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Born in Galway and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He was a supporter of Catholic emancipation, but was otherwise an orthodox Irish protestant conservative. He studied at Lincoln's Inn and was called to the Irish bar in 1802. He was elected as M.P. for Downpatrick in 1807 and, despite his inexperience, quickly gained political office.
He deputised for Sir Arthur Wellesley, Chief Secretary for Ireland, in 1808, and the following year was appointed as Secretary to the Admiralty. He remained as an M.P. for various constituencies until 1832.
Croker opposed the Reform Bill in 1832. In the 1840s he was a supporter of Peel, and wrote leaders in favour of the Maynooth Grant. However, his friendship with Peel ended over the latter's decision to repeal the Corn Laws.
Croker's other interest, which his legal and political career was designed to fund, was writing. He wrote many articles on literature, politics and history for the Tory Quarterly Review from 1809 to 1854. In addition, he produced an edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson in 1831, and the historical work Military Events of the French Revolution of 1830 (1831). He also wrote history books for schoolchildren.