Mildmay Fane 1602-1665

From Book Owners Online

Mildmay FANE, 2nd Earl of Westmorland 1602-1665

Biographical Note

Born at Apethorpe, Northamptonshire, son of Francis Fane, 1st Earl of Westmorland. MA Christ’s College, Cambridge 1619. Admitted at Lincoln’s Inn 1622, around which time he travelled in France for two years. MP for Peterborough during the 1620s; commissioner for the compositions for knighthood 1631. Succeeded to the title of Earl on the death of his father in 1629. He was involved in military support for Charles I during the early years of the Civil War but was imprisoned and fined by Parliament in 1643 and in 1645 he subscribed to the solemn league and covenant. Thereafter he retired largely to his Northamptonshire estate; he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire in 1660. He is now remembered primarily for his literary activities, as a poet and writer of plays; he was friendly with Robert Herrick and in 1648 published Otia sacra, including 137 poems. Many more of his poems survived in manuscript and have subsequently been edited.


Books with Fane’s ownership markings are found in numerous collections and although the size of his library is not known it is likely to have been extensive. His will refers to his “library of books” which together with his pictures, boxes of medals and coins, plate, jewels and “household stuff” was entailed to his descendents and therefore passed to his son Charles, 3rd Earl (1635-1691), and successive Earls. The Westmorland family library was largely sold by auction between 1887 and 1892 and many of the books now in libraries around the world emanated from that dispersal. Examples: Cambridge UL, Oates 2585, 3719; Maggs 1121/16, 1324/26; Christopher Edwards 47/9.

Mildmay Fane's inscription and motto (Private Collection)

Characteristic Markings

Fane commonly inscribed his titlepages with the motto Solus Deus protector meus and the initial “W”. His books also carry occasional annotations. A 15th-century Bible in Rugby School library has an armorial binding stamp with the Westmorland arms, which has been attributed to the 2nd Earl, and a copy of Coke’s Institutes (1648) which passed through Maggs carried an engraved silver medallion showing the Westmorland crest (illustrated in Maggs 1324/26). His books often also carry later ownership markings of the Westmorland family library.


  • British Armorial Bindings.
  • Morton, G. A biography of Mildmay Fane, 1990.
  • Pearson, D. Provenance research in book history. New edn. Oxford and New Castle, 2019.
  • Purcell, M. The country house library. New Haven & London, 2017, 63.
  • Maggs (catalogues of the London booksellers Maggs Bros): 1121 (1990)/16; 1324 (2002)/26.