he died of apoplexy like his father and grandfather before him, and was buried in the Fanshawe vault at Ware.4


Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: E. R. Edwards


  • 1. Vis. Eng. and Wales Notes ed. Crisp, vi. 158; The Gen. n.s. xvii. 282.
  • 2. Fanshawe Mems. 12, 308; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1884; D. Underdown, Royalist Conspiracy, 281; CSP Dom. 1659-60, p. 191; CJ, viii. 306, 476.
  • 3. HMC Verulam, 62-65, 68-72; Milward, 137, 221; CJ, ix. 90.
  • 4. Fanshawe Mems. 208, 301-2, 306; CSP Dom. 1667-8, p. 464; 1668-9, p. 625; CJ, ix. 120; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxii), 100; PCC 72 Bunce.