Fiennes, William

, lord Say and Sele, a person of literary merit, but not so well known on that account as for the part he bore in the Grand Rebellion, was born at Brpughton in Oxfordshire, in 1582, being the eldest son of sir Richard Fiennes, to whom James I. had restored and confirmed the dignity of baron Say and Sele: and, after being properly instructed at Winchester school, was sent in 1596 to New-college in Oxford, of which, by virtue of his relationship to the founder, he was made fellow. After he had spent some years in study, he travelled into foreign countries, and then returned home with the reputation of a wise and prudent man. When the war was carried on in the Palatinate, he contributed largely to it, according to his estate, which was highly pleasing to king James; but, indulging his neighbours by leaving it to themselves to pay what they thought fit, he was, on notice given to his majesty, committed to custody in June 1622. He was, | however, soon released; and, in July 1624, advanced from a baron to be viscount Say and Scle. At this time, says Wood, he stood up for the privileges of Magna Charta; but, after the rebellion broke out, treated it with the utmost contempt: and when the long-parliament began in 3640, he shewed himself so active that, as Wood says, he and Hampden and Pym, with one or two more, were esteemed parliament-drivers, or swayers of all the parliaments in which they sat. In order to reconcile him to tne court, he had the place of mastership of the court of wards given him in May 1641 but this availed nothing; for, when arms were taken up, he acted openly against the king. Feb. 1642, his majesty published two proclamations, commanding all the officers of the court of wards to. attend him at Oxford; but lord Say refusing, was outlawed, and attainted of treason. He was the last 'who held the office of master of this court, which was abolished in 1646 by the parliament, on which occasion 10,000l. was granted to him, with a part of the earl of Worcester’s estate, as a compensation. In 1648 he opposed any personal treaty with his majesty, yet the same year was one of the parliament-commissioners in the Isle of Wight, when they treated with the king about peace: at which time he is said to have urged against the king this passage out of Hooker’s “Ecclesiastical Polity,” that “though the king was singulis major, yet he was universis minor” that is, greater than any individual, yet less than the whole community. After the king’s death, he joined with the Independents, as he had done before with the Presbyterians; and became intimate with Oliver, who made him one of his house of lords. “After the restoration of Charles II. when he had acted,” says Wood, “as a grand rebel for his own ends almost twenty years, he was rewarded forsooth with the honourable offices of lord privy seal, and lord chamberlain of the household; while others, that had suffered in estate and body, and had been reduced to a bit of bread for his majesty’s cause, had then little or nothing given to relieve them; for which they were to thank a hungry and great officer, who, to fill his own coffers, was the occasion of the utter ruin of many.” Wood relates also, with some surprise, that this noble person, after he had spent eighty years mostly in an unquiet and discontented condition, had been a grand promoter of the rebellion, and had in some respect been accessary to the | mupdler of Chailes I. died quietly in his bed, April 14, 1662, and was buried with his ancestors at Broughton. On the restoration he was certainly made lord privy seal, but nut, as Wood says, chamberlain of the household. Whitlock says, that “he was a person of great parts, wisdom, and integrity:” and Clarendon, though of a contrary, party, does not deny him to have had these qualities, but only supposes them to have been wrongly directed, and greatly corrupted. He calls him, “a man of a close and reserved nature, of great parts, and of the highest ambition; but whose ambition would not be satisfied with offices and preferments, without some condescensions and alterations in ecclesiastical matters. He had for many years been the oracle of those who were puritans in the worst sense, and had steered all their counsels and designs. He was a notorious enemy to the church, and to most of the eminent churchmen, with some of whom he had particular contests. He had always opposed and contradicted all acts of state, and all taxes and impositions, which were not exactly legal, &c. In a word, he had very great authority with all the discontented party throughout the kingdom, and a good reputation with many who were not discontented; who believed him to be a wise man, and of a very useful temper in an age of licence, and one who would still adhere to the law.” But from a comparison of every authority, a recent writer observes, that he appears to have been far from a virtuous or amiable man; he was poor, proud, and discontented, and seems to have opposed the court, partly at least with the view of extorting preferment from thence. He had the most chimerical notions of civil liberty, and upon the defeat of those projects in which he had so great a share, retired with indignation to the isle of Lundy, on the Devonshire coast, where he continued a voluntary prisoner until the protector’s death.

Besides several speeches in parliament, he published, 1. “The Scots design discovered; relating their dangerous attempts lately practised against the English nation, with the sad consequence of the same. Wherein divers matters of public concernment are disclosed; and the book called, Truths Manifest, is made apparent to be Lies Manifest, 1653,” 4to. 2. “Folly and Madness made manifest; or, some things written to shew, how contrary to the word of God, and practice of the Saints in the Old and New Testament, the doctrines and practices of the Quakers | are,” 1659, 4to. 3. “The Quakers Reply manifested to be railing: or, a pursuance of those by the light of the Scriptures, who through their dark imaginations would evade the Truth,1659, 4to. It seems, the Quakers were pretty numerous in his neighbonrhood of Broughton; and he either was, or pretended to be, much troubled with them. These tracts are so >carce and little known at this time, as to have escaped Mr. Park’s researches, who informs us that he was not able to discover any of them, in the copious collection of printed tracts, either in the British Museum, or the Bridgewater library. 1


Biog. Brit. Sir E. Brydges’s edition of Collins’s Peerage. Park’s Royal and Noble Authors, vol. III. Lloyd’s State Worthies. —Ath. Ox. vol. II. Biog. Brit. vol. VI. Part I. unpublished.