Creed, Elizabeth (DNB00)

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CREED, ELIZABETH (1644?–1728), philanthropist, born in or about 1644, was the only daughter of Sir Gilbert Pickering, bart., of Tichmarsh, Northamptonshire, by Elizabeth, only daughter of Sir Sidney Montagu, and sister of Edward Montagu, first earl of Sandwich (Collins, Peerage, ed. Brydges, iii. 449). On her father's side she was a cousin of Dryden, on her mother's a cousin of Pepys. In October 1668 she became the wife of John Creed [see below] of Oundle, Northamptonshire, who appears to have been at one time a retainer in the service of Lord Sandwich, and, to judge from Pepys's slighting allusions, of humble origin. Of this marriage eleven children were born. On her husband's death in 1701 Mrs. Creed retired to her property at Barnwell All Saints, near Oundle, where she devoted the remainder of her life to works of beneficence. Herself an artist of considerable skill, she gave free instruction to girls in drawing, fine needlework, and similar accomplishments. Several of the churches in the neighbourhood of Oundle were embellished with altar-pieces, paintings, and other works by her hands. In 1722 she erected a monument to Dryden and his parents in the church of Tichmarsh. A portrait by her of the first Earl of Sandwich hangs at Drayton, and many other portraits and a few pictures painted by her are still preserved among her descendants. Mrs. Creed died in May 1728. A daughter, Elizabeth, who married a Mr. Stuart, inherited her mother's tastes, and ornamented the hall of an old Tudor mansion near Oundle; but all traces of her work have long disappeared (Redgrave, Dict. of Artists, 1878, p. 105).

John Creed was a man of some importance in his day. Of his history previously to the Restoration little is known, but in March 1660 he was nominated deputy-treasurer of the fleet by Lord Sandwich, and two years later was made secretary to the commissioners for Tangier. On 16 Dec. 1663 he became a fellow of the Royal Society. His official duties brought him into frequent contact with Pepys, by whom he was both feared and disliked. In his ‘Diary’ Pepys speaks of Creed as one who had been a puritan and adverse to the king's coming in. But he adapted his policy to the times and grew rich. On his monument at Tichmarsh, where he had an estate, Creed is described as having served ‘his majesty King Charles ye II in divers Honble Imployments at home and abroad’ (Bridges, Northamptonshire, ii. 386); but whether this refers merely to his services in the admiralty or to others of greater importance cannot now be ascertained. His eldest son, Major Richard Creed, who was killed at Blenheim, also lies buried in Tichmarsh church, where there still exists a cenotaph to his memory, similar in design to the one erected in the south aisle of Westminster Abbey.

[Pepys's Diary (Bright), i. 70, 499, ii. 93, iii. 105, 148, v. 375, and passim; Bridges's Northamptonshire, ii. passim; Wilford's Memorials, pp. 762–4; Will of J. Creed reg. in P. C. C. 44, Dyer; Will of E. Creed reg. in P. C. C. 176, Brook.]

G. G.