Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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VANE, Sir Henry, governor of Massachusetts, born in Hadlow, Kent, England, in 1612; died in London, 14 June, 1662. He was the son of Sir Henry Vane, comptroller of the household of Charles I., and was educated at Westminster school and Oxford. Through his father's influence he early entered the diplomatic service and visited Vienna, in 1631, with the English ambassador. It is supposed that he spent a short time in Geneva, for he returned to England a thorough Puritan, and, refusing the career that was open to him as the son of a courtier, sailed in 1635 for New England. An impressive bearing and great abilities, joined to the fact of his high birth, led to his taking an active part in the affairs of the colony of Massachusetts. Within a month after his arrival he was admitted to membership in the church of Boston, and before three months had expired, with Hugh Peters, he procured a meeting in Boston of the principal magistrates and ministers of the colony, with a view to healing some distractions in the commonwealth and "effecting a more firm and friendly uniting of minds." At this meeting Vane declared in favor of a more rigorous administration of government than had thus far been pursued. In May, '1636, notwithstanding his youth, Vane was chosen governor of the colony. According to John Winthrop, "the ships congratulated his election with a volley of shot." It was expedient before all things that the colonists should be united, but Vane had a horror of all forms of bigotry, and he had no sympathy with the attacks of the clergy on Anne Huttchinson, with many of whose opinions he agreed. A strong opposition was organized against him, and he was defeated at the annual election in 1637. But he had gained the affection of the people of Boston, and was at once chosen by them one of their representatives to the general court. The majority of that body declared the election of Vane and his associates void, whereupon the inhabitants returned them a second time on the next day. In order to put down the Hutchinson heresy, a law was passed by the general court that no strangers should be received within the jurisdiction of the colony except such as should be allowed by some of the magistrates. This created such public discontent that Governor Winthrop put forward a " Defence," to which Vane immediately replied with " A Brief Answer to a certain Declaration made of the Intent and Equity of the Order of Court that none should be received to inhabit within this Jurisdiction but such as should be allowed by some of the Magistrates." Vane returned to England in August, 1637, and thereafter it is recorded by Winthrop that " he showed himself in later years a true friend to New England, and a man of a noble and generous mind." He was elected to parliament in 1640, was made treasurer of the navy with Sir William Russell, and during the same" year he was knighted. In November, 1640, he was chosen to the long parliament, and before the assembly met he found among his father's papers (so it has been asserted) notes that subsequently formed the chief evidence in causing the impeachment and execution of the Earl of Stratford. The use of this information brought about a collision between father and son, and it was several years before they were reconciled. He became a zealous opponent of the royalist party and turned the fees of his office--£30,000 a year--over to parliament, deeming such a revenue too great for a subject. In July, 1643, he was sent to Scotland as one of the commissioners to negotiate an alliance, and by his persuasion the " Solemn league and covenant " was adopted. During the progress of the war he was placed on all commissions that were empowered to treat with the king, and was also one of the parliament's committee that occasionally accompanied the army. When the house of commons discussed the terms of settlement that were offered by the king, he led the minority that favored their rejection, but yielded to the majority, and retired. In 1649 he returned to public life as a member of the council of state, mid had almost exclusive direction of the navy and the conduct of foreign wars. The forcible dissolution of the parliament by Oliver Cromwell in 1653 brought him into open enmity with that leader. He then went to Raby castle and devoted himself to writing theological works. Certain of his publications being regarded as seditious, he was imprisoned in Carisbrooke castle, but was soon released. After the death of Oliver Cromwell he returned to parliament, when he became the leader of the Republican party. On the restoration of the monarchy he was imprisoned, and after a trial for treason was beheaded. Sir Henry Vane's labors in behalf of New England were arduous and important. The charter for the colony of Rhode Island was procured in great measure through his influence, and Roger Williams declared that his name ought ever to be held in honored remembrance by her people. See his biography by George Sikes, a contemporary; "Life of Sir Henry Vane," by Charles W. Upham, in Sparks's "American Biography " (Boston, 1835) : "Statesmen of the Commonwealth," by John Forster (London, 1840); and "The Life of Young Sir Henry Vane, Governor of Massachusetts Bay and Leader of the Long Parliament," by James K. Hosmer (Boston, 1888).
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