CRISPE (CRIPSE), Henry (by 1505-75), of Birchington, Isle of Thanet, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1553
Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1505, 2nd s. of John Crispe of Birchington by Avice, da. and h. of Thomas Denne of Kingston, Kent. m. (1) by 1530, Catherine (bur. 9 Feb. 1545), da. of Sir John Scott of Scot’s Hall, Smeeth, 1s. Nicholas; (2) 23 July 1545, Anne, da. and coh. of George Haselhurst, 4s. 2da. Kntd. 2 Oct. 1553.3

Offices Held

J.p. Kent 1539-58, q. 1558/59-d.; sheriff, 1546-7; commr. chantries 1548, relief 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553, heresy 1556.4


Henry Crispe was described by John Twyne as ‘the little king of the Isle of Thanet’. In 1526 he received some property in Buckinghamshire from relatives. He was perhaps the bearer of a letter of 1538 from Christopher Hales asking Cromwell to excuse his father from taking up knighthood on the grounds of age and ill-health, and at the close of the following year he was one of those appointed to meet Anne of Cleves on her arrival. In 1544 he fought with the army which captured Boulogne and two years later he received the French Admiral at Dover on the eve of the peace which ceded the town to England. Shortly before the death of Henry VIII he was recommended for knighthood, but he did not receive it until the accession of Mary.5

As sheriff, Crispe helped Sir Thomas Cheyne to communicate the Privy Council’s recommendation that the Speaker-designate, Sir John Baker, should be elected for Kent to the Parliament of 1547. His manner of doing so was inept, and on 28 Sept. the Council wrote to him that

understanding that he did abuse towards those of the shire their request into a commandment, their lordships advertise him that as they meant not nor mean to deprive the shire by any their commandment of their liberty of election whom they should think meet, so nevertheless if they would in satisfaction of their lordships’ request grant their voices to Mr. Baker they would take it thankfully.

Cheyne was similarly admonished, but the damage had been done and Baker had to be found a seat elsewhere. The episode may help to explain why Crispe was never to sit for the shire. His election to the two Parliaments held in 1553 he owed to Cheyne as lord warden: at Dover there seems to have been no opposition to the warden’s intervention, but at Winchelsea Crispe and William Roper superseded the two men chosen by the port, William Egleston and (Sir) John Guildford. Crispe sat again with Roper in the last Parliament of the reign, this time for Canterbury: although both had links there, the fact that their names were inserted on the indenture in a different hand implies that they were again nominees. All that is known of Crispe’s part in the House is that in his first Parliament he did not oppose the restoration of Catholicism. Outside Parliament his activities multiplied, and during the invasion scare of 1558 he was charged with Sir Henry Jerningham and others with the defence of Kent.6

Crispe was one of the executors of Cheyne’s will of 1558, as was his son Nicholas who had married Cheyne’s daughter Frances. Early in the following year Crispe wrote a letter to Thomas Wotton ‘touching the tranquillity of the realm’ which Wotton sent on to Cecil. In 1564 he was judged by Archbishop Parker to be ‘conformable’ in religion, and although he did not sit in Parliament again, he remained a leading figure in Kent until his death. He made his will on 24 Nov. 1573, asking to be buried beside his first wife at Birchington. He left his main house and lands in Seasalter, Swalecliffe and Whitstable to his second wife, with remainder to their son John. Other lands in Faversham, Minster and Romney Marsh he left to his wife, with remainder to three younger sons, Edward, Henry and George and two married daughters Anne and Jane. He named his wife and his son John executors and Cyriak Petyt and his brother-in-law John Blechenden overseers. Crispe died on 21 Aug. 1575 (not September, as in his inquisition post mortem) and was buried three days later at Birchington in conformity with his wish. He was succeeded by John, then aged 24, the eldest son Nicholas having predeceased him.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Patricia Hyde


  • 1. Add. 34150, f. 139.
  • 2. Bodl. e Museo 17.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxiv), 17; (Ibid. xlii), 74; PCC 41 Pyckering; F. A. Crisp, Par. Regs. Birchington, passim.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xx; CPR, 1549-51, p. 135; 1553, pp. 355, 417; 1553-4, p. 20; 1555-7, p. 24; 1563-6, p. 23; 1569-72, p. 225.
  • 5. J. Twyne, De Rebus Albionicis (1590), 69, 70; LP Hen. VIII, iv, vi, xii-xiv, xvi, xix-xxi; APC, i. 511.
  • 6. APC, ii. 516, 518; vi. 286, 302.
  • 7. PCC 1 Chaynay, 41 Pyckering; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 101, 124, 258, 310, 427; Lansd. 7(56), f. 129; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 57; Arch. Cant. xii. 418; C142/173/89; Newman, N.E. and E. Kent, 138.