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8th Baron Saye and Sele, 1613-1624
1st Viscount Saye and Sele, 1624-1662
Born 1582 Died 1662

William Fiennes, 1st Viscount Saye and Sele (May 28, 1582-April 14, 1662), was the only son of Richard Fiennes, 7th Baron Saye and Sele, and was descended from James Fiennes, Lord Saye and Sele, who was lord chamberlain and lord treasurer under Henry VI and was beheaded by the rebels under Jack Cade on July 4, 1450.

Fiennes, like many of his family, was educated at New College, Oxford; he succeeded to his father's barony in 1613, and in parliament opposed the policy of James I, undergoing a brief imprisonment for objecting to a benevolence in 1662; and he showed great animus towards Lord Bacon. In 1624, owing probably to his temporary friendship with the duke of Buckingham, he was advanced to the rank of a viscount, but notwithstanding this he remained during the early parliaments of Charles I champion of the popular cause, and was in Clarendon's words the oracle of those who were called Puritans in the worst sense, and steered all their counsels and designs.

Afterwards his energies found a new outlet in helping to colonize Providence Island, and in interesting himself in other and similar enterprises in America. Although Saye resisted the levy of ship money, he accompanied Charles on his march against the Scots in 1639; but, with only one other peer, he refused to take the oath binding him to fight for the king "to the utmost of my power and hazard of my life." Then Charles I sought to win his favour by making him a privy councillor and master of the court of wards. When the Civil War broke out, however, Saye was on the committee of safety, was made lord lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, and Cheshire, and raising a regiment occupied Oxford.

He was a member of the committee of both kingdoms; was mainly responsible for passing the self-denying ordinance through the House of Lords; and in 1647 stood up for the army in its struggle with the parliament. In 1648, both at the treaty of Newport and elsewhere, Saye was anxious that Charles should come to terms, and he retired into private life after the execution of the king, becoming a privy councilor again upon the restoration of Charles II. He died at his residence, Broughton Castle near Banbury, on April 14, 1662.

On several occasions Saye outwitted the advisers of Charles I by his strict compliance with legal forms: He was a thorough aristocrat, and his ideas for the government of colonies in America included the establishment of a hereditary aristocracy. His eldest son James (c1603-1674) succeeded him as 2nd viscount; other sons were the parliamentarians Nathaniel Fiennes and John Fiennes. The viscounty of Saye and Sele became extinct in 1781, and the barony is now held by the descendants of John Twisleton (d. 1682) and his wife Elizabeth (d. 1674), a daughter of the 2nd viscount. Saybrook in Connecticut is named after Viscount Saye and Lord Brooke.

Being the entry for SAYE AND SELE, WILLIAM FIENNES, 1ST VISCOUNT in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.

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