Ann, Lady Fanshawe

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Ann Fanshawe
Ann, Lady Fanshawe, by Cornelis Janssens van Ceulen
Ann, Lady Fanshawe, by Cornelis Janssens van Ceulen
BornAnn Harrison
25 March 1625
parish of St Olave Hart Street, London, England
DiedJanuary 20, 1680(1680-01-20) (aged 54)
probably at Ware, Hertfordshire, England
Resting placeWare, Hertfordshire
Genrememoir, recipes
Notable worksMemoir
RelativesSir John Harrison

Ann Fanshawe (25 March 1625 – 20 January 1680) was an English memoirist and cookery author.

Early years and education[edit]

Ann (or Anne) Harrison was born on 25 March 1625 in the parish of St Olave Hart Street, London. She was the eldest daughter of Sir John Harrison of Hertfordshire and Margaret Fanshawe. She had three brothers and a sister.[1] Her childhood was spent in London and at Balls Park, Hertford.

Her mother took great pains with her education, directing her attention more especially to domestic usefulness.[1] Fanshawe liked not only French, needlework and music, but riding and running, and described herself with hindsight as "what we graver people call a hoyting girle."[2]

Her mother died in July 1640, when Fanshawe was fifteen years old, but she was left capable of managing her father's household with discretion and economy.[1] The father remarried, having a son and a daughter by his second wife.[3]


In 1644, at the age of nineteen, she married at Wolverton near Oxford her second cousin, Richard (later Sir Richard) Fanshawe (1608–1666), secretary of war to Prince Charles. They had 14 children, of whom four daughters and a son survived into adulthood.[4] Both her husband's and her own family were Royalists.

The following year, 1645, she accompanied him to Spain, where he became Secretary to the British Embassy. Returning to England in 1641, her husband exerted himself strenuously in the cause of King Charles I. Being taken prisoner at the battle of Worcester, he was for a time closely confined; and his wife, not being permitted to visit him, exposed herself to great hardships in order to alleviate his painful solitude by standing to converse with him outside his window in the middle of the night and in bad weather. On his release, they withdrew to Tankersley Park, in Yorkshire, where he occupied himself with poetry and literature, and his wife turned to writing as well.[1] A book of cookery and medicaments was compiled by Lady Fanshawe,[5] the earliest entries, by an amanuensis, dating from 1651.[6] Her recipe for ice cream is thought to be the earliest recorded in Europe.[7]

They spent the latter years of the Civil War and the Interregnum travelling, for instance to Caen, Paris, The Hague, Ireland, Madrid, and Flanders, as well as London, Yorkshire, Huntingdonshire, Hertfordshire and Bath, Somerset. Richard published translations and kept in touch with the royal family. The family joined Charles II in Flanders, Richard was appointed Latin secretary and master of requests, and knighted at Breda in 1656.

After the Restoration, Richard represented the University of Cambridge in Parliament, went to Portugal to help broker Charles II's marriage to Catherine of Braganza, and served as ambassador to Portugal (1662–63) and to Spain (1664–66). Richard died suddenly in 1666 in Madrid,[8] after which, the widow and her family returned to England. In the first anguish of bereavement, she was exposed to such distressing poverty that she long wanted pecuniary means to deliver his remains to the tomb of his ancestors, and to maintain support of her children. Sir Richard's salary was in arrear, and no remittances could be obtained from the Ministers of the profligate King. The Queen of Spain offered Lady Fanshawe and her five children a handsome provision, on condition of their conforming to the Roman Catholic Church, but the widow withstood the temptation, even while the embalmed corpse of her husband lay daily in her sight. Means were furnished at last by the Queen Dowager of Spain, the removal to England was effected, and Sir Richard's remains were interred within the chapel of St. Mary in the church of Ware.[8]

Later years[edit]

In widowhood, Fanshawe devoted herself to the education of her children, to acts of benevolence, and to self-improvement.[9] In 1676, Fanshawe transcribed the manuscript Memoir of her husband (now held in the British Library) for private family circulation. It was addressed to their son Richard and began with conventional biblical and other admonitions. It is interspersed with descriptions of Richard's character as one for his son to emulate, it provides a colourful account of their adventures, and carefully observed details of clothing and customs encountered in their travels. It was also intended to vindicate the family's financial claims against the government. It ends abruptly in 1671.[10][11] There is a modern edition of the Memoir.[12]

She died in January, 1680,[9] probably at Ware, Hertfordshire, where she was buried on 20 January 1680.[3] There is a portrait in oils of Lady Fanshawe by Cornelis Janssens van Ceulen held at the Valence House Museum in Dagenham, London, a gift from a descendant in 1963.[13]

Style and themes[edit]

The Memoir which she wrote of herself is her best and most durable monument; a likeness is prefixed to it.[9]

