Nathaniel Fiennes (1608–1669)A Member of the Westminster Assembly and an English Politician.
- A copie of the articles agreed upon at the surrender of the city of Bristol (1643)
- A most true and exact relation of both the battels fought by his Excellency and his forces against the bloudy cavelliers (1642)
- A relation made in the House of Commons, by Col: Nathaniel Fiennes, concerning the surrender of the city and castle of Bristoll, August 5. 1643 (1643)
- A second speech of the honourable Nathanael Fiennes, (second son to the right honourable the Lord Say) in the Commons House of Parliament (1641)
- A speech of the honorable Nathanael Fiennes, (second son to the right honourable the Lord Say) in answer to the third speech of the Lord George Digby (1641)
6. An extraordinary deliverance, from a cruell plot, and bloudy massacre contrived by the malignants in Bristoll, for the delivering up the said city to Prince Rupert and his forces; but discovered by Gods goodnesse two houres before it should have beene acted, the chiefe conspirators taken, and imprisoned in the castle (1643)
7. Articles of impeachment and accusation (1643)
8. Colonell Fiennes his reply to a pamphlet entitvled, An answer to Colonell Nathaniel Fiennes relation concerning his surrender of the city and castle of Bristol by Clem. Walker (1643)
9. Colonell Fiennes letter to my Lord General, concerning Bristol (1643)
10. Master Fynes his speech in Parliament (1642)
11. The speech of the Right Honourable the Lord Fiennes, Commissioner of the Great Seal; made before His Highness and both Houses of Parliament, on Wednesday the 20th of January, 1657 (1658)
12. The true copies of a certificate under Colonell Fienns own hand, dated July 17. 1643 (1643)
13. Treason’s master-piece (1680)
14. Vindiciæ veritatis (1654)
15. Vnparallel’d reasons for abollishing episcopacy (1642)
Biography of Nathaniel Fiennes:
Nathaniel Fiennes (1608-1669), was a remarkable figure in English history, weaving a complex tapestry of military leadership, political activism, and steadfast dedication to republican ideals during one of England’s most tumultuous periods.
Early Life and Formation
Fiennes was the second son of William Fiennes, the 1st Viscount Saye and Sele, and Elizabeth Temple of Stowe, Buckinghamshire. His early education at Winchester and subsequent fellowship at New College, Oxford, paved the way for his future career. Though he left Oxford without completing a degree, his travels across Switzerland instilled in him religious convictions and an aversion to the Laudian Church that would fundamentally shape his political trajectory.
Entry into Politics and Military Service
Returning to England, Fiennes fostered alliances with Scottish Covenanters and English opposition figures. As Member of Parliament for Banbury during both the Short and Long Parliaments, he led sustained critiques against the church establishment. His eloquent arguments against episcopacy, as evidenced by his speeches in December 1640 and February 1641, left such an indelible mark that he was immediately appointed to the committee responsible for church affairs.
Fiennes’ fervor for reform didn’t stop at the pulpit; it was equally manifest on the battlefield. At the onset of the English Civil War, he commanded a troop of horse in Lord Essex’s army, participating in key engagements, such as the relief of Coventry and the battles at Powick Bridge and Edgehill. His written accounts of these battles—”True and Exact Relation of both the Battles fought by…Earl of Essex against the Bloudy Cavaliers”—offered invaluable insights into the military actions of the time.
Role at the Westminster Assembly and Subsequent Downfall
Fiennes’ prominence reached a crescendo when he became part of the Westminster Assembly, a council that sought to establish religious governance during the English Interregnum. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Fiennes was not an advocate for a rigid Presbyterian system. His inclinations towards Independency and the Cromwellian faction allowed him a distinctive voice within the Assembly. This forum allowed him to weave his deeply-held religious convictions into the very fabric of England’s governance, proving to be a cornerstone of his political career.
However, his career faced a sharp turn when he was dispatched to Bristol in February 1643. Despite successfully thwarting a plot to deliver the city to the enemy, he was criticized and tried for eventually surrendering the city to Prince Rupert’s forces. Though he narrowly escaped a death sentence, the ordeal led to his temporary retreat from the political limelight. It’s worth noting that Fiennes’ trial was marred by potential bias, as many of the accusers, including William Prynne and Clement Walker, had significant financial and political reasons to oppose him.
Later Political Involvements
After a period abroad, Fiennes returned to politics, serving on various committees, including the committee of safety in 1647 and the council of state in 1654. He was a member of the First and Second Protectorate Parliaments, even ascending to Cromwell’s House of Lords. His final public appearance consisted of impassioned addresses emphasizing the religious foundations of Cromwell’s governance, a theme consistent throughout his career.
Family and Legacy
Fiennes led a fulfilling personal life, marrying Elizabeth Eliot in 1636, with whom he had four children, and later Frances Whitehead, with whom he had four daughters. His son William succeeded to the title of 3rd Viscount Saye and Sele, while his younger son Nathaniel briefly entered politics before tragically losing his life in Tangier in 1662.
Beyond his political activities, Fiennes was also an avid writer, contributing speeches and political tracts that have since been cataloged in the British Museum. Though often attributed works like “Monarchy Asserted” (1660), his definitive authorship remains a subject of scholarly debate.
Nathaniel Fiennes remains an indelible figure in the annals of English history—his life encapsulating the complexities, aspirations, and challenges of a nation undergoing profound transformation. His work at the Westminster Assembly, in particular, exemplifies his enduring commitment to crafting a more equitable and spiritually resonant governance structure, leaving an impact that reverberates through the corridors of time.