CREWE, Thomas (1566-1634), of Gray's Inn, London and Steane, Northants.; later of Serjeants' Inn, Fleet Street, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

b. 3 Apr. 1564,1 3rd s. of John Crewe (d.1598)2 of Nantwich, Cheshire, and Alice, da. of Humphrey Mainwaring of Nantwich; bro. of Ranulphe*.3 educ. Shrewsbury sch. 1580; G. Inn 1585, called 1591.4 m. c.Aug. 1596,5 Temperance (d. 25 Oct. 1619),6 da. and coh. of Reynold Bray of Steane, 4s. 5da. (1 d.v.p.).7 kntd. 17 Nov. 1623.8 d. 1 Feb. 1634.9 sig. Tho[mas] Crewe.

Offices Held

Reader, Barnard’s Inn 1599; ancient, G. Inn 1603, reader 1612, bencher 1612-23;10 asst. to Banbury corp., Oxon. 1608-d.;11 fee’d counsel to Anne of Denmark by 1619;12 sjt.-at-law 1623, king’s sjt. 1625-d.;13 fee’d counsel, City of London by 1624.14

Commr. charitable uses, Northants. 1603,15 gaol delivery, Northampton 1613;16 j.p. Northants. 1616-d.;17 freeman, Northampton 1620;18 commr. subsidy, Northants. 1622, 1624,19 Forced Loan 1627,20 oyer and terminer, Midland circ. 1626-33,21 martial law, Northants. 1628,22 sewers 1633.23

Commr. survey [I] 1622-3, 1625;24 member, High Commission, Canterbury prov. 1625-d.;25 feoffee for impropriations 1632-d.26

Speaker of the House of Commons 1624, 1625.27


Like his elder brother Ranulphe, Crewe received a lengthy education at Shrewsbury school and the inns of court, and by the early 1590s he had joined Ranulphe in the service of the 7th earl of Shrewsbury (Gilbert Talbot†).28 In the summer of 1596 he married a kinswoman of the earl, one of the five daughters of a nephew of the first Lord Bray, and as a result established himself at Steane, two miles north of Brackley.29 Throughout his career Crewe benefited from occasional aristocratic patronage, while maintaining his reputation as an independent and godly inclined lawyer. His commonplace book reveals that he took a keen interest in both domestic and international politics from an early age; by the mid-1580s he was collecting information on a wide range of current affairs, with a notably anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish bias even before the Armada.30 Though he chose not to sit in Parliament under Elizabeth, he followed its proceedings closely, and it was almost certainly through his local influence that Ranulphe was returned for Brackley in 1597. This favour was returned in 1604, when Crewe was elected at Lichfield, probably on the recommendation of his brother’s patron, lord chancellor Ellesmere (Thomas Egerton†). Ellesmere’s assessment of the younger Crewe’s character, that he could be ‘a very wasp, if he be angered’, is certainly borne out by his record in the first three Jacobean parliaments.31

Crewe delivered his maiden address on the subject of the Buckinghamshire election dispute. Speaking on 30 Mar. 1604, he urged the Commons to send an account to the king explaining its decision to defend the election of Sir Francis Goodwin, for ‘if we clear our contempt, we have discharged ourselves’. Like many of his colleagues, he was dismayed by James’ insistence that the Commons should confer with the judges, and expressed his opposition. However, the king remained insistent, and on 5 Apr. Crewe was appointed to attend the conference with the judges before the king in the Council chamber.32 Crewe’s main legislative interests throughout the Parliament were religion and the law. On 23 Apr. 1604 he was the first named to consider a bill against ‘frivolous actions’. In that same session he was also appointed to committees for bills to restrain popish books (6 June), reform the clergy (12 June), and prevent abuses in the ecclesiastical courts (16 June).33 After moving the continuance of the Dover Pier Act on 5 June, he was appointed to consider the continuance of expiring laws.34 Ten days later he successfully opposed an amendment to the 1593 Recusancy Act which sought to free husbands from financial responsibility for their wives’ refusal to attend church.35 Crewe’s stance on this issue is an indication of his strong puritanism, and it was as a puritan, ‘with zeal full fiery’, that he was noticed in the satire known as the ‘Parliament Fart’.36 He was named to the committees appointed when the House reconvened in January 1606 after the Gunpowder Plot, to consider ways of frustrating popish ‘plots and practices’, and of providing for a learned and resident ministry.37 On 17 Feb. 1606 he argued in favour of imposing a time limit on the penalties laid down in the Sunday observance bill.38 Nine days later he spoke on the subject of recusancy, calling for ‘all articles to stand as they be until put into a bill’; he was later appointed to help draft the recusancy bills (5 Mar. 1606), and to committees for further measures concerning the ministry.39 On 18 May 1607 he was one of those instructed to draft an address to the king on religion.40

In the third session Crewe’s attention was dominated by the main business of the Parliament, the Union with Scotland. He had been among those Members chosen to hear the king explain his intentions concerning the Union on 20 Apr. 1604, and had, three days later, proposed that the Lords should frame a bill on the subject of the name to be given to the united kingdoms. However, though he had been appointed to help prepare for a conference with the peers (27 Apr. 1604),41 little progress was made, and consequently Crewe was appointed to attend another conference (25 Nov. 1606), this time to set the timetable for detailed debates on the Union. In his first major speech, on the question of naturalization (19 Feb. 1607), he observed that ‘we [are] all natural of Scotland, sithence the king’s coming’. He also drew parallels with France during the Middle Ages, but this was not an entirely helpful comparison, for as Crewe himself admitted two days later, Gascony had been subject to the laws of England, having been conquered rather than acquired by the Crown peacefully.42 In the coming months he was chosen to help to manage three conferences with the Lords on naturalization.43 He also turned his legal expertise to the thorny question of hostile laws, taking great care over the wording of the bill when it was debated in committee on 27 June 1607.44

Crewe established himself among the popular champions in the fourth session by his hostility to impositions, having been involved in the preparation of the petition presented to James in 1606, in which impositions had first appeared as a grievance.45 However, at the beginning of the session he made little difficulty for the Crown. On 15 Feb. 1610 he was appointed to attend the conference with the Lords at which lord treasurer Salisbury (Robert Cecil†) outlined the parlous state of the royal finances and demanded supply. Nine days later he was added to the list of those Members instructed to report a further conference on the concessions to be made by the Crown as ‘retribution’ for supply.46 At this stage in the session Crewe seems to have been broadly in favour of concluding a bargain with the Crown over the royal finances, although he clearly wished to proceed cautiously: on 1 Mar. he argued against immediate supply, advising instead that they should ‘do therein, in due time, as became dutiful subjects’.47 Four days later he and three senior Members were appointed to prepare a message to the Lords on tenures and wardship.48 Over the next few months he continued to play a minor role in the negotiations for the Great Contract, being appointed to prepare for a conference with the Lords on 26 Mar. and reporting from another on 4 May.49 In early May, however, the negotiations were brought to a standstill by the king’s refusal to allow the Commons to debate impositions. Crewe was furious, and in grand committee on 18 May he remonstrated that ‘our case is hard’, since ‘if we bring not ease in these things home with us to our neighbours, we shall hardly be welcome’.50 James subsequently relented, and Crewe participated in the lengthy Commons’ debate on the legality of impositions. In a long and technical speech delivered to the grand committee on 29 June, Crewe challenged the king’s ‘supposed prerogative’ right to impose, on the grounds that ‘restraints have been always by Act of Parliament’. The only exception he would allow was in time of war, ‘which being grounded upon necessity is become legal’.51 This speech was admired by the Member for Rye, Heneage Finch, who praised Crewe on 2 July for answering ‘very fully’ the arguments made in favour of impositions by the attorney-general, Hobart.52 The following day Crewe was ordered to help frame the address to the king on impositions.53

During the debate on impositions, Crewe did not lose sight of the king’s demand for supply, although he was equally in no hurry to proceed while the subjects’ grievances remained unredressed. On 14 June, after opposing as unnecessary the suggestion that a proviso be added to the subsidy bill requiring the execution of the laws against Catholic priests, he argued that the bill should be deferred so that ‘a quick hand’ should not ‘stay a plentiful’. The latter point he encapsulated in his favourite Ciceronian tag: ‘Hilari, celeri, plena manu’, and frequently repeated it in subsequent debates.54 Crewe was among those appointed to consider the seven ‘propositions for ease of the subject’ on 26 June.55 As the session drew to a close, he was requested to gather the arguments used in the grand debate on impositions (10 July).56 Two days later his name headed a six-strong committee to consider the subsidy, but on 13 July he was granted leave of absence and seems to have missed the remaining ten days of the session.57

