CROMWELL, Gregory (by 1516-51), of Lewes, Suss.; Leeds Castle, Kent and Launde, Leics.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

1539

Family and Education

b. by 1516, o. s. of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, by Elizabeth, da. of Henry Wykes of Putney, Surr. educ. Pembroke, Camb. c.1528. m. 1536/37, Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Seymour of Wolf Hall, Wilts., wid. of Sir Anthony Oughtred, 3s. 2da. cr. Baron Cromwell 18 Dec. 1540; KB 20 Feb. 1547.2

Offices Held

J.p. Suss. 1538; ranger, Rutland forest 1545; commr. musters, Leics. 1546, relief 1550; other commissions 1539-d.3

Biography

Thomas Cromwell took great care over the education of his son Gregory. At one time Richard Southwell acted as Gregory Cromwell’s tutor, but by 1528 John Chekyng had taken charge of his studies at Cambridge. Writing to Cromwell’s father in July 1528, Chekyng said of his pupil that he was slow but diligent, being scarcely able to conjugate three verbs, although knowing the rules by heart. By November he was able to report some improvement. Several years later Henry Dowes coached Cromwell in Latin, French and other subjects, but could not turn him into a scholar. Nothing came of the suggestion in the mid 1530s that he should marry the only child of (Sir) Thomas Neville of Mereworth, Kent, but after Henry VIII’s marriage to Jane Seymour his father arranged a match between him and the Queen’s widowed sister Elizabeth. This marriage took place before the Queen’s death and it was as one of her alliance that he bore a banner at her funeral.4

Either late in 1537 or in the following year Cromwell set up house at Lewes in the ex-Cluniac priory acquired by his father, but after the appointment of his father as constable of Leeds castle and the completion of certain repairs to the castle he moved there in 1539. This new domicile qualified him for election as one of the knights of the shire for Kent to the Parliament of that year, his partner, the lord warden of the Cinque Ports, Sir Thomas Cheyne, presumably ensuring his return at the request of his father. Nothing is known of Cromwell’s part in the Parliament which was to attaint his father. During its second prorogation he travelled to Calais to welcome Anne of Cleves whose marriage to the King was to be his father’s undoing. To judge from the letter sent to Cromwell and Cheyne in August 1540 about the collection of the recently granted subsidy, his advancement was shaken but not ruined by his father’s downfall. Five months later he was ennobled in his own right, and early in the following year after the grant to him of the house and site of the abbey at Launde in Leicestershire, together with some of his father’s lands, his wife thanked the King for the kindness which had ‘much relieved the extreme indigence’ resulting from the ‘heinous offences’ of her father-in-law. Other grants of property followed from both Henry VIII and Edward VI.5

For the last ten years of his life Cromwell combined estate and shire administration with attendance in the Lords. In the sessions of 1542 and the following year he was present at about 80 per cent of the recorded sittings, and he made up for a sessional absence in 1544 by attending on 25 out of 26 possible occasions in 1545. He kept up his record during the first three sessions of the Parliament of 1547, being present at 166 out of a total of 174 sittings. Yet in these three sessions he apparently did not sit on a single committee. Although as an uncle of Edward VI he might have expected a post at court, the only honour obtained by him in the reign was a knighthood of the Bath. Whether this relative obscurity reflects lack of capacity or disinclination for office is not known. Perhaps both were involved; his tutor’s reports do not suggest intelligence, and his grant of an exemption from serving in the French campaign of 1544 was presumably at his own request. Another possibility is that his general health was poor. His death at Launde from the ‘sweating sickness’ on 4 July 1551 may imply a weak constitution. He was buried in the chapel at Launde three days later and his widow married John Paulet, later 2nd Marquess of Winchester.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard

Notes

  • 1. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from marriage. CP; Burke, Dorm. and Ext. Peerages, 146-7; DNB; LP Hen. VIII, xii.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xiv, xvi, xx, xxi; CPR, 1547-8, p. 85; 1553, p. 377.