CROFTS, William (c.1639-95), of Little Saxham, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. c.1639, 2nd s. of Anthony Crofts† (d.1657) of West Stow by Mary, da. of Richard Franklin of Willesden, Mdx., wid. of Sir John Smith of Leeds Castle, Kent. m. (1) 1675, Mary (d. Oct. 1680), da. and h. of Philip, 3rd Visct. Wenman of Tuam [I], s.p.; (2) Anne, da. and coh. of William Alington, Fishmonger, of London, 5s. 2da. suc. bro. 1664, cos. William, 1st Baron Crofts in Little Saxham estate 1677.1
Ensign, Coldstream Gds. 1673; lt. of ft. regt. of Mq. of Worcester (Henry Somerset) 1673-4.
Maj. of militia ft. Suff. by 1677, lt.-col. 1689-d., commr. for assessment, Suff. 1679-80, 1689-90, j.p. and dep. lt. 1685-?d.2
Crofts’s father, the younger brother of Sir Henry Crofts inherited the manor of West Stow and sat for Bury St. Edmunds in 1624. He probably sympathized with the Royalists like the rest of his family, but he does not seem to have taken any part in the Civil War and lived quietly during the Interregnum mainly on his wife’s property at Willesden. Crofts’s elder brother was created a baronet in 1661, and died three years later; but Crofts did not inherit West Stow, which was bequeathed to his widow, from whom it passed to Edward Progers. This may explain why he entered the army during the third Dutch war, rather late in life. He was posted to Ireland, where he was recommended for promotion, as the lord lieutenant explained, not only as a cousin of Lord Arlington (Sir Henry Bennet), but because ‘I hear from all sides [that he] is a very diligent man and constantly at his duty’. His regiment was disbanded at the end of the war; but in 1675, on his first marriage, the Little Saxham estate was entailed on him by his childless cousin, Lord Crofts, and he inherited it two years later.3
Crofts was added to the Suffolk commission of the peace in 1685 and returned to James II’s Parliament for Bury St. Edmunds. Presumably a Tory, he was not active, being appointed only to the committee on the bill to provide carriages for the navy and ordnance. He did not stand again, and was buried at Little Saxham on 29 Jan. 1695. The next member of the family to enter Parliament was his great-grandson Richard Croftes, who was returned for Petersfield in 1767.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. Little Saxham Par. Regs. (Suff. Green Bks. v), 188, 208-10; West Stow Par. Reg. (Suff. Green Bks. vii), 187-9, Vis. England and Wales Notes ed. Crisp, vii. 29.
- 2. E. Suff. RO, 105/2/11.
- 3. T. Gage, Hundred of Thingoe, 135-8; Copinger, Suff. Manors, vii. 104-5; CSP Dom. 1673, pp. 350, 385.
- 4. Little Saxham Par. Reg. 209.