Born 1575 Died 1645
Lionel Cranfield was a successful London merchant, who was introduced to King James I by Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, and entered the royal service in 1605. In 1613 he was knighted and was appointed surveyor-general of customs; in 1616 he became one of the masters of requests, and in 1619 master of the court of wards and liveries and chief commissioner of the navy. He was returned to parliament as member for Hythe in 1614 and for Arundel in 1621. Cranfield, who was also master of the wardrobe, was responsible for many economies in the public service, and his business acumen was very useful to the king.
He took part in the attack on Bacon in 1621, and although, contrary to general expectation, he did not succeed Bacon as Lord Chancellor, he was created Baron Cranfield in July of this year. In 1621 also he became lord high treasurer, and in September 1622 was created Earl of Middlesex, losing his positions and influence shortly afterwards because he opposed the projected war with Spain, and had incurred the hostility of Prince Charles and George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham. Impeached by the House of Commons for corruption, he was found guilty by the House of Lords in May 1624 and was sentenced to lose all his offices, to pay a heavy fine and to be imprisoned during the king's pleasure. However, he was released from prison in a few days, was pardoned in the following year, and was restored to his seat in the House of Lords in 1640.
The earl's second wife was Anne Brett (d. 1670). a cousin of Buckingham's mother, whom he married somewhat reluctantly in 1621 in order to ensure Buckingham's support. Middlesex died on the 6th of August 1645, leaving with other issue a son James (1621-1651), 2nd Earl of Middlesex, who was a partisan of the parliamentary party during the Civil War. James was succeeded by his brother, Lionel, and when this earl died in October 1674 his titles became extinct. The first earl's daughter Frances married Richard Sackville, 5th Earl of Dorset, and their son Charles was created Earl of Middlesex in 1675. Two years later he became Earl of Dorset, and the title of Earl of Middlesex was borne by the earls and dukes of Dorset until 1843.
Being the entry for MIDDLESEX, LIONEL CRANFIELD, 1ST EARL OF in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.