Crew, Thomas (1565-1634) (DNB00)

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CREW or CREWE, Sir THOMAS, (1565–1634), speaker of the House of Commons, third son of John Crew of Nantwich, brother of Sir Ranulphe Crew [q. v.], by Alice, daughter of Humphrey Mainwaring, was a member of Gray's Inn, where he was elected Lent reader in 1612. He was returned to parliament for Lichfield in 1603. In 1613 he was one of the counsel for the Bishop of London, the plaintiff, in a suit against the dean and chapter of Westminster, his brother Ranulphe being for the defendants. Though the official list contains no record of the fact, it is clear he was a member of parliament in 1614, as we learn from Whitelocke (Liber Famelicus, Camden Soc., p. 42) that he was one of a deputation to the lords on the question of impositions. His politics are indicated by the fact, also mentioned by Whitelocke (ib. p. 67), that in 1618, the king being asked ‘if there were any he would bar from the place’ of recorder of London, then vacant, ‘he confessed but one, and that was Mr. Thos. Crewe.’ In the parliament of 1620–1 he represented the borough of Northampton. He took part in the discussion on the scarcity of money (26 Feb. 1620–1). On 8 March he and Sir Heneage Finch were deputed to demand an inquiry into the conduct of the referees in the matter of monopolies, and were compelled reluctantly to begin proceedings against Lord-chancellor Bacon, one of these referees. Crew expressed his antipathy to the Spanish match (26 Nov. 1621), saying: ‘It is a wonder to see the spiritual madness of such as shall fall in love with the Romish harlot now she is grown so old a hag.’ It was on his motion that (15 Dec. 1621) the privilege question was referred to a committee of the whole house, and he declared that the liberties of parliament were ‘matters of inheritance, not of grace.’ The king signified his displeasure with Crew's conduct by placing him on a commission to ‘inquire into the state, ecclesiastical and temporal, of Ireland’ (20 March 1621–2), which involved his visiting that country. The commissioners appear to have left England in March and returned in December. One of Chamberlain's letters (21 Dec. 1622) says that on the return voyage they ‘were cast away on the Isle of Man’ and reported lost. Their mandate was very extensive, and they seem to have endeavoured to execute it with a real desire to improve the condition of Ireland. They advised certain reforms in the administration of justice, one of which, the abolition of the power usurped by the council of administering oaths in ordinary cases, was carried into effect by proclamation on 7 Nov. 1625. They also recommended the reduction of ‘doubtful rents’ on estates held by the crown by two-thirds, and certain modes of lightening the burden of taxation. In February 1623 Crew, who now sat for Aylesbury, was chosen speaker of the House of Commons. In his address to the throne he urged the passing of the ‘good bills against monopolies, informers, and concealers,’ the execution of the laws against seminary priests, and the recovery of the palatinate and various reforms. In September of the same year he took the degree of serjeant-at-law, and in the following February was advanced to the rank of king's serjeant and knighted. In his speech on the prorogation (24 May 1624) he again insisted strongly upon the importance of recovering the palatinate, and received the king's thanks, ‘being the ablest speaker known for years’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1623–5, p. 261). On the meeting of the first parliament of Charles I, where Crew sat as M.P. for Gatton, he was again chosen speaker (June 1625). He was not a member of the parliament of 1626, nor it would seem of any subsequent parliament. In 1631 he was one of the counsel for the prosecution of Lord Audeley. He was a member of the ecclesiastical commission in 1633, and died on 1 Feb. 1633–4. He was buried in a chapel built by himself at Stene in Northamptonshire in 1620, which is described as of mixed Perpendicular and Ionic style. Here a monument was raised in black, white, and grey marble, representing him in a recumbent posture in his serjeant's robes, with his wife, Temperance, daughter of Reginald Bray of Stene, who had died in 1619, by his side. His marriage took place in 1596 (Letter to Anthony Bacon, Birch MS. 4120, fol. 117). His wife becoming coheiress of the manors of Stene and Hinton in Northamptonshire by the death of her father in 1583, Crew purchased the remaining shares; the estates devolved upon his son John [q. v.], who sat for Brackley in two parliaments and was raised to the peerage by Charles II in 1661 as Baron Crewe of Stene.

[Dugdale's Orig. 196; Lists of Members of Parliament (official return of), i. 445, 452, 456, 466; Parl. Hist. i. 1195, 1278, 1307, 1321, 1331, 1347, 1349–50, 1359, 1374, ii. 3; Commons Debates, 1625 (Camd. Soc.), p. 3; Rushworth, i. 54; Cox's Hist. of Ireland, ii. 37; Rymer's Fœdera (Sanderson), xvii. 358; Walter Yonge's Diary (Camd. Soc.), p. 51; Dugdale's Chron. Ser. 107; Croke's Rep. (Jac.), p. 671; Gardiner's Hist. of England; Forster's Life of Sir John Eliot; Cobbett's State Trials, iii. 408; Cal. State Papers (Dom. 1619–23), pp. 295, 469; Cal. State Papers (Ireland, 1615–25), p. 346; Cal. State Papers (Dom. 1625–6), p. 268, (1633–4) p. 327; Autobiography of Sir John Bramston (Camd. Soc.), p. 49; Manning's Lives of the Speakers; Baker's Northamptonshire, i. 584, 684, 687; Collins's Peerage (Brydges), vii. 328.]

J. M. R.