Despite his preoccupation with the royal finances, Crewe found time during the fourth session to contribute to debates on various legal, moral and religious matters. On 21 Mar. he debated a bill concerning brewing in victualling houses, which was subsequently rejected.58 On 24 Apr. he argued in defence of ‘silenced preachers’, the subject of a petition to the king.59 As a lawyer, he also handled several private bills; and on 18 May Sir Roger Owen proposed that Bacon and Crewe should be allowed to amend as they saw fit a land bill promoted by Sir Robert Drury*.60 He was appointed to attend the conference of 5 July on the bill for the better execution of justice in the North.61 On the following day, at a conference on the Canons of 1604, he desired ‘that nothing may be declared heresy until it be confirmed by Parliament’. He argued that it was ‘altogether unfit and dangerous’ to allow the bishops alone to judge heresy, since it meant ‘they may touch men both in their lives, lands, and goods’.62 Nothing is known of any part Crewe may have played in the short fifth session.

In the spring of 1612 Crewe gave a reading at Gray’s Inn on a statute of 1532 regulating the taking of recognizances for merchants’ debts.63 Bacon was among the audience, and was so impressed that he noted that Crewe was a potential serjeant-at-law. It was on the assumption that Crewe himself was ambitious of promotion that Bacon advised the king sometime the following year that Crewe would probably behave more circumspectly in the next Parliament, should one be called, than he had in the last.64 Crewe’s legal career certainly seemed to be flourishing, for in 1613 he was counsel for the bishop of London in a high-profile Chancery case, in which he found himself pitted against his own brother, who was representing the dean and chapter of Westminster.65 Later that same year, Crewe took temporary custody at Steane of his wife’s cousin, the Catholic Lord Vaux.66 At the general election in 1614 he was returned for Bere Alston, which suggests that he may have been linked with the borough’s patron, the earl of Southampton.

Crewe played a much more prominent role in Commons’ debates in 1614 than he had previously, perhaps because his brother, Ranulphe, served as Speaker. However, he failed to live up to Bacon’s expectation that he would prove more compliant than he had in 1610. On 11 Apr. 1614 Crewe spoke at length on the question of whether Bacon, as attorney-general, should be allowed to sit. At Crewe’s suggestion, it was eventually ordered that Bacon could retain his seat, but that no attorney-general would be eligible to serve in future.67 When Secretary Winwood introduced a motion for immediate supply on 12 Apr., Crewe, who was quick to dismiss the accusations of ‘undertaking’ that threatened to disrupt the session, announced that he was not in favour of voting subsidies until the grace bills had been considered. As the Easter recess was fast approaching, he suggested that these should be read twice in one day, so that the House could then turn its attention to supply.68 He spoke in favour of a conference on the Palatine marriage settlement on 13 Apr., and was appointed to the committee for its management.69 He made no further comment in the undertaking debates, except to remark with waspish impatience on 14 May that ‘we have fished long, and catched nothing’, before urging the Commons to ‘go on with things for the good of the king and Commonwealth’.70

The main business that Crewe wished to pursue was that of impositions; and he also spoke on several legal bills. On 15 Apr. he successfully moved to amend a bill for relief of the king’s tenants, observing that it was ‘a course of the House that a bill [is] not ordinarily committed without something spoken to it’.71 In the debates concerning the French Company’s charter, he moved on 20 Apr. ‘to have the patent called in and consideration for the punishment of the procurers of it’.72 When the Company refused to yield up its charter, Crewe declared on 3 May that their guilt was thereby proven.73 He pointed out certain inconsistencies in a bill for the assignment of debts to the Crown on 4 May, and moved for the measure to be recommitted, although he himself was not named to the new committee.74 Two days later he answered Sir Henry Poole’s objections to a bill for pleading the general issue.75 With his usual vigilance towards matters of religion, Crewe contributed on 7 May to a debate on Sunday observance, in answer to Edward Smythe’s motion ‘against working on the Sabbath, wherein the lawyers [are] most faulty’.76 Five days later Crewe was appointed to consider a bill against non-resident clergy (12 May).77

Together with William Hakewill, Crewe reopened the impositions debate on 3 May. He continued where he and Heneage Finch had left off in 1610, with the argument that medieval precedents justified imposing during wartime only.78 Nine days later he was among the lawyers appointed to investigate various aspects of impositions, his special remit being to research their legality under the Common Law.79 However, the Lords refused to confer with the Commons over impositions, and the Lower House was further outraged by reports that Bishop Neile had accused them of sedition. Crewe, who voiced the general belief that Neile’s remarks ‘striketh deep to this body which we represent’, was named to the committee to consider an appropriate response (25 May).80

The impositions debates of both 1610 and 1614 greatly displeased the king, and after the dissolution Crewe was among those summoned before the Privy Council in June 1614 to have his notes publicly burnt.81 Chamberlain reported that Crewe could not obtain the coif, ‘though he had many friends’. As late as 1618 he remained out of favour, as James warned the City that Crewe was the one man in the kingdom whose candidacy for the recordership of London he absolutely barred.82 Notwithstanding this setback, Crewe continued to build up legal and local connections that would soon serve to advance his career. As a Northamptonshire magistrate he came into contact with John Williams, the new dean of Westminster, and future lord keeper.83 It was probably through the mediation of his Gray’s Inn ‘puisne’, Robert Hitcham*, that he also found employment as the queen’s counsel in around 1619, though any hopes he may have had that this would be a path to further promotion were cut short by Anne’s death within the year.84

In 1620 Crewe was elected for Northampton, the only occasion in his long parliamentary career when his return was presumably the result of his own local influence.85 Unintimidated by the treatment he had received after the Addled Parliament, Crewe now fulfilled the role of a major speechmaker. He contributed to debates on a diverse range of business, and was at the forefront of the opposition to monopolies. He also worked hard in committees, frequently receiving appointments to draft new bills. His first speech of the session, delivered in grand committee on 5 Feb. 1621, began with a characteristic invective against the ‘insolency of papists’. He called upon the king to issue a Proclamation banishing Catholics from the capital; and he also made a bold plea for freedom of speech, saying ‘we had freedom of speech last Parliament, yet we know what followed ... if anything be spoken amiss [may it] be censured here, and not punished after’. He concluded by proposing to prefer supply ‘above all other business’, notwithstanding ‘it is the order of parliaments that grievances go first’. However, it is unlikely James was impressed by this apparent generosity, as Crewe offered only a single subsidy.86 So far as free speech was concerned, Crewe was named to the sub-committee, and after it was agreed to proceed by address and bill he was also appointed to the drafting committee (12 February).87 Pragmatically, his own preference was for a petition, since even if a bill was passed it would not ‘take life’ until after the present session. With reference to Peter Wentworth† and (Sir) Anthony Cope*, imprisoned by Elizabeth for fomenting puritan dissent in the Commons, Crewe also warned on 12 Feb. that ‘art and cunning cannot prevail in this House nor with the king ... if you extend freedom of speech to be such as for which those gentlemen were punished, assure yourselves it will not be granted’; and he therefore recommended that the petition should observe ‘the bounds of loyalty and duty’.88

Crewe called on 10 Feb. for the courtier Sir John Leedes* to be punished for failing to take the oaths of supremacy and allegiance, and supported his subsequent expulsion from the House.89 He reacted angrily to Thomas Sheppard’s insinuation that the Sabbath observance bill was a puritan measure, pointing out on 15 Feb. that a bill ‘to sanctify the Lord’s day’ had passed the Commons in 1614. After being appointed to the Sabbath bill committee, he desired that the unrepentant Sheppard, like Leedes, should be expelled.90 Named to confer with the Lords on a petition against recusancy (16 Feb.), the next day Crewe moved for a bill to be drawn to prevent recusants from leasing out their lands, which the statute of 1606 had failed to do; and was duly appointed to consider the resultant bill on 2 March.91 The start of Lent prompted a debate about royal proclamations, commonly issued to implement dietary restrictions at this time. Crewe sympathized with those who protested against the enforcement of such proclamations in Star Chamber, but did not wish to antagonize James, and declared on 22 Feb. that ‘we ought to handle [the] prerogative gently and tenderly’. His concern was evidently to avoid any conflict that might jeopardize the Commons’ proceedings against royal patents, for he added that proclamations were ‘a chief thing of prerogative’ which should ‘not be joined to monopolies’.92

