Sir Herbert CROFT of Croft Castle, Knight
Born: ABT 1565, Croft Castle, Herefordshire, England
Died: 1 Apr 1629, English Benedictines Priory, Douai, France
Father: Edward CROFT of Croft Castle (See his Biography)
Mother: Anne BROWNE
Married: Mary BOURNE (dau. of Anthony Bourne of Holt Castle)
1. William CROFT (b. 1593 - d. 6 Jun 1645)
2. James CROFT
3. Robert CROFT
4. Herbert CROFT
5. Lucy CROFT
6. Mary CROFT
7. Elizabeth CROFT
8. Margaret CROFT
9. Bridget CROFT
The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.
Born ABT 1565, first surv. son of Edward Croft of Croft Castle by his first wife, Anne, dau. of Thomas Browne of Attleborough. Educ. Christ Church, Oxf. Married Mary, dau. of Anthony Bourne of Holt Castle, Worcs. Suc. gd.-fa. to fam. estates in 1594. Kntd. 1603. J.p. Herefs. 1591-1607, dep. lt. 1597-1607; j.p. Carm. from 159l, Oxon from c.1592; steward, lordships of Kerry, Kedewen and Montgomery, Mont. 1592; steward of crown lands, Herefs. from Oct. 1592 (jointly with Sir Thomas Conningsby from 1604); member, council in the marches of Wales 160l-7; receiver-gen. for S. Wales Apr. 1599-1604; woodward, Herefs. c.1606; duchy of Lancaster receiver for Kidwelly.
Croft possessed lands in his own right in Carmarthenshire, mostly derived from his great-aura Joyce Gamage. He himself attempted to marry Barbara Gamage, dau. and heiress of John Gamage of Coity, but his ‘blustering’ failed and he had to yield to Robert Sidney. Croft had enough standing to be elected for Carmarthenshire, but he may have derived additional support from his connexion with Gelly Meyrick, the Earl of Essex's steward, who was trying to build up a parliamentary interest for his master at the time of the elections to the 1589 Parliament. Croft is not mentioned by name in the journals of this Parliament but, as a knight of the shire, he was appointed to the subsidy committee (11 Feb).
Croft's grandfather had been forced to sell family lands in the 1580s, and in 1592 Croft's father fled to the Netherlands. To obtain election for Herefordshire in 1593 Croft had to solicit help from Gilbert Talbot, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury. Again his name is not to be found in the transactions of the Parliament, but he may have taken part in the work of the subsidy committee (26 Feb) and the committee on springing uses and perpetuities (9 Mar). In the next county election, Croft was ousted by the Conningsbys, with whom he had pursued an often violent vendetta for many years, and as great a personage as the Earl of Essex failed to persuade even a Herefordshire borough to return him. Croft, evidently determined to get into the Parliament somehow, had to be content with a Cornish borough. On 12 Dec 1597 he was appointed to a committee considering a bridge over the river Wye. By 1600 most of the family lands had been regained, new estates added, and thenceforth Croft was able to obtain election for Herefordshire. As a knight of the shire in 1601 he could have attended the main business committee (3 Nov) and the committee on monopolies (23 Nov). On the last day of the Parliament (19 Dec) he spoke on the export of ordnance.
At the time of the Essex rising, Croft at first tried to protect Meyrick's property, then joined in the scramble for the forfeited estates. He had a friend at court in Sir Robert Cecil, but his suits to Cecil sometimes failed and sometimes Cecil himself failed to carry them, as on Cecil's first attempt to procure Croft the stewardship of Leominster. Cecil, as Earl of Salisbury, later intervened on Croft's behalf against charges of ‘exactions’ brought by Eure, then president of the council in the marches, but could not protect him against James I's wrath when Croft took the lead in protesting against the jurisdiction of the council over the border shires. This cost him his seat on the council, his deputy lieutenantship and even his place on the commission of the peace.
About 1617 Croft became a Catholic, and retired to the English Benedictines at Douai, where he lived in paupere cella tanquam monachus, and wrote pamphlets in defence of his new faith. He died there 1 Apr 1629.
G. S. Croft, House of Croft, 82-8
P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches of Wales, 236-7
G. T. Clark, Limbus, 390
Stradling Corresp. ed. Traherne, 2, 30, 39-44
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