UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sir James Croft, 1518-1590 Wright, Patrick Dermot

Abstract

This thesis is biographical in form, and follows a chronological development. James Croft's life illustrates many of the problems of an ambitious man of the period, and spans more than seventy years and four reigns. His early career was as a soldier, and this aspect, as well as a survey of his family background, has been dealt with in Chapter One. In 1551, Croft served in Ireland, originally as leader of an expeditionary force, but later as Lord Deputy, the first post in his career of major importance. The accession of Mary to the throne in 1553 prompted Croft to take part in the poorly-planned and ill-fated Wyatt's Rebellion, which led to Croft's imprisonment and subsequent loss of revenue. Following Elizabeth's accession in 1558, Croft was made Governor of the town of Berwick, on the Scottish border, and took a major part in the action against the French troops at Leith. His eventual disgrace led to his exile from Court until 1570, in which year he was created Comptroller of the Queen's Household, a position he held for the remainder of his life. Chapter Five deals not only with his duties as Comptroller, but contains an examination of Croft's growing importance in his home county of Herefordshire, and shows his increasing influence and range of contacts at Court. Croft's final appearance two years before his death, was as a commissioner to negotiate with the Spanish in the Low Countries in early 1588. The final chapter of this thesis attempts to examine the significance of Croft as typical of a section of Tudor society, and deals with some of the problems raised by modern historians of the period. Investigation has necessarily been limited by the shortage of records available for research. In the absence of any collection of family papers, the principal sources have been various collections of state papers and letters, contemporary annals and diaries, and such sources as the Acts of the Privy Council and parliamentary records. In spite of the difficulties involved, a surprising amount of information concerning James Croft is extant. A reasonably clear outline of his activities can be seen, and it has been possible to place him in the larger context of sixteenth century society.

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