English School , Mid-Seventeenth Century
Nathaniel Crew, 3rd Baron Crewe was the son of John Crew, first Baron Crew and was a senior ecclesiastical figure within the Church of England during one of the most turbulent times in British history.
Nathaniel Crew, 3rd Baron Crew was the son of John Crew, first Baron Crew and was a senior ecclesiastical figure within the Church of England during one of the most turbulent times in British history.
Following home education Crew entered Grays Inn in February 1652 and enrolled at Lincoln College, Oxford the following year where he graduated in 1656 with a B.A. In 1659 Crew was elected a fellow in Canon Law at Lincoln College and held the position of sub-rector periodically between 1659-1668.
Although ‘devoting’ himself to the Presbyterian branch of reformed-Protestantism during the interregnum, when the Restoration of England seemed imminent, Crew changed his ideals and embraced the more hierarchical approach of church government enforced by Charles II. Subsequently Crew was ordained as deacon and priest in 1665, one year later appointed the King’s chaplain and the year after that secured, by preference of the King, the rectory of Gedney, Lincolnshire which he maintained until 1671.
Through the Catholic James, Duke of York (by this point a close friend), Crew obtained the see of Durham and was elected Bishop in August 1674, a profitable title no doubt attained through the various favours he did for James, including the highly controversial solemnisation of his marriage to the staunch Catholic Mary of Modena. When James became king, Crew acted in a loyal manner, and his strict enforcement of the King’s rules led people to speculate as to his true religion which Crew hastily attempted to prove otherwise.
When James II’s abdication seemed likely Crew tried to make amends with past enemies through large gifts of money, returning to Durham as an administrator where his generous charitable giving earned him great popularity. Although experiencing a brief resurgence of power late in Queen Anne’s reign, the damage caused to his peers through activities previously forged a barrier which he was never able to completely overcome, and Crew died in 1721, his wife, whom he married c.1700 dying a few years previously.
The present portrait miniature is painted by a talented but unidentifiable hand and is most probably dateable to the immediate years following the restoration c.1660-70, supported by the fact that Crew appears to be still quite youthful. Although there were numerous ‘limners’ working during this period, records are quite scarce making an attribution quite difficult. In 1889 an exhibition held at the Burlington Fine Arts Club included a portrait miniature of Crew by Samuel Cooper, and, although impossible to say without seeing it, it is possible that this is a derivation.