Saturday, 21 September 2013

Bonjour Crispe

Henry Crispe was a firm Parliamentarian during the years of the English Civil War and this led to him being kidnapped from his own home in order to further the Royalist cause.

In August 1657 Henry was kidnapped from his home of Quekes by Royalist supporters, bundled into his own carriage without a servant to attend him - which he found most rude - and taken to coast where he was then put onto a boat which set sail to Bruges in Flanders where he would remain as a prisoner. At this time Flanders had been in Spanish possession, a country which had been at war with England for two years. Once in Bruges, Henry sent for his nephew Thomas who lived near to Quekes to come to him, and once he arrived the two men discussed the situation and tried to find a solution. Thomas was sent back to England and joined forces with Henry's son Nicholas to raise the ransom money. The ransom that was demanded was a sum of 3000l, which was expected to be paid by Cromwell's government. Cromwell saw this for what it was, a way to raise money for the Royalist side of King Charles II, and so refused to pay the money for the return of Henry Crispe. Cromwell made an order to the council that Mr Crispe was not to be ransomed, and therefore his family had to petition for a licence to allow them to pay the ransom themselves. Henry's son Nicholas died at this time, while his father was still kept prisoner, at which time the fight was taken up by Thomas who managed to obtain the licence. However this ransom was high and meant that Henry had to give permission for Thomas and his son-in-law Robert Darell to sell off some of the Crispe lands in order to raise the funds. It was still another eight months before the ransom was paid and Henry Crispe was released and sent back home to England.

Henry had in fact had previous warning that this kidnapping was to take place, and in an attempt to stop it he fortified his home with loopholes for musket fire and paid his neighbours to come and stay in his home with him for protection in case of attack, however neither of these actions appear to have had any effect on the kidnappers at all.

The kidnapping plot had been thought up and carried out by Captain Golding of Ramsgate who was a staunch Royalist and had previously taken refuge with Charles II.

While being held in Flanders, where the official language was French, Henry Crispe learnt only two words; "Bonjour Crispe". He would use only these words, probably incorrectly, during his eight months stay there, earning him the nickname of 'Bonjour Crispe'.

Quekes House
Henry Crispe was born around 1581 as the son of Henry Crispe (b.1545) and Anne Colepeper (1548-94). He inherited Quekes Manor in Kent in 1650 from his cousin, another Henry Crispe. Henry Crispe also shortly after became the Sheriff for this county, however due to his age it was his son Nicholas who undertook most of the duties.

Henry firstly married Mary Colepeper (b.1584), the daughter of Anthony Colepeper and Anne Martin, in about 1602, but they had no children and she died in about 1609. Secondly he married Frances Hooper (nee Roberts) (1590-1646) in about 1611, who was the daughter of Thomas Roberts and Frances James. Frances had a daughter, Frances Hooper, from her first marriage. With Frances he had a daughter Christiana, who married Robert Darell, and a son Nicholas (1615-57) who predeceased his father. Nicholas had married Thomasine Denne (d.1679) with whom he had a daughter Ann (d.1707), who married Richard Powle and had one son John Powle (d.1740).

Henry Crisp died on the 25th July 1663 and his estate was inherited by his nephew Thomas Crispe, due to his own lack of male heirs.

The last will and testament of Henry Crispe;
" I, Henry Crispe, late of Queakes, in the Parish of Birchington, within the Isle of Thanett, in the County of Kent: ' to be interred in the Parish Church of Birchington, neare the Tombe by me erected for my wife and Children now departed.' 'Unto my grand-child, Mrs. Anna Crispe .£100 and such Jewells and Dimons as were my wife's in her life time.' And to my daughter, Thomasiue Lady Crispe, her mother, I doe give my watch with ye silver case, and that small dimond ring which I had of ye gift of ' Sir Henry Crispe, Knight, deceased.' Unto my beloved nephew, Lieutenant Thomas Crispe, eldest sonne of my loving brother, Mr. Thomas Crispe, of Cant, my houses, etc., in Birehington, knowne by the name of Queckes, late in mine own occupation before I was Carried away Prisiner into Flanders. Also lands at St. Nicholas, at Wade, neare Brookseud, etc., one other small tenement and windmill in Birchington, and my manor of Stoner; leases at Sandwich, and houses at Create Chart and Ashford. My manor of Haselton, also Haiston. The same to my said nephew (Thomas Crispe) and he sole owner and executor. Will proved, Oct. 23rd, 1667, by Thomas Crispe."

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