Francis Fane, 1st Earl of Westmorland

Francis Fane, 1st Earl of Westmorland KB (Feb. 1579/1580 - 23 March 1628/1629) of Mereworth in Kent, and then of Apethorpe in Northants, was first a Member of Parliament and then an English peer.

Sir Francis Fane, KB, (1603), was the first surviving son and heir of Sir Thomas Fane, Kt., (d. 1588/9) of Badsell in Kent by his second wife Mary Neville (c. 1554-1626), sole daughter and heiress of Sir Henry Neville or Nevill, KB, sixth Lord Bergavenny or Abergavenny (d. 1586/7), by his wife Frances, daughter of Thomas Manners, KG, first Earl of Rutland. Fane's mother, Mary Neville, was suo jure Baroness le Despenser (created by writ 1264, English peerage). By letters patent dated 25 May 1604 she had been restored to that name, style and dignity. Her mother, Frances Manners (Lady Abergavenny), printed a book in 1577: "Precious Perles Perfect Godliness", and in her will while spelling herself "Aburgaunney" referred to her only daughter as the "right worshipful Ladie Marie Fane."

Francis Fane's grandfather George Fane, of Badsell in Tudeley, was Sheriff of Kent 1557-58, married Joan, daughter of William Waller of Groombridge in 1557, and died in 1571.

Francis Fane was educated at Maidstone Grammar School and matriculated at Queen's College, Cambridge (c. 1595). He was admitted to Lincoln's Inn 19 November 1597. He was created KB at the Coronation of James I 25 July 1603. With the support of Henry Brooke, Lord Cobham he was returned as knight of the shire Member of Parliament (MP) for Kent (1601). After Cobham's disgrace Fane was returned for the borough seat of Maidstone (1604, 1614, 1621), and then that of Peterborough (1624), during which last, on 29 December 1624, he was created Baron of Burghersh, county Sussex, and Earl of Westmorland, (1008th on the roll). On his mother's death 28 June 1626 he succeeded her as ("de facto" eighth) Baron le Despenser, "de jure matris".

On 15 February 1598/99 Fane married Mary (d. 9 April 1640) daughter and eventually sole heir of sometime ambassador to Paris Sir Anthony Mildmay (d. 1617), of Apethorpe Hall, Northamptonshire, by his wife Grace (1552-1620) daughter and co-heir of Sir Henry Sherington (Sharington) (c. 1518-1581) of Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire.

(Grace Mildmay's sister Olive (d. 1646) who inherited Lacock abbey, married a Talbot, from which eight generations later sprang the pioneer photographer William Fox Talbot (d. 1877)). Sir Anthony Mildmay's father Sir Walter Mildmay (c. 1520-1589), PC, MP, bought Apethorpe in 1550; was Chancellor of the Exchequor 1559-89; and founded Emmanuel College, Cambridge 1583. Apethorpe was sold by the 13th Earl of Westmorland to Lord Brassey in 1904.

Lord Westmorland was buried at Apethorpe on 17 April 1629. A monumental inscription is at Mereworth church near Badsell. He left his widow (Mary Mildmay), who died at Stevenage and was buried at Apethorpe, and many children...amongst them:
*Mildmay Fane, the second Earl, poet and a Member of Parliament.
*Colonel the hon. George Fane, Member of Parliament.



*R. W. de Salis, "Quadrennial di Fano Saliceorum, volume one", London, 2003
*printed ("History of Parliament", "GEC"), manuscript & family knowledge.
*P. W. Hasler (ed), "The House of Commons 1558-1603", H.P.T, H.M.S.O., 1981.
*(G.E.C) G. E. Cokayne, Geoffrey H. White & R. S. Lea, "The Complete Peerage", vol. XII, London, 1959.
*Rupert Gunnis, "Eridge Castle and the Family of Nevill", unknown date & publisher.
*Malcolm Mercer, [ ‘Fane, Sir Thomas (d. 1589)] ’, "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Oct 2005 , accessed 22 Dec 2006
*Link to English Heritage web-site for [ Apethorpe]

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