CROFTS, John (c.1565-1628), of Chalgrove, Beds.; later of Little Saxham, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1565, s. of Thomas Crofts by Susan, da. of John Poley of Badley, Suff. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1581; G. Inn 1583. m. c.1590, Mary, da. of Sir Thomas Shirley I of Wiston, Suss., 3s. 2da. Kntd. 1599; suc. fa. 13 Apr. 1612.

Offices Held

J.p.q. Beds. from c.1592, sheriff 1600-1.


The Crofts family had held land in West Stow, near Bury St. Edmunds since the time of Edward I, never achieving county status. Croft’s father probably settled West Stow on him at his marriage, but in the last years of Elizabeth’s reign he was resident in Bedfordshire. He did not succeed his father until well into the next reign and remains a shadowy figure: it is, for example, unlikely that he was the Queen’s messenger of his name active during the 1590s. He took part in the Earl of Essex’s expedition to Ireland, receiving his knighthood from Essex, and he may have been in the service of the East Anglian magnate Lord Wentworth, who was related to his mother’s family. In any event it was probably the Poleys who obtained him his return to Parliament for Thetford. He is not named in the known proceedings of the House, but as Member for Thetford he may have served on a committee concerning the draining of fens appointed on 3 Dec. He was described on a list of James I’s reign as ‘quite gone out of Bedfordshire’. His connexion with the Poley’s, a daughter’s marriage to Humphrey Mildmay, and his eldest son’s education at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, all suggest puritan religious views; but there is no indication of these in the brief will he made 1 Oct. 1627. He was buried, as he had requested, at Little Saxham on 29 Mar. 1628.

Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 90; Copinger, Suff. Manors, i. 404-6; C142/329/197; D’Ewes, 567; CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 191; Add. 1580-1625, p. 527; APC, xvi. 313; xv. 16; VCH Beds. iii. 346; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 452; PCC 8 Scroope.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Roger Virgoe