CREWE, Thomas (c.1358-1418), of Moor Hall in Wixford, Warws.
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Family and Education
b.c.1358, s. of David Crewe (d.1401), of Sound, Cheshire, by his 1st w. Maud, da. and coh. of William Grafton of Grafton, Cheshire. m. (1) by June 1389, Juliana (d. 20 Dec. 1411), da. of John Morehall of Moor Hall by Agnes, da. of Sir Walter and sis. and h. of John Beysin of Longnor, Staffs. and Billingsley, Salop, wid. of John Clopton of Amington in Quinton, Glos.; (2) Alice, s.p.
Dep. sheriff, Worcs. (by appointment of the earls of Warwick) 31 Dec. 1400-3 May 1401, 1 Dec. 1408-14 Nov. 1409.
J.p. Warws. 5 Feb. 1405-Jan. 1406,13 Feb. 1407-Jan. 1414, Worcs. 16 Feb. 1410-June 1415.
Commr. of inquiry, Warws., Leics. June 1406 (concealments), Worcs. July 1413 (felonies committed by the Burdets); to raise royal loans, Warws., Leics. June 1406; of oyer and terminer, Warws. July 1406, Worcs. Dec. 1409, Oct. 1411.
Chief steward of the estates of Richard, earl of Warwick, by Mich. 1408-aft. 1416.
Sheriff, Warws. and Leics. 6 Nov. 1413-10 Nov. 1414.
Crewe belonged to the family of this name established in Cheshire, and his sister Elizabeth became prioress of Chester priory. But although he was heir to several properties in that county, by the time of his father’s death he had long been resident in Warwickshire, and therefore permitted his half-brother William and the latter’s son John to occupy his inheritance in his stead.1 Crewe’s move to Warwickshire had been occasioned by his opportune marriage to Juliana Morehall, who had inherited from her father the manors of Bickmarsh and Moor Hall and Aspley in Wixford. Another part of her patrimony was property in Shropshire; and in 1389 her mother settled on her and Crewe the reversion of the five Beysin manors there as well as three more in Staffordshire, all of which they were to acquire after the mother’s death (which occurred in about 1403). The Crewes became members of the more prestigious guilds at Coventry and Stratford-upon-Avon.2
Crewe had settled in Warwickshire by 1391, when he acted as patron of St. Mary’s chapel in Alcester church, but some years before then he had come to the notice of the most powerful local magnate, Thomas Beauchamp, earl of Warwick. Indeed, when Warwick joined the forces of Gloucester and Arundel in the winter of 1387-8, Crewe was among his armed supporters. Nevertheless, during his first Parliament, that of 1397 (Sept.), there was little he could do in the earl’s service, for Warwick had already been imprisoned by the vengeful Richard II, and was then sentenced to exile, lucky not to share the fate of his fellow Appellants. Crewe himself prudently purchased a royal pardon in the following year. He may have had some training as a lawyer, and during Warwick’s imprisonment he was asked to act as a feoffee (along with certain men of that profession from Shropshire, such as Thomas Lee I* and Thomas Skinner*) of estates in Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire and Sussex which had belonged to Sir Hugh Zouche, and were then being transferred to Hugh, Lord Burnell. After Warwick’s release on Henry IV’s accession Crewe re-entered his service: in December 1400 the earl, as hereditary sheriff of Worcestershire, appointed him as his deputy, his term continuing until Warwick’s death five months later; and in the autumn of 1401 he acted on behalf of the widowed Countess Margaret in arranging the assignment of her dower lands. Crewe was to be frequently associated with other retainers of the earls of Warwick, such as Guy Spyne* and Robert Hugford*. Thus, in 1401 William Spernore* assisted him in a lawsuit brought by Henry, Lord Fitzhugh, for alleged abduction of Fitzhugh’s ward — Crewe’s stepson William Clopton; and, later, Crewe witnessed transactions concerning the manor of Frankley (Worcestershire) on behalf of Spernore’s widow, seeking, in conjunction with Sir Thomas Burdet*, to defend her interest in the courts.3 Clearly, Crewe had already become an important figure in the administration of the Beauchamp estates, and the connexion was soon to be strengthened. In 1405-6 (the year after his second return to Parliament) he made Earl Richard a loan of £80, and in 1408 he and Hugford (the surveyor of the estates) were named as joint feoffees of nine of the earl’s manors. The date of his appointment as chief steward is not known, but he was certainly acting as such by that year, and he probably continued to hold the post until his death. As his fee he received the issues of the manor of Yardley, in Worcestershire, worth as much as £32 a year. In March 1409, during his second term as the earl’s deputy sheriff of