APREECE, Robert (1638-1723), of Washingley, Hunts.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. c. Dec. 1638, 1st s. of Robert Apreece of Washingley by Mary, da. of Sir Henry Bedingfield of Oxburgh, Norf.; half-bro. of Charles Orme of Peterborough, Northants. m. 18 Apr. 1660, Frances, da. and h. of Henry Bexwell of Bexwell, Norf., 3s. 3da. suc. fa. 1644.1
Commr. for assessment, Hunts. Aug. 1660-80, 1690, Huntingdon 1660-1, Northants. 1679-80; dep. lt. Hunts. c. Aug. 1660-81, ?1686-Mar. 1688, ?1694-1702, Cambs. 1698-1702, Ely ?1696-at least 1702; j.p. Hunts. July 1660-81, 1687-Apr. 1688, Oct. 1688-?d., Ely 1696-at least 1702; commr. for loyal and indigent officers, Hunts. 1662, complaints, Bedford level 1663, appeals 1668, recusants, Hunts. 1675; maj. of militia ft. Hunts, by 1680-1, col. by 1697.2
Apreece’s ancestors, of Breconshire origin, acquired Washingley by marriage early in the 16th century, and one of them sat in the Parliaments of 1541 and 1547 as Member for Huntingdonshire. Later they became recusants, and Apreece’s father, though a prisoner of war, was shot in cold blood during the Civil War when he admitted that he was a Roman Catholic. Apreece himself was brought up as an Anglican by his stepfather Humphrey Orme, but during his minority his estates were heavily mortgaged. They were estimated at £1,500 p.a. when he was put down as a knight of the Royal Oak at the Restoration. Apreece was returned for the county at a contested by-election in 1673, probably with the support of the 3rd Earl of Manchester (Robert Montagu). He was not an active Member, being named to only 12 committees in the Cavalier Parliament. In 1675 he was named to those for appropriating the customs to the use of the navy, excluding Papists from Parliament and hindering the growth of Popery. He also served on the committee for the sale of the Huntingdonshire estate of Sir Francis Compton, who had been one of the assessors at his election and was probably a lifelong friend. His name appears on the working lists as to be influenced by Lionel Walden I and Sir Robert Carr. Sir Richard Wiseman noted him as ‘corrupted by Captain [Silius] Titus; but I hope to work a cure on him’. Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly worthy’ in 1677, but he was one of the defaulters ordered to be sent for in custody on 18 Dec. 1678.3
Returned unopposed to the first Exclusion Parliament as the colleague of Ralph Montagu, Apreece, as a member of the Green Ribbon Club, was naturally regarded as ‘worthy’ by Shaftesbury. He was inactive as a committeeman, being appointed only to the committee for the habeas corpus amendment bill. Nevertheless, he not only attended the elections committee, but apparently spoke in favour of the country candidate Sir Godfrey Copley at Aldborough. He was teller for an unsuccessful motion to adjourn the debate on the Leicestershire election on 14 Apr. 1679. Although he had leave to go into the country on 21 May, he apparently remained to vote for the exclusion bill later in the day. In the autumn election he made way for Titus, and was dismissed from local office on the King’s direct instructions.4
The accession of James II offered brighter prospects for one whose father was to be beatified in 1887 as a Roman Catholic martyr, and who had two kinsmen of his own name among the Benedictines at St. James’s Palace. Apreece was one of the first Whigs to be restored as justice of the peace and deputy lieutenant, but his answers on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws can have given little satisfaction at Court:
He thinks it a great presumption in any person to promise or engage the making or abrogating laws, because when he comes into the House of Commons (where every man hath free liberty of speech) he may hear such reasons as he never could imagine for or against the same. Therefore, if it be his fate to be chose to so eminent a trust, upon the debate of the whole matter I will do that which I judge to be most for the honour of Almighty God and the service of the King. ... He shall endeavour to choose such Members as are of quiet and peaceable tempers, of good estates and no ways obnoxious to the Government, and in their judgments I shall acquiesce. ... I have ever continued in a good correspondence with men of all persuasions if they lived morally honest, but more especially with the Romanists, most of my relations being such.
Although again removed from the lieutenancy and the commission of the peace, he was recommended as court candidate for Huntingdonshire in 1688. He appears to have taken no part in the Revolution, though he accepted local office under William III and served again for a few weeks as a Whig knight of the shire. He died in 1723, and was buried at Fulham, near Compton’s grave. He was the last of his family to sit in Parliament.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Edward Rowlands
- 1. Wards 7/99/184; Lansd. 921, f. 76; Vis. Norf. ed. Dashwood, i. 226.
- 2. Eg. 1626, f. 21; Luttrell, iv. 391.
- 3. VCH Hunts. iii. 228; SP29/360/110.
- 4. HMC Var. ii. 395; HMC 13th Rep. VI, 20; CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 467.
- 5. H. N. Birt, Obit Bk. of the English Benedictines, 68, 73; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 273; T. Faulkner, Fulham and Hammersmith, 118.