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Posted on Wednesday, 04 August 2004 - 04:41 pm:   

Brass Crosby (1725-1793) who lived at Court Lodge, Church Road, Chelsfield, Kent

Brass Crosby was born in Stockton-on Tees in 1725. He qualified in law and came to London to practise his chosen profession. In 1758 he was elected to the City Council and appointed Sheriff in 1764. In 1765 Crosby was appointed an Alderman and in 1768 he became Parliamentary member for Honiton. In 1770 he was elected Lord Mayor of London.

In February 1772 he married Mrs Mary Tattersall, widow, daughter of James Maud and his sole heiress, from whom she inherited Court Lodge in Chelsfield. During the 21 years of their marriage they spent half the year in the City and half at Court Lodge. Both Brass and Mary are buried in the parish church of St Martin of Tours in Chelsfield. There is an obelisk to Brass Crosby in St Georges Circus in the City.

As Chief Magistrate one of his first acts was to refuse to support the issuing of warrants for `press gangs` and he ordered constables to be positioned "at all avenues" of the City to prevent the seizure of men. He also had a famous battle with the House of Commons over publishing Parliamentary debates. In 1771 he had brought before him a printer who dared publish reports of Parliamentary proceedings. He released the man, but was subsequently ordered to appear before the House to explain his actions. Crosby was committed to the Tower of London, but when brought to trial several judges refused to hear the case and after protests from the public Crosby was released. No further attempts have ever been made to prevent the publication of debates now known as Hansard.

The encounter with the House of Commons resulted in the saying, "as bold as brass". Brass Crosby lived at Court Lodge for 21 years. The plaque is fixed to an oak post on a grass verge in Church Road, fronting the Coach House with Court Lodge behind.

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