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Herbert Croft, bishop of Hereford, painted about 1670 by an unknown artist. This portrait is in the hall at Croft Castle in Herefordshire.

Herbert Croft (1603–1691) was an English churchman, bishop of Hereford from 1661.


Croft was born 18 May 1603 at Great Milton, Oxfordshire, his mother being then on a journey to London, the third son of Sir Herbert Croft and his wife Mary, daughter of Sir Anthony Bourne of Holt Castle. He married, before 8 April 1645, Anne Browne, the only daughter of the Very Rev. Dr. Jonathan Browne[1] and Anne Barne Lovelace. Her half-brothers were Richard Lovelace (1618–1657) an English poet in the seventeenth century and Francis Lovelace (1621–1675), who was the second governor of the New York colony appointed by the Duke of York.[2]

After being for some time, like his father who had converted, a member of the Roman Catholic Church, he returned to the Church of England about 1630, and in 1644 was appointed chaplain to Charles I, and obtained within a few years a prebendary's stall at Worcester, a canonry of St George's Chapel, Windsor (1641–1662), and the deanery of Hereford (1644–1661), all of which preferments he lost during the Civil War and Commonwealth.

By Charles II he was made bishop of Hereford in 1661 and also dean of the Chapel Royal (1668–1669) from which position he preached to the King. Becoming disillusioned with court life he returned to his Hereford see. Despite his youthful adherence to that faith, he was noted for exceptional severity towards Roman Catholics, especially during the Popish Plot. No doubt for this reason, at the outset of the Plot its inventor Titus Oates claimed that the Jesuits had specially marked Croft for assassination. Why the Jesuits should be so anxious to kill a man who lacked any influence at Court and almost never visited it was a question which probably did not occur to Oates, who was a stranger to the Court and to polite society generally.


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 celebrated in its day, and gave rise to prolonged controversy.


His son Herbert was created a baronet in 1671, and was the ancestor of Sir Herbert Croft, 5th Baronet, the 18th century writer.

He died in 1691 and is buried inside the Hereford Cathedral: the tomb slab of Bishop Croft on the south-east transept is joined by clasped hands with that of Dean George Benson, who died in 1692.[3]


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Croft, Sir James". Encyclopædia Britannica. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
  • Burke's Peerage and Baronetage
  1. ^ Jonathan Browne, Doctor of Laws. Browne matriculated at Gloucester Hall, Oxford 13 October 1620, aged 19, and received the degree of B. C. L. 1624/5, D. C. L. 1630 and L. L. D. He held the following preferments: rector of Shelly, Essex, 1621; rector of St. Faith's, London, 1628; rector of Hertingfordbury, Herts, 1630; president of Sion College, 1636-1637; canon of Hereford Cathedral,1636; dean of Hereford Cathedral 1636; canon of Westminster Abbey 1639. He outlived his wife and died December, 1643, and his will (undated and unregistered) was proved 8 April 1645 (Oxford Wills; Prerogafive Court of Canterbury, 1645).
  2. ^ She was also the great granddaughter of Cicely Wilford and the Most Reverend Dr. Edwin Sandys, an Anglican church leader who successively held the posts of the Bishop of Worcester (1559-1570), Bishop of London (1570-1576), and the Archbishop of York (1576-1588). He was one of the translators of the Bishops' Bible. She was also the grand nephew of Sir Francis Walsingham and a 2nd cousin of Frances Walsingham.
  3. ^ Aylmer, G. E.; Tiller, John Eric (2000). Hereford Cathedral: A History. A&C Black. p. 121. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Jonathan Brown
Dean of Hereford
Succeeded by
Thomas Hodges
Preceded by
Nicholas Monck
Bishop of Hereford
Succeeded by
Gilbert Ironside

1 Annotation

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Wheatley: "Dr. Herbert Croft, Dean of Hereford, consecrated Bishop of Hereford, February 9th, 1661-2. He succeeded Bishop Morley as Dean of the Chapel. Burnet says 'Crofts was a warm devout man, but of no discretion in his conduct; so he lost ground quickly. He used much freedom with the King, but it was in the wrong place, not in private but in the pulpit.' Bishop Croft died at Hereford, May 18th, 1691."

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.