STAPLETON, George (by 1519-61/68), of Barnstaple, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1519. m. by 1547, Agnes, 3da.1

Offices Held

Mayor, Barnstaple 1556-7, 1560-1.2


George Stapleton’s parentage has not been established, although in his will he was to style himself gentleman. He is likely to have been of Devon stock, but he could have entered the county in the service of Bishop Veysey of Exeter; in 1540 he took delivery at Crediton on the bishop’s behalf of the archdeaconry of Cornwall’s quota of the subsidy and later in London he handled papers relating to that archdeaconry. There is no reason to identify him with Anthony Stapleton’s brother of the same name.3

By 1548, when the eldest of his three daughters was baptized, Stapleton was living in Barnstaple, where in the following year he leased property formerly belonging to the chantry of St. Anne in the parish church. His residence there may not have been unconnected with the fact that the nearby manor of Tawton belonged to the see of Exeter, but it was as leading townsmen that he and Robert Apley were elected to the Parliament of 1555. Apley was later to recount their efforts on the town’s behalf and to complain that their expenses remained unpaid. Unlike so many western Members they do not appear on the list of those who supported Sir Anthony Kingston in opposing one of the government’s bills.4

Stapleton made his will on 26 Oct. 1558. He left his place of burial to the discretion of his wife, his sole executrix, but he gave 3s.6d. to the high altar of Kenton, near the home of the Courtenays at Powderham. To his only surviving daughter he bequeathed his best standing cup, his silver salt, a gilt cup with a cover, the bed that ‘my lord my master’ had given him, and £20. The lease of his mills and the residue of his property he left to his wife, with reversion to his daughter. He appointed as supervisors his brother Anthony Stapleton and Roger Worth. The date of Stapleton’s death has not been discovered, but it must have been between the autumn of 1561, when he ended his second mayoralty, and 26 Oct. 1568, when his will was proved.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. N. Devon Athenaeum, Barnstaple, D. Drake ms ‘MPs Barnstaple’, 29.
  • 2. CPR, 1555-7, p. 391; T. Wainwright, Barnstaple Recs. i. 222.
  • 3. F. Rose-Troup, The Western Rebellion, 62-63.
  • 4. N. Devon Athenaeum, D. Drake ms op. cit. 1135, 1139; Wainwright, i. 190.
  • 5. PCC 19 Babington.