Perdita woman: Lady Anne Fanshawe


The main evidence for the life of Ann Harrison Fanshawe is to be found in her own memoirs. She was born on 25 March 1625, the daughter of Sir John Harrison of Hertfordshire, and Margaret Fanshawe. She had three older brothers, John, William and Abraham, and one younger sister, Margaret. Ann's childhood was spent with her family in Hertfordshire. She learnt French, needlework and music, and enjoyed horse-riding. In July 1640, her mother died. Her father, whom Ann describes as 'a handsome gentleman, of great natural parts', subsequently remarried, and had a son and a daughter with his second wife.

The Harrisons were a royalist family. At the outset of the war, Sir John Harrison was imprisoned by the parliamentarians, but escaped to Oxford, and subsequently sent for his family to join him at court. In May 1644, Ann married Richard Fanshawe, also an adherent of the royalist cause, whom she had met at Oxford. Fanshawe, born in 1608, a former student at Jesus College, Cambridge, and the Inner Temple, had travelled in France and Spain in the early 1630s, and became an accomplished linguist. In 1635 he received his first diplomatic appointment, as secretary to Lord Aston, the English ambassador in Madrid. After returning to England in 1638, he served as secretary to the Council of War, Ireland, between 1639 and 1641, and was appointed King's Remembrancer in 1641, and Secretary for War to the Prince of Wales in 1644. The only guests, other than immediate family, at his wedding to Ann Harrison, were Edward Hyde, later Lord Clarendon, and Sir Geoffrey Palmer.

The Fanshawes remained in Oxford until March 1645, when Richard travelled to Bristol in the retinue of the Prince of Wales, followed two months later by Ann. As Ann describes in her memoirs, the Fanshawes spent much of the remaining years of the Civil Wars and interregnum travelling: including journeys to Caen, Paris, The Hague, Ireland, Madrid, and Flanders. They also spent time at numerous locations throughout England, including London, Yorkshire, Huntingdonshire, Hertfordshire and Bath. Richard Fanshawe published numerous translations, and retained his links with the Stuarts. In 1660 the Fanshawe family joined Charles II in Flanders, where Richard Fanshawe was appointed Latin Secretary and Master of Requests, and was knighted at Breda. After the Restoration, he was elected Member of Parliament for Cambridge University, travelled to Portugal to help negotiate Charles II's marriage to Catherine of Braganza, and served as ambassador to Portugal (1662- 1663) and to Spain (1664-1666), accompanied by his family on both occasions. He died in 1666, in Madrid. Later the same year, Ann Fanshawe and her family returned to England, where they remained for the rest of Ann's life. Ann petitioned the government persistently for the payment of debts and arrears due to her husband, but with only partial success. She died in 1680.

Between 1645 and 1665, Ann gave birth to fourteen children, of whom five (Katherine, born 1652; Margaret, born 1653; Ann, born 1655; Elizabeth, born 1662; and Richard, born 1665) lived to adulthood. Her memoirs, which are dated May 1676, are addressed to her only surviving son, Richard.

See also new ODNB entry for 'Fanshawe (nee Harrison) Anne.'

British Library: Add. MS 41161
Memoirs (May 1676)
(Author) Ann Harrison Fanshawe

Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine: MS 7113
Lady Ann Fanshawe's book of cookery and medical receipts (Begun 1651)
Lady Anne Fanshawe (Compiler)
Short entry.