CROFTS, Sir Henry (c.1590-1667), of Little Saxham, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. c.1590,1 1st s. of Sir John Crofts† of Chalgrave, Beds. and Little Saxham by Mary, da. of Sir Thomas Shirley I* of Wiston, Suss.; bro. of Anthony*.2 educ. travelled abroad (France, Italy) 1607-9; academy, Angers 1607.3 m. settlement 1 Nov. 1610, Elizabeth (d. 1 Oct. 1642), da. of Sir Richard Wortley of Wortley, Yorks., 5s. (3 d.v.p.) 5da. (2 d.v.p.); (2) by 1644, Margaret (d. 26 May 1674), 1s. d.v.p. 3da. kntd. 3 Feb. 1611; suc. fa. 1628. bur. 31 Mar. 1667.4 sig. Henry Croftes.
Member, Virg. Co. by 1620.5
Crofts’ ancestors were living in the parish of West Stow, four miles north-west of Bury St. Edmunds, by 1467, and acquired the manor at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, followed by the purchase of the nearby manor of Little Saxham in 1551.11 Crofts’ father represented Thetford in 1597 but never sat again, although he survived until 1628.12 Crofts’ sisters performed in the Christmas masque at Court in 1620, but there is no evidence that he himself was a courtier.13
Crofts’ election for Eye in 1624 is difficult to explain, as he owned no property near the borough. However, his deceased brother-in-law, Sir John Crompton, had been returned there in 1620. His only committee, on 4 May, was for a bill to naturalize three Scotsmen.14 His mother-in-law had remarried the Derbyshire magnate, the 1st earl of Devonshire (William Cavendish†), and it was undoubtedly due to her influence that Crofts was elected for Derby in 1626.15 He was excused attendance in the Commons on 5 Apr. on health grounds and left no further trace on the records. He is not known to have sought re-election.16
On the eve of the Civil War Crofts lost his wife, described in her funeral monument as ‘a woman of extraordinary perfection’, after 32 years of marriage. ‘This is the faithful and loving testimony of her husband’, proclaims her epitaph, ‘who intends no other monument for himself, but desires only to live in her memory, which was so much the worthier person’.17 He maintained neutrality between king and Parliament, though three of his sons were royalists, the eldest of whom, William, was raised to the peerage as Baron Crofts of Saxham by the exiled Charles II in 1658. William sat for Bury St. Edmunds in the Convention, and was appointed to county office at the Restoration. Crofts himself made his will on 20 Oct. 1664 and was buried at Little Saxham two-and-a-half years later. On the death of the childless William in 1677, Little Saxham passed to this Member’s nephew, also named William, who was returned for Bury St. Edmunds in 1685.18
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: John. P. Ferris
- 1. C24/607/62.
- 2. J. Gage, Hist. and Antiqs. of Suff.: Thingoe Hundred, 134.
- 3. A. Joubert, ‘Les Gentilshommes Etrangers ... a l’academie d’equitation d’Angers au xviie siecle’, Revue d’Anjou, xxvi. 11; Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton ed. L. Pearsall Smith, i. 456.
- 4. Gage, 136; Little Saxham Par. Regs. ed. S.H.A. Hervey (Suff. Green Bks. v), 179-89; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 150; PROB 11/323, f. 353.
- 5. Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, i. 347.
- 6. C181/5, f. 175v.
- 7. Northants. RO, FH133.
- 8. C220/9/4, f. 81; C193/12/3, f. 96v.
- 9. SP29/11/308; Add. 39246, f. 12.
- 10. SR, v. 219, 339, 384, 467, 540.
- 11. Gage, 133; 9th DKR, ii. 195; W.A. Copinger, Manors of Suff. vii. 101.
- 12. HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 675.
- 13. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 288, 292.
- 14. CJ, i. 844a.
- 15. CP, iv. 339-40.
- 16. Procs. 1626, ii. 431.
- 17. Little Saxham Par. Reg. 97.
- 18. HP Commons, 1660-90, ii. 172; CP, iii. 544; PROB 11/323, ff. 352v-5.