Fanshawe, Anne (1625–1680)

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Fanshawe, Anne (1625–1680)

English Royalist and memoirist. Name variations: Lady Anne Fanshawe. Born Anne Harrison in London, England, on March 25, 1625; died at Ware Park, Hertfordshire, England, on January 30, 1680; elder daughter and fourth child of Sir John Harrison (a prominent Royalist) and Margaret (Fanshawe) Harrison; married Sir Richard Fanshawe (1608–1666, a diplomat, author, and relative of her mother), in 1644; children: 14, of whom only five survived to adulthood.

The daughter of Margaret Fanshawe Harrison and Sir John Harrison, a Royalist and friend of Charles I, Anne Fanshawe was characterized as "a hoyting girl," who loved physical activity and the outdoors. Her education, probably at home, included French, music, needlework, and dancing, as was the custom of the day. At 19, she married Sir Richard Fanshawe, a poet and translator, who was 12 years her senior and her mother's first cousin. Like Anne's father, Richard was also an eminent Royalist who, after his marriage to Anne, embarked on an extensive diplomatic career that would take the couple to France, Ireland, The Hague, Portugal, and Spain. Anne, a devoted and loving wife, supported her husband through imprisonment, debt, shipwreck, and even an attack by pirates, all the while mothering the couple's 14 children (of whom only five survived to adulthood). Following the restoration of Charles II to the British throne in 1660, Richard was posted in Portugal, and then in Spain, where life settled into a more normal routine. Richard's sudden death in Madrid in 1666, however, shortly after he had been ordered to return home by the British government, left Anne burdened with his debts. By one account, Maria Anna of Austria (1634–1696), the queen-regent of Spain, was so moved by Anne's desolation that she offered her a handsome pension if she would embrace the Catholic faith, but Fanshawe, though grateful, could not accept the favor with such conditions attached. Through the assistance of Anne of Austria , who also died in 1666, Fanshawe was able to have her husband's remains shipped to England for burial, and she later had a monument erected in his memory.

The Memoirs for which Fanshawe is known were completed in 1676 but would not be published until 1829, almost 150 years after her death. The work, which includes a partial narrative of her adventures during the Common-wealth (1649–1660), was probably quite dated by the time it came out, for the reviews were less than favorable. Her contemporary, Mary de la Rivière , writing for New Atlantis, described Fanshawe as a woman with "affected learning, eternal tattle, insipid gaiety and a false sense of wit," and another of her critics, Horace Walpole, thought her work focused too much on "private domestic distresses." The book was reprinted in 1979, together with the memoirs of another 17th-century aristocrat, Lady Anne Halkett , as The Memoirs of Anne, Lady Halkett and Anne, Lady Fanshawe.

Barbara Morgan, Melrose, Massachusetts