DACRE, Francis (d.1633), of Croglin, Cumb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

4th s. of William, 3rd Lord Dacre of Gilsland (d.1563); bro. of Leonard and Sir Thomas. m. (1) by Jan. 1574, Dorothy, da. and h. of John Radcliffe alias Rowell of Derwentwater, 2s. 5da.; (2) 17 June 1607, Avice or Alice Downham, wid., da. of Thomas Tyrrell of Heron Hall, East Horndon, Essex, s.p.

Offices Held


Francis Dacre, who offered his loyal service to Lord Scrope at the time of his brothers’ rebellion (see DACRE, Leonard), escaped the penalties meted out to them and lived on to revive, in 1584, their claim that the barony and estates descended to heirs male. By demanding rents and services from some of the Dacre estates in Cumberland he forced the Earl of Arundel and Lord William Howard into the courts to defend the earlier and contrary judgment which declared the title to be in abeyance and the estates vested in their wives. The processes were long and costly, and although many of the conflicting decisions went against him, he refused to admit defeat, Lord William, in his account of the dispute, hinting that Dacre was led on ‘by no mean persons, and by them put in hope of better success than ever was intended to him’. Such hope as remained was badly shaken when unexpectedly the Lowthers defected from the Howard camp and the major part of the estates was claimed for the Queen by virtue of some former entail (see LOWTHER, Gerard). Her claim had not been tried when, in October 1588, and probably with the assistance of the Earl of Cumberland, whose advice he had taken at an earlier stage of his battle with the Howards, Dacre was returned to Parliament, presumably expecting that membership would strengthen his hand. His expectation, if such it was, was disappointed. He seems to have taken no part in the proceedings in Parliament although as knight for Westmorland he would have been eligible to attend the subsidy committee on 11 Feb. 1589.1

On 28 Mar. 1589 the commissioners appointed ‘for finding her Majesty’s estate in the ancient Dacre lands’ found as was expected of them, and he recognized that he could fight on no longer. In a letter to the Queen, written in the following September, he complained that his means were exhausted and that his debts compelled him to seek his maintenance abroad. His son would go with him, but his daughters he committed to God ‘and such friends as it shall please Him to provide for them’. Leaving the realm about 1591 without permission, he was attainted, but Elizabeth accepted responsibility for the daughters, four of whom were receiving pensions in 1598.

From England Dacre seems to have gone into Scotland and taken service with King James. In May 1592 he was in Rome and in 1594 he was a pensioner of Spain, receiving a monthly allowance of 80 crowns from Philip II, who made him a captain of musketeers; his son, who was at Douai, had 40 crowns a month from the same source. In or before 1597 he was back in Scotland, intriguing on the border and causing concern to the English ministers. In 1603 he seems to have accompanied James I on his journey into England, where he again made suit for the ‘whole estate of his ancestors’. James offered to finish the matter by restoring to him that part of the Dacre property which remained vested in the Crown, and when this was refused, suggested as an alternative a pension of £600 a year. Dacre rejected this offer also, unless it were accompanied by a reversal of attainder for himself and his dead brothers, Leonard and Edward. At this point James evidently felt that he had done enough, and the matter was allowed to lapse until in October 1607 Dacre yielded and released to Ann, Countess of Arundel, Lord William Howard and Lady Elizabeth, his wife, all his title to all his family’s lands in Cumberland, Westmorland, Durham, Yorkshire, Shropshire and elsewhere. Two years later James granted him an annual pension of £200, with £100 a year to his second wife and £50 to his son, but it is possible that these annuities were discontinued by 1622.

Dacre died 19 Feb. 1633, at Chester-le-Street, Durham, where he was buried. With the death of his son in the following year the male line and the peerage also, if in tail male, became extinct.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.C.H.


CP; Arch. Ael. n.s. ii. 145-57; Household Bks. of Ld. Wm. Howard (Surtees Soc. lxviii), app. 1.

  • 1. D’Ewes, 431.