Tanfield, Francis

Governor of South Falkland colony, 1623-1625/1626

Born in Gayton, Northamptonshire, to Clement and Anne Tanfield in 1565, Tanfield would be governor of the Renews colony in Newfoundland. Knighted in 1603, he accompanied Lord Spencer to the court of the Duke of Württemberg. He was probably told of the position of governor of Renews through his second cousin, Elizabeth Tanfield, for two reasons. First, her father, Sir Lawrence Tanfield, was one of the founders of the London and Bristol Company (or the Newfoundland Company), and second, she had married Henry Cary, or Lord Falkland, who was in possession of a quantity of land on the north shore of Trinity Bay and a stretch of land between Aquaforte and Renews on the Avalon peninsula's Southern Shore.

In 1623, with a group of colonists, Tanfield left for Renews, having been selected as governor of a colony to be established there. Little is known of his tenure, but it is known that he had to concern himself with disagreements between the colonists and the migratory fishermen. The colony probably lasted until 1626, for Richard Whitbourne reported visiting there that year, offering Tanfield advice on how to manage the colony. The settlement probably did not exist much longer after this, and it is believed that the colonists returned to England for fear of an attack from the Spaniards.

Tanfield next appeared in the records in 1630, when he was preparing to go to Ireland on a mission for the king, and on March 4 of the same year was admitted to the Poor Knights of Windsor. He died on January 9, 1639 and was buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, two days later.

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