1604, Henry Fanshawe seeks patronage for Exchequer clerks

Sir Henry Fanshawe, knight. SP 14/8 f. 192 (1604)

To the Kinges most excellent majestye

The humble petition of Sir Henry Fanshawe knight.

It maie please your most excellent majestie where your suppliant houldeth the office of your remembrancer of your exchequer by pattent for terme of life, and where hertofore, divers faithfull and diligent officers have ben much discouraged and grieved, by seing in their life time, the revercions of their offices graunted to menn mearlie straungers unto them, and sometimes enemies, who have either laboured, to [di…ace?] the memory of their predecessor, or at least ben coulde in doing any good to their children and auncient clerckes by them lefte unpreferred [illegible] ever after, their offices have ben to them but paine and griefe: maie it therefore please your most excellent majestie to vouchsafe to graunt the revercion of the saide office of your remembrancer of your exchequer unto John Fanshawe and Nathaniell Ducket jointly, who having ben longe time trained upp as clerckes in the said office by your suppliant and his father, and received good by them; he both knoweth to be verie sufficient for the execution of the place when it shall fall uppon them; and is verely perswaded they will shew that kindenes toward the memorie of your suppliant his children and clerks, that themselves have received from him and his father and that your majestie woulde be pleased to referr this peticion to such of your previe councell as to your majestie shall seeme most fitt, to consider whether it be reasonable for your majestie to graunte; and if they finde it is, that then they give order for drawinge of a bill for the same to passe your majesties signature. And according to his most bounden duetie he will pray unto God for the longe contynuance of your most happie and prosperous raigne.

[For endorsements see full transcription]

Report by Janet P. Osbourne

The Office of King’s Remembrancer dates back to the middle ages.  This officer was one of the senior clerks in the Exchequer performing important clerical functions that were necessary for the procedure of the Court of Exchequer.  The more important of the King’s Remembrancer’s duties were quasi-judicial.   He settled disputes in the pleadings involving scandal and impertinence.  Also he kept all moneys paid into court, took accounts,  examined certain witnesses and kept exhibits and documents.   He attended the sitting of the court and took the minutes of the decrees and orders.

Members of the Fanshawe family were each successively King’s/Queen’s Remembrancer, exercising the office in person or by deputy for more than a century from 1565, apart from the brief tenure of Sir Christopher Hatton (1616-1619). The last of the family to hold the office of King’s Remembrancer was Simon, 5th Viscount Fanshawe  between 1709-1716.(1)

Sir Henry Fanshawe’s father, Thomas Fanshawe, held the position of King’s Remembrancer until his death in 1601 but had either neglected or failed to obtain permission for his eldest son and heir to carry on the role. However, his son, Henry, succeeded in getting a patent appointing him to the office within a month of his father’s death.

On 14th July 1604, Sir Henry  requested that in the event of his death whilst his son was still a minor,  permission be granted for  the office to be in the hands of John Fanshawe, his first cousin – who was a minor clerk in the office – and to Nathaniel Duckett, a cousin and a sworn clerk.    They were to hold the office after his death in trust for his minor son, Thomas Fanshawe (later First Viscount Fanshawe).  However, John Fanshawe  died in late 1615 or early 1616 – just before the death of Sir Henry in March 1616.

It was felt desirable to re-arrange the trust and so on the 21st March 1616 a grant was made to Sir Christopher Hatton (who had married one of the daughters of Thomas Fanshawe, i.e. the sister of Sir Henry) with a reversion to Sir Arthur Harris, both grants being in trust for the children of the late Sir Henry.  Sir Arthur Harris (who died in 1665) was a cousin of Sir Henry Fanshawe.  The trust was necessary because an office could not be held by a minor.

Sir Christopher Hatton, being only the Trustee of the King’s Remembrancers Office, performed his duties through a deputy, John West, who was one of the sworn clerks.  Sir Christopher Hatton died on the 10th September 1619 and therefore, as Henry’s  son, Thomas, was then of age a new grant was obtained on the 22nd September 1619.  This was to Thomas with a reversion to Harris as Trustee for the children of Sir Henry Fanshawe. i.e. the heirs presumptive of Thomas.

By this time the Fanshawes had begun to look on the office of the King’s Remembrancers more as a part of the family endowment than as an occupation. (2)

I could find no further information on either John Fanshawe or Nathaniel Ducket.


(1) The National Archives, E 192, Henry Fanshaw, https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C81423

(2) C. H. van Rhee (ed.) The Law’s Delay: Essays on Undue Delay in Civil Litigation (2004), pp. 48-50.

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[Editorial postscript: Keith Baldwin, another U3A researcher, found additional sources of information about the Fanshawes, including History of Parliament entries; ONDB entries; and a published history of the family.]


This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, 1600-1625’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.