Sir Richard Fanshawe (1608–1666), 1st Bt

Richard Fanshawe (1608-1666). Portrait by William Dobson (1611-1646), 1644. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Sir Richard Fanshawe, 1st Baronet (June 1608 - 16 June 1666) was an English Cavalier poet, diplomat, and translator.[1]



Fanshawe was born at Ware Park, Herts, and educated at Cambridge, travelled on the Continent, and when the Civil War broke out sided with the King and was sent to Spain to obtain money for the cause. He acted as Latin Sec. to Charles II when in Holland. After the Restoration he held various appointments, and was Ambassador to Portugal and Spain successively. He translated Guarini's Pastor Fido, Selected Parts of Horace, and The Lusiad of Camoens. His wife, Anne (Harrison), wrote memoirs of her own life.[2]

Youth and educationEdit

Fanshawe was the son of Sir Henry Fanshawe of Ware Park, Hertfordshire, and of Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Smith or Smythe. He was educated in Cripplegate by the famous schoolmaster, Thomas Farnaby.[3]

In November 1625 he was admitted fellow-commoner of Jesus College, Cambridge, and in January 1626 he entered the Inner Temple; but the study of the law being distasteful to him he travelled in France and Spain.[3]



Fanshawe circa 1640. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

On his return, an accomplished linguist, in 1635, he was appointed secretary to the English embassy at Madrid under Lord Aston. At the outbreak of the Civil War he joined the king, and while at Oxford in 1644 married Anne, daughter of Sir John Harrison of Balls, Hertfordshire.[3]

About the same time he was appointed secretary at war to the prince of Wales, with whom he set out in 1645 for the western counties, Scilly, and afterwards Jersey. He compounded in 1646 with the parliamentary authorities, and was allowed to live in London till October 1647, visiting Charles I at Hampton Court.[3]

In 1648 he was appointed treasurer to the navy under Prince Rupert. In November of this year he was in Ireland, where he actively engaged in the royalist cause till the spring of 1650, when he was dispatched by Charles II on a mission to obtain help from Spain. This was refused, and he joined Charles in Scotland as secretary. On the 2nd of September 1650 he had been created a baronet.[3]

He accompanied Charles in the expedition into England, and was taken prisoner at the battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651. After a confinement of some weeks at Whitehall, he was allowed, with restrictions, and under the supervision of the authorities, to choose his own place of residence.[3]

In April 1659 Fanshawe left England for Paris, re-entered Charles's service and accompanied him to England at the Restoration, but was not offered any place in the administration. In 1661 he was returned to parliament for the University of Cambridge, and the same year was sent to Portugal to negotiate the marriage between Charles II and the infanta. In January 1662 he was made a privy councillor of Ireland, and was appointed ambassador again to Portugal in August, where he remained till August 1665. He was sworn a privy councillor of England on the first of October.[3]

In January 1664 he was sent as ambassador to Spain, and arrived at Cadiz in February of that year. He signed the 1st draft of a treaty on 17 December, which offered advantageous concessions to English trade, but of which one condition was that it should be confirmed by his government before a certain date. In January 1666 Fanshawe went to Lisbon,ref name=eb10170/> to procure the adherence of Portugal to this agreement. He returned to Madrid, having failed in his mission, and was almost immediately recalled by Clarendon on the plea that he had exceeded his instructions.[4]

He died shortly afterwards, before leaving Madrid, on 26 June 1666.[3]

He had a family of 14 children, of whom 5 only survived him; Richard, the youngest, succeeding as 2nd baronet and dying unmarried in 1694.[4]


In 1647 Fanshawe published his translation of the Pastor Fido of Guarini, which he reissued in 1648 with the addition of several other poems, original and translated. He published in 1652 his Selected Parts of Horace, a translation remarkable for its fidelity, felicity and elegance. In 1654 he completed translations of 2 of the comedies of the Spanish poet Antonio de Mendoza, which were published after his death, Quercr per solo querer: To Love only for Lovc's Sake, in 1670, and Fiestas de Aranjuez in 1671. But the great labor of his retirement was the translation of the Lusiad, by Camoens, published in 1655. It is in ottava rima, with the translation prefixed to it of the Latin poem "Furor Petroftiertsls." In 1658 he published a Latin version of the Faithful Shepherdess of Fletcher.ref name=eb10170/>

As a translator, whether from the Italian, Latin, Portuguese or Spanish, Fanshawe has a considerable reputation. His Pastor Fido and his Lusiad have not been superseded by later scholars, and his rendering of the latter is praised by Robert Southey and Sir Richard Burton. As an original poet also the few verses he has left are sufficient evidence of exceptional literary talent.[4]


Fanshawe was made a baronet by Charles I in 1650.[1]

His poem "A Rose" was included in the Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900.[5]

A portrait of Fanshawe is on display with other portraits of the family at Valence House Museum in east London.




  • Battista Guarini, Il pastor fido = The Faithfull Shepherd: A pastoral. London: R. Raworth, 1647
    • critical edition (edited by Walter F Staton, jr. & William E Simeone). Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1964.
  • Battista Guarinin, Il pastor fido = The Faithfull Shepherd; with an addition of diverse other poems. London: Humphrey Moseley, 1648
  • Horace, Selected Parts of Horace, Prince of Lyricks. London: M.M. Gabriel Bedell & T. Collins, 1652.
  • Luis de Camões, The Lusiad: or Portugals historicall poem. London: Humprhey Moseley, 1655
    • The Lusiads: In Sir Richard Fanshawe's translation (edited by Geoffrey Bullough). London: Centaur Press, 1963.
  • Antonio Hurtado de Mendoza, To Love Only for Love Sake: A dramatick romance; together with The Festivals of Aranwhez. London: printed by William Godbid, 1670.
  • Virgil, The Fourth Book of Vergil's Aeneid (edited by A.L. Irvine). Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell, 1924.


  • Original Letters, of his Excellency Sir Richard Fanshaw: During his embassies in Spain and Portugal. London: Abel Roper, 1701.
  • Original Letters and Negotiations of his Excellency Sir Richard Fanshaw, the Earl of Sandwich, the Earl of Sunderland, and Sir William Godolphin. London: John Wilford, 1724.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[6]

See also Edit


  • PD-icon.svg Yorke, Philip Chesney (1911). "Fanshawe, Sir Richard". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 170-171. 



  1. 1.0 1.1 Sir Richard Fanshawe, 1st Baronet, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Web, June 15, 2016.
  2. John William Cousin, "Fanshawe, Sir Richard," A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, 1910, 134. Web, Jan. 12, 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Yorke, 170.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Yorke, 171.
  5. "A Rose", Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900 (edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch). Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1919., Web, May 4, 2012.
  6. Search results = au:Richard Fanshawe, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, June 15, 2016.

External linksEdit


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain, the 1911 Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Original article is at Fanshawe, Sir Richard

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