CROFT, Gabriel (c.1532-c.87), of Claughton, Lancs. and London.
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Family and Education
b. c.1532, s. of Thomas Croft (d.1556). suc. bro. Henry 1570. m., s.p. suc. to fam. estates in Lancs. 1570.1
Auditor [I] 1560-c.66; Queen’s remembrancer [I] c.1566-7; dep. auditor [I] Apr. 1566-7; j.p., commr. musters, Lancs. 1577-87.2
Croft was a servant of the lord deputy of Ireland, Thomas Radcliffe†, 3rd Earl of Sussex, to whom he owed his Irish office and his return to Parliament for Maldon. He added to his small family inheritance Lancashire property bought from the bishop of Peterborough, holding it by serjeanty as forester in Cawood and Quernmore. The duchy of Lancaster pleadings contain several references to his lands. He also had crown leases of property in Devon and Yorkshire. At the time of Elizabeth’s accession he was resident in London.3
Sussex’s recall in 1565 left Croft without a patron in Ireland, but his career there lasted a little longer. At the end of September 1565 Thomas Jenison, a former auditor, petitioned the Privy Council to be restored to his office. Sir Henry Sidney had already had instructions from the Crown to make Croft remembrancer in Draycot’s place, so leaving the auditorship free for Jenison. As so often in this period, it is difficult to be precise about dates of appointments—the warrant to issue Croft’s patent for the remembrancer’s office is dated 5 Oct. 1566, but he was probably active considerably earlier. When Jenison was sent to Berwick in April 1566, Croft was appointed deputy auditor. In May he leased the site of the hospital of St. John of Milkenny, Westmeath, paying a rent of £22 10s., but by March 1567 he was wanting to leave Ireland—unless the letter he wrote to Cecil on the 11th was at Sidney’s instigation. It may have been so, since he asked leave to resign the office of remembrancer to John Thomas, treasurer of Sidney’s household. By June his resignation had been accepted, but he remained in Ireland until the middle of August, when he returned to England with letters from various officials and permission to sell his Westmeath property to ‘any English person’.4
Retiring to his Lancashire estates, he was removed from the commission of the peace in 1587 as ‘impotent’ and of insufficient property. Possibly he found it difficult to make ends meet as a country gentleman after his years manipulating the Irish revenues, though there are indications in his will, made 19 Apr. 1587, proved 4 May 1588, that he may have been in debt even before he left Ireland. There were charitable legacies to the poor of Claughton and other parishes, and to poor prisoners. Croft’s wife must have pre-deceased him, a red velvet gown of hers being bequeathed to a relative. Croft’s brother William was the legal heir; Edward, a younger brother, sole executor.5
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: N. M. Fuidge
- 1. DL 7/10/28, 13/23; Lancs and Cheshire Rec. Soc. iii. 49 seq.; PCC 32 Rutland.
- 2. CPR , 1558-60, p. 335; CSP Ire. 1509-73, passim; SP 12/121/42; Lansd. 53, f. 179.
- 3. CP, CSP Ire. 1509-73, p. 274; Essex RO D B3/3/256, f. 8; CPR, 1554-5, p. 76; 1558-60, p. 164; PCC 32 Rutland; DL 1/50/R11, 132/A46 and C9; DL 7/13/23; Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. loc. cit.
- 4. CPR, 1558-60, p. 335; Lansd. 4, f. 213; CSP Ire. 1509-73, pp. 174, 248, 252, 266, 274, 298, 327, 344-5; HMC Hatfield, i. 322; 11th Rep. Dep. Keeper Irish Recs. 123, 147, 152, 167.
- 5. SP 12/121/42; Lansd. 53, f. 179; PCC 32 Rutland.