The following extract shows her character as well as her husband's :—[9]

“And now I thought myself a perfect queen, and my husband so glorious a crown that I more valued myself to be called by his name than if I had been a princess; for I knew him very wise and very good, and that his soul doted on me; upon which confidence I will tell you what happened. My Lady Rivers, a brave woman, and one that had suffered many thousand pounds loss for the King, for whom I had a great reverence, and she a kinswoman's kindness for me, in discourse tacitly commended the knowledge of State affairs; she mentioned several women who were very happy in a good understanding thereof, and said none of them was originally more capable than 1. She said a post would arrive from Paris from the Queen that night, and she should extremely like to know what news it brought—adding, if I would ask my husband privately, he would tell me what he found in the packet, and I might tell her. I, that was young and innocent, and to that day had never in my mouth 'What news?' now began to think there was more in inquiry into public affairs than I had thought of; and that, being a fashionable thing, it would make me more beloved of my husband than I already was, if that had been possible. When my husband returned home from the council, after receiving my welcome, he went with his hands full of papers into his study. I followed him; he turned hastily, and said, 'What wouldst thou have, my life?'

I told him I heard the Prince had received a packet from the Queen, and I guessed he had it in his hand, and I desired to know what was in it. He smilingly replied, 'My love, I will immediately come to thee; pray thee go, for I am very busy.' When he came out of his closet I renewed my suit; he kissed me, and talked of other things. At supper I would eat nothing; he as usual sat by me, and drank often to me, which was his custom, and was full of discourse to company that was at table. Going to bed I asked him again, and said I could never believe he loved me, if he refused to tell me all he knew. He answered nothing, but stopped my mouth with kisses. I cried, and he went to sleep. Next morning very early, as his custom was, he called to rise, but began to discourse with me first, to which I made no reply; he rose, came on the other side of the bed, kissed me, drew the curtains softly, and went to court. When he came home to dinner, he presently came to me as was usual, and when I had him by the hand, I said, 'Thou dost not care to see me troubled;' to which he, taking me in his arms, answered: 'My dearest soul, nothing on earth can afflict me like that; when you asked me of my business it was wholly out of my power to satisfy thee: my life, my fortune, shall be thine, and every thought of my heart in which the trust I am in may not be revealed; but my honour is my own, which I cannot preserve if I communicate the Prince's affairs. I pray thee with this answer rest satisfied.' So great was his reason and goodness that, upon consideration, it made my folly appear to me so vile that, from that day until the day of his death, I never thought fit to ask him any business, except what be communicated freely to me in order to his estate or family.”

In her book of recipes (1665), she left the first known written recipe for ice cream (which she called "icy cream").


  1. ^ a b c d Williams (called Ysgafell.) 1861, p. 116.
  2. ^ Davidson, Peter; "Fanshawe , Ann, Lady Fanshawe (1625–1680)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. Retrieved 22 January 2015
  3. ^ a b Ann Fanshawe Biography, University of Warwick. Retrieved 17 October 2014
  4. ^ A link between the arduous travels of the Fanshawes and the early loss of many of their children is posited in Antonia Fraser: The Weaker Vessel: Woman's Lot in Seventeenth-Century England, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1984, Chapter 4
  5. ^ "Lady Ann Fanshawe's book of cookery and medical receipts", University of Warwick. Retrieved 17 October 2014
  6. ^ "Recipe Book of Lady Ann Fanshawe", World Digital Library Retrieved 18 October 2014
  7. ^ Day, Ivan; "Lady Ann Fanshawe's Icy Cream", Food History Jottings, Google - Blogger, 5 April 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2014
  8. ^ a b Williams (called Ysgafell.) 1861, p. 117.
  9. ^ a b c d Williams (called Ysgafell.) 1861, p. 118.
  10. ^ "A scribal copy of Ann Fanshawe's memoirs, with corrections in Fanshawe's own hand", University of Warwick. Retrieved 17 October 2014
  11. ^ Cadman Seelig, Sharon; Autobiography and Gender in Early Modern Literature: Reading Women's Lives..., Cambridge University Press (2006), p. 90 ff.
  12. ^ Halkett, Anne Murray and Ann Fanshawe; Memoirs of Anne, Lady Halkett, and Ann, Lady Fanshawe, ed. John Loftis. Oxford University Press, 1979. ISBN 0198120877
  13. ^ "Ann Fanshawe (1625–1680), Wife of Sir Richard Fanshawe", Your Paintings, BBC. Retrieved 17 October 2014


Further reading[edit]

  • Davidson Peter; "Fanshawe , Ann, Lady Fanshawe (1625–1680)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  • Cadman Seelig, Sharon; Autobiography and Gender in Early Modern Literature: Reading Women's Lives, 1600-1680. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521856957

External links[edit]