CROFT, Sir Herbert, 1st Bt. (c.1652-1720), of Croft Castle, Herefs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1652, 1st s. of Herbert Croft, bp. of Hereford, by Anne, da. of Jonathan Brown, dean of Hereford. educ. Magdalen Coll. Oxf. matric. 27 Apr. 1668, aged 16; M. Temple 1668. m. c. Oct. 1675, Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Archer of Umberslade, Warws., 6s. (4 d.v.p.) 5da. cr. Bt. 18 Nov. 1671; suc. fa. 1691.1
Commr. for assessment, Herefs. 1673-80, 1689-90, j.p. 1673-Mar. 1688, Oct. 1688-?d., dep. lt. 1673-Feb. 1688, by 1694-at least 1701, commr, for recusants 1675, lt.-col. of militia ft. ?1682-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-?1701; high steward, Leominster 1704-d.2
Croft’s ancestors had been at Croft Castle since the 11th century and had represented the county as early as 1307; but their Herefordshire interest had lapsed in 1617 when Croft’s grandfather declared himself a Roman Catholic and retired to the Benedictine monastery at Douai. Three of Croft’s uncles fought for the King in the Civil War. In 1659 his father succeeded to the estate, valued at £2,000 p.a., becoming bishop of Hereford in 1661, and dean of the Chapel Royal in 1668. Charles II admitted that he was an excellent preacher, but his denunciations of the royal morals proved unpalatable and in 1670 he retired to his diocese. As a convert from Rome, he was alleged by Titus Oates to have been singled out by the Jesuits for assassination.3
It was clear that Croft would have a strong claim to sit for the county when the Cavalier Parliament should come to an end, but the country party made the mistake of trying to fob him off with Leominster. Croft was duly returned for Herefordshire in February 1679, and marked ‘honest’ on Shaftesbury’s list. A moderately active Member of the first Exclusion Parliament, he twice acted as teller, and was named to three committees, including those to inspect expiring laws and to consider the bill excluding from Convocation all who had not taken the oaths and renounced transubstantiation. On 17 Apr. in his only speech he opposed the payment into the chamber of London of taxes voted for disbanding the army, as a proposal ‘setting the King’s Exchequer different from our own, as if his concerns and ours had not coherence’: the interest of the nation would not be maintained ‘without a mutual correspondence and concurrence of King and people’. He was named to the committee of inquiry into the shipping of artillery, voted against the first exclusion bill, and on the last day of the Parliament acted as teller against the return of the exclusionist Philip Foley for Bewdley.4
Croft did not attempt to stand for re-election in the autumn, as Foley joyfully reported on 2 Aug., but promised his assistance to (Sir) Edward Harley. During Monmouth’s rebellion he interrogated Harley and commanded the county militia, which, however, does not seem to have been in action. His answers on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws were negative, and he was dropped from the lieutenancy. He promised his electoral interest to the country party in 1688, but appears to have considered standing himself, either for the county or for Leominster. Although he subscribed £40 to the loan to William of Orange in December 1688, his father’s acceptance of the Declaration of Indulgence had weakened his position, and he does not seem to have gone to the poll in either constituency in the following month. He soon accommodated himself to the new regime, serving as foreman of the grand jury which presented a loyal address to William and Mary at the summer assizes of 1689. He regained his seat in the following year as a court Whig. He died on 30 Nov. 1720 and was buried at Croft. His son, the second baronet, was returned for Leominster as a Whig in 1722.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Edward Rowlands
- 1. O.G.S. Croft, Croft of Croft Castle, 105-8.
- 2. CSP Dom. 1673, p. 462; 1696, pp. 488-9; G. F. Townsend, Leominster , 291; BL Loan 29/141, Sir Edward to Robert Harley, 19 June 1691.
- 3. Croft, 56-85; Symonds’s Diary (Cam. Soc. lxxiv), 196.
- 4. CJ, ix. 634; Grey, vii. 119.
- 5. Add. 29910, f. 141; HMC Portland, iii. 149, 417, 484; BL Loan 29/140, Sir Edward to Robert Harley, 22 June 1685.