Crewe was appointed on 13 Feb. with other lawyers ‘to survey all the statutes’ with a view to repealing obsolete acts, hundreds of which had been identified, and codifying the rest.93 He took this opportunity to raise the grievance of patents for the enforcement or dispensation of penal laws, which he described as ‘the greatest grief ... whereby a rod of gold is turned into a rod of iron’. He also complained of the dispensations for trade, wool, tillage and depopulation which, he argued, had caused or exacerbated the current economic depression. As well as seeking their removal, he proposed ‘that the clerk’s book should be surveyed once a week, each Saturday’, to ensure that ‘good motions should not prove abortive’.94 Crewe expected redress of grievances to follow after James accepted the Commons’ offer to vote two subsidies on 16 February. Taking encouragement from the king’s statement that ‘there is nothing reasonable that we can ask but we shall have’, his first desire was ‘to see monopolies sacrificed’. Indeed, he relished the prospect of seeing ‘all those patents of grievances lie crackling in the fire’.95 He also pointedly remarked upon the fact that the grace bills of 1614 had not been reintroduced, and suggested that the privy councillors in the House might intercede with James to ‘make an acceptable perfume to the Commonwealth’ by having all monopolies ‘committed to the fire’.96

In committee on 19 Feb., Crewe urged the House ‘to fall to particulars’.97 He set about doing so himself the following day, when he spoke at length on the legal objections to Sir Giles Mompesson’s* patent for inns.98 Shortly afterwards it was decided to sequester Mompesson until he could be brought to trial, whereupon Crewe, who was keen to defend the original justification behind the offending patent, moved for the statutes against drunkenness to be enforced and extended, so that a single witness’ testimony would suffice against ‘those that lie tippling in towns adjoining’.99 He was subsequently appointed to committees to search for precedents for Mompesson’s punishment (27 Feb.) and a bill against drunkenness (1 March).100

Crewe’s contribution to the great debate about the ‘causes of the scarcity of money’ on 26 Feb. was to focus on the need to ‘sweep the commonwealth of that dust which hath crept in by monopolies’, and on the bills of grace, ‘wherein the king will meet us more than halfway’.101 At the first reading of the subsidy bill on 5 Mar. Crewe was keen to ensure that the bill would include an extended general pardon clause. However, Sir Edward Coke was unhappy about attaching conditions to the grant as the Commons had promised to give freely. He also warned that if a pardon were included in the bill ‘the session of Parliament would be dissolved’.102

A conference with the Lords to discuss Mompesson’s patent was planned for 8 Mar., at which Crewe and his fellow lawyers Hakewill and Heneage Finch would present the evidence against both Mompesson and those in government who had approved his grant. The subject of the ‘referees’ was highly sensitive, as it was clear that many of the grants complained of by the Commons had been obtained on the advice of men close to the royal favourite, the marquess of Buckingham. Crewe’s apprehension about investigating the referees was betrayed by his appeal the day before the conference ‘for direction, either from the House, or by a special committee to be appointed’.103 On the morning of the conference a rehearsal of the points that Crewe and his colleagues would make was abruptly broken off by Speaker Richardson’s untimely adjournment of the session.104 As a result of this unusual signal, Crewe presented the conference with six points against Mompesson’s inns patent, but stopped short of naming the referees, as did his colleagues.105 The following day he defended his conduct, saying that he had ‘omitted not anything either for fear or respect of any man’s person’. He had wanted to tell the House the previous morning that he had ‘no ground’ to speak of the referees, having seen ‘no certificate’, and ‘no petition’, but had been prevented from doing so as the Commons had arisen ‘at an unlawful hour’.106 Crewe and his fellow spokesmen were subsequently forgiven by the House, and together they ‘repaired their former omissions’ at a second conference on 10 March.107 On 15 Mar. Crewe was summoned to consult further with the Lords, whereupon the Commons decided to postpone the reading of the monopolies bill, which he had helped to draft, until his return.108 In the debate of 17 Mar. on Bacon’s culpability as one of the referees, Crewe acknowledged that he was ‘much bound to the lord chancellor’. However, he ‘oweth more to the Commonwealth’, and therefore suggested that Bacon’s case should be left to the Lords.109 As his fall became inevitable, Bacon named Crewe as the first of five executors of his will, which was drawn up on 10 April. He subsequently also appointed Crewe a trustee of his estates.110

In addition to monopolies, other committee work occupied much of Crewe’s attention. As a member of the committee for returns and privileges (5 Feb.), he took an interest in several disputed elections.111 On 7 Feb. he called for a general decision to be made regarding the eligibility of the holders of Scottish or Irish titles after it became known that Sir Henry Carey I*, elected for Hertfordshire, had been created Viscount Falkland.112 He was also uncertain how to proceed in the controversy surrounding the return of William Man for Westminster, which he described on 26 Feb. as ‘a new case, without book or precedent’. Man had been substituted for Edmund Doubleday, who had died shortly after he had been elected, even though no new writ had been issued.113 In the privilege case of Henry Lovell, who had been threatened with violent reprisals after making a speech concerning cases in the Court of Wards, Crewe adhered strictly to precedent when he argued on 13 Feb. that no female witness could be admitted to the House of Commons. The lady in question (Lovell’s future wife) instead gave testimony before a committee appointed to gather evidence concerning abuses in the courts.114 Crewe himself attended this committee, even though he had not formally been named as one of its members.

Legal matters remained a concern for Crewe during the Parliament. On 14 Feb. he advocated a change in the law to allow sureties to receive satisfaction ‘out of the profits of wards lands, that so neither they may be left under the burthen of the whole debt, nor the heir remain chargeable with the penalty of the bond when he comes of age, nor the creditor deprived of his security’.115 Three days later he was added to a sub-committee to draft a bill for this purpose.116 On 1 Mar. Crewe spoke in favour of the supersedeas bill, and after he had answered all of John Glanville’s objections the measure passed.117 The following day he addressed the bill against concealed lands, and was appointed to its committee.118

Of particular concern to Crewe was a bill that he introduced on 13 Feb. to make perpetual an act of 1597 for hospitals and workhouses.119 His interest in the issue probably stemmed from his involvement in the case of St. Bartholomew’s hospital near Sandwich, which had been subject to the designs of certain patentees under the Edwardian statutes for the dissolution of chantries, fraternities and guilds. Crewe had argued that the latter did not apply to St. Bartholomew’s, a secular foundation for the aid of the poor, but the case, which dated back to at least 1612, remained unresolved.120 Having moved a second reading of the bill a day later, he was named to the committee.121 As in the previous parliaments in which he had sat, Crewe was concerned to oversee the continuance of expiring statutes, and on 22 Mar. he pleaded for Sir Edward Coke to assist the committee in the case of the husbandry acts against conversion of arable into pasture, and depopulation. These were undoubtedly of special interest to Crewe’s Northamptonshire neighbours, since the area had experienced severe agrarian unrest in recent memory; and he also warned of the need to ‘take care for the repeal of obsolete laws, which are the ground of projects’.122

After the Easter break, Crewe was involved in preparing and managing two conferences with the Lords on a bill against informers (19 Apr., 25 Apr.), which he later singled out, together with the concealments and monopolies bills, as the most important achievement of the session.123 In response to reported slanders against Elizabeth of Bohemia by the Catholic lawyer Edward Floyd, Crewe successfully moved for the calling of witnesses on 1 May, and the following day asserted that the Commons had the authority to pass judgment against Floyd, for ‘this matter [is] an extraordinary cause and therefore we think fit to punish it, for all courts of record do in such cases make new precedents’.124 However, he did not wish this matter to interrupt more important business, and on 16 May, when debate turned to the question of whether the warden of the Fleet should also be punished, he cautioned the Commons not to ‘rush upon that rock from which we are cleared’.125 Instead, he called for the bill of limitations to be read, and desired ‘to settle a time for the continuance of [expiring] statutes’.126 The following day he moved ‘that the grievances in former sessions may be considered of’.127 One bill that had been revived from 1614, for pleading the general issue, produced on 18 May an almost verbatim reprise of an earlier exchange between Crewe and Sir Henry Poole, who demanded, as he had seven years earlier, that ‘the king’s counsel [should] show cause upon their demurrer’; to which Crewe responded, much as he had previously, that it was needless ‘to clog the bill with this’.128 Crewe moved that this measure, and the other public bills, should be committed, and was the first named to the resulting committee. Crewe again clashed with Poole a week later, this time over the limitations bill, which had likewise been revived from 1614. Crewe mocked Poole’s objections over various technicalities as ‘a reading upon a statute before it was made’, and selflessly defended it on 25 May as ‘a very good bill for the Commonwealth, but not for the commonwealth of lawyers’.129

