Crosby, John (DNB00)

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CROSBY, Sir JOHN (d. 1475), of Crosby Place, alderman of London, was probably grandson of Sir John Crosby, doubtfully described as alderman of London, who died before 1376, leaving a son John in his minority. Both father and son successively held the manor of Hanworth, and Sir John Crosby of Crosby Place, according to his will, possessed this manor; it also appears from Newcourt (Repert. i. 629) that he presented one Richard Bishop to the rectory of Hanworth in 1471. He appears in the account of the wardens of the Grocers' Company for 1452–4 as having paid the fee of 3s. 4d. on being sworn a freeman of the company (Grocers' Company's Facsimile Records, ii. 330), and in 1463–4 he served the office of warden. At a common council held in April 1466 he was elected a member of parliament for London, and also one of the auditors of the city accounts.

On Sir Thomas Cooke's [q. v.] discharge by Edward IV from the office, Crosby was elected alderman of Broad Street ward 8 Dec. 1468, and was transferred to Bishopsgate ward next year. In 1470, on Henry VI's temporary restoration, he served the office of sheriff. His position must have been one of danger and difficulty, as he is said to have been a zealous Yorkist, and this statement is confirmed by the effigy on his monument, which wears a collar composed of roses and suns alternately disposed, the badge adopted by Edward IV after his victory at Mortimer's Cross when a parhelion was observed. The bastard Falconbridge's attack on the city took place early in the following year, and Crosby highly distinguished himself as sheriff by his bravery in repelling the invaders. (Falconbridge's attack on the city is introduced by Heywood in his play of ‘Edward IV,’ but the dramatist wrongly describes Crosby as mayor, an office which he did not live to fill.) On 21 May 1471 he accompanied the mayor, aldermen, and principal citizens to meet King Edward between Shoreditch and Islington, on the king's return to London; and here he received the honour of knighthood.

In 1472 Crosby was employed by the king in a confidential mission as one of the commissioners for settling the differences between Edward IV and the Duke of Burgundy. They were afterwards to proceed to Brittany, having secret instructions to capture the Earls of Richmond and Pembroke, who had been driven by a storm to the coast of Brittany, and were detained by Francis, the reigning duke. In this they were not successful, but in the following year Crosby was again despatched with others on a mission to the Duke of Burgundy (Rymer, xi. 738, 778). He was also mayor of the Staple of Calais.

Crosby was now building the sumptuous mansion in Bishopsgate Street which has chiefly made his name famous, having in 1466 obtained from Dame Alice Ashfelde, prioress of the convent of St. Helen's, a lease of certain lands and tenements for a term of ninety-nine years, at a rent of 11l. 6s. 8d. This grand structure had a frontage of 110 feet in Bishopsgate Street, and extended to a great depth, as the foundations showed. Stow describes the house as very large and beautiful, and the highest at that time in London. After Crosby's death it was the successive abode of many celebrated persons. Fires in 1666 and 1672 destroyed all but the hall. Crosby Hall was restored 1836–42 and was used as a restaurant 1860–1907; it was demolished early in 1908.

Crosby died in 1475, and was buried in St. Helen's Church, Bishopsgate, where the altar-tomb erected to his memory and that of his first wife, Agnes, still exists. By his first marriage he had several children who died during his lifetime. He married secondly Anne, the daughter of William Chedworth, who survived him and was probably the mother of a John Crosby who presented Robert Henshaw to the living of Hanworth in 1498. The previous presentation was made in 1476 by the trustees of Crosby's real estate, doubtless in consequence of the minority of his son. The male line of his descendants appears afterwards to have become extinct, and the reversion of the presentation seems to have fallen to the crown. Besides many other legacies for pious and charitable purposes, Crosby left the large sum of 100l. for the repairs of London Bridge, a similar sum for repairing Bishop's Gate, and 10l. for the repairs of Rochester Bridge. His will (179, Wattis), dated 6 March 1471, was proved in the prerogative court of Canterbury 6 Feb. 1475–6, and is printed at length in Gough's ‘Sepulchral Monuments,’ v. 3, app. 4.

[Chronicles of Holinshed, Fabyan, and Stow; Stow's Survey of London, Herbert's Livery Companies, Carlos's Crosby Hall, Heath's Grocers' Company, Cox's Annals of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate. The chief authorities for Crosby Place are Hammon, 1844, Knight's London, vol. i., and a paper by the Rev. T. Hugo in the Transactions of the London and Middlesex Arch. Soc. i. 35–55.]

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