James Fiennes, 1st Baron Saye and Sele

James Fiennes, 1st Baron Saye and Sele (c. 1395 – 4 July 1450) was an English soldier and politician, son of Sir William Fiennes (Herstmonceux, Sussex, 1 August 1357 – 18 January 1401/1402) and wife Elizabeth Batisford (- bef. 1407).

Fiennes fought in the Hundred Years' War and served as High Sheriff of Kent in 1436 and High Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex in 1438.[1] He was Constable of Dover Castle and Warden of the Cinque Ports from 1447 to 1450, and Lord High Treasurer of England from 1449 to 1450.

He was summoned to Parliament from 1446 to 1449 and is said to have been created Baron Saye and Sele by letters patent in 1447. Saye and Sele was a supporter of William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, the principal power behind the throne of Henry VI.

After Suffolk's deposition and murder in 1450, Fiennes was imprisoned in the Tower with his son-in-law William Cromer, deputy-sheriff of Kent.[2] Having been released from the tower and handed over to the rebels as a placatory gesture Baron Saye was brought to Guildhall for a sham trial. Upon being found guilty of treason, he was paraded through part of London and beheaded by a mob of the rebels in London under Jack Cade at the Standard in Cheapside on 4 July 1450.[3] His son-in-law was also executed by the rebels outside the city walls on the same day. The heads of the two men were put on pikes and unceremoniously paraded through the streets of London while their bearers pushed them together so that they appeared to kiss.[4] He was succeeded in the barony by his son William.


Sir John Fiennes
Sir John Fiennes
Joan Jordan
Sir William Fiennes
John Monceaux
Maud Monceaux
Sir William Fiennes
Geoffrey Saye, 1st Baron Saye
Geoffrey Saye, 2nd Baron Saye
Idonea Leybourne
Joan Saye
Guy Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick
Maud Beauchamp
Alice Tosny
James Fiennes
Everard Batsford
John Batsford
William Batsford
Elizabeth Batsford
Stephen Pepelsham
Simon Peplesham
Margaret Peplesham
Ralph Rowse
Joan Rowse
Joan Godsford

Family and Legacy

He married twice.[5] His first wife was Joan, whose family name is uncertain, and their children were:

  • Elizabeth (died 1475), who married three times. First, her stepmother's brother William Cromer (died 1450), of Tunstall, murdered like her father by Jack Cade's rebels; secondly Alexander Iden, of Westwell, Jack Cade's capturer, and lastly Sir Lawrence Raynsford (died 1490). Both her first two husbands had been a High Sheriff of Kent and her last was a High Sheriff of Essex and of Wiltshire.
  • William (born about 1428), who became 2nd Baron Saye and Sele and was killed in 1471 during the Battle of Barnet.

Before 1441, he married as second wife Emmeline (died 5 January 1452), daughter of Sir William Cromer, twice Lord Mayor of London.[6] They may have had two daughters.

Fiennes appears as a named character in the play Henry VI, Part 2 by William Shakespeare, while the Battle of Barnet at which his son William died is referenced in the next play of the trilogy, Henry VI, Part 3.

Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Duke of Gloucester
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
Succeeded by
The Duke of Buckingham
Political offices
Preceded by
Marmaduke Lumley
Lord High Treasurer
Succeeded by
The Lord Beauchamp of Powick
Preceded by
Ralph Boteler, 1st Baron Sudeley
Lord Chamberlain
Succeeded by
The Lord Cromwell
Peerage of England
Preceded by
New Creation
Baron Saye and Sele
Succeeded by
William Fiennes


  1. "Kent County History". The High Sheriffs Association of England and Wales. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  2. "Wars of the Roses". Michael D. Miller. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  3. Harvey, I. M. W. (1991) Jack Cade's Rebellion of 1450. Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 93.
  4. Griffiths, Ralph A. (1981). The Reign of King Henry VI: The Exercise of Royal Authority, 1422–1461. Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 618.
  5. Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, 2nd Edition. p. 599.
  6. History of Parliament: William Cromer, Lord Mayor of London, accessed 10 July 2017
  • Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990.
  • Leigh Rayment's Peerage Pages

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