Lionel Cranfield, 1st earl of Middlesex

(1575—1645) merchant, financier, and government minister

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Cranfield, competent and industrious, became lord treasurer under James I. He was a successful Merchant Venturer and when in 1613 he was appointed surveyor‐general of the customs, it was a case of poacher turned gamekeeper. In 1614 he became a member of Parliament, and attached himself to the royal favourite, George Villiers, later duke of Buckingham. In 1621, when he became lord treasurer, he found that reform was needed in ‘every particular’. Cranfield made spending cuts, and courtiers lost their pensions and allowances. He soon fell, brought down by Buckingham, his former patron. He was impeached, found guilty of corruption, fined, and briefly imprisoned in the Tower. He was pardoned in 1625, and for the rest of his life lived in retirement.

Subjects: British History.

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