Family Group Sheet
Family Group Sheet
NameSir John CROFTS
FatherThomas CROFTS (-1612)
SpouseMary SHIRLEY
Children
Birth1590
Death1667
Notes for Sir John CROFTS
Sir John Crofts came to Little Saxham on the death of his father in 1612. He was 49 at the time and had lived in Bedfordshire for most of his married life. He had been knighted in Dublin in 1599, presumably for active service in Ireland. He lived at Little Saxham until his death in March 1628. He was to entertain royalty on a number of occasions during his 16 years at the Hall.


Sir John had several visits from James I, the recorded ones being in February 1620, December 1621 and February 1622. The King's wife had died in 1619 and he was, perhaps, somewhat lonely.

The first of these visits is recorded in a letter from John Chamberlain to Sir Dudley Carleton and says, '(The King) passes the time merrily at Newmarket, and the running masque reigns all over the country where there be fit subjects to entertain it; as lately they have been at Sir John Crofts' near Bury.'


A similar letter written in December 1621 says that 'the King has been entertained with a masque by Sir John Crofts and his daughters, and they visited him at Newmarket'. Two months later the same writer says, '(The King) is to go a-shroving to Sir John Crofts. That Lady and her daughter Cecilia have been much at Newmarket of late'.

The following month the King himself was reported as saying that he was the king of the most lying nation in the world, for they had reported that he was now married to Sir John Crofts' daughter. There were certainly rumours of an affair between him and Cecilia, though he was 56 in 1622 and she was only in her early twenties. Cecilia was 'a very gay young lady, prominent in the masquerades'.

Sir John's third son, also John, was born in 1598. He wrote a poem entitled, 'To the King, at his entrance to Saxham'. Presumably, therefore, it was written before he was aged 18, which means that the King probably came to Little Saxham before 1616, as well as the three recorded visits. The poem can be viewed in full at this page.

The poem commenced,
"Ere you pass this threshold, stay,
And give your creature leave to pay
Those Pious rites, which unto you,
As to our household gods, are due.

46 lines long, it continues, at line 23:
"We shall want nothing but good fare,
To show your welcome and our care;
Such rarities, that come from far,
From poor men's houses banished are?
Yet we'll express in homely cheer
How glad we are to see you here."


From :historyofparliamentonline

b. c.1565, s. of Thomas Crofts by Susan, da. of John Poley of Badley, Suff. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1581; G. Inn 1583. m. c.1590, Mary, da. of Sir Thomas Shirley I of Wiston, Suss., 3s. 2da. Kntd. 1599; suc. fa. 13 Apr. 1612.

Offices Held
J.p.q. Beds. from c.1592, sheriff 1600-1.

Biography
The Crofts family had held land in West Stow, near Bury St. Edmunds since the time of Edward I, never achieving county status. Croft’s father probably settled West Stow on him at his marriage, but in the last years of Elizabeth’s reign he was resident in Bedfordshire. He did not succeed his father until well into the next reign and remains a shadowy figure: it is, for example, unlikely that he was the Queen’s messenger of his name active during the 1590s. He took part in the Earl of Essex’s expedition to Ireland, receiving his knighthood from Essex, and he may have been in the service of the East Anglian magnate Lord Wentworth, who was related to his mother’s family. In any event it was probably the Poleys who obtained him his return to Parliament for Thetford. He is not named in the known proceedings of the House, but as Member for Thetford he may have served on a committee concerning the draining of fens appointed on 3 Dec. He was described on a list of James I’s reign as ‘quite gone out of Bedfordshire’. His connexion with the Poley’s, a daughter’s marriage to Humphrey Mildmay, and his eldest son’s education at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, all suggest puritan religious views; but there is no indication of these in the brief will he made 1 Oct. 1627. He was buried, as he had requested, at Little Saxham on 29 Mar. 1628.
Last Modified 29 Jul 2012Created 28 Jan 2018 using Reunion for Macintosh