OFFLEY, Crewe (1682-1739), of Wichnor, Staffs.
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Family and Education
bap. 14 Nov. 1682, 2nd s. of John Offley of Madeley, Staffs. by Anne, da. and h. of John Crewe of Crewe Hall, Cheshire; bro. of John Crewe Offley*. m. 2 May 1710, Margaret, da. and h. of Sir Thomas Lawrence of Chelsea, Mdx., 2s. suc. mother to Wichnor 1708 and to certain estates of his gt.-uncle Sir John Crewe of Utkinton 1711.1
Gent. privy chamber July 1714–d.2
Offley was the younger son of a Staffordshire family with an important interest in Cheshire. His opportunity to enter Parliament came in 1705 when his elder brother decided to stand for Cheshire rather than for Newcastle-under-Lyme, thereby allowing Offley the benefit of his family’s interest in the town. Although defeated at the polls, he was seated on petition on 27 Feb. 1706 along with his Whig partner, John Lawton*, after they had proved bribery and other illegal practices against their Tory opponents. Even before he took his seat he was listed on 18 Feb. 1706 as a supporter of the Court over the ‘place clauses’ of the regency bill. That his politics were clear to contemporaries was confirmed by the appearance of his name among the Whigs on an analysis of Parliament compiled early in 1708 and on a similar analysis compiled after the election.
The general election of 1708 at Newcastle was virtually a repeat of the previous contest, Offley and his partner Lawton being defeated only to be seated on petition on 1 Feb. 1709. He soon afterwards voted for the naturalization of the Palatines. His brother’s adoption of the surname Crewe in 1709 makes it easier to identify Offley’s own activity in the Commons from this point onwards. Unlike his brother, he appears on contemporary lists as having voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell in 1710 and it was to him that the Cheshire Whigs looked to present their address criticizing the doctor’s conduct in July 1710.3
Given Offley’s hostile attitude towards Sacheverell, his decision not to ‘consider himself any farther’ at the Newcastle election in 1710 may have been a judicious withdrawal under adverse circumstances. Somewhat surprisingly, he was appointed a gentleman of the privy chamber shortly before Queen Anne’s death, a post he retained until his own death. He was able to regain a seat in the Commons on petition in 1715. He died on 28 June 1739. In his will, which is unusual in that it dispensed with the religious preliminaries, he left his real estate to pay debts, except for his property in Chelsea which was left to his heir, John, for three years before reverting to his younger son. He also left his younger son £6,000 in lieu of the sums mentioned in his marriage settlement, plus a further £8,000 if his elder brother ‘molested’ him by attempting to overturn the will.