On 24 May Crewe preferred a bill for ostlers and innholders on the subject of fodder, and moved the second reading of the bill for the ordering of inns.130 He protested vigorously and successfully when the House proceeded instead to the reading of a bill ‘for explanation of a proviso in [an act of] 13 Eliz.’, which he perceived was essentially a private measure concerning a suit in King’s Bench. In the ensuing debate on the business of the House he revealed that the lawyers had ‘made ready seven bills of grace’.131 Two days later a bill drawn by Crewe himself ‘against bribery and corruption inhibiting all promotions by money in Church, Oxford and Commonwealth, and all new years gifts’ was first read.132 He supported the bill for free trade in wool at its third reading on 26 May, having previously succeeded in defeating a proviso for Halifax to be exempt.133 The two bills for innholders were committed together on 28 May, Crewe being the first named.134 However, the king’s announcement that Parliament was to be adjourned brought progress to a frustrating halt.

Crewe responded to the news that the sitting would shortly be ended by making a passionate appeal for more time. He reminded James that the Commons, in order to avoid the mistake of dealing with him in a merchant-like fashion, had voted subsidies at the beginning of the Parliament, and therefore it was only proper that he should ‘meet us more than half way in remedying our grievances’. His main concern was that if the session ended now those bills which were almost ready for the Royal Assent would automatically fail. To avoid this eventuality, he wanted a guarantee that the end of this sitting would not signal the end of the session. This was not an unreasonable request, he observed, for ‘in Queen Mary’s time bills did pass, and yet the sessions continued’. However, he also wanted to ‘sit a little longer till we have prepared some good bills for the relief and comfort of the subject’, for ‘if we make no laws we shall have groans and sighs instead of welcome’.135 This demand went unheeded, and two days later he spoke again in much the same terms, although this time he stressed the need for a general pardon to accompany supply. He concluded by saying that ‘I am vexed in my thoughts what to resolve, yet I desire the bills of most importance may pass’.136 He was appointed to prepare and manage an adjournment conference with the Lords on 2 June, and the sitting duly ended two days later.137

Despite the situation in the Palatinate that had been the ostensible reason for the summoning of James’s third Parliament, there had been little discussion of foreign affairs in the first sitting. When the session reopened in November 1621, the response of many Members, including Crewe, to the king’s request for further supply, was that they would give no more until ‘we might first know our enemy’.138 In Crewe’s view the enemy was clearly Spain, but James refused to consider a war against a country with whom he still hoped to negotiate a dynastic alliance for his son. These conflicting interests became apparent on 26 Nov., when Crewe summed up the feelings of the House in a long and widely reported speech. He referred back to the subsidies voted already, and again repeated his demands of the previous sitting: for the general pardon, the bills of grace, and for clearing the kingdom of Jesuits. Despite the continuing economic depression, the country would be willing to give more, he said, with alacrity - indeed, with ‘a swift and open hand, celeri et plena manu’ - to ensure that the Catholic threat to both the Palatinate and England were thwarted. To this he dared to add the plea that ‘our prince might be matched to one of our religion’.139 Crewe was the first Member to mention Prince Charles’s marriage, an ‘explosive topic’ generally considered to be off limits, that Crewe himself acknowledged was a matter ‘not fit for me to enter into’.140 Instead of subsidies, he recommended that James raise loans from the City to finance the proposed invasion of the Palatinate; and two days later, in committee, he remained insistent that there was no precedent for granting a third subsidy, since ‘if there be two taxes in one year (as it was answered by the oracles) there must be two harvests, two springs and two autumns’.141

Along with William Noye and Hakewill, Crewe was ordered on 28 Nov. to draft a bill to ensure that no measures were killed off by prorogation or dissolution.142 He may then have hoped to proceed with ordinary business, but if so the House was soon diverted by Sir George Goring, who suggested that James be petitioned to take decisive action against Spain. Despite mixed feelings at the prospect of an expensive war, the Commons agreed to this motion; the inclusion of a clause mentioning the general pardon in this petition, which was reported from committee on 3 Dec., identifies Crewe as one of its draftsmen, as does the insertion of the request that Prince Charles should marry a Protestant. Before the petition had even been presented to him, James reacted angrily to reports that the Commons was debating the marriage of the heir to the throne.143 Crewe now produced precedents to show that it had always been Parliament’s duty to advise the monarch on such matters, and went so far as to assert that ‘the marriage of the king’s son [is] not fit to be determined but in Parliament’.144 His change in demeanour in the short space of a week is so marked that it seems likely Crewe had received encouragement from one or more of James’s councillors, who wanted to bring about an end to the Parliament.145

In the ensuing row, Crewe indignantly protested (5 Dec.) that the Commons believed that it was acting in accordance with James’s wishes, for having been ‘invited’ to debate war with Spain it was impossible not to consider the related issue of the Spanish Match. This apparent concern for James’s wishes was slightly disingenuous, for on 3 Dec. Crewe had proposed that the king’s right to impositions should be again debated in Parliament. Two days later he exhorted the Commons to remain ‘constant to our selves, loyal to our prince, and careful of our liberties’.146 Whether intentionally or not, Crewe had now made a name for himself, for it was reported by the French ambassador on 4 Dec. that despite the earlier imprisonment of Sir Edwin Sandys*, men like Sir Edward Coke, Sir Robert Phelips and ‘un certain Criou’ had spoken ‘hardiment et insolemment’ in the Commons.147

An impasse had been reached on foreign policy. In the meantime Crewe called for special measures to be taken against papists in London, and defended Coke against a plot to discredit him by Lepton and Goldsmith, which he described on 10 Dec. as ‘a great wrong to the Members and privileges of this House’.148 The emergence of this issue exacerbated the breakdown in communication between the Commons and James, who saw it as merely an excuse for not proceeding with other business.149 However, Crewe complained on 12 Dec. of the impossibility of returning to normality while ‘our thoughts are so distracted by these many sharp messages from the king’. Recalling that the Buckinghamshire election dispute of 1604 and the Stockbridge election controversy of 1614 had both been resolved when the king, ‘upon true information’, had given the House ‘satisfaction’, he declared that James had been misinformed of the Commons’ intentions. As the king would also not entertain any more petitions from the House, there was no way left to defend the ancient privileges of the Commons. Crewe also complained that ‘there are good bills already prepared, but we hear nothing of the pardon’.150 Although ‘much comforted’ by the ‘assurance of religion’ given on 14 Dec., he joined Phelips the next day in enraged protest against the king’s claim that the privileges of the House were held by royal gift: ‘this [is] of that importance to us, that if we should yield our liberties to be but of grace, these walls, that have known the holding them thus many years, would blush’.151 He therefore called for the Commons’ Form of Apology and Satisfaction of 1604 to be read.152 On receipt of a further royal letter on 17 Dec., Crewe called for it to be copied, and again denied that the House was guilty of wasting time. He also objected strenuously to the imputation that the Commons’ proceedings were ‘antimonarchical’, which he termed ‘not a phrase fit for parliament’, and to proposals to define the privileges of the House in writing, since he declared that these were ‘our birthright and inheritance ... of that extent as cannot be easily reduced into writing (for leaving out loseth them)’.153 The following day the king, intending to block the protestation of privileges, announced the end of the session. Crewe, regardless, moved to ‘go on with the committee for our privileges’. His final appointment was to review the clerk’s book (18 December).154

