CRISP, Sir Nicholas (c.1598-1666), of Hammersmith, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. c.1598, 1st s. of Ellis Crisp, Salter, of Bread Street, London by Hester, da. of John Ireland, Salter, of London. m. by 1619, Anne, da. and coh. of Edward Prescott, Salter and goldsmith, of London, 5s. (3 d.v.p.) 5da. suc. fa 1625; kntd. 1 Jan. 1640; cr. Bt. 14 Apr. 1665.1
Member, Salters’ Co. 1619, master 1640-1; member, Artillery Co. 1621; Merchant Adventurer; member, Barbary Co., Guinea Co. 1631; capt. of militia ft. London by 1632-?42, common councilman by 1640-1; j.p. Mdx. by 1641-2, July 1660-d., Cornw. 1644-6; commr. of array, London 1642, loyal and indigent officers, London and Westminster 1662, assessment, London 1661-3, Mdx. 1661-d.; dep. lt. London 1662-d.; asst. R. Adventurers into Africa 1663-6.2
Jt. farmer of customs 1638-40, 1662-d.; commr. for customs Sept. 1660-2, trade Nov. 1660-d., plantations Dec. 1660-d.; gent. of privy chamber 1664-d.; jt.-farmer of alum works 1665- d.3
Col. of horse (royalist) 1643-5.
Crisp’s grandfather, a native of Leicestershire, acquired the manor of Marshfield and other property in Gloucestershire, and his father was one of the richest merchants in Jacobean London. Crisp invested in numerous projects and built himself a magnificent house at Hammersmith for £25,000. He was largely responsible for opening up the Guinea trade, and contracted for the great farm of the customs in 1638. Expelled from the Long Parliament as a monopolist, he joined the King at Oxford, and executed the London commission of array. He raised a regiment for the King’s service, and supplied him with ‘thousands of gold’. In 1647 he retired to France. He compounded on the Exeter articles, a fine of £1,000 imposed in 1649 being reduced to £356 two years later, when his interest in the Guinea trade and personal estate valued at £140,000 was set in the balance against debts amounting to £300,000 incurred in the late King’s service.4
Crisp was active in the royalist conspiracies prior to the Restoration, and signed the declaration of London Royalists in support of George Monck in April 1660, disclaiming ‘any thoughts of revenge for past mischiefs’. The following July he petitioned from a debtors’ prison
for an order for payment of £20,000. ... This is his own special portion of the great debt of £100,000 due to him and other farmers of the customs from the Long Parliament who promised to pay the King’s debts on their advancing money to discharge the two armies.
He was soon at liberty, and became one of the customs commissioners at a salary of £2,000 p.a. Nominated for London by the court party in 1661, he was ‘stiffly cried down’ by the dissenters as a friend to the bishops. But he was returned for Winchelsea on the lord warden’s interest, and listed by Lord Wharton as a friend. A moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was appointed to 42 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in five sessions, and several concerned with the revenue. In 1661 he was appointed to the committees for the restoration of bishops to the House of Lords, the uniformity bill, and the bill of pains and penalties. After the Christmas recess he was added to the committee to consider abuses in the customs and appointed to that for the additional corporations bill. On the last day of the session he was given special responsibility, with William Morice I and (Sir) Robert Brooke, for recommending the case of a merchant’s widow to the King. During this period he obtained for himself a moiety in the farm of sea-coal exports, two-thirds of the customs duties on spices until the repayment of £20,000 due to him for his factories in Guinea, and a special grant of £10,000 for his services in compounding the debt owed by Charles I to the East India Company; while his son was granted the reversion of the office of collector of customs outwards in the port of London. After 1663, when he helped to consider a petition from the loyal and indigent officers and an additional bill for their relief, his activity declined. Nevertheless he was listed as a court dependant in 1664, and attended the Oxford session, acting as teller on the third reading for the bill to encourage the planting of hemp and flax. He formed a syndicate with Sir Hugh Cholmley which was granted the alum farm for 21 years on payment of a yearly rent of £5,260. He died on 26 Feb. 1666, aged 67, and was buried in St. Mildred’s, Bread Street. At his request, his heart, enclosed in an urn, was placed on the pedestal of the bronze bust ‘of that glorious martyr, King Charles I, of blessed memory’ erected by him in his chapel at Hammersmith. The family never fully recovered from his losses in the Civil War, but his grandson Charles sat for Woodstock in 1721-2.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. F. A. Crisp, Crisp Colls. iv. 4-5; C. J. Feret, Fulham Old and New, iii. 68.
- 2. S. Watson, Salters’ Co. 145; Ancient Vellum Bk. ed. Raikes 32; CSP Dom. 1631-3, pp. 186, 237; Keeler, Long Parl. 147; T. K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 273; V. Pearl, London and the Outbreak of the Puritan Revolution, 121; SP29/61/5; Sel. Charters (Selden Soc. xxviii), 179.
- 3. R. B. Turton, Alum Farm, 187; Carlisle, Privy Chambers, 174.
- 4. Crisp, iv. 2-5; Feret, iii. 60-61; Clarendon, Life, ii. 232-3; Vis. London (Harl. Soc. xv), 201; DNB; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1651; K. G. Davies, R. African Co. 40.
- 5. D. Underdown, Royalist Conspiracy, 37; A Declaration of the Nobility and Gentry that adhered to the late King now residing in and about the City of London (1660); CSP Dom. 1660-1, pp. 122, 538, 605; 1661-2, pp. 14, 25, 320, 331, 608; 1663-4, p. 639; 1665-6, pp. 79, 400; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 226, 446, 553; CJ, viii. 436, 620; Turton, 182; Crisp, iv. 3; T. Faulkner, Fulham and Hammersmith, 128.