Jeremiah (Joseph) Crutchley

  • Posted on: 20 September 2009
  • By: David Thrale

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Looking at your fascinating website, I see you mention Jeremiah Crutchley of Sunninghill Park. The Crutchley family have always maintained that Jeremiah was legitimate. Henry Thrale must have been a very precocious little boy to have sired Jeremiah Crutchley as a teenager. We believe that Hester Thrale raised the subject as a result of her poor relationship with the cold Henry Thrale. Just an observation.

Jeremiah Crutchley had three sisters and one brother. The first sister died an infant (b. & d. June 1744).

The next child was Elizabeth (8/10/1747 - 5/11/1837) she was unmarried, which was why Sunninghill went to her younger sister's eldest boy, but we have evidence that she lived out her life at the Park.

Jerry's little brother John (8/10/1749 - 4/4/1752) died very shortly after his father Jeremiah Snr.

I'm not sure I agree with Hester Thrale about Fanny Burney. In Madame D'arblay, Fanny implies that 'Jerry' was rude, and that she did not think him a good match for her. Some also say that he was pug ugly. He was very fond of one of Hester's daughters (off the top of my head I think it was Cecilia - wasn't he her godfather or something? I think it was mentioned in the book Thrales of Streatham Park).

She had built for him a fine set of entrance gates at Sunninghill Park. The supports are still there, as are a lot of Crutchley stuff. Prince Andrew one said to me "you Crutchley's are everywhere there". Jeremiah Senior was a "Brewer and Dyer", and I would be interested to hear if there was a business interest there with Henry Thrale.

Mike Crutchley
West Sussex

David Thrale's picture

Hi Mike, great to hear from you. Henry Thrale's birth is unclear. But based on the information available, he would have been aged between 15 and 21 years old when Jeremiah was born. Mary Hyde says he was 17 and she speculates that he was not Henry Thrale's child.

Hester Thrale said:

he is supposed by those that knew his Mother & her Connections, to be Mr Thrale's natural Son, & in many Things he resembles him, but not in Person; as he is both ugly & aukward. Mr Thrale certainly believed he was his Son, & once told me as much.

However, if Jeremiah was ugly I'm sure he couldn't be a Thrale! I guess we'll never know. Even DNA testing of his descendant won't tell us as both Jeremiah and Henry have no living descendants.

Jeremiah was godfather to Anna Maria Thrale, not Cecilia Thrale.

Many thanks for the information about Jeremiah's family. I have added this information onto the family tree. Along with some other stuff I have discovered. I have also updated Jeremiah's genealogy.

As regards Jeremiah snr's profession of brewer and dyer, Jeremiah snr, had been a close friend of Henry's father, Ralph Thrale (the Crutchley family had been dyers in Clink Street, Southwark which was near Ralph Thrale's brewery). I have also added some information about the nature of their business and personal friendship on Jeremiah's page.

Do let me know if you have any more information or questions.

David owner: David Thrale | My blog | Family motto: In cruce confido


For several years now I have been researching your family genealogy as part of my research into the family and interests of the author, Jane Austen. There is an intriguing reference in one of Jane Austen's letters to the possibility that she expected her brother to become engaged to a Mrs. Crutchley (Presumably widowed, although the term "Mrs." was sometimes used as a term of respect for an elderly spinster of the same maiden name).

Here are extracts of two earlier letters:

He has once mentioned a scheme, which I should rather like—calling on the 'Birches' and the 'Crutchleys' in our way. It may never come to anything.

Wednesday 24th August 1814 - referring to her brother Henry who had been previously married to their cousin, Eliza de Feuillde, née Hancock, goddaughter and putative natural daughter of the famous Warren Hastings. Note that in this same letter Jane makes the suggestion that Henry will marry again soon to his "Hanwell favourite", Miss Harriet Moore, and that it might have been a standing joke between Jane and her sister Cassandra that Henry was going to marry anyone and everyone.

we shall lengthen the Journey by going round by Sunning Hill;—his favourite 'Mrs Crutchley' lives there, & he wants to introduce me to her

Friday September 2nd 1814

The Jane Austen sources have suggested that this is the widow of Jeremiah Crutchley

Crutchley family. Mr. Jeremiah Crutchley, who had purchased Sunninghill Park, Berks., in 1769, died in 1805 leaving a young son; it was presumably his widow whom HTA (Henry Austen, Jane's brother) was now considering as a possible second wife for himself.

