CRAWLEY, Richard (1666-1713), of Doctors’ Commons and Northaw, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Dec. 1701 - 1702
21 Nov. 1702 - 1705

Family and Education

bap. 29 Aug. 1666, 4th but 3rd surv. s. of Francis Crawley of Northaw, Herts., baron of Exchequer, by Mary, da. of Richard Clutterbuck, merchant, of London.  educ. ?St. Paul’s; Jesus, Oxf. 1683.  m. settlement 24 Oct. 1699, Sarah, da. of Sir Samuel Dashwood*, 2s. 5da. (1 d.v.p.).  suc. bro. ?1707.1

Offices Held

Dep. registrar, ct. of Admiralty 1698–1705; registrar 1705–d.; registrar, ct. of Delegates by 1700–d.2


Crawley’s family had been established in Bedfordshire since the 15th century. His grandfather had been a justice of common pleas and his father served as a baron of the Exchequer, with an estate estimated at £1,000 p.a. As a younger son, Crawley entered the legal profession as a ‘public notary’, probably following in the footsteps of his brother-in-law, Thomas Bedford, who was deputy registrar to the court of the Admiralty from Charles II’s reign to his death in 1698. He was probably the Richard Crawley who invested in the Bank of England in 1694. In January of that year Crawley had secured the reversion of the office of registrar of the court of Delegates, after the death of the incumbent, Thomas Oughton, and the reversionary interest of Charles Tucker (which Tucker resigned in 1694). Meanwhile, in 1698, he had acquired the reversion of the same office in the court of Admiralty, serving as Sir Orlando Gee’s* deputy after the death of Bedford. He succeeded Gee in 1705.3

In 1699 Crawley made a favourable marriage into the Dashwood family, through which he acquired property in Wendover, and also around that time he inherited a half-share in his mother’s estate. In November 1701 he was elected for the borough and classed as a Tory by Robert Harley*. He was fairly active in his first session, being appointed on 10 Jan. 1702 to the drafting committee of the bill to encourage privateers, into which his office would have given him an insight, and serving on the conference committee in May after the Lords had returned the bill. On 2 Feb. he provided the Commons with information regarding fees in the court of Admiralty. He also acted as a teller on three occasions: against committing the bill for establishing Worcester College, Oxford; against a clause relating to the transport service being added to a supply bill; and against an amendment to leave out a clause in the bill preventing frauds in the salt duties.4

Although defeated at Wendover at the next election, he was eventually seated on petition in November 1702. In this session he acted as a teller on 13 Feb. against the Lords’ amendment to the bill extending the time for taking the abjuration oath. This was a crucial political division and his name appeared on the subsequent list of those voting with the Tories. In the following session he acted as a teller on two occasions: on 29 Jan. 1704 in favour of the Speaker leaving the chair so that the House could go into a committee of the whole on a supply bill; and on 18 Feb. against adjourning committees. In the 1704–5 session he was nominated on 11 Nov. to the drafting committee of the bill prohibiting trade with France and two days later provided the Commons with accounts of salvage money and other Admiralty perquisites. On the crucial issue of the Tack he was forecast as a likely opponent, and on Harley’s list the Admiralty judge, Sir Charles Hedges*, was deputed to lobby him. He did not vote for the Tack on 28 Nov. A list of 1705 classed him as a placeman by virtue of his legal offices.

At the 1705 election, Crawley stood in partnership with Hedges, but both were defeated. Nevertheless, he continued to attend the Commons on occasion with information from the court of Admiralty. He declined to stand at Wendover in 1708, or in the 1709 by-election, but put up in 1710, when he was defeated and petitioned without result. His brother’s will (proved in 1710) made him heir to most of the family property. Crawley died in Doctors’ Commons on 21 Mar. 1713. He was buried according to the terms of his will in Someris chapel, near Luton. He left the family estates in the Luton area, including the recently purchased Stockwood estate, to his eldest son, John†. In addition to the provisions of her marriage settlement, his wife received the lands purchased since his marriage in the parish of Wendover and the ‘copyhold tenement’ at Northaw, Hertfordshire. His younger children received £4,000 apiece, although after the death of one daughter the survivors received an extra £500.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. IGI, Beds.; W. Austin, Hist. Luton, i. 234–5; PCC 78 Leeds, 177 Smith.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1698, p. 396; 1694–5, p. 14.
  • 3. Austin, 183–4; Beds. N. and Q. ii. 274, 321–2; W. Austin, Hist. of a Beds. Fam. 209; DZA, Bonet despatch 6/16 July 1694; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 412; Add. 28883, f. 80.
  • 4. PCC 166 Noel.
  • 5. PCC 177 Smith, 78 Leeds; Le Neve, Mon. Angl. 1700–15, p. 255.