CRISPE, Henry (c.1650-1700), of Aldermanbury, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1650, 1st s. of Henry Crispe, Haberdasher, of London by Elizabeth, da. of Anthony Biddulph, Haberdasher, of London. educ. St. Paul’s; Christ’s, Camb. adm. 18 June 1666, aged 16; I. Temple 1666, called 1676. unm. suc. fa. 1654.1

Offices Held

Common serjeant, London 1678-d.; member, Hon. Artillery Co. 1681; dep. lt. London 1685-7, Oct. 1688-9; bencher, I. Temple 1697, reader 1698.2


Crispe’s paternal ancestry has not been ascertained beyond one generation. He was born in Hamburg, where his father was one of the Merchant Adventurers commissioned to administer the engagement to the Commonwealth in 1650. He became a lawyer, and succeeded Jeffreys as common serjeant in 1678, during the mayoralty of his stepfather Sir James Edwards, ‘a right loyal man’ even by the exacting standards of the Duke of York. The post, held in conjunction with the clerkship of the orphans, was worth £700 p.a. Crispe soon revealed himself as a high-flyer for the prerogative, and became the principal agent of the Court in the City. He gave evidence on behalf of Jeffreys before a parliamentary committee in 1680. By April 1682 Secretary Jenkins was consulting him about securing the surrender of the charter, and in September he nominated Peter Rich as Tory candidate for sheriff. In the following month he was manager for Sir William Pritchard in the election for lord mayor, and he urged the prosecution of Thomas Pilkington as ringleader in the riots at these elections. In 1683 he recommended that ‘our justices, especially the lord mayor, might be a little quickened in the execution of the laws against conventicles, it being certain that, as long as those nurseries of rebellion are kept open, we shall have designs against the monarchy’.3

Crispe had no known connexion with Lancaster, but as a court candidate to oppose Lord Brandon ( Hon. Charles Gerard) in 1685 he was very warmly recommended to the corporation by Lord Keeper Guilford (Francis North), Jeffreys and Sunderland. He fought the election in person, defying the mob much as in London three years earlier. ‘Crispe caused the mayor to commit one of the rabble for saying he had a Pope in his belly’, Sir Daniel Fleming was told. Crispe was a moderately active Member of James II’s Parliament, being appointed to nine committees, most of which chiefly concerned the City. He took part in estimating the revenue likely to arise from a tax on new buildings and in considering the bills for rebuilding St. Paul’s, supplying defects in the bankruptcy laws and regulating hackney coaches. Of particular interest to him was the bill for the relief of widows and orphans in the City.4

It was rumoured in October 1685 that Crispe would be promoted to the office of recorder, but this never took place. In 1687 ‘Mr. Chiffinch sent for him by the King’s direction to his lodgings in Whitehall, where he found his Majesty alone, who asked him some questions concerning the Penal Laws and the Test’. Roger North described Crispe as ‘an honest, reasonable gentleman, and very loyal, but it seems was not one that would go into all measures’. He was removed from the lieutenancy, and, though he was restored in October 1688, the Revolution soon ended his political career. He was in some danger of Whig reprisals, but no doubt his firmness over the Penal Laws saved him. Besides his city office, he had some private practice, appearing as counsel before the House of Lords. He died a bachelor in 1700, administration being granted to two cousins on 6 Nov.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Irene Cassidy / John. P. Ferris


  • 1. F. A. Crisp, Crispe Fam. i. 26, 99.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1685, p. 86; HMC Lords, iii. 45; Ancient Vellum Bk. ed. Raikes, 112.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1649-50, p. 496; 1682, pp. 149, 412, 486, 561; Jan.-June 1683, p. 100; Bodl. Carte 216, f. 214; Grey, vii. 462; Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. lxii), 21; HMC Dartmouth, i. 59.
  • 4. Westmorland RO D/Ry 2899, letter of William Kirkby, 9 Apr. 1685; 2902, letter of William Fleming, 13 Apr. 1685; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 63.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1685, p. 343, LJ, xiv. 384; North, Lives, i. 281; Luttrell, iv. 699; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, p. 84.