Nathaniel Crew, 3rd Baron Crew

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The Lord Crew
Bishop of Durham
A middle-aged white man seated and dressed in clerical robes.
Oil painting of Crew as Bishop of Durham.
DioceseDiocese of Durham
In office1674–1721 (death)
PredecessorJohn Cosin
SuccessorWilliam Talbot
Other post(s)Dean of Chichester (1669–1671)
Clerk of the Closet (1669–1688)
Bishop of Oxford (1671–1674)
Dean of the Chapel Royal (1685–1688)
OrdinationLent 1665 (deacon & priest)
Personal details
Born(1633-01-31)31 January 1633
Died18 September 1721(1721-09-18) (aged 88)
Steane, Northamptonshire, Great Britain[1]
BuriedSteane Park, Northamptonshire
NationalityEnglish (later British)
ResidenceSteane Park, Northamptonshire (inherited)
Newbold Verdon, Leicestershire (inherited)[1]
ParentsJohn Crew, 1st Baron Crew & Jemima (née Waldegrave)
Spouse1. Penelope (m. 1691–1699)
2. Dorothy (m. 1700–1715)
Alma materLincoln College, Oxford

Nathaniel Crew, 3rd Baron Crew (31 January 1633 – 18 September 1721)[2][3] 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.[4] 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,[5] staying in post until 1688. 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.[4]

His tenure as Bishop of Durham 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.

From 1681 to 1688 Crew lived at 43 King Street, Covent Garden. He died in 1721. Crew had 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. In 1697, Crew succeeded his brother Thomas as the 3rd Baron Crew, but had no children and thus the barony became extinct upon his death.[4]


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.[6]

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.[7]

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

Crew's arms as Bishop of Durham
Both his coronet as a Baron and the Bishop of Durham's Earl's coronet are shown

Much vilified by the Whig school of historians, Crewe's contributions are now more fully appreciated. Samuel Pepys thought well of him, praising, in particular, his grave and decent manner of preaching:

Dr. Crew did make a very pretty, neat, sober, honest sermon; and delivered it very readily, decently, and gravely, beyond his years: so as I was exceedingly taken with it, and I believe the whole chappell, he being but young; but his manner of his delivery I do like exceedingly.

— The diary of Samuel Pepys, 3 April 1667

Styles and titles[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Crew [Crewe], Nathaniel". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6683. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ "Crewe, Nathaniel (1668–1721) (CCEd Person ID 61334)". The Clergy of the Church of England Database 1540–1835. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  3. ^ Dictionary of National Biography, London, England: Oxford University Press 1921–22; Volume: 05; Page: 79
  4. ^ a b c  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. Vol. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 432.
  5. ^ Bucholz, R.O. Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 11 (revised): Court Officers, 1660-1837 Accessed 8 September 2014 Archived 10 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Oxford Glossary Archived 29 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine. University of Oxford, UK.
  7. ^ Blanchland History Accessed 15 July 2014 Archived 17 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
Academic offices
Church of England titles
Preceded by Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford
Succeeded by
Preceded by Dean of Chichester
1669 –1671
Succeeded by
Preceded by Bishop of Oxford
Succeeded by
Preceded by Bishop of Durham
Succeeded by
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 Baron Crew