CRADOCK, George (aft. 1547-1611), of Southgate ward, Stafford.
Available from Cambridge University Press
Family and Education
b. aft. 1547, yr., poss. 2nd s. of Matthew Cradock† (d.1592) of Stafford, merchant of the Staple, and Elizabeth, da. of one Peake; bro. of Francis†. m. by 1584, Joan (bur. 28 Dec. 1633), da. of John Jolly of Leek, Staffs., 1s. d. 5 Sept. 1611.1 sig. George Cradocke.
Schoolwarden (jt.), Edward VI g.s. Stafford, 1579; bailiff (jt.), Stafford 1580-1, 1588-9, 1596-7, 1602-3, chamberlain (jt.) 1584, chief burgess 1605-d.; commr. subsidy, Stafford 1599, 1601.2
Churchwarden (jt.), St. Mary’s, Stafford 1586, 1588, 1593.3
Merchant of the Staple by 1590-d.4
Cradock’s ancestors had played a leading role in Stafford’s government from 1436. Cradock’s father Matthew, a wealthy merchant of the Staple, served five times as bailiff and represented the borough in Parliament in 1554; his uncle George (d.1577), was also a Stapler and was twice bailiff. 5 Cradock followed both men into trade and municipal government, unlike his older brother Francis (d.1594), who pursued a legal career, becoming recorder of Stafford and representing the town in Parliament four times in succession. When Matthew died in the autumn of 1592, Cradock evidently inherited the lion’s share of his business interests, which suggests that he was older than his second brother and fellow Stapler, Thomas.6 Indeed, when the Privy Council instructed Stafford’s wool merchants to compound with the queen’s patentee in 1593 it directed its order to George rather than Thomas.7 In 1601 Cradock paid more subsidy than anyone else in Stafford, demonstrating that, like his father before him, he was the town’s wealthiest citizen.8
Cradock served four times as one of Stafford’s two bailiffs. His final term coincided with the death of Queen Elizabeth. At a meeting of the Common Council the town clerk, Thomas Blackburne, declared that Elizabeth’s death meant that all offices in the borough except that of coroner were dissolved. This alarmed Cradock and his fellow councillors who, fearing a popular disturbance if the town’s government collapsed, ordered Blackburne to prison. Blackburne refused to go, however, claiming that the Council had no authority to incarcerate him, whereupon Cradock ‘violently ran upon the said Thomas Blackburne, and by force thrust him out of the Council house and delivered him to the sergeants’. The town’s coroner, Thomas Worswick, who recorded this episode, considered that Cradock’s decisive action helped prevent unrest.9
Cradock was elected junior burgess for the first Jacobean Parliament but played no discernable part in its proceedings. On 8 May 1604 the Commons licensed him to depart for home ‘upon special motion’ provided that he returned before the session ended.10 In the following year Cradock was named one of the chief burgesses of Stafford in a new royal charter. On 5 Nov. 1608, while still in good health, he drafted his will in which he bequeathed one third of his lands and leases to his wife. The residue he settled on his son and heir Matthew, who went on to represent Stafford in Parliament in the 1620s. Stafford’s corporation was left £50 with which to apprentice pauper children, ‘to the end these poor children may live godly in their vocation and prove good men and good women’.11 However, the terms of this legacy were so stringent that after Cradock’s death none of the corporation would provide the required surety. Matthew Cradock therefore detained the money until legal action compelled him in 1633 to pay it over, whereupon the corporation altered the bequest so as to provide a stock for the town’s houses of correction.12 George Cradock died on 5 Sept. 1611 and was buried at St. Mary’s, Stafford on the following day, his grave costing £6 6s. 8d. A subsequent inquisition found that he owned more than 950 acres in and around Stafford, including Caverswall Castle and Brocton Hall, the seat formerly occupied by his late brother Francis.13
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Andrew Thrush
Staffs. RO, D1323/E/1, f. 55v.
- 1. C142/337/83; St. Mary’s Stafford, Par. Reg. (Staffs. Par. Reg. Soc. 1935-6), pp. 107, 230.
- 2. Staffs. RO, D1323/E/1, ff. 37-8, 40-1, 43v; Charters of Stafford ed. J.W. Bradley, 116, 205; C78/165/2.
- 3. Staffs. RO, D1323/E/1, ff. 38v-9, 40.
- 4. C2/Eliz./N1/57; E134/9Jas.I/East.15, rot. 4.
- 5. Charters of Stafford, 203-4; St. Mary’s Stafford Par. Reg. 54.
- 6. Staffs. RO, D1323/F/1, unfol.
- 7. APC, 1592-3, p. 371.
- 8. Staffs. RO, D1323/E/1, f. 43v.
- 9. William Salt Lib., ms 369, pp. 143-6.
- 10. CJ, i. 203b.
- 11. PROB 11/118, ff. 192v-3v.
- 12. C2/Chas.I/S128/171; Staffs. RO, D1323/E/1, f. 221B.
- 13. C142/337/83; Staffs. RO, D1323/E/1, f. 55v.