1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Croft, Sir James

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CROFT, SIR JAMES (d. 1590), lord deputy of Ireland, belonged to an old family of Herefordshire, which county he represented in parliament in 1541. He was made governor of Haddington in 1549, and became lord deputy of Ireland in 1551. There he effected little beyond gaining for himself the reputation of a conciliatory disposition. Croft was all his life a double-dealer. He was imprisoned in the Tower for treason in the reign of Mary, but was released and treated with consideration by Elizabeth after her accession. He was made governor of Berwick, where he was visited by John Knox in 1559, and where he busied himself actively on behalf of the Scottish Protestants, though in 1560 he was suspected, probably with good reason, of treasonable correspondence with Mary of Guise, the Catholic regent of Scotland; and for ten years he was out of public employment. But in 1570 Elizabeth, who showed the greatest forbearance and favour to Sir James Croft, made him a privy councillor and controller of her household. He was one of the commissioners for the trial of Mary queen of Scots, and in 1588 was sent on a diplomatic mission to arrange peace with the duke of Parma. Croft established private relations with Parma, for which on his return he was sent to the Tower. He was released before the end of 1589, and died on the 4th of September 1590.

Croft’s eldest son, Edward, was put on his trial in 1589 on the curious charge of having contrived the death of the earl of Leicester by witchcraft, in revenge for the earl’s supposed hostility to Sir James Croft. Edward Croft was father of Sir Herbert Croft (d. 1622), who became a Roman Catholic and wrote several controversial pieces in defence of that faith. His son Herbert Croft (1603–1691), bishop of Hereford, after being for some time, like his father, a member of the Roman church, returned to the church of England about 1630, and about ten years later was chaplain to Charles I., and obtained within a few years a prebend’s stall at Worcester, a canonry of Windsor, and the deanery of Hereford, all of which preferments he lost during the Civil War and Commonwealth. By Charles II. he was made bishop of Hereford in 1661. Bishop Croft was the author of many books and pamphlets, several of them against the Roman Catholics; and one of his works, entitled The Naked Truth, or the True State of the Primitive Church (London, 1675), was very celebrated in its day, and gave rise to prolonged controversy. The bishop died in 1691. His son Herbert was created a baronet in 1671, and was the ancestor of Sir Herbert Croft (q.v.), the 18th century writer.

Bibliography.—See Richard Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors, vol. i. (3 vols., London, 1885); David Lloyd, State Worthies from the Reformation to the Revolution (2 vols., London, 1766); John Strype, Annals of the Reformation (Oxford, 1824), which contains an account of the trial of Edward Croft; S. L. Lee’s art. “Croft, Sir James,” in Dict. of National Biography, vol. xiii.; and for Bishop Croft see Anthony à Wood, Athenae Oxonienses (ed. Bliss, 1813–1820); John Le Neve, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae (ed. by T. D. Hardy, Oxford, 1854).