CRESSWELL, Thomas Estcourt (1712-88), of Pinkney Park, Wilts.
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Family and Education
bap. 22 July 1712, 1st surv. s. of Richard Cresswell, M.P. of Sidbury, Salop, and Barnehurst, Staffs. by Elizabeth, da. and h. of Sir Thomas Estcourt of Pinkney Park. m. 1744, Anne, da. and h. of Edmund Warneford of Sevenhampton, Wilts. and Bibury Court, Glos., 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1743.
Purveyor of Chelsea Hospital 1759-61.
Cresswell began his career as a free merchant trading to India and China, but soon gave this up and about 1732 began to lead a hand to mouth existence in England. He planned to marry an heiress, and when in 1742 he became entangled in an affair with his penniless cousin Elizabeth Scrope, he pacified her with a bogus Fleet marriage. About 1746, his financial difficulties being acute, he contracted a second marriage with Anne Warneford, an heiress whom he believed to be in poor health and unlikely to live more than a year. In 1747 the affair received publicity in a series of letters to the press, followed by Cresswell’s extraordinarily candid Narrative of the Affair and Miss Scrope’s Answer. Accused of bigamy and of attempting to murder both women, Cresswell counter-attacked vigorously; but contemporary opinion seems generally to have agreed with his cousin, Lord Ducie, in describing him as ‘a very great villain’.
In 1754 Cresswell stood on the St. John interest for Wootton Bassett (which his father had represented in 1713) and was returned after a violent and expensive contest. He was connected politically with Henry Fox; in 1754 was classed by Dupplin as an Opposition Whig, and in 1759 through Fox’s influence was appointed purveyor of Chelsea Hospital. Returned unopposed in 1761 and 1768, Cresswell supported each successive Administration, but he did not stand in 1774, and there is no record of his having spoken in the House.
He died 14 Nov. 1788.