CLAPHAM, Christopher (c.1608-86), of Uffington, Lincs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

Family and Education

b. c.1608, 1st s. of George Clapham of Beamsley, Skipton, Yorks. by Martha, da. of Reginald Heber of Marton, Yorks. m. (1) by 1627, Mary (d. 1 Aug. 1637), da. of John Lowden of Wrenthorpe, Yorks., 2s. d.v.p. 1da.; (2) 14 May 1639, Margaret (d.1674), da. of Anthony Oldfield, attorney, of Spalding, Lincs., wid. of Robert Moyle, protonotary of c.p., of Twyford, Mdx., 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 4da.; (3) lic. 26 Apr. 1678, Mary (d. 28 Nov. 1702), da. of Robert Needham, 2nd Visct. Kilmorey [I], of Shavington, Salop, s.p. suc. fa. 1629. Kntd. 8 June 1660.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Stamford 1658; j.p. Yorks. (W. Riding) July 1660-70, 1672-bef. 1680, 1685-d. , Lincs. (Kesteven) 1663-d., commr. for assessment, Westmld. and Kesteven Aug. 1660-1, (W. Riding) Aug. 1660-80, Lincs. 1661-3, 1665-80, oyer and terminer, Lincoln 1661; capt. vol. horse, Lincs. ?1663; commr. for recusants (W. Riding) 1675; dep. lt. Lincs. 1681-d., sheriff 1682-3.2

Biography

Clapham’s ancestors derived themselves from ‘Pharamond, king of France’ and claimed to have been lords of Clapham for several generations before the Norman Conquest. Their pedigree can be traced more confidently to the early 15th century, when they acquired Beamsley by marriage and became retainers of the Cliffords. Three of Clapham’s brothers fought for the King in the Civil War, but he avoided commitment himself, though his sympathies were obviously royalist. As steward of the Clifford manors in Westmorland, he assisted the dowager countess of Pembroke in her dispute with her tenants in 1650. But after his second marriage he seems to have made over Beamsley to his son. He leased Uffington, two miles from Stamford, from the Duke of Buckingham, and sat for the borough in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament.3

At the general election of 1660 Clapham was returned for Appleby on Lady Pembroke’s interest. A court supporter, he was moderately active in the Convention, in which he was named to 13 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges, and acted as teller in three divisions. He was among those appointed to consider the King’s letter and the draft assessment ordinance. On 2 June he told the House of regicide sentiments alleged to have been uttered by William White; but his informant was found to be ‘distempered’. He was teller against putting the question on excluding Bulstrode Whitelocke from the indemnity, and against setting up a committee, to which he was none the less appointed, to examine the petition from the intruded dons at Oxford. He was among those ordered on 30 June to inquire into unauthorized Anglican publications, and three days later he appeared as teller, in the unexpected company of Denzil Holles, against the abatement clause in the poll bill. Perhaps it was through Holles that he made the acquaintance of the veteran Dorset radical Sir Walter Erle, who moved for privilege on his behalf when he was served with a subpoena. His proviso to the indemnity bill on behalf of Sir Jordan Crosland charging Sir Wilfred Lawson with plundering Rydal was rejected. On 25 Aug. he reported to Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper from Wakefield that 20 pictures from Charles I’s art collection were in Lady Sussex’s Yorkshire residence, and another had been purloined from the Queen’s closet by the mother of Sir Richard Temple. In the second session he was concerned only with private bills. On 18 Dec. he successfully petitioned the crown for confirmation of the extensive manorial rights in Wakefield which he had purchased from the Earl of Holland’s trustees.4

Clapham was included by Lord Wharton among his Lincolnshire friends in 1661, but there is no other indication that he stood. As a Lincolnshire j.p. his zeal against the local Presbyterians could not avert a stinging rebuke from the Treasury in 1663 ‘in vindication of his Majesty’s revenue’. Probably he and Francis Wingfield had failed to assist the excise farmers. In 1667 he was again in trouble for prosecuting a Northamptonshire tax-collector who had distrained his cattle. He was mentioned as a possible candidate for Appleby in 1668, and made several efforts to promote an enclosure bill. He doubtless opposed exclusion, for he was recommended as ‘a Church of England sheriff’ in 1682. The lord lieutenant of Lincolnshire (Robert Bertie I) wrote that ‘his loyalty has been conspicuous enough’. He was buried at St. Mary’s, Stamford on 16 Aug. 1686, the only member of the family to sit in Parliament.