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CRAWLEY, Sir FRANCIS (1584–1649), judge, was born, according to Lloyd (Memoirs of those that Suffered for the Protestant Religion, 1668, p. 290), at Luton, Bedfordshire, on 6 April 1584. Lloyd adds that ‘his dexterity in logic at the university promised him an able pleader at the Inns of Court.’ There is no trace of him at the universities, however. He studied law first at Staple Inn and then at Gray's Inn, to which he was admitted 26 May 1598. He was called to the degree of serjeant-at-law on 26 June 1623, and elected reader at Gray's Inn in the following autumn. In 1626 he was among the counsel whom the Earl of Bristol petitioned to have assigned him on his impeachment. He was appointed to a puisne judgeship in the common pleas on 11 Oct. 1632, and knighted. In November 1635 he advised the king that corn fell within the purview of the statute 25 Hen. VIII, c. 2, which regulated the price of ‘victuals,’ and that a maximum price might be fixed for it under that statute, the king's object being to fix such a maximum and then raise money by selling licenses to charge a higher price. He subscribed the resolution in favour of the legality of ship-money drawn up in answer to the case laid before the judges by the king in February 1636. He subsequently gave judgment in the king's favour in the exchequer chamber in Hampden's case (27 Jan. 1637–8), and publicly asserted the incompetence of parliament to limit the royal prerogative in that matter. He was impeached for these actions in July 1641, the proceedings being opened by Waller, who compared his ‘progress through the law’ to ‘that of a diligent spy through a country into which he meant to conduct an enemy.’ He was restrained from going circuit (5 Aug.). Probably he joined the king on or before the outbreak of hostilities, for in 1643 he was at Oxford, where he received the degree of D.C.L. on 21 Jan. He died on 13 Feb. 1649, and was buried at Luton. By his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Rotherham, knight, of Luton, he had two sons, who survived him, of whom the elder, John, died without issue, and the younger, Francis, who appears as the holder of an estate at Luton in 1660, entered Gray's Inn on 7 Aug. 1623, was called to the bar in February 1638, appointed cursitor baron of the exchequer in 1679, and died in 1682–3.

[Philips's Grandeur of the Law (1685), p. 212; Dugdale's Orig. 296; Chron. Ser. 107, 108; Cobbett's State Trials, ii. 1300, iii. 843, 1078–87, 1305; Cal. State Papers (Dom. 1637–8), p. 540; Parl. Hist. 847; Whitelocke's Mem. 47; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), ii. 44; Foss's Lives of the Judges; Rushworth, pt. iii. vol. i. p. 329.]

J. M. R.