LE GROS (GROSS), Sir Charles (c.1596-1650), of Crostwight, Norf.
Available from Cambridge University Press
Family and Education
b. c.1596, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Le Gros (d.1613) of Crostwright and Sloley, Norf. and Elizabeth, da. of Sir Charles Cornwallis* of Brome, Suff.1 educ. Aylsham, Norf.; Wymondham, Norf. (Mr. Eston) 1605-11; Caius, Camb. 1611, aged 15; G. Inn 1614;2 travelled abroad 1618-21.3 m. by 27 Mar. 1621,4 Muriel, da. of Sir Thomas Knyvett† of Ashwellthorpe, Norf., 2s. 6da.5 kntd. 6 Dec. 1616;6 suc. grandfa. 1622.7 d. by 31 May 1650.8 sig. C[harles] L[e] Gros.
Commr. maintenance, Yarmouth haven, Norf. 1620;9 j.p. Norf. 1624-at least 1640;10 commr. sea-breaches, Norf. 1625-6, Norf. and Suff. 1638,11 drain Fens, Norf. and Suff. 1625;12 capt. militia horse, Norf. by 1626; commr. loan 1626-7;13 sheriff 1626-7;14 commr. worsted stuffs, Norf. 1633,15 poor prisoners 1635,16 inquiry, Bury St. Edmunds canal, Suff. 1636-7,17 sewers, Norf. 1639;18 dep. lt., Norf. by 1640;19 commr. subsidy, Norf. 1641-2,20 array 1642.21
Le Gros was probably descended from William Gross, a Norfolk landowner mentioned in the Domesday Book. However, only one previous member of the family, Oliver Groos, knight of the shire in 1419, had sat in Parliament, and his immediate progenitors were not sufficiently prominent to be members of the Norfolk bench.22 The family’s property, including their seat at Crostwright, was predominantly situated in the north-east of the county.
Le Gros’s maternal grandfather, Sir Charles Cornwallis, had been returned for Norfolk in 1604. His wife’s family, the Knyvetts, were prominent in Norfolk politics and were connected by marriage to Cornwallis’ 1604 colleague, (Sir) Nathaniel Bacon, whom Le Gros’s paternal grandfather appointed supervisor of his will.23 His father having died in 1613, Le Gros succeeded to the family estate on the death of his grandfather in 1622. When a Parliament was summoned two years later, he stood for both borough seats at Thetford, where his father-in-law had been elected in 1601. However, he was defeated by Framlingham Gawdy and Dru Drury.24 Le Gros was also one of several members of the county gentry whom the supporters of Sir Robert Gawdy† unsuccessfully tried to persuade to stand as proxy for Sir Roger Townshend* at the county election.25
Le Gros was added to the Norfolk bench in June 1624, and the following year stood for the county, only to be defeated at the election held on 16 April.26 Nine days later he contested the junior seat at Thetford, but was again defeated, albeit narrowly, by Framlingham Gawdy.27 Intent on overturning one of his defeats, Le Gros went to Westminster. From there John Lister*, who sat for Kingston-upon-Hull, wrote on 6 July that Le Gros had been ‘every day with us’, before erroneously reporting that he had died of the plague.28 However, there is no evidence that Le Gros succeeded in overturning either result, and 1625 marked the end of his Norfolk electoral ambitions.
Le Gros presumably owed his election for Orford in 1626 to his friend, the 1625 Member, Sir William Withypoll*, for whom he acted as surety.29 He may also have benefited from the fact that his sister was married to Nathaniel Bacon, cousin of the 1604 MP for Norfolk, who lived eight miles away at Friston.30 He was mentioned only once in the surviving records, when he was given leave to go down into the country on 23 Feb. 1626 in respect of his wife’s sickness, and may not have returned to Westminster.31 Re-elected in 1628, he played no perceptible part in the third Caroline Parliament, but was again returned for the borough to the Short and Long Parliaments. A neutral in the Civil War, he did not complete payment of his assessment to Parliament, reduced from £1,500 to £250, until 1647. He had ceased to attend long before Pride’s Purge, and his son had succeeded to his estate by 31 May 1650. He left no will, and the only record of the grant of administration of his estate to his son on 29 July is a note entered next to his grandfather’s will in the probate registry.32 The male line became extinct in the next generation, with no further members of the family sitting in Parliament.33
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: John. P. Ferris
- 1. Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 186; W.A. Copinger, Manors of Suff. v. 131; WARD 7/74/169.
- 2. J. Venn, Biographical Hist. of Gonville and Caius Coll. 211; GI Admiss.
- 3. APC, 1618-19, p. 274.
- 4. PROB 11/140, f. 314.
- 5. Blomefield, Norf. xi. 10-11.
- 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 160.
- 7. WARD 7/74/169.
- 8. CCC, 2322.
- 9. APC, 1619-21, p. 194.
- 10. C231/4, f. 168v; C66/2858.
- 11. C181/3, f. 163v; 181/5, f. 103; APC, 1625-6, p. 361.
- 12. C181/3, f. 190.
- 13. State Pprs. Relating to Musters, Beacons, Shipmoney, etc. in Norf. ed. W. Rye, 31, 48.
- 14. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 89.
- 15. PC2/43, p. 72.
- 16. PC2/45, p. 19.
- 17. CSP Dom. 1635-6, p. 386; Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv-vii), 307.
- 18. C181/5, f. 146.
- 19. H. duc de Rohan, Complete Captain trans. J. C[ruso] (1640), sig. A2.
- 20. SR, v. 87, 153.
- 21. Northants. RO, FH133.
- 22. Norf. Arch. xxx. 350; OR.
- 23. PROB 11/140, f. 314.
- 24. Norf. RO, T/C1/4, p. 1.
- 25. FSL, L.d. 238.
- 26. Corresp. of Lady Katherine Paston ed. R. Hughey (Norf. Rec. Soc. xiv), 82.
- 27. Norf. RO, T/C1/4, p. 17.
- 28. Procs. 1625, p. 717.
- 29. Knyvett Letters ed. B. Schofield (Norf. Rec. Soc. xx), 75; C2/Chas.I/B139/47.
- 30. Copinger, v. 131.
- 31. Procs. 1626, ii. 104.
- 32. PROB 11/140, f. 314.
- 33. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 249; CCAM, 634; CCC, 2322.