Coke, Phelips and various others were imprisoned after the dissolution for their part in the breakdown of the third Jacobean Parliament. Crewe was lucky to escape the same fate himself. Instead, probably as a result of the intervention of lord keeper Williams, and the new lord treasurer, Sir Lionel Cranfield*, he, Sir James Perrot*, Sir Nathaniel Rich* and Sir Dudley Digges*, were sent to Ireland in March 1622 as part of a commission to inquire into its affairs.155 Far from regarding this mission as a punishment, Crewe threw himself with enthusiasm into the work of reforming the Irish church and courts of justice, and sent dispatches back to both Cranfield, now earl of Middlesex, and Williams.156 The commission discovered an administration racked in equal measure by incompetence and corruption. However, as Crewe reported to Williams, reform was impeded by ‘some that bear office and have charge in the army, councillors of state that have companies, and persons of quality that have pensions and entertainments’.157 The bulk of the work had been completed by September, but Crewe’s hopes to be back in time for the start of Michaelmas term were thwarted by Buckingham, who feared that the commissioners’ return would prevent the king from approving his own Irish projects. With Middlesex’s help they were finally recalled on 19 Nov., and after a torturous journey in weather so bad it was rumoured they had been shipwrecked, they finally arrived in London in mid-December. Crewe had redeemed himself, especially by his endeavours in reorganizing the Irish courts. Although the commissioners achieved little lasting improvement in the government or condition of the country, James was satisfied with their report, and they were finally dismissed on 26 Feb. 1623 with ‘profuse thanks’ and enhanced career prospects.158

Crewe was recommended by Williams for promotion to the coif as early as the following July, but Chamberlain reported that both he and Noye had refused this honour ‘and so are left out’.159 By the following October Crewe had changed his mind, and together with Heneage Finch was inducted as a serjeant-at-law. The occasion was marred only by the inclement weather, which forced them to go ‘dabbling on foot and bareheaded to save their beguins [coifs] to Westminster all in the rain’, and afterwards their feast ‘was so disorderly performed, that it was rather a confusion than a feast’.160 A knighthood followed on 17 Nov. 1623, and not long afterwards Crewe was suggested, almost certainly by Williams, as a candidate for Speaker in the next Parliament, which was summoned early in the New Year. Ahead of the appointment, Williams praised Crewe to James as a man ‘warm in the care of religion, and a chief among them that were popular in the defence of it; a great lover of the laws of the land, and the liberties of the people; of a stay’d temper, sound in judgment, ready in language’, and concluded that ‘in his good parts, he had few or no superiors’.161 It seems likely that by this stage Crewe had attracted the notice of both Prince Charles and Buckingham, now a duke. Indeed, it may not be coincidental that his acceptance of the serjeantcy followed their return from Spain. Crewe’s consistently anti-Spanish bias surely endeared him to the pair after their recent humiliation at Madrid; and it is possible that he had earlier gained Buckingham’s approval, upon his return from Ireland, as his reports proved no impediment to the latter’s schemes. Certainly, Crewe later emerged as a Buckingham client. If he was already in the duke’s favour, it might explain how it came about that, as Speaker-elect, he was nominated by the Prince’s Council for a seat at Helston in the duchy of Cornwall.162

The choice of Crewe as Speaker must nevertheless have come as a surprise to many, given his longstanding reputation as a troublemaker in the Commons. Certainly, in early January 1624 Chamberlain took the rumours that the next Speaker would be ‘Serjeant Crewe’ to refer to Ranulphe, even though it was unusual for a former Speaker to serve a second term.163 It may be that despite, or even because, of the king’s well-known dislike of Crewe, James’s advisers thought it safer to bring Crewe over to their side, rather than risk losing another Parliament to disputes over privileges and the prerogative, as had happened in 1614 and 1621. In Ireland Crewe had demonstrated both his abilities, and his willingness to serve the king. As Speaker, he would be required to act as a go-between, and in appointing a former troublemaker, as Elizabeth had done by her shrewd choice of Robert Bell in 1572, the Crown perhaps hoped that Crewe would retain the esteem of his erstwhile associates, whilst being obliged to do James’s bidding. His selection has been described by one historian as a ‘conciliatory gesture’ from Charles and Buckingham, and its effect was to signal a shift, welcomed by most Members, towards a more anti-Catholic policy abroad and at home.164

Although rejected by Helston, Crewe was returned for Aylesbury, a proprietory borough in the control of the courtier Sir John Pakington.165 At the opening of Parliament on 19 Feb. 1624, he was formally proposed as Speaker by the treasurer of the Household Sir Thomas Edmondes*, who termed him ‘an ancient Member of this House, a man every way after our own hearts’. He was accepted ‘by general acclamation’, though John Hawarde noted that as the House rose there was a clamour from the gallery for Coke to be Speaker instead.166 The first experienced Member to be chosen Speaker since Sir Edward Phelips in 1604, Crewe, in his acceptance speech before the king, Lords and Commons on 21 Feb., thanked God for their deliverance from the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and offered ‘an olive branch’ to James, in the hope that ‘all jealousies and distractions might be removed and the memory of Parliament nullities might be buried’.167 He went on to plead that ‘the good bills against monopolies, informers and concealers may now be passed and receive strength with a general, liberal and royal pardon’, and also mentioned the measure on hospitals that he had laboured for in 1621. He reminded James that ‘parliaments are the best way of supply’, as ‘other courses ... come ... more heavily and unwillingly’, and remained tactfully silent about the Spanish Match, but instead prayed that God would deliver ‘the distressed princess [Elizabeth of Bohemia] and her husband [the Elector Palatine] ... from the usurping sword of their enemies’.168 Then, turning to Ireland, ‘in which I was lately employed’, Crewe summarized the achievements of the 1622 commission in a manner that suggested that no further discussion would be required. This has been described as a ‘tacit pre-emptive strike’, for by treating the Irish situation as a closed affair, Crewe managed to deflect any questions that might have arisen, particularly concerning Buckingham’s activities in Ireland. Had the Commons demanded a full report, the session may have turned out very differently, for it would have reflected badly on the royal favourite, while his enemy, lord treasurer Middlesex, would have gained some credit that might have offset the impulse to impeach him.169 Having spoken for around half an hour, Crewe concluded with the customary appeals for freedom of speech and access to the king.170 It was a good beginning, and was well received by all who heard it. Henry Elsynge thought this speech ‘the best that is recorded since 6 Hen. VIII’, and Crewe’s Northamptonshire neighbour Lord Montagu (Sir Edward Montagu*) wrote that it was ‘material, and to good purpose and well accepted of the king’.171

By all accounts, Crewe proved himself to be adept at handling the Commons, at least as far as legislation was concerned. His determination to see the bills of 1621 pass as quickly as possible ensured that no time was wasted; several were even engrossed immediately, without referral to committees, such as a measure against blasphemy which, as he gently reminded the House on 24 Feb., had passed three years ago, and ‘it was pity it should now receive any dash or delay’.172 Crewe took special pains to advance the hospitals bill, which became the first measure of the Parliament to be enacted.173 He may also have favoured London’s interests, as he was one of the City’s standing counsel and received a special payment of £10 from its coffers. It had once been customary for London’s corporation to pay the Speaker a fee every Parliament, but the last time that such a gratuity had been paid was in 1610. This money was doubtless welcome, as it helped to compensate him for loss of professional earnings during the session, as did the gratuity of around £5 for every private bill that was read in the Commons that he was entitled to receive.174 As Speaker, Crewe was unable to contribute to debates himself, except to maintain order in the House; however, he did occasionally offer the benefit of his long experience when procedural questions arose. On 1 Mar. Sir Peter Heyman and William Mallory suggested that the clerk and his servants should no longer record the names of individual speakers in the Commons Journal, as some Members received payments on a ‘cash for questions’ basis. (Undoubtedly Mallory also sought anonymity for those who spoke during debate as he and several other Members had been imprisoned after James had demanded to see the Journal in December 1621). Crewe affirmed that he knew of ‘divers’ Members who had profited by their speeches, and the matter was thereupon referred to a committee.175 Though not eligible for appointment to bill committees, the Speaker was able to participate in the proceedings of the grand committee, as he was no longer in the chair. During the debate on the bill for the continuance of expiring laws on 6 Apr., Crewe ‘desired to be heard and spake as a private member of the committee’.176 He was likewise permitted to be involved in drafting the subsidy bill, which he reported from grand committee on 14 May.177

