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 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 and of Albany (later King James II & VII.
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.
"The 17th century bishop of Hereford, Herbert Croft (May 18, 1603–1691), and the cathedral dean, George Benson (who appears to have died within a year of his friend in 1691), were buried together within the communion rails of the cathedral with a Latin inscription that runs from one ledger-stone to the other. It is inscribed In Vita conjuncti on one, In Morte non divisi on the other, in a phrase similar to that left by John Gostlin to his friend Thomas Legge: "In life united. In death not divided". Burial: Hereford Cathedral, Hereford, Herefordshire Unitary Authority, Herefordshire, England The two ledger-stones were laid side by side and are united by a pair of hands stretching from the one to the other exchanging the handfast." Alan Bray
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.
The Friend by Alan Bray
Paperback: 392 pages
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (December 31, 2006)
Amazon: The Friend
In the chapel of Christ's College, Cambridge, some twenty years ago, historian Alan Bray made an astonishing discovery: a tomb shared by two men, John Finch and Thomas Baines. The monument featured eloquent imagery dedicated to their friendship: portraits of the two friends linked by a knotted cloth. And Bray would soon learn that Finch commonly described his friendship with Baines as a connubium or marriage.
There was a time, as made clear by this monument, when the English church not only revered such relations between men, but also blessed them. Taking this remarkable idea as its cue, The Friend explores the long and storied relationship between friendship and the traditional family of the church in England. This magisterial work extends from the year 1000, when Europe acquired a shape that became its enduring form, and pursues its account up to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Spanning a vast array of fascinating examples, which range from memorial plaques and burial brasses to religious rites and theological imagery to classic works of philosophy and English literature, Bray shows how public uses of private affection were very common in premodern times. He debunks the now-familiar readings of friendship by historians of sexuality who project homoerotic desires onto their subjects when there were none. And perhaps most notably, he evaluates how the ethics of friendship have evolved over the centuries, from traditional emphases on loyalty to the Kantian idea of moral benevolence to the more private and sexualized idea of friendship that emerged during the modern era.
Finely nuanced and elegantly conceived, The Friend is a book rich in suggestive propositions as well as eye-opening details. It will be essential reading for anyone interested in the history of England and the importance of friendship in everyday life.
History Today’s Book of the Year, 2004
“Bray’s loving coupledom is something with a proper historical backbone, with substance and form, something you can trace over time, visible and archeologicable. . . . Bray made a great contribution in helping to bring this long history to light.”— James Davidson, London Review of Books
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