CROFT, James (d.1624), of Weston, Oxon.
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Family and Education
3rd s. of Sir James Croft of Croft Castle, Herefs. by his 1st w.; bro. of Edward Croft and half-bro. of Thomas Wigmore. educ. G. Inn 1562 m. (1) 1580, Margaret (d.c.1588), da. of Thomas†, 1st Baron Wentworth, wid. of John†, Lord Williams of Thame, Oxon. and of Sir William Drury†, ld. deputy of Ireland. Kntd. 1603.1
J.p.q. Oxon. by 1582-94; gent. pens. c.1588-d.2
Sent to Ireland as an envoy in 1578, Croft was given the rank of captain, and served on the staff of the lord deputy Sir William Drury at Waterford. He was an executor of Drury’s will, and soon after Drury’s death in October 1579, married his widow, who possessed, through her first marriage, an estate in Oxfordshire, at Weston-on-the-Green, near Bicester, to which the couple returned in the summer of 1580. Croft then settled down to his local commitments, being a j.p. by 1582 when he was summoned before the Privy Council on some minor charge. On his wife’s death Weston passed into the Norris family, but their decision to allow Croft to remain there was resisted—at first forcibly, and then in the Star Chamber—by the Earl of Lincoln, who claimed it as part of his wife’s jointure. The Norris party won and Croft remained at Weston.3
His father, meanwhile, had not neglected Croft’s interests at court, and was no doubt instrumental in arranging Croft’s return to Parliament for Brackley through the 4th Earl of Derby. On 11 Nov. 1586 Croft was one of the large Commons committee which presented to the Queen a joint petition with the Lords for the execution of Mary Stuart. In 1588 Sir James took his son with him on his peace mission to the Netherlands, ‘both for the necessity I have of his service and that he may learn something in this time of treaty’. Although Croft was the joint grantee of the manor of Upton-on-Severn in Worcestershire in 1593, he appears to have done little to counter the decline of the family influence on the Welsh borders after the death of Sir James in 1590. Croft’s later career spent was at court. Knighted by James I, he was entrusted with the custody of Lady Arbella Stuart, whose escape brought him a spell in the Fleet prison. He was a pall bearer at the funeral of Queen Anne in 1619. He was still sufficiently active in 1622 to seek a licence to travel abroad for a year, but two years later he was dispensed by warrant from personal attendance upon the King in his role of gentleman pensioner. Chamberlain reported the death from fever of ‘our oldest pensioner about the court’, on 4 Sept. 1624. Croft’s will, proved 21 Jan. 1625, mentioned no goods or property, and named only two servants as beneficiaries. Lady Elizabeth Savage—perhaps a relative of Croft’s unknown second wife—was, as executrix, involved in a dispute over the administration with Croft’s nephew and namesake.4
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. Vis. Herefs. ed. Weaver, 21-2; CP; CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 25; CSP Ire. 1574-85, p. 279.
- 2. E407/1/18, 19; Lord Herbert of Cherbury, ed. Lee, 82.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 43; CSP Ire. 1574-85, pp. 138, 181, 279; VCH Oxon. vi. 348; APC, x. 245; xi. 264; xiii. 429, 434; xv. 153; xvi. 72, 107.
- 4. D’Ewes, 399; CSP For. 1588, p. 278; CSP Span. 1587-1603, p. 235; pat. rolls 35 Eliz.; P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches of Wales, 236-7, 241; Herbert, 82; APC, 1621-3, p. 308; CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 17, 19, 20, 24, 43; 1623-5, pp. 25, 160; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, ii. 579; PCC 10 Clarke.