Lawrence Tanfield

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File:Lawrence Tanfield.jpg
Sir Lawrence Tanfield from The life and times of Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland

Sir Lawrence Tanfield (c.1551-30 Apr 1625)[1] was an English lawyer, politician and Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer.

He was the eldest son of Robert Tanfield of Burford by his wife Wilgiford Fitzherbert and educated at Eton College and the Inner Temple. He was called to the bar by 1579.

He was elected Member of Parliament for Woodstock in 1584, 1586, 1589, 1593, 1597 and 1601 and returned as a knight of the shire for Oxfordshire in 1604. He was knighted in 1604.

He was appointed Serjeant-at-law in 1603, puisne judge of the King’s Bench in 1606 and Chief Baron of the Exchequer in 1607.

Tanfield bought Burford Priory in Oxfordshire in 1586, and the manors of Burford and Great Tew in 1611, which he partially enclosed in 1622. He appears to have had a collection of paintings at Burford, some of which subsequently passed to William Lenthall and became part of the Lenthall pictures.[2]

He married firstly Elizabeth, daughter of Gyles Symonds (died circa 1596) of Cley next the Sea, Norfolk, with whom he had a daughter, and secondly Elizabeth Evans of Loddington, Northamptonshire. He died in 1625 and left his estates to his grandson, Lucius Cary, 2nd Viscount Falkland. His daughter Elizabeth married Henry Cary, 1st Viscount Falkland and became a writer and Catholic convert; this led to a breach with her father, and may explain his decision to leave his property to the next generation. Great Tew in the 1630s was the centre of a celebrated intellectual circle.

The ghosts of Tanfield and his wife have been reportedly sighted racing around Burford in a fiery coach bringing death to all who see them.[3]


  1. Victoria County History
  2. The Lenthall Pictures, Nicholas Cooper, Victoria County History
  3. Sullivan, Paul (2012). "Legends, Superstition and the Supernatural - Ghostly One-Liners". The Little Book of Oxfordshire. The History Press. ISBN 978-0752477381.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Fleming
Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer
Succeeded by
Sir John Walter