Out of fear of a repeat of the 1621 fiasco, the Commons initially proved apprehensive about debating foreign policy, which was hardly mentioned in the opening week of the session. After hearing Buckingham’s ‘relation’ of what had passed in Madrid, however, the Lower House was given a green light to proceed. On 1 Mar. the ‘great business’ was discussed at a committee of the whole House, which Crewe attended as an ordinary Member.178 The debate continued on 5 Mar. when, despite pressure from the Lords to petition James for war against Spain, the Commons was unable to reach any agreement on how to proceed. Crewe ‘being much troubled’, it was left to the chairman of the committee, Sir Edwin Sandys, to move that the Commons should formally advise James to break off the treaties concerning the Palatinate and the Spanish Match.179

The main business that arose when the session resumed after Easter was the impeachment of lord treasurer Middlesex. The first of many charges against him was that he had laid new impositions on wine and other commodities. It must have seemed ironic that in his role as Speaker Crewe was required to propound to the House on 9 Apr. ‘that the dispute of the royal right of imposing’, which he had so fiercely insisted upon in the past, was ‘now to be declined’.180 Crewe was thereupon warranted by the House to send for witnesses against Middlesex, and he drew upon his recollection of the proceedings against the monopolists in 1621 as a precedent for the taking of evidence under oath.181 He subsequently received a letter from James clearing the treasurer of any blame for the sudden dissolution of the last Parliament, which he read out on 16 April.182 After Middlesex’s trial had been conducted in the Lords, word was brought on 13 May that the Commons’ attendance was required to hear judgment passed, whereupon Crewe ‘sent the mace for all the Members of the House ... and then shifted his garments and put on his scarlet’, a rare reference to the Speaker’s ceremonial attire.183 As the session drew to a close, Crewe commended the monopolies bill on 24 May, although he acknowledged that because of the amendments demanded by the Lords it was ‘not as we wished it’.184 However, he had unreserved praise for the general pardon, read three days later, which he described as ‘the freeest pardon that ever was granted’, and required the Commons to cry ‘God save the King’.185

In his closing speech before the king on 29 May, Crewe thanked God for having ‘brought our hopeful entry into this Parliament to a happy period and conclusion’. After surveying the legislation that had been passed, he resorted to his favourite phrase to state that supply had been provided: ‘hilari many, celeri manu, I may say plena manu’. He laid emphasis also on achievements in foreign policy and religion, declaring that ‘true believers at home and our neighbours and confederates abroad may rejoice and sing a new song of joy in seeing this happy turn of the affairs of Christendom since our hopeful prince’s return’.186 Hawarde declared this ‘an excellent speech, one of the best that I ever heard’. The general verdict, voiced by Edward Nicholas, was that Crewe had been ‘the most able Speaker and one of honestyest [sic] behaviour and carriage between the Houses and the king that had held that place in many years before’. This sentiment reflected the nationwide relief that the 1624 Parliament had been a success.187

Early in 1625 Crewe became a member of the High Commission, and was promoted to the rank of king’s serjeant, in succession to his brother, who had been appointed lord chief justice of King’s Bench.188 After the accession of Charles I, Crewe was added to the renewed Irish commission of May 1625, though he was not required to travel to Ireland.189 He was soon afterwards chosen to serve a second term as Speaker in the new king’s first Parliament. Although it was rare for former Speakers to sit again, Crewe’s selection was not all that surprising, since the ‘Prince’s Parliament’ had been prorogued rather than dissolved, and would probably have reconvened had it not been for the automatic dissolution brought about by James’s death. Moreover, Charles perhaps hoped that by appointing Crewe to serve again he might repeat the success of the 1624 Parliament. This view seems to have been shared by Sir John Eliot*, who observed that Crewe’s nomination ‘was held a good omen to the work’, since ‘his former carriage in that place’ had been so satisfactory, and raised expectations of ‘a new marriage and conjunction between the king and people’.190 Another factor in Crewe’s favour was that, according to lord keeper Williams, he remained ‘very ready (upon all occasions) to serve my lord duke’.191

Crewe was returned for Gatton in Surrey, apparently by arrangement with a local gentleman, Samuel Owfield*. He was again formally nominated Speaker by Edmondes, who praised his ‘singular abilities and most remarkable service in the last Parliament’ (18 June 1625).192 Crewe’s acceptance speech two days later was described by one diarist as ‘not long, but effectual’.193 In it he referred to the previous Parliament as a ‘happy’ one that had secured ‘as many good laws as passed at any one time since the Great Charter’.194 After praising the young king, Crewe besought him to expel ‘that wicked generation of Jesuits and seminary priests’, and reminded the House that the forthcoming war was a religious cause that it was duty-bound to support.195 Unfortunately for Crewe and for Charles, the session almost immediately went awry. The plague raging in London made most Members reluctant to remain in the capital. Moreover, the prospect of a short session coming so soon after the massive grants of the previous year extinguished any enthusiasm for voting a large supply, since Members would get nothing in return. Support was also less forthcoming than it had previously been for the war itself. A hint of disorder is apparent in the ruling on 24 June that anyone leaving the House before the Speaker would be fined 12d.196 Crewe vacated the chair for afternoon committees of the whole House on religion on 23, 24, and 28 June. On 1 July, when the Commons was debating the proceedings of the Council of War in grand committee, Crewe reported to Secretary Conway that his presence was not required, and so ‘I come not unless I be sent for’.197 As this suggests, there were certain subjects upon which it was deemed expedient to bar the Speaker from attending; the same applied to the debate of Tunnage and Poundage on 7 July, for which it was ordered that a committee of the whole House would commence at 7am, ‘and Mr. Speaker to be here at eight’.198

On its own initiative the Commons voted the king two subsidies. This sum was entirely inadequate, as it would be ‘spent e’er received’, and consequently on 8 July the king, at Buckingham’s prompting, asked for the amount to be increased.199 The decision to request a further supply flew in the face of the advice given to Buckingham by the privy councillors in the House, and perhaps by Crewe himself, for the message was delivered not by the Speaker or any of the Crown ministers about the chair but by Buckingham’s client (Sir) John Coke*, who had no previous experience as a government spokesman. By undermining the role of both Crewe and the privy councillors in the House in this way, Buckingham and Charles forfeited the confidence of the Commons, whose Members took offence at what they perceived to be the duke’s interference. Consequently, no progress was made in voting additional supply before the Commons reassembled at Oxford at the start of August. Once again it was Coke rather than Crewe who was entrusted with the task of demanding an additional vote of supply. This was no way to induce the Commons to provide the extra money that was badly needed, and shortly afterwards several Members of the Lower House vented their spleen on Buckingham, whose failure to defend merchant shipping and the coasts now came in for heavy criticism. After a sitting lasting less than a fortnight, the Parliament came to a miserable end. On the last day of business, Phelips, fearing that there would be reprisals against the most troublesome Members after the dissolution, alluded to the earlier banishment of dissidents into Ireland, to which Crewe replied that he ‘took it not for a banishment, [and] he was well received when he came home’.200

Despite losing control of the Commons at Oxford, Crewe was suggested in August 1625 as Williams’ successor as lord keeper by his fellow puritan Viscount Saye and Sele, who was at that time briefly and uncharacteristically allied with Buckingham.201 Nothing came of this, however, and Crewe received no further promotion; indeed, he was later included by an embittered Williams on a list of Buckingham’s former clients who had had ‘their top-sails pulled down by him’.202 Crewe did not sit in the Commons again, though he continued to take an interest in its proceedings, as the True Relation of the 1629 session, which was printed in the eighteenth century as being his handiwork, may have originated in his collection of manuscripts. In March 1626 he appeared as counsel in the Lords for Lord Willoughby, one of the claimants to the earldom of Oxford, but when Buckingham wanted to employ him and the other king’s serjeants as his counsel to answer charges brought by the Commons, the Lords prevented it.203

Crewe invested the profits of his legal practice in enlarging his landholdings around Brackley, and also in Banbury, seven miles west of Steane, where he bought up part of the estates of the impoverished Sir William Cope*.204 He assisted in the election of his eldest son, John, for Brackley in 1626, and also for Banbury in 1628, having, as a result of his investment in the town, received a new year’s gift of £2 from Banbury corporation earlier that year.205 In 1628 Crewe was consulted by the Privy Council over the projected calling of an Irish Parliament.206 In 1632 he replaced Christopher Sherland* as one of the puritan feoffees for impropriations, but when the feoffees were charged the following year with embezzling funds he maintained that his role had been purely advisory.207

