Lionel Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex

In St Benedict's chapel in Westminster Abbey is a large tomb, with white marble effigies, to Lionel Cranfield, 1st Earl of Middlesex and his second wife Anne. There are unpainted heraldic achievements at either end of the altar tomb and each effigy is dressed in robes with coronets. He holds a sword in his left hand and she holds a book. At the feet of the Earl is an antelope and at the foot of the Countess's effigy is a griffin powdered with fleur de lis. Both their heads rest on cushions, that of the Countess having cherub-head tassels. The sculptor was Nicholas Stone. The Latin inscription can be translated:

Sacred to the memory of Lionel Lord Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex, who by that discerning Prince James I, being called to attend the Court, was for his excellent parts and wit, bountifully rewarded both with honours and profit; Master of the Requests, Wardrobe, President of the Court of Wards and Privy Counsellor. The new and illustrious, as well as difficult province of Lord Treasurer of England he filled; which service, how indefatigably he underwent, his titles of Knight, Baron Cranfield and lastly, Earl of Middlesex, with various other honours, abundantly testify. From hence, envy swelling, all its efforts were made to raise storms against him. Whilst he briskly standing on his guard, encouraged by his assurance of innocence, was shamefully tossed about; and barely escaping shipwreck, in a composed winter cast anchor, and spent and finished his life in a retired leisure; here, lying concealed, being whilst wearied out first, and wasted afterwards, this pilot was roused up to undertake a safer voyage, and made the port of Heaven. He died 6 August 1645, about seventy years of age. He had two wives, both of which brought him issue. Elizabeth, the first, bore him daughters, Elizabeth now Countess of Mulgrave, Martha, Countess of Monmouth, and Mary who died before marriage. His other wife surviving, Anne now Countess of Middlesex, and who, when God shall please, is to be buried in this tomb, on which is placed her effigy, bore him James, heir to the honour and Earl of Middlesex, Lionel and Edward now living; and of the other sex Frances Lady Buckhurst, and Susanna who died an infant 25 June 1647.

Lionel was the 2nd son of Thomas Cranfield, mercer of London, and his wife Martha (Randall). He was baptised 13 March 1575 and was educated at St Paul's School. He was apprenticed to a merchant in silks and cloth and in this trade he made a vast fortune. In 1613 he entered Government service and was knighted, being elevated to the peerage as Baron Cranfield in 1621. The year following he became Earl of Middlesex. He was impeached at the instigation of the Duke of Buckingham whose extravagance he opposed but he was pardoned in 1625. His first wife Elizabeth Sheppard died in 1617. His Countess Anne (Brett) was buried on 12 February 1670 (New Style dating).

Anne's gravestone is nearby in the south ambulatory and that inscription reads:

Under this stone lyeth interred the body of Anne Cranfeild second wife to Lyonel Earle of Middlesex Lord High Treasurer of England. Shee departed this life the 3d day of February in the year of Our Lord 1669

Their eldest son James, 2nd Earl of Middlesex, was baptised on 27th December 1621 and married at St Bartholomew the Great church on 3rd March 1646 Lady Anne Bourchier, daughter of the Earl of Bath. He was buried in the south ambulatory of the Abbey on 13th September 1651. One of their daughters, Lady Anne Cranfield, was buried in St Benedict's chapel 22nd March 1653 aged about five.

Their second son Lionel succeeded his brother James as 3rd Earl of Middlesex. He was Gentleman of the Bedchamber to Charles II and married Lady Rachel Fane, daughter of the Earl of Westmoreland. His titles became extinct at his death but Charles Sackville, eldest son of his sister Frances, was created Baron Cranfield and Earl of Middlesex. Lionel's gravestone in the south ambulatory reads:

Under this stone lyeth ye body of Lyonel Earle of Middlesex Baron Cranfeild of Cranfeild in the county of Bedford One of the Gent. of His Majestys Bedchamber. He was second sonn to Lyonel Earle of Middlesex Lord High Treasurer of England the last of that honorable family. He dyed ye 26th day of Octr. in the yeare of Our Lord 1674.

Their third son Edward died 16th March 1648 aged about 23 and was buried in the Abbey. His will described him of Copt-Hall in Middlesex.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Died

6th August 1645

Location

Chapel of St Benedict; South Ambulatory

Memorial Type

Tomb

Material Type

Marble

Lionel Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex
Lionel Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex

Wenceslaus Hollar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lionel Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex
Lionel & Anne Cranfield effigies

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Lionel Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex
Cranfield monument

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster