CREWE, John (1742-1829), of Crewe Hall, Cheshire.
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Family and Education
b. 27 Sept. 1742, 1st s. of John Crewe† of Crewe Hall by Anne, da. of Richard Shuttleworth† of Gawthorpe Hall, Lancs. educ. Westminster; Christ Church, Oxf. 1760; Grand Tour 1762-3. m. 4 Apr. 1766, Frances Anne, da. of Fulke Greville† of Wilbury, Wilts., 2s. 2da. suc. fa. 1752; cr. Baron Crewe 25 Feb. 1806.
Member, board of agriculture.
Sheriff, Cheshire 1764-5.
Col. Cheshire supp. militia 1797, brevet col. 1798.
Crewe, who was a founder member of Brooks’s and joined the Whig Club in 1784, continued to sit undisturbed for Cheshire. A friend and financial benefactor of Fox, he voted against government on Oczakov, 12 Apr. 1791 and 1 Mar. 1792. He was listed a supporter of repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in April 1791. One of the leading agriculturists of his day, he was a teller for the minority against the warehousing of foreign corn, 23 May 1791. His beautiful wife, an ornament of Whig society and enthusiastic politician, was very friendly with Burke, Windham, Portland and others who viewed events in France with varying degrees of alarm, and she inclined to their view of politics as the split in the party developed. Crewe stayed loyal to Fox, but remained on personally friendly terms with Burke and others after their separation from him, and his politics were tempered accordingly.1
Crewe was found by Burke’s son to be ‘thoroughly corrupted’ by democratic notions in September 1792 and he voted for Fox’s amendment to the address, 13 Dec., but only, it was said, from personal attachment to Fox and not from conviction.2 His inclusion in a list of Members ‘supposed attached’ to Portland was queried. He stayed away from the House when Fox opposed the war, 18 Feb. 1793,3 and is not known to have voted against government in that year. He was a member of the organizing committee for the subscription to defray Fox’s debts in June, but according to his wife
he ... only consented on an idea that it was to be confined to a certain sum, and not made an handle of as it has been since for a public measure, and before he left town, he seemed unhappy at the turn it took, though of course on so delicate a point he was cautious about what he said.4
Crewe voted with the Foxite opposition for peace negotiations, 21 Jan., 6 Mar. and 30 May, on the stationing of foreign troops in Britain, 10 Feb., the protection of trade, 18 Feb., and Lafayette, 17 Mar. 1794. Early in 1795 Lord Palmerston noted that Mrs Crewe was ‘not at all bigoted to Charles Fox’s politics, though Crewe cannot bring himelf to vote against him’, and Canning described him as a moderate ... Jacobin Oppositionist’.5 He was in opposition minorities on the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 Jan., peace, 26 Jan., 6 Feb. and 27 May, and the state of the nation, 24 Mar. 1795. Riots in Cheshire in the autumn ‘made some little impression’ on him by his wife’s account and he was prepared forcibly to defend his property;6 he nevertheless voted for Fox’s amendment to the address, 29 Oct., and against the seditious meetings bill, 25 Nov. 1795. He voted against government on the war, 15 Feb. and 10 May, was a teller for the minority in favour of Curwen’s Game Laws repeal bill, 29 Apr., moved a wrecking amendment to the estate duty bill, 9 May, and was a teller for the minority in the subsequent division and in that of 12 May 1796. He voted against abolition of the slave trade, 15 Mar. 1796.
Crewe voted to defer the committee of supply, 8 Dec. 1796, obtained six weeks’ leave to attend to private business the following day7 and turned up to divide with opposition on the Bank stoppage, 28 Feb. and 1 Mar., and the French attack on Ireland, 3 Mar. 1797. He endorsed Sheridan’s comments on the bill permitting the issue of small notes, 2 Mar., and sat on the secret finance committee, 13 Mar. He was a teller for the majority against the exclusion of barley from the corn export repeal bill, 3 Apr., voted to censure ministers over the delay in paying increases in seamen’s pay, 10 May, and, although he was said to share the regret of Fox and others at the decision to raise the question of parliamentary reform, he voted for the motion when Grey moved it, 26 May 1797.
He fully participated in the Foxite secession and his next recorded vote on a major political issue was for inquiry into the state of the nation, 25 Mar. 1801. An opponent of Poor Law reform, he spoke against Baker’s bill to prevent the removal of the casual poor, 31 Mar. 1800, was a teller for the minority in the subsequent division and that of 2 Apr., was a teller for the minority hostile to Russell’s poor rate relief bill, 25 Feb. 1801, and on 14 Apr. 1802 tried to add a clause to Peel’s apprentices bill to prevent apprentices in the cotton industry becoming a burden on the rates. He was appointed to the civil list committee, 17 Feb. 1802, and voted in support of the Prince of Wales’s financial claims, 31 Mar. He retired from the Commons at the dissolution in May, as he had decided to do some six months earlier.8
When Fox came to power in 1806 he was able to reward Crewe with the peerage for which he had first earmarked him 22 years previously. At Fox’s funeral later in the year he was seen to be ‘shivering from head to foot’ with grief.9 Madame D’Arblay wrote in 1813 that Crewe ‘seems always pleasing, unaffected, and sensible, and to possess a share of innate modesty that no intercourse with the world, nor addition of years, can rob him of’.10 He died 28 Apr. 1829.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: David R. Fisher
- 1. Burke Corresp. viii. 401; Glenbervie Diaries, ii. 62-63.
- 2. Burke Corresp. vii. 187; Malmesbury Diaries, ii. 476.
- 3. Diary of Madame d’Arblay ed. Dobson, v. 179.
- 4. Portland mss PwG131.
- 5. B. Connell, Whig Peer, 310; Harewood mss, Canning jnl. 1 Feb. 1795.
- 6. Burke Corresp. viii. 303-4; ix. 207; Portland mss PwF3176.
- 7. CJ, lii. 187.
- 8. The Times, 18 Nov. 1801, 25 May 1802.
- 9. Corresp. of Lady Williams Wynn, 115.
- 10. D’Arblay Diary, vi. 86.