CROKE, Henry (1588-1660), of Hampton Poyle, Oxon. and Chequers, Ellesborough, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. 1588, 2nd s. of Sir John Croke† (d.1620) of Chilton, Bucks., j.k.b. 1607-20, and Catherine, da. of Sir Michael Blount† of Mapledurham, Oxon.; bro. of Sir John* and Unton*.1 educ. St. John’s, Oxf. 1605; I. Temple 1607, called 1617.2 m. (1) by 1609,3 Bridget (bur. 5 July 1638),4 da. and coh. of Sir William Hawtrey of Chequers and Hampton Poyle, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. (1 d.v.p.);5 (2) settlement 1 Apr. 1648,6 Judith, da. of Robert Wrotte of Grinton, Suff., wid. of John Wroth of Loughton, Essex, s.p.7 kntd. 31 Oct. 1615.8 d. 1 Jan. 1660.9
Clerk of the Pipe (jt.) 1616-32, (sole) 1632-d.10
Assoc. Bencher, I. Temple 1638.17
Croke had no property of his own, and depended entirely on the profits of office and the estates he enjoyed in the right of his two wives, the first an heiress, the second an exceptionally well-dowered widow.18 His elder brother, Sir John, who sat for Oxfordshire in 1614, also married an heiress who brought him an interest at Shaftesbury. This would have sufficed to return Croke to the 1614 Parliament, though he may also have been recommended to Lord Arundell of Wardour, the borough patron, by some recusant kinsman on the mother’s side. He took no known part in the Addled Parliament. His wife’s brother-in-law, Sir Francis Wolley†, had held the clerkship of the pipe in the Exchequer until his early death, and in 1616 it was acquired jointly by Croke and Anthony Rous*. In the following year they were said to be in the process of reforming abuses in the office, but in fact their efforts to raise their profits produced one of the major administrative scandals of the period.19 (Sir) Edmund Sawyer* charged the pipe office with inefficiency and waste, and alleged that the two clerks had increased the value of their posts five-fold in eight years.20
The appearance of the Croke brothers in the Commons in 1628 for the first time since 1614, together with Rous, who had never sat before, suggests that a counter-attack on the efficient Sawyer was planned before Parliament met. Croke’s brother was returned for Shaftesbury, while he himself stood unsuccessfully for Oxford on the Knollys interest, but was elected for Christchurch on the nomination of Lord Arundell.21 He had the satisfaction of seeing his antagonist expelled from the House for preparing a new book of rates, and in the 1629 session Croke was among those appointed to examine the records of the Exchequer for precedents for the detention of goods for non-payment of customs (14 February).22 He left no other trace on the records of Parliament.
Croke failed to stifle criticism of the Pipe office, for which he assumed sole responsibility on Rous’s death in 1632. In 1635 his own deputy, Christopher Vernon, attacked his record on two fronts, accusing him of extortion to the tune of £10,000, and of laxity in recovering debts collected by the sheriffs.23 Croke bought his pardon for £4,300, probably with the help of Sir Thomas Jermyn*, whose two sons were joined with his own son Robert† in a grant of the reversion to his office.24 The death of his first wife about this time left him dependent on his son, who sat for Wendover in the Long Parliament until disabled for royalism. Croke himself maintained a studied neutrality in the Civil War, being discharged from a contribution to the parliamentary coffers after swearing that he was not worth £100.25 The commissioners for compounding brought Croke’s office under scrutiny, and he was forced to admit in 1650 that such notorious Catholics as Lady Dormer and Lord Teynham had never been convicted for recusancy; an oversight which helps not only to justify Sawyer’s strictures but to explain his earlier acceptability to the Catholic Lord Arundell. In 1652 the exasperated commissioners gave him a week to produce a complete list of convictions and seizures since the accession of James I; but Croke evasively replied that it would take many hands a year or more even to produce such a list and (less reasonably, since it was the last day of September) that all his staff were still enjoying their summer holidays.26 The upshot is not known, but Croke retained his post throughout the Interregnum, for 42 years in all, as his epitaph records. He made his will on 9 Sept. 1658, and died of the stone on 1 Jan. 1660.27 He was buried at Ellesborough.28 His son may have had to wait to take up his reversion until the Restoration (when one of his first official duties was to record a grant to the evergreen Sawyer).29 Croke’s grandson was returned for Wendover in 1661.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: John. P. Ferris / Rosemary Sgroi
- 1. Lipscomb, Bucks. ii. 189.
- 2. Al. Ox.; I. Temple Admiss.; CITR ii. 29, 102.
- 3. C66/1832.
- 4. Her. and Gen. i. 326.
- 5. J.P. Malcolm, Londinium Redivivum, iii. 292, 298.
- 6. PROB 11/268, f. 318.
- 7. Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. vi. 346-7.
- 8. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 157.
- 9. Lipscomb, Bucks. ii. 187-9.
- 10. Exchequer Officeholders comp. J.C. Sainty (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xviii), 66.
- 11. C193/13/1, f. 79; C231/5, p. 253.
- 12. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145.
- 13. E401/2450.
- 14. C181/4, f. 179.
- 15. SR, v. 81, 149.
- 16. Northants. RO, FH133.
- 17. CITR, ii. 245.
- 18. VCH Oxon. vi. 162.
- 19. CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 385, 486.
- 20. G.E. Aylmer, King’s Servants, 91, 187-8, 191, 274.
- 21. Oxf. Council Acts (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xcv) ed. M.G. Hobson and H.E. Salter, 9; Procs. 1628, vi. 137.
- 22. CJ, i. 930a.
- 23. Aylmer, 196-9, 390, 418; CSP Dom. 1635-6, p. 433.
- 24. CSP Dom. 1637-8, p. 557; 1639, p. 1.
- 25. CCAM, 340.
- 26. Ibid. 724-5; CCC, 611, 2249.
- 27. PROB 11/297, f. 36.
- 28. Lipscomb, ii. 187-9.
- 29. CTB i. 26.