Henry Vane the Younger

name = Sir Henry Vane the Younger

order =
office = Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony
term_start = 1636
term_end = 1637
lieutenant =
predecessor = John Haynes
successor = John Winthrop
birth_date = 1613
birth_place = England
death_date = June 14, 1662
death_place =
party =
spouse =
profession =
religion = |

Sir Henry Vane (1613 - June 14, 1662), son of Henry Vane the Elder, served as a statesman and Member of Parliament in a career spanning England and Massachusetts.

A Puritan from an early age, Vane visited North America (1635) and became in 1636 governor of Massachusetts. In 1637 he returned to England and became an administrator (1639) and a parliamentarian (1640). King Charles I of England knighted him in 1640. He steered a generally pro-Parliament course through the English Civil War. Vane was instrumental in the impeachment of the Earl of Strafford, sensationally producing evidence (stolen from his father's cabinet) of a Privy Council meeting that, he claimed, demonstrated that Strafford had an intention to use the Irish Army to subjugate England to an authoritarian rule -- though the evidence, when examined, turned out to be second-hand, ambiguous, and hotly disputed.

Vane served on the Council of State during the Interregnum even though he refused to take the oath which expressed approbation (approval) of the king's execution. At the restoration after much debate in Parliament, he was exempted from the Indemnity and Oblivion Act. In 1662 he was tried for high treason, found guilty, and beheaded on Tower Hill on 14 June 1662

Civil War

In August 1642, at the outbreak of war, 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 democracy 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 to the word of God and the example of the best Reformed churches" for the latter part alone.

He succeeded to the leadership of his 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 Sir Thomas Fairfax and Manchester to march against Prince Rupert of the Rhine, and secretly to propose the king's deposition. In 1645 he was one of the negotiators of the Treaty of Uxbridge. He was, with Oliver Cromwell, a prime mover in the Self-denying Ordinance and the New Model Army, and his adherence to the army party and to religious tolerance now caused a definite breach with the Scots. Vane had argued for freedom of conscience for 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, Vane 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 co-ercitive, 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 of these free opinions, Vane still desired the maintenance of the monarchy and the constitution. He voted for a declaration to this effect on 28 April, 1648, and had consistently opposed the various votes of "non-addresses". 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 1 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 of a "moderate episcopacy", of which Cromwell greatly disapproved, and opposed the shaking off of the conferences. Vane absented himself from parliament on the occasion of "Pride's Purge" and remained in retirement until after the king's death (January 30 1649), a measure in which he took no part, though he continued to act as a member of the government.

The Commonwealth

On February 14 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 proved an able administrator. 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 Jean François Paul de Gondi, cardinal de Retz, who was much struck with his ability; while his knowledge of foreign policy, in which he inclined in favour of the United Provinces, earned the praise also of John Milton. To Vane, as chief commissioner of the navy, belongs largely the credit of the victories obtained against Maarten Tromp in the First Anglo-Dutch War.

In domestic politics Vane continued to urge his views of toleration and his opposition to a state church. In 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 20 April 1653 Cromwell forcibly dissolved the Long Parliament while in the act of passing Vane's bill. When Vane protested, "This is not honest; yea, it is against morality and common honesty", Cromwell shouted, "O Sir Henry Vane, Sir Henry Vane; the Lord deliver me from Sir Henry Vane!" (Ludlow, "Mem." i. 353). This incident created a permanent breach in their friendship.

In his seclusion at Raby Castle, Vane now wrote 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 29 July, 1656, he was summoned before the council. Refusing to give security not to disturb the public peace, he was sent prisoner to Carisbrooke Castle, and there remained until 31 December 1656. He addressed a letter to Cromwell in which he repudiated the extra-parliamentary 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.

The Restoration

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 from the House and ordered to retire to Raby.

At the Restoration Vane was imprisoned in the Tower of London by the king's order. After several conferences between the houses of the Convention Parliament, it was agreed that he should be excepted from the Indemnity and Oblivion Act, 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 Cavalier 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 Isles of Scilly, where he had been imprisoned. On 2 June 1662 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 beheaded on Tower Hill on 14 June 1662. Samuel Pepys was there and records:

: He made a long speech, many times interrupted by the Sheriff and others there; and they would have taken his paper out of his hand, but he would not let it go. But they caused all the books of those that writ after him to be given the Sheriff; and the trumpets were brought under the scaffold that he might not be heard. Then he prayed, and so fitted himself, and received the blow; but the scaffold was so crowded that we could not see it done....He had a blister, or issue, upon his neck, which he desired them not hurt: he changed not his colour or speech to the last, but died justifying himself and the cause he had stood for; and spoke very confidently of his being presently at the right hand of Christ; and in all, things appeared the most resolved man that ever died in that manner, and showed more of heat than cowardize, but yet with all humility and gravity. One asked him why he did not pray for the King. He answered, "Nay," says he, "you shall see I can pray for the King: I pray God bless him!"

