Crouch, Humphrey (DNB00)

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CROUCH or CROWCH, HUMPHREY (fl. 1635–1671), ballad-writer and pamphleteer, probably belonged to the family of publishers named Crouch, who traded largely in popular literature in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps has suggested that Humphrey was brother of John Crouch, the royalist verse-writer [q. v.] It is equally likely that he stood in the same relation to Edward Crouch or Crowch, John Crouch's publisher, and that he was father or uncle of Nathaniel Crouch [see Burton, Robert or Richard] and of Samuel Crouch, the proprietor of a newspaper entitled ‘Weekly Intelligence’ in 1679, who received high commendation as an honest publisher from John Dunton (Dunton, Life and Errors, 1705). Humphrey was himself the publisher of a folio broadside in verse, entitled ‘A Whip for the back of a backsliding Brownist,’ issued about 1640, of which a copy is in the Roxburghe collection of ballads. Other broadsides, dated 1641, bear his imprint (‘printed for H. Crouch, London’). Although he wrote tracts at the beginning of the civil war, Crouch held himself aloof from all parties, and deplored from a religious point of view the resort to active hostilities. His ballads, on general topics, ran fluently, and were exceptionally popular. In most cases they appeared as broadsides, illustrated with woodcuts, and the copies of them in the Roxburghe and Bagford collections are the only ones known to be extant. The following publications bear his name as author: 1. ‘Love's Court of Conscience, written upon two several occasions, with New Lessons for Lovers,’ London (by Richard Harper), 1637. The song of Dido is stolen from ‘The Ayres … that were sung at Brougham Castle in Westmoreland,’ 1618. Mr. J. P. Collier reprinted the poem in his ‘Illustrations of Old English Literature,’ vol. ii. 1866. 2. ‘The Madman's Morris,’ Lond. (by Richard Harper) n. d. (Roxb. Coll. ii. 362). 3. ‘The Industrious Smith,’ Lond. n. d. (Roxb. Coll. i. 158). 4. ‘The Heroic History of Guy, Earl of Warwick,’ Lond. n. d. (Roxb. Coll. iii. 150). 5. ‘An Excellent Sonnet of the Unfortunate Loves of Hero and Leander,’ Lond. n. d. (Roxb. Coll. iii. 150). These four undated ballads were all probably written about 1640. 6. ‘A Godly Exhortation to this Distressed Nation, shewing the true cause of this Unnaturall Civill War’ (broadside in verse), Lond. 9 Nov. 1642. 7. ‘The Parliament of Graces, briefly showing the banishment of Peace, the farewell of Amity, the want of Honesty’ (prose tract), Lond. 12 Dec. 1642. 8. ‘The Lady Pecunia's Journey into Hell, with her speech and Pluto's answer,’ Lond. 30 Jan. 1653–4. 9. ‘The Welch Traveller, or the Unfortunate Welchman,’ 1671; an amusing attack on the Welsh, published at a penny. Mr. J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps reprinted this poem in a limited edition of thirty copies in 1860. Two copies of the rare original are in the British Museum.

The following works, bearing the initials H. C., have also been attributed to Crouch: 1. ‘Christmas Carols,’ licensed to Richard Harper by the Stationers' Company 9 Nov. 1632. 2. ‘London's Lord have mercy on us: a true relation of five Modern Plagues’ (a tract in prose and verse), Lond. (G. R. Harper), 1637 (?) This is positively assigned to Crouch by Mr. Chappell (Roxb. Ballads, Ballad Soc. i. 468). 3. ‘The Greeks and Trojans Warres,’ a ballad, Lond. 1640 (?) (Roxb. Coll. iii. 158). 4. ‘A Whip for the Back of a backsliding Brownist,’ Lond. (by H. Crouch), 1640 (?) 5. ‘An Elegie sacred to the Memory of Sir Edmundsbury Godfrey,’ Lond. 1678. 6. ‘The Distressed Welchman born in Trinity Lane, with a relation of his unfortunate Travels,’ Lond. n. d. 7. ‘The Mad Proverbes of Trim Tram, set in order by Martha Winters, whereunto is added Merry Jests,’ &c., London—a jest book reissued in 1689, 1693, and 1702 as ‘England's Jests Refined and Improved.’ Crouch's connection with the last three works is highly improbable.

[Roxburghe and Bagford Ballads, reprinted by the Ballad Society, edited by Chappell and the Rev. J. W. Ebsworth; J. P. Collier's reprint of Love's Court; Mr. J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps's reprint of the Welch Traveller; W. C. Hazlitt's Handbook of English Literature; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

S. L. L.