CREWE, John (c.1598-1679), of Steane, Northants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



c. May 1624
1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.)

Family and Education

b. c.1598, 1st s. of (Sir) Thomas Crewe* and Temperance, da. and coh. of Reginald Bray of Steane.2 educ. G. Inn 1615, called 1624; Magdalen, Oxf. 1616, aged 18, BA 1617.3 m. 24 Feb. 1623, Jemima (d.1675), da. and coh. of Edward Waldegrave of Lawford Hall, Essex, 6s. 2da.4 suc. fa. 1634;5 cr. Bar. Crew of Stene 20 Apr. 1661.6 d. 12 Dec. 1679.7

Offices Held

J.p. Northants. 1630-9, 1641-9, 1656-d.;8 recorder, Banbury 1633-4;9 commr. sewers, Northants. 1634,10 defence 1642, assessment 1643-8, 1657, 1660-1, sequestration 1643, execution of ordinances 1643, accounts 1643, levying money 1643, New Model Ordinance 1645, appeals, Oxf. Univ. 1647, militia, Northants. 1648, Northants. and Westminster 1660, drainage, Fenland 1649, visitation, Oxf. Univ. 1654, scandalous ministers, Northants. 1654,11 statutes, Durham Coll. 1656,12 oyer and terminer, Midland circ. 1660.13

Gent. of the privy chamber (extraordinary) 1638-at least 1641;14 member, Council of War 1643,15 cttee. of Both Kingdoms 1644-8;16 commr. treaty of Uxbridge 1645, provision for New Model Army 1645, abuses in heraldry 1646, exclusion from sacrament 1646, bps.’ lands 1646, managing assessment 1647, scandalous offences 1648,17 trade 1655-7, relief of Piedmontese Protestants 1656;18 cllr. of state 25 Feb.-31 May 1660.19


Crewe, whose father was then Speaker of the Commons, was returned sometime in May 1624 for the newly enfranchised borough of Amersham, where his uncle (Sir) Ranulphe*, the lord chief justice, had recently acted as an arbitrator in the sale of the manor.20 However, he played no known part in the last Jacobean Parliament, which was prorogued a few weeks later and dissolved automatically on the death of King James. In 1625 the borough re-elected him to the first Parliament of the new reign. In his maiden speech he spoke ‘very well’ on 28 June in defence of deprived ministers.21 He was named, with his cousin, Sir Clippesby Crewe*, to the committee on a bill to prevent the export of wool (27 June) and to attend a joint conference with the Lords to consider releasing prisoners from the Fleet during the plague (8 July).22 His only mention in the records of the Oxford sitting was on 8 Aug., when he was appointed to a joint conference on religion.23 At the next general election he was returned for Brackley, two miles from Steane. He was appointed to consider five bills in this Parliament, including those which aimed to punish adultery and fornication (4 Mar. 1626), regulate citations out of ecclesiastical courts (9 Mar.) and prevent clergymen other than bishops from officiating as justices (10 March).24 On 13 Mar. he spoke in grand committee on the king’s demand for supply, when he recommended that a sub-committee be instructed to draft an answer to the effect ‘that we shall be ready to give as much as we are able’. He further advised his listeners to prepare the petitions for religion and grievances and to ‘go along with those things that concern the Commonwealth’.25 He reiterated this recommendation on 25 Apr., when he also called for a ‘committee of twelve’ to discuss supply.26 His final recorded contribution, made on 20 May, was to defend Sir John Eliot* for demanding the impeachment of the duke of Buckingham.27

At the general election of 1628 Crewe relinquished his claim to a seat at Brackley to his brother-in-law John Curzon, and transferred himself to Banbury, some seven miles from Steane, where the financial embarrassments of Sir William Cope* had enabled Crewe’s father to acquire an interest.28 Early in the session he reminded the House of the need for order in keeping its records (31 Mar 1628).29 On Friday 4 Apr. he echoed Eliot in recommending that the debate on supply should be deferred till the Monday so that they might ‘serve God first and then to give to Caesar’.30 He moved for a sub-committee on billeting ‘that when the country shall tell us you have given away five subsidies, we may answer again: but we have eased you of your soldiers’ (8 April).31 His appointments in the first session of the third Caroline Parliament included being added to a recusancy bill committee (24 May) and to the sub-committee for old grievances (13 June).32 He spoke in favour of bills against scandalous ministers (16 May), for subscription (21 May), for the restitution in blood of Carew Raleigh† (19 June), and argued in favour of passing a temporary measure for impositions and taxes, including Tunnage and Poundage, rather than proceeding by petition alone (24 June).33 He made no recorded speeches in the 1629 session, when his only committee was to hear a petition against (Sir) Edward Mosley*.34

