Cradock, Matthew (DNB00)

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CRADOCK, MATTHEW (d. 1641), first governor of the Massachusetts Company, was of a Staffordshire family. One Matthew (son of George) Cradock of Stafford was mayor of that town in 1614; married Elizabeth Fowler of Harnedge Grange, Shropshire, 28 April 1612; built a mansion on the site of Caverswall Castle, Staffordshire; and had a son George, who entered the Inner Temple in 1632, and died in 1643. The identity of this Matthew Cradock with the colonial merchant is possible. In 1618 the latter was settled in London, and is described as an 'adventurer' trading to the East Indies. He purchased 2,000l. stock in the East India Company in 1628. When the company for colonising Massachusetts was formed (4 March 1627-8), Cradock, who subscribed largely to the funds, was chosen the first governor on 13 May 1628. He was very zealous in the performance of his duties; sent John Endicott to represent the company in the colony, and in a letter to Endicott dated 16 Feb. 1628-9, 'from my house in St. Swithen's Lane, near London Stone,' warned the colonists against the peaceful advances of the Indians, and recommended them to employ themselves in building ships. In 1629 the government perceived signs of prosperity in the Massachusetts Company, and Cradock, a strong parliamentarian, was resolved that Charles I should take no share of the profits. He therefore recommended the transference of the headquarters of the company to New England. John Winthrop was elected governor in his place, and sailed to Massachusetts at the close of 1629. Cradock, who took leave of the emigrants off the Isle of Wight, remained behind to assist the company in England, but sent servants and agents and secured a plantation for himself at Medford. 'On the east side of Mistick river is Mr. Cradock's plantation, where he hath impaled a park, where he keeps his cattle till he can store it with deer. Here likewise he is at charges of building ships. The last year one was upon the stocks of a hundred tons. That being finished, they are to build one twice the burden' (Wood, New England's Prospect, 1633, cap. x.) In 1630 Cradock and others petitioned the council for permission to export provisions freely to the colonists, who were represented as being in great straits from want of food and the attacks of the Indians, 29 Sept. 1630 (Cal. State Papers, Colonial, 1574-1660, p. 121). Six letters written by Cradock to Winthrop in 1636 show the value attached to Cradock's advice and monetary aid. In one letter Cradock promises 50l. to the projected Harvard College. At the close of 1640 Cradock was returned as M.P. for London to the Long parliament. In the opening session he denounced the king's plan of fortifying the Tower, and declared that the city would not contribute to the taxes till the royalist garrison was removed. On 4 May 1641 he announced a rumour that the army in the north was being armed with a view to active service. Ten days later he was on a committee for recusants. He died suddenly, in the midst of his parliamentary labours, on 27 May 1641 (Smith, Obituary, Camd. Soc. p. 18). In 1628–9, when Sir Edward Dering was wooing the rich widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Bennett, daughter of William Cradock of Stafford, he sought the aid of Cradock, who was the lady's cousin (Proceedings in Kent, Camd. Soc. pref.) One Rebekkah Cradock, described as widow of Matthew Cradock, was in 1670 the wife of Benjamin Whichcot, D.D., and her son, Matthew Cradock, was alive in 1672.

[Alexander Young's Chronicle of Massachusetts, 128-37 (Cradock's letter to Endicott); Massachusetts Hist. Soc. Coll. 4th ser. vi. 118-30 (Cradock's letters to Winthrop); Deane's Death of Cradock, 1871, repr. from Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc. 1871-3, pp. 171-3; J. B. Felt's Annals of Salem, i. 56; Hutchinson's Hist. of Massachusetts, i. 18, 22; Winthrop's Hist. i. ii.; Gardiner's Hist. of Engl. vii. ix.; Cal. of State Papers (Colonial), 1618-30; William Salt, Archaeolog. Coll. v. ii. 100.]

S. L. L.