Vane had married, in 1640, Frances, daughter of Sir Christopher Wray of Barlings and granddaughter of Sir William Wray of Glentworth, Lincolnshire, 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.

Legacy and works

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". The 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 Brief Answer to a certain Declaration of John Winthrop" (reprinted in the Hutchinson Papers, published 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", comprising two treatises:
** (1) "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.


Further reading

* David Plant " [http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/biog/vane.htm Sir Henry Vane (the younger) 1613-62] " on the web site of [http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/index.htm British Civil Wars]
* [http://www.constitution.org/lev/healing.htm The Healing Question]

Contemporary memoirs and diaries:
* Hist. MSS. Comm. MSS. of duke of Buccleuch, U. pt. ii. 756;
* David Masson, "Life of Milton", iv. 4.42 and passim
* John Milton, [sonnet addressed to Vane]
* George Sikes, "The life and death of Sir Henry Vane, Kt.", 1662

Later works:
* S. R. Gardiner, "History of England"
* S. R. Gardiner, "Great Civil War"
* S. R. Gardiner, "Commonwealth"
* Clarendon, "History of the Rebellion"
* Jack H. Adamson, Harold F. Folland: "Sir Harry Vane: His Life and Times, 1613-62"

External links

* [http://www.mass.gov/statehouse/massgovs/hvane.htm official Massachusetts Governor biography]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Henry Vane the Younger — Henry Vane (le jeune) Statue de Henry Vane le jeune, à Boston. Henry Vane dit le jeune, (1613 1662) fut un homme d État anglais. Fils de Henry Vane l aîné (1589–1655), il fut un des plus violents adversaires de Charles Ier. Il devint en 164 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Henry Vane the Elder — Sir Henry Vane, the elder (1589 1655), was an English politician and secretary of state.Origins and educationVane was born on 18 February 1589, the eldest son of Henry Vane or Fane of Hadlow, Kent, by his second wife, Margaret, daughter of Roger… …   Wikipedia

  • Henry Vane — may refer to: *Sir Henry Vane the Elder (1589 ndash;1655), English courtier, father of Henry Vane the Younger *Sir Henry Vane the Younger (1613 ndash;1662), statesman, Puritan, son of Henry Vane the Elder *Henry Vane, 1st Earl of Darlington PC (c …   Wikipedia

  • Vane, Sir Henry, the Younger — ▪ English administrator born 1613 died June 14, 1662, London       English Puritan, one of the most capable administrators in Parliament during the Civil Wars between the Parliamentarians and Royalists.       His father, Sir Henry Vane the Elder …   Universalium

  • Henry Vane, 2nd Earl of Darlington — (1726 ndash; 8 September 1792) was a British peer, the son of the 1st Earl of Darlington.He married Margaret Lowther, a daughter of Robert Lowther, the Governor of Barbados, on 19 March 1757 in London. They had three children:*Lady Grace Vane (b …   Wikipedia

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  • Henry Stubbe — or Stubbes (1632, Partney, Lincolnshire – 1676, Bath), writer and scholar. he was educated at Westminster School. Given patronage as a child by the Puritan, Henry Vane the Younger, he obtained a scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford, from which he …   Wikipedia

  • henry — /hen ree/, n., pl. henries, henrys. Elect. the SI unit of inductance, formally defined to be the inductance of a closed circuit in which an electromotive force of one volt is produced when the electric current in the circuit varies uniformly at a …   Universalium

  • Henry — /hen ree/, n. 1. Joseph, 1797 1878, U.S. physicist. 2. O., pen name of William Sydney Porter. 3. Patrick, 1736 99, American patriot, orator, and statesman. 4. Cape, a cape in SE Virginia at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. 5. Fort. See …   Universalium

  • Vane, Sir Henry — known as Sir Henry Vane the Younger born 1613 died June 14, 1662, London, Eng. English politician. Son of the royal adviser Henry Vane the Elder (1589–1655), he was converted to Puritanism and in 1635 sailed to New England, where he served as… …   Universalium

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