Although suffering in his last years from the stone and strangury, Crewe continued his practice ‘till within two days of his death’, his last client being ‘a poor man, and a minister’.208 In his undated will drawn up shortly before his death, he declared that these very painful illnesses ‘sent me comfort and renewed my age like an eagle’. He was said to have ‘died rich both in money and lands, having left behind him above £4,000 a year’.209 He left money to the poor of Brackley, Banbury, and Nantwich, and instructions to his son for the founding of a hospital at Brackley. He also left £5 each to three prominent puritan ministers in the Banbury area, John Dod, William Whately and Robert Harris, and to his fellow feoffee Richard Sibbes, the preacher at Gray’s Inn.210 Crewe died on 1 Feb. 1634, aged 68, and was buried under a marble effigy in the chapel he had built at Steane.211 Sibbes preached his funeral sermon, praising the quickness of his wit, the firmness of his memory, and the readiness of his expression. He was one who ‘set the stamp of religion on all his courses, in his whole conversation’, ‘a man exceeding conscionable’, ‘a marvellous great encourager of honest, laborious, religious ministers’, ‘the poor man’s lawyer’, and ‘a great lover of his country’.212 He was suceeded by his eldest son, John.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. J. Hall, Hist. of Nantwich, 458.
  • 2. C142/292/167.
  • 3. Ormerod, Cheshire, iii. pt. 1, p. 314; Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. lix), 68-9.
  • 4. Shrewsbury Sch. Regestrum Scholarium ed. E. Calvert, i. 69; GI Admiss.
  • 5. Add. 4120, f. 117.
  • 6. Bridges, Northants. i. 200.
  • 7. Baker, Northants. i. 685.
  • 8. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 183.
  • 9. C142/515/88.
  • 10. PBG Inn, i. 146, 162, 196.
  • 11. Banbury Corp. Recs. ed. J.S.W. Gibson and E.R.C. Brinkworth (Banbury Hist. Soc. xv), 98, 128.
  • 12. LC2/5, f. 33v.
  • 13. Order of Sjts.-at-Law, 181; C66/2306, 2327.
  • 14. CLRO, Reps. 38, f. 129v.
  • 15. C93/2/6; Peterborough Local Admin: Feoffees Accts. ed. W.T. Mellows (Northants. Rec. Soc. x), 207.
  • 16. C181/2, f. 196.
  • 17. C231/4, f. 14; SP16/212, f. 44v; J.H. Gleason, JPs in Eng. 173.
  • 18. Northampton Bor. Recs. ed. J.C. Cox, ii. 495.
  • 19. C212/22/21, 23; Northants. Subsidies ed. J. Wake (Northants. Rec. Soc. iii), 174.
  • 20. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145.
  • 21. C181/3, f. 206; C181/4, f. 146.
  • 22. APC, 1627-8, p. 299.
  • 23. C181/4, f. 140.
  • 24. CSP Ire. 1615-25, p.346; Rymer, viii. pt. 1, p. 46.
  • 25. R.G. Usher, Rise and Fall of High Commission, 349.
  • 26. E112/211/533; E.W. Kirby, ‘The Lay Feofees: a Study in Militant Puritanism’, JMH, xiv. 6.
  • 27. CJ, i. 670b; Procs. 1625, p. 34.
  • 28. C. Jamison, Cal. Talbot Pprs. (Derbys. Arch. Soc.), i. 110; iv. 190, 230; Illustrations of Brit. Hist. ed. E. Lodge, iii. 34-7.
  • 29. Add. 4120, f. 117.
  • 30. BL, RP 154 [microfilm].
  • 31. J. Hacket, Scrinia Reserata (1692), i. 176.
  • 32. CJ, i. 166b, 940a; CD 1604-7, pp. 36, 51; W. Notestein, The House of Commons 1604-10, p. 72.
  • 33. CJ, i. 233b, 237a, 240b.
  • 34. Ibid. 986a.
  • 35. Ibid. 993a.
  • 36. Add. 34218, f. 21.
  • 37. CJ, i. 257b, 258a.
  • 38. Ibid. 269b.
  • 39. Ibid. 276a, 277b, 279a.
  • 40. Ibid. 375a.
  • 41. Ibid. 179b, 189a, 955b; Notestein, 81.
  • 42. CJ, i. 1017b, 1019b.
  • 43. Ibid. 340a, 350a; Bowyer Diary, 226, 232; Notestein, 227.
  • 44. Bowyer Diary, 357-8, 384.
  • 45. CJ, i. 295a, 300b.
  • 46. Ibid. 393b, 399b.
  • 47. Ibid. 403b.
  • 48. Ibid. 406a; Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 46; Notestein, 272.
  • 49. CJ, i. 414b, 424b.
  • 50. Procs. 1610, ii. 95, Notestein, 319.
  • 51. Parl. Debates 1610 ed. S.R. Gardiner, 93-98; Notestein, 377.
  • 52. Procs. 1610, ii. 225.
  • 53. CJ, i. 445b.
  • 54. CJ, i. 439a; Procs. 1610, ii. 147.
  • 55. CJ, i. 443b.
  • 56. Ibid. 447b; ‘Paulet 1610’, p. 58; Procs. 1610, ii. 273; Notestein, 386.
  • 57. CJ, i. 449a.
  • 58. Ibid. 413a.
  • 59. ‘Paulet 1610’, p. 19.
  • 60. CJ, i. 429a.
  • 61. Ibid. 445b.
  • 62. Procs. 1610, i. 127.
  • 63. 23 Hen. VIII c. 6; Readers and Readings in Inns of Ct. and Chancery ed. J.H. Baker (Selden Soc. suppl. ser. xiii), 52, 443, 566, 587.
  • 64. Letters and Life of Francis Bacon ed. J. Spedding, iv. 365, 370.
  • 65. Liber Famelicus of Sir J. Whitelocke ed. J. Bruce (Cam. Soc. lxx), 33.
  • 66. APC, 1613-14, p. 179.
  • 67. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 57-8.
  • 68. Ibid. 67.
  • 69. Ibid. 77, 82.
  • 70. Ibid. 239.
  • 71. Ibid. 84.
  • 72. Ibid. 112.
  • 73. Ibid. 129.
  • 74. Ibid. 133, 136.
  • 75. Ibid. 161.
  • 76. Ibid. 172.
  • 77. Ibid. 217.
  • 78. Ibid. 131.
  • 79. Ibid. 213.
  • 80. Ibid. 345, 346.
  • 81. Whitelocke, 41-2.
  • 82. Chamberlain Letters, i. 550; Whitelocke, 67.
  • 83. Oxford DNB.
  • 84. Illustrations of Brit. Hist. iii. 34-7; LC2/5, f. 33v.
  • 85. Northampton Bor. Recs. ii. 495.
  • 86. CJ, i. 510a, CD 1621, ii. 23, iv. 16, v. 435.
  • 87. CJ, i. 518a.
  • 88. CD 1621, ii. 62.
  • 89. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 31; CD 1621, ii. 54.
  • 90. Nicholas, i. 46; CJ, i. 522a, 524a; CD 1621, v. 467-68, 500.
  • 91. CD 1621, ii. 27; CJ, i. 525a, 534a.
  • 92. CD 1621, ii. 121, Nicholas, i. 80.
  • 93. CJ, i. 520a.
  • 94. CD 1621, ii. 73, iv. 48, v. 254.
  • 95. Nicholas, i. 51.
  • 96. CD 1621, ii. 94, iv. 60, 499, CJ, i. 523b.
  • 97. CD 1621, vi. 251.
  • 98. Nicholas, i. 70, CD 1621, ii. 109, vi. 254.
  • 99. CD 1621, iv. 87.
  • 100. CJ, i. 530b, 532b.
  • 101. CD 1621, ii. 140, v. 516, vi. 11, Nicholas, i. 97-8, CJ, i. 527b-528a.
  • 102. CJ, i. 537b, CD 1621, ii. 163, v. 23, vi. 29.
  • 103. CJ, i. 543a.