Worcestershire, he made Warwick another loan, this time of £100 expressly for the use of his ‘foreign’ household; and it is clear that he had become a regular member of the earl’s council. Accordingly, in June following, at a meeting held at Warwick, he discussed the sale of the marriage of the earl’s ward William Butler (heir to Sir Thomas Butler* of Sudeley), and his involvement in the earl’s affairs took him on several journeys, including one (in the spring of 1409) to the Beauchamp estates in Cornwall, whence he returned via Devon, Southampton and London. As chief steward Crewe occasionally made presentations to livings on the earl’s behalf, and witnessed his property transactions. The Warwick receivers’ accounts of the last year of Crewe’s life (1417-18) show him still a member of the earl’s council, riding with John Throckmorton* from his home at Moor Hall to London over the business of Lord Berkeley’s estates in January, hosting a meeting of the council at Moor Hall itself in February, visiting Lord Burnell to ask for a loan and making another journey to Berkeley and London in April. It was doubtless through Crewe’s example that his stepson (Sir) William Clopton also became a Warwick retainer, and his influence lay behind the latter’s marriage to the daughter of another member of the Beauchamp circle, namely, Alexander Besford*, the Worcestershire lawyer.4
Although the earl’s business must have made extreme demands on his time, Crewe was active as a j.p. in Warwickshire and Worcestershire, and he also served a term as sheriff, as such holding the local parliamentary elections in 1414. His appearance at the head of the list of electors named on the indentures of return for Warwickshire in 1407, 1411, 1413 (May) and 1414 (Nov.), points not only to the prominent place he had achieved in the local community, but also to Earl Richard’s concern that the electors should be reminded of his interests by the presence of his chief steward.5
Crewe made his will on 5 Sept. 1418 and died on the 21st. A man of some means, he was able to leave 100 marks each to his sister the prioress, to the priests praying for his soul and to the poor and for distribution at his funeral, while among his effects was a considerable quantity of silver plate. Crewe’s clerk was left a wardship, and the rector of Wixford was to have ten marks for forgotten tithes. His executors were his sister, his stepson Sir William Clopton (who was residuary legatee), and the latter’s wife. After his first wife’s death (seven years before), Crewe had built a large chapel on the south side of St. Milburga’s church in Wixford, and it was there that a monument was erected to them both. A distinctive feature of the fine brass on the top of the tomb is the oft-repeated image of a severed foot (perhaps suggesting that Crewe had lost a foot in a military campaign or through some accident), while the shields of arms there depicted include the earl of Warwick’s. Following Crewe’s death his first wife’s estates were placed briefly in the custody of John Throckmorton and William Wollashull* (two other Warwick retainers), before passing to Clopton, who himself died a year later. In 1448 Wollashull founded a chantry at Wixford, in memory of Thomas and Juliana Crewe and the Cloptons.6 As Crewe died childless, the heirs to his maternal inheritance in Cheshire were the descendants of his half-brother and aunt.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Variants: Crue, Crwe.
- 1. G. Ormerod, Palatine and City of Cheshire ed. Helsby, ii. 703-4; iii. 313, 420; DKR, xxxvii (pt. 2), 172-3, 561.
- 2. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. i. 281-310; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xi. 207-8; VCH Warws. iii. 190-3; v. 191; VCH Staffs. iv. 81; W. Dugdale, Warws. 860-2; Reg. Holy Trinity Guild Coventry (Dugdale Soc. xiii), 79; Reg. Gild of Holy Cross, Stratford-upon-Avon ed. Bloom, 21.
- 3. Reg. Wakefield (Worcs. Hist. Soc. n.s. vii), no. 640; C67/30 m. 3; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 318; CCR, 1399-1402, pp. 144, 371, 439; 1402-5, pp. 114, 474; 1405-9, pp. 244, 384; 1409-13, p. 209; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 220; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xv. 106; E164/22 f. 154d.
- 4. CCR, 1405-9, p. 382; Egerton Rolls 8772-3; T.R. Nash, Worcs. i. 468; W. Bagot, Mems. Bagot Fam. app. p. vii; CCR, 1413-19, p. 431; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. i. 307-8; Birmingham Ref. Lib. ms 434592.
- 5. C219/10/4, 6, 11/2, 3, 4.
- 6. PCC 42 Marche; C138/32/31; Trans. Birmingham Arch. Soc. lv. 50-53; CFR, xiv. 255, 263-5; CCR, 1413-19, pp. 474-5.
- 7. Ormerod, ii. 703-4.