Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fane, Ralph

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FANE or VANE, Sir RALPH (d. 1552), executed for alleged conspiracy, was only son of Henry Fane or Vane of Hadlow, Kent, who was sheriff of Kent in 1508, and grandson of Henry Fane or Vane of Hildenborough, Tunbridge. He distinguished himself at the siege of Boulogne in 1544, when he was knighted; was nominated under Henry VIII's will steward (with Sir William Goring) of ‘all my lord of Lincolnes lands,’ and, after fighting under the protector Somerset at Musselburgh in 1547, was created a knight-banneret. As a supporter of the protector he shared the favour of Edward VI, and received from him in 1550 a grant of the manors of Penshurst and Lyghe, the forfeited property of Edward Stafford, duke of Buckingham. In October 1551, when the Duke of Northumberland had resolved on the destruction of Somerset and his supporters, Fane was one of those charged with conspiring to murder Northumberland. He was arrested ‘in a stable of his man's at Lambeth under the straw,’ and sent to the Tower (Edward VI's Journal, 16 Oct.) On 27 Jan. 1551–2 he was put on his trial on the treasonable charge of conspiring to kill various privy councillors, and, in spite of his appeals to his past military services and his strong denial of guilt, he was sentenced to death. The king described him at the trial as ‘answering like a ruffian’ (ib. 27 Jan.). A warrant was signed by Edward, 25 Feb., and Fane was hanged the next day on Tower Hill. Of three companions executed at the same time, Sir Miles Partridge was hanged, and the other two, Sir Thomas Arundell and Sir Michael Stanhope, were beheaded. On the scaffold Fane repeated his plea of innocence, and is said to have added: ‘My blood shall be the duke's bolster as long as he liveth’ (Camden, Remains, quoting ‘Gallica Relatio,’ ed. 1870, pp. 307–8; Heylyn, Reformation, 1674, p. 117). Fane's forfeited manor of Penshurst was immediately bestowed on Sir William Sidney, and all the goods and chattels found in Fane's house at Westminster on Sir John Gate, a creature of Northumberland. Strype states that Elizabeth, Lady Fane or Vane, who proved ‘a liberal benefactor of God's saints’ during the Marian persecution, and often corresponded with Philpot and Bradford, was Fane's widow. She died in Holborn, London, in 1568 (Foxe, Acts and Monuments, 1842, vii. 234; Strype, Eccl. Mem. vol. iii. pt. i. p. 226).

[Nichols's Literary Remains of Edward VI (Roxburghe Club); Hayward's Life of Edward VI; Hasted's Kent, i. 411, 422; Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, iii. 284; Bradford's Works (Parker Soc.), vol. ii.; Philpot's Writings (Parker Soc.); Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–80.]

S. L. L.