TANFIELD, Sir FRANCIS, governor of Lord Falkland’s colony in Newfoundland; baptized 14 June 1565 in Gayton, England; m. Elizabeth Lane and they had a son and two daughters; d. 9 Jan. 1639.
Francis Tanfield was the son of Clement Tanfield and his wife, Anne, of Gayton, Northamptonshire. He was knighted in July 1603 and, in September, accompanied the new ambassador, Lord Spencer, to the court of the Duke of Württemberg.
Tanfield was second cousin to Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Lawrence Tanfield – a subscriber to the Newfoundland company of 1610 – and wife of Henry Cary, Lord Falkland. About 1620 Cary purchased two pieces of land in Newfoundland: the first, a strip between Renewse and Aquaforte, he bought from William Vaughan; the second, a larger area on Trinity Bay, he bought from the Newfoundland company. The scheme was well worked out and, in 1623, an appeal for subscribers and planters was published, land being offered in return for investment of capital or service in the settlement. By this date Sir Francis Tanfield had been appointed governor, and it was probably that same year that he and the colonists left to settle at Renewse. Tanfield, who does not appear to have had previous experience of this kind of enterprise, was troubled by conflict between the planters and the fishermen. He was helped and advised by Sir Richard Whitbourne, who twice visited the colony. There is no indication of the scale on which the plantation was undertaken, and it survived for only two years. Nothing further is heard of Tanfield until 1630 when he was in England and preparing to go to Ireland on the king’s service.
Tanfield was admitted to the Poor Knights of Windsor in March 1630. He died on 9 Jan. 1639 and was buried two days later in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
For Tanfield’s life see: PRO, C. 2 James I, T 11/58, and P.C. 2/39, p.722. G. Baker, The history and antiquities of the county of Northamptonshire, II (London, 1841). For his career in Newfoundland see: BM, Sloane MS 3827, ff.67–68v. Sir William Alexander, An encouragement to colonies (London, 1624). T. C., A short discourse of the New-found-land (Dublin, 1623). William Vaughan, The Newlanders cure (London, 1630). R. Whitbourne, A discourse containing a loving invitation . . . (London, 1622), where the spelling “Tanfill” is found.
Revisions based on:
Northamptonshire Record Office (Northampton, Eng.), 132p/4 (Gayton parish reg. of baptisms, marriages and burials, 1558–1744). E. H. Fellowes, The Military Knights of Windsor, 1352–1944 (Windsor, Eng., 1944). The visitations of Northamptonshire made in 1564 and 1618–19, with Northamptonshire pedigrees from various Harleian mss., ed. W. C. Metcalfe (London, 1887).
For bringing to the editors’ attention Sir Francis Tanfield’s association with the Poor Knights of Windsor and for providing details about his death and burial, the DCB/DBC is grateful to Major Richard Moore, Military Knight of Windsor, Windsor Castle. Moore is one of the authors of The book of the Poor Knights of Windsor and the Military Knights of Windsor (Windsor, 2011). For assisting with research about Tanfield’s lineage and for obtaining a copy of his baptismal record, the DCB/DBC thanks historian Rita Poxon of Gayton, Eng., author of Glimpses of Gayton: a pictorial history of a Northamptonshire village (Newark, Northamptonshire, Eng., 2000) and Further glimpses of Gayton: a Northamptonshire church and community (Newark, 2005). The DCB/DBC also thanks Crispin Powell, archivist, Northamptonshire Record Office.