During the Personal Rule Crewe was charged with neglect over the collection of Ship Money, and accused of maintaining puritan preachers.35 Nevertheless, he was appointed to an honorary post at Court in 1638, and Charles I was later reported to have said that ‘Crewe, though he be against me, is an honest man’.36 As a nominal Presbyterian he supported Parliament in the First Civil War, sitting for Brackley in the Long Parliament until Pride’s Purge.37 Following the Restoration he was raised to the peerage, and soon afterwards retired from public life; according to his son Nathaniel, who became bishop of Durham, Crewe was twice offered the chancellorship of the Exchequer, but refused saying ‘if he was to begin the world again, he would never be concerned in public affairs’.38 In his will, dated 19 Aug. 1678, he declared himself to be ‘of the same faith now I am old wherein I was trained up in my youth’.39 He died on 12 Dec. 1679, and was buried at Steane, leaving an estate worth an estimated £4,000 a year to his eldest son, Thomas, who sat for Brackley in four parliaments.40 Crewe was remembered by Clarendon as a man of ‘greatest moderation’, and was also highly regarded by his friend Samuel Pepys.41 His portrait is now in the Sutherland collection at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. Secluded at Pride’s Purge, 6 Dec. 1648, readmitted 21 Feb. 1660.
  • 2. G. Baker, Northants. i. 685.
  • 3. GI Admiss.; Al. Ox.; PBG Inn, i. 264.
  • 4. Vis. Suff. comp. Howard, ii. 226; Baker, i. 685.
  • 5. C142/515/88.
  • 6. CP, iii. 532-3.
  • 7. Baker, i. 685.
  • 8. C231/5, pp. 31, 352, 436; C193/13/5, 12/3; J.H. Gleason, JPs in Eng. 1558-1640, p. 180.
  • 9. Banbury Corp. Recs. (Banbury Hist. Soc. xv), 304.
  • 10. C181/4, f. 140v.
  • 11. A. and O. i. 50, 93, 115, 140, 150, 233, 528, 547, 636, 927, 970, 1088, 1240; ii. 139, 973, 1026, 1074, 1374, 1437-8.
  • 12. CSP Dom. 1655-6, p. 218.
  • 13. C181/7, p. 16.
  • 14. LC5/134, p. 265; LC3/1, unfol.
  • 15. CJ, iii. 191.
  • 16. A. and O. i. 382, 437, 612.
  • 17. Ibid. 609, 620, 839, 853, 905, 1208.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1655-6, pp. 1, 100.
  • 19. A. and O. ii. 1418.
  • 20. Eg. 2723, f. 104v; Recs. of Bucks. xiv. 287; VCH Bucks. iii. 145.
  • 21. Procs. 1625, p. 265; C. Russell, PEP, 231.
  • 22. Procs. 1625, pp. 252, 347.
  • 23. Ibid. 422.
  • 24. Procs. 1626, ii. 196, 238, 246.
  • 25. Ibid. 274.
  • 26. Ibid. iii. 63, 66.
  • 27. Ibid. ii. 296.
  • 28. W. Potts, Banbury (2nd edn. 1978), p. 110.
  • 29. CD 1628, ii. 222.
  • 30. Ibid. 311, 316.
  • 31. CD 1628, ii. 368; Russell, 346.
  • 32. CD 1628, iii. 593; iv. 290.
  • 33. CD 1628, iii. 432, 514, 519; iv. 380, 450, 458, 462.
  • 34. CJ, i. 927b.
  • 35. CSP Dom. 1636-7, p. 391; 1639, pp. 441-2.
  • 36. ‘Mem. of Nathaniel, Lord Crewe’, ed. A. Clark Cam. Misc. IX. (Cam. Soc. n.s. liii), 2.
  • 37. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 147; R. Ashton, Civil War, 334.
  • 38. ‘Mem. of Nathaniel, Lord Crewe’, 2.
  • 39. PROB 11/361, f. 254.
  • 40. Baker, i. 685, 688; ‘Mem. of Nathaniel, Lord Crewe’, 1.
  • 41. Clarendon, Hist. of the Rebellion ed. W.D. Macray, iii. 497.