  • 104. Letters and Life of Francis Bacon, vii. 191-6; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, ii. 238; R. Zaller, Parl. of 1621, pp. 66-7.
  • 105. CD 1621, ii. 180-3, vi. 40-1, 306.
  • 106. CJ, i. 547a, Nicholas, i. 136, CD 1621, ii. 200, iv. 138, v. 284, vi. 46.
  • 107. CD 1621, ii. 183-4, v. 288.
  • 108. LJ, iii. 47a, CD 1621, iv. 160.
  • 109. CJ, i. 561a, Nicholas, i. 185, CD 1621, v. 306.
  • 110. Letters and Life of Francis Bacon, vii. 229, 543-4; CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 295.
  • 111. CJ, i. 507b.
  • 112. Ibid. 512b.
  • 113. Ibid. 528b, 569a.
  • 114. CD 1621, ii. 68, iv. 45, v. 453; CJ, i. 519a.
  • 115. CD 1621, iv. 51.
  • 116. CJ, i. 525b.
  • 117. Ibid. 533b.
  • 118. CD 1621, v. 18; CJ, i. 534a.
  • 119. CD 1621, iv. 42.
  • 120. Bodl. Tanner 123, ff. 141-3; W. Boys, Colls. for Hist. Sandwich, 95-8; H.W. Woolrych, Lives of Eminent Sjts. at Law, i. 232-41.
  • 121. CJ, i. 521a.
  • 122. CJ, i. 520a, 569a, 630b; CD 1621, iv. 183.
  • 123. CJ, i. 582b, 585b, 592a; C. Russell, PEP, 156-7.
  • 124. Nicholas, i. 368, ii. 8; CJ, i. 600a, 604a; CD 1621, iii. 140; ii. 339; v. 134, 363; vi. 128-9.
  • 125. CD 1621, iii. 275.
  • 126. CJ, i. 622a.
  • 127. CD 1621, iii. 280; iv. 357; CJ, i. 623b.
  • 128. CD 1621, iii. 284; CJ, i. 624a.
  • 129. Nicholas, ii. 101; CJ, i. 626b; CD 1621, iii. 303; iv. 370.
  • 130. CD 1621, iii. 293.
  • 131. Ibid. iii. 294; CJ, i. 625b, Nicholas, ii. 94; earlier in the session Crewe had privately advised that ‘no member of the House ought to draw a private bill, for he is a judge and ought to be indifferent’, an opinion described as a ‘new and high parliamentary code’ by the editors of CD 1621, v. 57.
  • 132. CD 1621, v. 385.
  • 133. Nicholas, ii. 105-6; CD 1621, ii. 381, 393; iii. 319; v. 177; vi. 165.
  • 134. CJ, i. 628a.
  • 135. Nicholas, ii. 114, CD 1621, iii. 331, ii. 400, 409-10, v. 181.
  • 136. Nicholas, ii. 127, CJ, i. 632a, CD 1621, iii. 354, ii. 409, iv. 393.
  • 137. CJ, i. 636b.
  • 138. Zaller, 147.
  • 139. CJ, i. 646b-647a, Nicholas, ii. 215; CD 1621, iii. 456; ii. 451; iv. 440.
  • 140. CD 1621, v. 213; C. Russell, ‘Foreign Policy Debate 1621’, HJ, xx. 299.
  • 141. CD 1621, ii. 466; v. 224; vi. 208, 329, Nicholas, ii. 242.
  • 142. CJ, i. 650a.
  • 143. Russell, PEP, 130-5.
  • 144. CJ, i. 656b, Nicholas, ii. 272; CD 1621, ii. 494; v. 230; vi. 222.
  • 145. Russell, ‘Foreign Policy Debate’, 289-309.
  • 146. Nicholas, ii. 285; CD 1621, ii. 503; v. 233; vi. 225.
  • 147. PRO 31/3/55, f. 226v, dated 14 Dec., new style.
  • 148. CD 1621, ii. 475; Nicholas, ii. 250, 306-7.
  • 149. CD 1621, ii. 511; vi. 232.
  • 150. Nicholas, ii. 311-12; CD 1621, ii. 514; vi. 234; CJ, i. 661b-62a.
  • 151. CJ, i. 663b, 665a-b; Nicholas, ii. 329.
  • 152. CD 1621, ii. 525; v. 239; vi. 239.
  • 153. CJ, i. 667a; CD 1621, v. 240; vi. 242, 334; Nicholas, ii. 344.
  • 154. CJ, i. 668a; Nicholas, ii. 353, 357-8; CD 1621, ii. 536, 540-1; v. 241-2; vi. 244, 338, 342.
  • 155. V. Treadwell, Buckingham and Ire. 188-90; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 426-7.
  • 156. Add. 4756; Cent. Kent. Stud. U269/OE287.
  • 157. Bodl. Carte 30, f. 127; Treadwell, 205.
  • 158. New Hist. Ire. ed. T.W. Moody, F.X. Martin and F.J. Byrne, iii. 231; Treadwell, 205-14.
  • 159. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 506.
  • 160. Ibid. 518.
  • 161. Hacket, i. 176.
  • 162. DCO, ‘Prince Charles in Spain’, f. 33v; R.E. Ruigh, Parl. of 1624, p. 157.
  • 163. SP14/158/5; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 536.
  • 164. Russell, PEP, 156-7; T. Cogswell, Blessed Revolution, 168; Treadwell, 249.
  • 165. Ruigh, 59.
  • 166. CJ, i. 670b, ‘Hawarde 1624’, p. 143.
  • 167. CJ, i. 671a; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 5v.
  • 168. ‘Earle 1624’, ff. 6-9v.
  • 169. Treadwell, 253.
  • 170. Ferrar 1624, pp. 14-16; ‘Pym 1624’, i. f. 3; ‘Lowther 1624’, ff. 2-2v; LJ, iii. 212.
  • 171. HMC Buccleuch, iii. 229; Ruigh, 158.
  • 172. ‘Spring 1624’, p. 18.
  • 173. Kyle thesis, 30; Russell, PEP, 157.
  • 174. Kyle, 448-9; LONDON.
  • 175. Ferrar 1624, p. 42.
  • 176. ‘Pym 1624’, f. 50v.
  • 177. CJ, i. 704b.
  • 178. Ibid. 676a.
  • 179. Ferrar 1624, p. 65.
  • 180. CJ, i. 760b; Holles 1624, p. 72.
  • 181. Holles 1624, p. 61; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 117v.
  • 182. Cent. Kent. Stud. U269/1/OI13; Holles 1624, p. 83.
  • 183. ‘Hawarde 1624’, p. 288-9; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 183.
  • 184. ‘Spring 1624’, p. 239.
  • 185. Ibid. p. 246.
  • 186. ‘Earle 1624’, ff. 200-3v.
  • 187. ‘Hawarde 1624’, p. 306; SP14/165/61, f. 143v.
  • 188. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 606.
  • 189. Rymer, viii, pt. 1, p. 46; Treadwell, 260-1.
  • 190. Procs. 1625, p. 494.
  • 191. Fortescue Pprs. ed. S.R. Gardiner (Cam. Soc. n.s. 1), pp. 209-10.
  • 192. Procs. 1625, pp. 34, 190-1, 192, 193, 494, 706.
  • 193. Ibid. 196.
  • 194. 35 public and 38 private acts passed in 1624.
  • 195. Procs. 1625, pp. 34, 36, 37, 196-197, 494, 651-2; Russell, PEP, 219.
  • 196. Procs. 1625, p. 239.
  • 197. Ibid. 717.
  • 198. Ibid. 324.
  • 199. Ibid. 347, 350-2, 354-5, 520-1.
  • 200. Ibid. 476.
  • 201. Treadwell, 261.
  • 202. Hacket, ii. 19.
  • 203. HMC Buccleuch, iii. 272, 297-8; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 105; LJ, iii. 650.
  • 204. Northants RO, ASL/904, 1238; W. Potts, Banbury (2nd edn. 1978), p. 110.
  • 205. Banbury Corp. Recs. 147; A. Beesley, Banbury, 281n.
  • 206. APC, 1628-9, p. 111.
  • 207. E112/211/533.
  • 208. Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 206.
  • 209. Ibid. i. 206; ‘Mem. of Nathaniel, Lord Crewe’ ed. A Clark Cam. Misc. IX. (Cam. Soc. n.s. 2. liii), 1.
  • 210. PROB 11/165, f. 356.
  • 211. Le Neve, Mon. Angl. i. 147.
  • 212. R. Sibbes, Bride’s Longing (1638), STC 22478, pp. 111, 117, 121-9.