Fiennes, Nathaniel - Archontology

Nathaniel Fiennes

b. c. 1608, Broughton, Oxfordshire
d. 16 Dec 1669, Newton Tony, Wiltshire

Title: Speaker of the House of Lords
Term: 20 Jan 1658 - 22 Apr 1659
Chronology: 20 Jan 1658, elected Speaker by the House of Lords
  22 Apr 1659, House of Lords dissolved by the Lord Protector

The second son of Lord Saye and Sele, Nathaniel Fiennes was educated at Winchester and at New College, Oxford. He was elected member of the Long Parliament for Banbury, and became a leader of the "Root and Branch" party. He was appointed in 1641 one of the committee to attend the king in Scotland. In 1642 he accepted a colonel's commission in Essex's army, and took part in the battle of Edgehill. In the following year he surrendered Bristol to Prince Rupert (July 1643), under circumstances which made him suspected of either treachery or cowardice. For this he was accused by Walker and Prynne, tried by court martial, and sentenced to death. His former services, and his family's interest, secured him a pardon, but he was obliged to abandon public affairs, and leave the kingdom for several years.

Fiennes returned, regained the confidence of his party, and became, in January 1648, a member of the Committe of the Two Kingdoms, but was expelled from Parliament by Pride's Purge. In Cromwell's first Parliament he represented the county, in the second, the University of Oxford. He became a member of the Council of State (1654), Commissioner of the Great Seal (1655), one of Cromwell's lords (1657), and was one of the principal speakers in the discussions concerning the offer of the crown to the Protector Oliver Cromwell (1657). Fiennes assisted in proclaiming Richard Cromwell, and adhered to his party till the re-establishment of the Long Parliament deprived him of his office. After the Restoration he retired into private life, and died in 1669. Fiennes was an eloquent speaker and a man of decided opinions, but irresolute in action, and constitutionally timid. "His great and special merit is the firm stand which he made in favour of religious liberty against the narrow bigotry of the Presbyterian party." [1]

[1] "Dictionary of English History", by S.J. Low and F.S. Pulling, Cassell, London 1910.