Lieutenant-General William Craven, 1st Earl of Craven


Craven was born in 1606 the son of Sir William Craven, Lord Mayor of London (in 1610). He was educated at Trinity College, Oxford and at Middle Temple. In 1632 he went to the continent to fight for the dispossessed king of Bohemia, Frederick V, in defense of the Rhenish Palatinate. Whilst there he began a lifelong devotion to Elizabeth, the beautiful English princess who was Frederick's consort until his death in 1632. She was the sister of Charles I and became grandmother of the Hanoverian George I

Craven was taken prisoner in 1637 and ransomed himself. He joined Elizabeth, widowed 'Winter Queen' of Bohemia, in exile in the Hague. Then she lived at his house in Drury Lane until her death in 1662. He was a staunch supporter of the royalist cause, providing both Charles I and Charles II with financial aid. He was created Earl of Craven in 1665 having been Baron Craven since 1627.

Charles II appointed him Colonel of the Coldstream Guards on 6th Jan 1670. When King James II quit the throne in 1688, Craven was 82 years old but insisted on leading the regiment against William of Orange who had landed in Devon. James forbade him from doing this but William heard of it and dismissed him as Colonel when he became king. He died on 9th April 1697.


Colonels | Regimental details




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by Stephen Luscombe