This section is from the "An Architectural And Historical Account Of Crosby Place, London" book, by Edward L. Blackburn. Also see Amazon: An Architectural And Historical Account Of Crosby Place, London.
Of the early part of the life of Sir John Crosby we have no certain record. It would appear that, in Stow's time, something like a tradition existed of bis having been a foundling, and that he derived his name from the circumstance of his being discovered near a Cross (Cross-by). 8tow rejects this, and "holds it as a fable"* from his having read of others of the same name previously, and among the number, one John Crosby, to whom, in 1406, Henry IV. granted the wardship of Joan, the daughter of one Jordaine, a wealthy fishmonger of London. He supposes this John to have been the father, or grandfather, of the founder of Crosby Place. Strype * adds, in continuation, that there was a Sir John Cros-bie. Knight, and Alderman of London, tempore Edward III., to the executor of whom, Thomas Rigby, *¡
* Survey, 4to. edit. 1603, p. 174.
* Strype's Stow, 1720, vol. 1. book II. p. 105.
*¡ A curious coincidence here occurs, both in the names and possessions of the two Crosbies, as well as the names of their Executors. They each possessed the Manor of Hanworth, and each devised their property in trust to a Rigby.
Edward Prince of Wales granted the custody of the Manor of Hanworth, during the minority of the heir of this Sir John, by name also John.
The name of Crosby was by no means uncommon about this period. One Richard Crosby was Prior of St. Mary's, Coventry, from 1399 to 1436. His likeness, from a painting on glass in St. Mary's Hall, Coventry, is given in Smith's Ancient Costume; and a Crosby appears as Gentleman of the Chamber to King Henry IV. in 1414, who is stated to have been dismissed, with the King's Con-fesspr and one Durham, the court of the King, in consequence of their having become obnoxious to the Commena, and not, as the King expressed himself at the time, "that he knew any cause why they should be removed, but only because they were hated by the people." The Crosby here mentioned may,.however, have been the one alluded to above as the guardian of Joan Jordaine.
The first authentic notice of Sir John Crosby, of Crosby Place, who appears to have been intimately connected with all the principal events of the bustling period in which he lived, not only in his civil and official capacity, but as an active and zealous partizan of the Yorkists, occurs in 1461; at which time he represented the city of London in Parliament - was Alderman - Warden of the Grocers' Company - and Mayor of the Staple of Calais.
The estimation in which he was held, and his consequence as an influential person, may be inferred from the various commissions, both public and private, with which he was entrusted. In 1466 he obtained a Lease of the site of Crosby Place, for 99 years, at the yearly Rent of 11. 6s. 8d.; in 1470 he served the office of Sheriff, in conjunction with John Warde;* and in 1471 he appears among the number of those who were knighted by Edward IV., on his approach to Lon-don,* after his landing at Ravenspur; at which time the Lord Mayor*¡ and Aldetmen, with a great number of the Citizens, went forth to meet him between Shoreditch and Islington. This honour would appear to have been bestowed upon Sir John and the other Citizens by Edward, in reward for their devotion to his cause, and for the assistance they collectively and individually had rendered him in his attempts The bastard, Falconbridge, had, only a short time previously, been, by the gallantry of the Citizens, defeated in his attack upon London! on behalf of the Lancastrian party; and Hume* says, that several of the Citizens had lent him money. Probably Sir John was among the number.
* Son of Richard Warde, of Howden, in the County of York, and Mayor of London in 1484, 2nd Richard III.
* , May 21st, 1471. - Stow's Chron.
*¡ Fabian says, the Mayor, Sir John Stocton, when he heard of Edward's landing at Ravenspur, to avoid the difficulties attendant upon the peculiar situation in which he was placed by the contention of the two kings, feigned himself sick, and that his office was executed by deputy.
In 1472, he was appointed one of the Commissioners for arranging the matters in dispute between Edward IV. and the Duke of Burgundy,* which office he again held in the following year.*¡
Sir John died in 1476, and was buried near the chapel of the Holy Ghost, in the Church of St. Helen's, under a rich altar tomb, which he directs in his will, to be laid over him and his first wife Agnes or Anneys.§ His second wife, Anne, surfault of issue by his wife Anne, but a Johanne or Joan was buried in the same tomb with him, which may perhaps be the daughter here mentioned, who may have died previous to her father, and after the date of his will. Be this as it may, I am inclined to think no issue of Sir John succeeded him; neither did any of his cousin Peter Christemas, to whom the remainder was to have reverted on failure of heirs by Sir John's wife, Anne, and his daughter Joan; for, in 1501, the Executor of the surviving representative of William Bracebridge, one of Crosby's Executors, assigned the original Lease of Crosby Place to one Bartholomew Reed. I can hardly reconcile the contradiction between this fact, and the statement of an author before noticed,* to the effect, that a John Crosby, whom he supposes was the son of Sir John, presented to the Rectory of Hanworth in 1498. Twenty-three years had at this time elapsed since the death of Sir John Crosby, and yet, in 1601, three years later, his Estates were in the possession of the representative of his surviving Executor. I should be inclined to accept the evidence of the latter fact, in preference to the authority* quoted for the former assertion. Again, about this time a distribution of Sir John's effects, in accordance with the provisions in the latter part of his will, appears to have taken place, for Gough* notices the existence of an inscription in Theydon Gernon Church, Essex, commemorating the gift of a sum of money, portion of his "godys," towards the building of the steeple of that church. The inscription is represented as being engraved on a stone, 6 feet 5 inches by 4 feet, in raised letters, having at the head of the first line the arms of Sir John, and at the end those of the Grocers' Company. From the circumstance of the introduction of the latter, it is more than probable that the possessions of Sir John were appropriated, as it was directed they should be, in default of heirs by Christemas, among the Grocers' Company, and by them in certain charitable uses, of which that gift was parcel. Crosby Place pro-baby fell to the share of the before-mentioned Bartholomew Reed, to whom it was assigned by Crosby's representatives in consequence.
* Hist England.
* Stow's Chron. p. 739.
*¡ These differences, probably, related to the loan by the Duke to Edward, which the former is represented to have taken such pains to conceal from the Lancastrian party, previous to the certainty of Edward's success.