Deirdre Le Faye, Jane Austen's Letters

But as you and I know, this is not possible as Jeremiah was not married. The question then remains: which Mrs. Crutchley was Jane Austen referring to and how did Jane's brother Henry know her?

She was evidently resident at Sunning Hill and therefore must be the correct Crutchley family. Also, who are the Birches who seem to be their friends?

George Henry Duffield, Jeremiah's nephew through his sister Alice, inherited Sunning Hill in 1805 and became a Crutchley. Was Jane referring to George Henry's wife, Julia Crutchley née Burrell? Julia Burrell née Crutchley was a cousin of another of Jane Austen's sisters-in-law through Peregrine Bertie, Duke of Ancaster? She was alive in 1814 and would have been the same age or a little younger than Jane Austen and her brother Henry.

George Henry Duffield / Crutchley was still alive in 1814 and it was unlikely that Jane Austen would suggest her brother might marry or have as a favourite an already married woman. However, bear in mind Jane Austen was famed for her witty repartee and "in jokes" with her sister Cassandra and this "favourite Mrs Crutchley" that she speculated her brother might marry at any moment could have been any age from 19 to 90.

Mrs. Duffield, née Alice Crutchley (1751 - 1833), Jeremiah's sister was still alive; could she have been the putative "Mrs. Crutchley"?

Also you write:

He was very fond of one of Hester's daughters (off the top of my head I think it was Cecilia - wasn't he her godfather or something? I think it was Anna, off the top of my head.

I see David Thrale concurs with this in his answer to you.

I would be extremely interested in any insights you have into this conundrum. I am currently working on the theory that Jane Austen may have immortalised one of your Crutchley ancestors in one of her novels, or certainly used some of his traits and situation as an inspiration for one of her characters. I would love to know if there are any family papers extant that may shed some light on this and would be very grateful for any information you may have.

I believe Mary Hyde, Viscountess Eccles wrote a great deal on the Thrale family before her death in 2003 (she and her previous husband were Samuel Johnson collectors and researchers). There is a folder at Harvard about her correspondence with Eileen and Peter Holdcroft concerning Jeremiah Crutchley in the mid-1970's. Any idea who they are? Could it be Sir Peter Holdcroft of Shrewsbury?

As to the suggestion that Jeremiah was in fact Thrale's son - a great mystery to which I wish we knew the answer. There are two estimations of his age based on his grave and Henry Thrale's own reckoning. According to Thrale's usual reckoning of his age he would have been about 19 and Jeremiah's mother would have been about 22 when Jeremiah was conceived. Henry Thrale's grave would lead us to believe Henry Thrale was much younger at Jeremiah's conception (about 15 and therefore unlikely). Certainly Thrale was known to have had many affairs but whether these included respectable women such as the married Mrs. Crutchley (married to a family friend, no less) there is no evidence as yet. For the purposes of my research - connected to Fanny Burney (another writer much admired by Jane Austen), a particular friend of Mrs. Thrale, what counts is what Mrs. Thrale believed and was likely to have hinted to Fanny Burney. Mrs. Thrale was known for her tendency to gossip and she certainly speculated in writing that Jeremiah was indeed her husband's son at Henry Thrale's own admission. I believe Mrs. Thrale may have been motivated to perpetuate this partly because she wished to discredit her first husband as her second husband was not well-liked in her circle of friends.

Crutchley was one of Thrale's executors. He was also suggested as a beau for both Hester Thrale and for Fanny Burney at one time. If you know anything about these relationships it would be pivotal to my research and could throw some new light on Jane Austen's writings.

Anielka Briggs
64 Wood Street
WA 6010
(08) 9385 4809


Mike Crutchley contacted me in response to your posting. He said...

I ceased my FH research in 2003 after lightning strike on the old house destroyed all I had, and so I don't think I can help her.  
Conjecture would point to Julia (Burrell) Crutchley. The Mappercombe archive  
might help.