CROFTES, Richard (c.1740-83), of Saxham, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. c.1740, 1st s. of William Croftes of Saxham by Mary, da. and coh. of Sir Matthew Decker, 1st Bt., M.P., London merchant. educ. Eton 1753-8; St. John’s, Camb. 1758. m. 11 Feb. 1773, Harriet, da. and coh. of John Darell, 1da. suc. fa. 1770.
In 1760 Croftes’s parents began negotiating for a seat for him, and on 9 June he appears in Newcastle’s ‘list of persons to be brought into Parliament’, having been mentioned to him ‘by the Duke of Grafton, at the request of Mr. Croftes, and by Mr. Page at the request of Mrs. Croftes’.1 Though willing to pay for a seat, Croftes senior found Newcastle’s suggestion of Sudbury ‘impracticable’ because ‘it would be expensive and the success doubtful’.2 But on 15 Feb. 1761 Mrs. Croftes wrote to Newcastle that her husband ‘was willing to have parted with a large sum of money’ to have his son returned, and she herself was ‘greatly disappointed’ that nothing had been arranged: ‘What objections can your Grace have to serve my son? he is a worthy young man of great application, of good family, and likely to have a good fortune’; ‘I flatter myself my son’s behaviour will be such that you will not repent ... bringing him into Parliament.’3 In Newcastle’s list of people to be brought in, he now appears as ‘Mr. Croftes, somewhere with great expense’.4 But a request from Croftes sen., 9 Mar., that he should be brought in for Newark was turned down;5 and it was not till 1767 that at Grafton’s recommendation,6 a seat was found for him at Petersfield, where he was returned unopposed. In 1768 he transferred to Downton, and was again returned unopposed. He voted with the Administration on Wilkes, 3 Feb. 1769, and the Middlesex election, 8 May 1769.
In 1771, at the suggestion of Grafton, now chancellor of Cambridge University, Croftes vacated his seat at Downton to stand for the university. His nomination was not well received: ‘sending down so young a man, and so little known, has given much offence’, wrote the Bishop of Lincoln to Lord Hardwicke, 5 Feb. 1771;7 and Richard Watson, regius professor of divinity, wrote to Grafton that the university were ‘dissatisfied’ with Croftes:8
We have no particular objections to him as a private man; nay we believe him equal to transacting the business of Downton, but we by no means think him of consequence enough in life to be the representative, or of ability sufficient to support the interest of the University of Cambridge.
Although an independent section of the university put up their own candidate, Croftes was returned by 76 votes against 45. His only recorded votes in this Parliament were on the royal marriage bill, March 1772, and on the naval captains’ petition, 9 Feb. 1773, when he was classed in the King’s list as a friend voting with Opposition.
After an unopposed return in 1774, his first recorded vote, on the civil list debts, 18 Apr. 1777, was with the Opposition, with whom he henceforth regularly voted. There is no record of his having spoken in the House.
In 1780 he was defeated at Cambridge University, and did not stand again for Parliament. He died 5 July 1783.