Annesley, Francis (c.1585–1660), Baron Mountnorris , 2nd Viscount Valentia, politician, can probably be identified as the eldest son of Robert Annesley of Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, a Munster plantation undertaker, and his wife Beatrix, daughter of John Cornwall of Hertfordshire, baptised at Newport Pagnell 2 January 1586. He was a close associate of Arthur Chichester (qv) (1563–1625), lord deputy, a connection furthered by his first marriage (c.1608) to Dorothy (or Dorothea), daughter of Sir John Phillips and his wife Anne. He was appointed comptroller of the king's works (July 1606) and held the joint clerkship of the council in Munster (May 1607-June 1611), with Chichester recommending a government pension, granted by the king in November 1607. He was named constable of Mountnorris fort (1612–26), was the first appointee as clerk of the tallies and of the pells in the Irish exchequer (July 1612–May 1625), and held reversions to a number of other offices. Annesley was elected to the Irish parliament of 1613–15, taking his seat initially for Lismore and from 1614 for Co. Armagh. He had secured grants of property from his earliest days as an office-holder, and obtained plantation lands in Co. Tyrone and, from 1612, in Co. Wexford, expanding his holdings in the latter county in particular until he held in excess of 11,000 profitable acres there by 1641.
Annesley was knighted by the king in July 1616. In October 1616 he was appointed second secretary of state, with a seat on the Irish council, holding the reversion to the post of principal secretary (May 1618) and fulfilling the duties of that position. He acquired a baronetcy (August 1620) and secured the reversion to the viscountcy of Valentia, held by a kinsman, on 11 March 1621. He was named to the commission which conducted a major investigation into the governance of Ireland in 1622, including the progress of the various plantations. In May 1625 he became vice-treasurer and receiver-general though, at odds with the lord deputy, Lord Falkland (qv), he was much in England in the next few years. He was elected to the English parliaments of 1625 (Carmarthen borough) and 1628–9 (Newton). Following the death of his wife in 1624, by 1629 he had married again, to Jane (died 1684), widow of Sir Peter Courten and daughter of Sir John Stanhope and his wife Catherine. In February 1629 he was created Baron Mountnorris.
Mountnorris had a role in investigating charges against Falkland which prompted the latter's recall in August 1629. Falkland countered with accusations of slander, for which Mountnorris was admonished in Star Chamber, while Falkland's allies in Dublin, led by the earl of Cork (qv), now one of the lords justices, promoted charges of financial irregularities, from which Mountnorris was exonerated by the English privy council in March 1632. By then he had begun his alliance with the incoming lord deputy, Thomas Wentworth (qv), and had thereby secured a share in the lucrative farm of the Irish customs and, in June 1632, the additional office of treasurer-at-wars. In September 1632 he returned to Ireland and, at Wentworth's behest, engaged in negotiations with leading catholics to secure a continuation of subsidy payments. In 1634, however, he failed to succeed to the secretaryship, and by 1635 relations with Wentworth had deteriorated so far that the latter sought his removal from office, describing him as incompetent and dishonest. In January 1636 the king ordered that he be removed from all his offices on foot of an investigation into alleged corruption by the government in Dublin; meanwhile his holding of a military commission had allowed Wentworth to convoke a council of war against him and secure a death sentence (December 1635) grounded on unwise utterances Mountnorris had made. He was imprisoned until April 1637.
In 1640 he appealed to the English long parliament, where he obtained a Commons vote that his sentence was illegal and unjust, and his case was aired during Wentworth's trial, though only in June 1648 did the London parliament vote to restore to him the keeping of the privy signet of Ireland, an office associated with the secretaryship of state. He appears to have spent the 1640s in England, succeeding as Viscount Valentia in May 1642. He was briefly associated with the parliamentarian lord lieutenant, Lord Lisle (qv), in early 1647, serving on Lisle's privy council and accompanying him on his expedition to Munster, but he soon repented the association. Valentia died in 1660 and was buried 23 November at Thorganby, Yorkshire, where he owned property. He had at least two sons and a daughter by his first marriage and a son and daughter by the second, his eldest surviving son being Arthur, future 1st earl of Anglesey (qv).