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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Vane, Sir Henry

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an English republican and religious zealot of the period of the Commonwealth, eldest son of a baronet of the same name, was born at Hadlow, in Kent in 1612. He was educated at Westminster School, and entered as gentleman commoner Magdalen College, Oxford, about 1628; but before matriculation renounced the Church of England and refused to take the oath of allegiance. He traveled in France, Holland, and Switzerland, and completed his education at Geneva, where he became confirmed in the republican principles which he had imbibed, and avowed the Puritan doctrines. The unpopularity of his opinions in England led him to seek a home in America, and he arrived in Massachusetts in 1635, where he was received with great satisfaction on account of his high reputation and social position, and elected governor of the colony in 1636. Having take in the part of Mrs. Hutchinson in a bitter religious controversy then existing, he lost much of his popularity, and failed of a re-election for governor the following year.

He was then chosen a member of the general court, but returned to England in August, 1637. He now married a daughter, of Sir Christopher Wray of Ashby, in Lincolnshire; was knighted, and entered upon a political career. Through his father's interest. he was appointed joint treasurer of the navy with Sir William Russell, and entered Parliament for Kingston upon Hull in l 1640, where he almost immediately joined him and the anti-court party, of which he became one of the most vehement-and resolute leaders. He took an important part in the impeachment of Strafford and Laud; became sole treasurer of the navy in 1642; was a zealous supporter of Parliament in the Civil War, to which body he gave up the fees of his office; was a member of the Westminster Assembly; went, in June, 1643, to Scotland as one of the joint commissioners to negotiate an alliance, and was influential in securing the adoption of the Solemn League and Covenant; enabled Roger Williams to obtain the charter of Rhode Island in 1643; was one of the chief promoters of the self-denying Ordinance in 1644; opposed the terms of settlement offered by Charles in 1648; became a member of the Council of State in February, 1649, in which position he remained until Cromwell's dissolution of Parliament in 1653.

During this period he had the direction of the navy, and important powers in reference to the foreign wars then in progress. He also enjoyed the friendship of John Milton, who addressed one of his sonnets to him. After the dissolution of the Long Parliament, he retired to his estate of Raby Castle, where he wrote religious treatises and political pamphlets, one of which led to his imprisonment for four months in Carisbrooke Castle, by order of Cromwell, in 1656. He remained in opposition until the death of Cromwell, when he was again chosen to Parliament, and became the leader of the republican party, endeavoring to mould the commonwealth to his ideas of government. He was one. of the twenty persons excepted from the Act of General Pardon and Oblivion, passed at the Restoration, and in July, 1660, was committed to the Tower. He was afterwards committed to other prisons, remaining two years in a castle in the Scilly Islands, occupied in theological studies and writing. Ohio, June 2,1662. He was arraigned for high-treason before the Middlesex grand-jury; found guilty on the 6th and, contrary to a promise made by Charles, was beheaded on Tower Hill, June 14,1662. His theological writings were of a highly mystical type, and of very little value. He was a Millenarian, and believed or hoped that the Savior would come and establish a fifth universal monarchy. These views gave rise to a small sect known as Vanists (q.v.). See Knight, Life and Death of Sir Henry Vane (Lond. 1662); Birch, Lives; Ludlow, Memoirs; Sparks, American Biographies, vol. 4.


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Vane, Sir Henry'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/v/vane-sir-henry.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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