STAPLETON, Anthony (by 1514-74), of the Inner Temple, London.
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Family and Education
b. by 1514, 3rd s. of George Stapleton of Rempstone, Notts. by Margaret, da. and coh. of William Gasgill of Rolleston, Notts. educ. I. Temple. m. (1) lic. 14 Aug. 1544, Joan, da. of Sir Michael Dormer of London, wid. of James Bolney (d.1536) of London and of Edward Borlase (d.1544) of London, 2s.; (2) Alice, da. of Francis Roos of Laxton, Notts., ?wid. of Brian Stapleton of Burton Joyce, Notts.1
Summer reader, I. Temple 1543, Autumn 1544, Lent 1553, treasurer 1555-7, gov. 1555, 1566.
Recorder Colchester, Essex in 1544; j.p. Mdx. 1547-55 or later, q. 1558/59-d., I. o. Ely 1564; member, council of 16th Earl of Oxford by 1550-4 or later; town clerk, London 24 July 1570-d. 2
A younger son of a younger son in an old Yorkshire family, Anthony Stapleton became a successful lawyer: in 1537 Elizabeth, dowager Countess of Oxford, left him £10 ‘towards his learning in the law’. During a lifetime of activity at the Inner Temple he rarely missed a parliament, was three times reader and held the highest offices. Among his early clients were the 5th Earl of Northumberland and his uncle Sir Brian Stapleton; later he acted for the 16th Earl of Oxford, whose will he signed in 1548 and who paid him an annuity of £13 6s.8d., and for the dean and chapter of Westminster at a retainer of 40s. a year and such fees as the 5s. he earned ‘for making a bill against Sir Andrew Dudley in 1549. He held court in Southwark for the corporation of London in 1550-1 and probably at other times, but his quest for London office was a long one: recommended by Cromwell in 1539 for the posts of town clerk and common serjeant, he obtained the reversion of the clerkship in 1544 only to wait 26 years before entering upon the office. It was as town clerk that in 1572 he signed a letter which was carried to York by the Members for that city acknowledging the right of their fellow-citizens to bring goods to London without payment of toll.3
Stapleton might have been expected to sit in more than one Parliament and for a borough other than East Grinstead. His service with the Earl of Oxford, to whom he presumably owed the recordership of Colchester, might have yielded him a seat in Essex or his northern connexions one in that area—his distant cousin William Stapleton was returned for Carlisle to the Parliament of 1542 and his nephew John Eltoftes for Appleby three times under Mary—while his marriage to a daughter of Sir Michael Dormer could have had the same result in Buckinghamshire. As it was, his Dormer kinsfolk may have elicited official support for his election to Mary’s second Parliament, but if they did so at East Grinstead it is likely to have been through the Bolney family who held land there. Less circuitously, Stapleton’s friendship with Sir Richard Sackville could have yielded him the seat. Like his fellow-Member Richard Whalley, Stapleton was associated with Sir Thomas Holcroft with whom he had recently served on a commission to try some of Wyatt’s followers. Nothing is known of his part in the Commons, but it is unlikely that he welcomed the restoration of Catholicism, for ten years later Bishop Grindal reported favourably on his attitude towards the Elizabethan settlement and Bishop Cox of Ely, who rated him the leading justice in the Isle of Ely, thought him meet to be of the quorum.4
Stapleton’s connexion with Ely arose through his second marriage. It was his second wife to whom in the will which he made on 20 Oct. 1569 he left his Nottinghamshire manor of East Leake, with remainder to their issue, and whom he appointed executrix, with her brother Peter Roos supervisor. He must have died early in 1574 from the illness for which the City then gave him leave of a