Nathaniel Crew, 3rd Baron Crew

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Nathaniel Crew
Bishop of Durham
A middle-aged white man seated and dressed in clerical robes.
Oil painting of Crew as Bishop of Durham.
Diocese Diocese of Durham
In office 1674–1721 (death)
Predecessor John Cosin
Successor William Talbot
Other posts Dean of Chichester (1669–1671)
Clerk of the Closet (1669–1688)
Bishop of Oxford (1671–1674)
Dean of the Chapel Royal (1685–1688)
Ordination Lent 1665 (deacon & priest)
Consecration 1671
Personal details
Born (1633-01-31)31 January 1633
Steane, Northamptonshire, England[1]
Died 1 November 1721(1721-11-01) (aged 88)
Steane, Northamptonshire, Great Britain[1]
Buried Steane Park, Northamptonshire
Nationality English (later British)
Denomination Anglican
Residence Steane Park, Northamptonshire (inherited)
Newbold Verdon, Leicestershire (inherited)[1]
Parents John Crew, 1st Baron Crew & Jemima (neé Waldegrave)
Spouse 1. Penelope (m. 1691–1699)
2. Dorothy (m. 1700–1715)
Children none
Alma mater Lincoln College, Oxford

Nathaniel Crew, 3rd Baron Crew (31 January 1633–1 November 1721)[2] was Bishop of Oxford from 1671 to 1674, then Bishop of Durham from 1674 to 1721. As such he was one of the longest serving bishops of the Church of England.

Crew was the son of John Crew, 1st Baron Crew and a grandson of Thomas Crewe, Speaker of the House of Commons. He was educated at Lincoln College, Oxford; ordained deacon and priest on the same day in Lent 1665; and appointed Rector of the college in 1668. He became dean and precentor of Chichester on 29 April 1669, Clerk of the Closet to Charles II shortly afterwards (holding that post until the Glorious Revolution in December 1688),[1] he was elected Bishop of Oxford in April 1671[1] and Bishop of Durham on 18 August 1674.[1] He owed his rapid promotions to the Duke of York (later James VII & II), whose favour he had gained by secretly encouraging the duke's interest in the Roman Catholic Church.[3] Crew baptised the Duke's daughter Princess Catherine in 1675 and was made a Privy Counsellor on 26 April 1676[1] He was present at the crucial Privy Council meeting in October 1678 where Titus Oates first revealed his great fabrication, the Popish Plot.

After the accession of James II, Crew was also appointed Dean of the Chapel Royal on 28 December 1685,[4] staying in post until the Glorious Revolution of December 1688.[1] He was part of the ecclesiastical commission of 1686, which suspended Henry Compton, Bishop of London (for refusing to suspend John Sharp, then rector of St Giles's-in-the-Fields, whose anti-papal writings had rendered him obnoxious to the king) and Crew shared the administration of the see of London with Thomas Sprat, Bishop of Rochester. On the decline of King James's power, Crew dissociated himself from the court, and made a bid for the favour of William III's new government by voting for the motion that James had abdicated. He was excepted from the general pardon of 1690, but afterwards was allowed to retain his see.[3]

Crew married twice: firstly to Penelope Frowde on 21 December 1691; then, after Penelope's death in 1699, secondly to Dorothy Forster on 23 July 1700. Dorothy died in 1715. He left large estates to be devoted to charitable ends, and his benefaction to Lincoln College and to Oxford University is commemorated in the annual Creweian Oration.[5] In 1697, Crew had succeeded his brother Thomas as the 3rd Baron Crew, but the barony became extinct upon his death.[3]

His tenure also saw the first two new parishes to be erected in England since the Reformation. These were at Stockton-on-Tees in 1712 and Sunderland. The Church of the Holy Trinity in Sunderland, now redundant, was the base for responsible local government in the growing port town for the first time since the Borough of Sunderland, created by the Bishops of Durham, was crushed by Oliver Cromwell in the English Civil War.

His memory is also perpetuated in The Lord Crewe Arms Hotel at Blanchland, whose community Crew rebuilt. Crew bought the village in 1708 and on his death in 1721 it passed to his trust, which remains the landlord.[6]

Crewe also furnished the chapel of Steane Park, Northamptonshire, of which he was owner (having inherited the Steane estate with the Crew barony).

File:Arms of Lord Crewe impaling Bishop of Durham.jpg
Crew's arms as Bishop of Durham
Both his coronet as a Baron and the Bishop of Durham's Earl's coronet are shown

Styles and titles


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 "Crew [Crewe], Nathaniel". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6683.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. Persons: Crewe, Nathaniel (1668–1721) in "CCEd, the Clergy of the Church of England database" (Accessed online, 9 September 2014)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Public Domain One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Crew, Nathaniel Crew, 3rd Baron". Encyclopædia Britannica. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 432.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Bucholz, R.O. Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 11 (revised): Court Officers, 1660-1837 Accessed 8 September 2014
  5. Oxford Glossary. University of Oxford, UK.
  6. Blanchland History Accessed 15 July 2014.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Paul Hood
Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford
Succeeded by
Thomas Marshall
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Walter Blandford
Bishop of Oxford
Succeeded by
Henry Compton
Preceded by
John Cosin
Bishop of Durham
Succeeded by
William Talbot
Honorary titles
Preceded by
in commission
Lord Lieutenant of Durham
Succeeded by
Richard Lumley,
2nd Viscount Lumley

(became Earl of Scarbrough)
Preceded by
Richard Lumley,
1st Earl of Scarbrough
Vice-Admiral of Durham
Succeeded by
Richard Lumley,
1st Earl of Scarbrough
Lord Lieutenant of Durham
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Thomas Crew, 2nd Baron
Baron Crew