CLAYTON, Sir Robert, 3rd Bt. (?1740-99), of Marden, Surr. and Marlow, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. ?1740, 1st s. of Sir Kenrick Clayton, 2nd Bt.†, of Marden by Henrietta Maria, da. and coh. of Henry Herring of Mincing Lane, London, dir. Bank of England. educ. ?Eton 1753-8; Clare, Camb. 1758. m. 1 June 1767, Mary, da. of Frederick Standert† of Greenwich, Kent, s.p. suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 10 Mar. 1769.
Clayton joined the Whig Club, 6 Dec. 1784. Ousted from his county seat earlier that year, he was out of the House until 1787, when he came in for Bletchingley, of which his family had been proprietors for two generations. In financial difficulties, he had sold the reversion of that property to his cousin John Kenrick† in 1779 for £10,000 and failed to recover it from him by a suit in Chancery decided against him in 1788. In 1790 he ceased to return Kenrick for Bletchingley and sold the second seat to another Whig.
Clayton made no mark in the first three sessions of the Parliament of 1790. He was reckoned hostile to the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791. He was listed a Portland Whig in December 1792 and seceded from the Whig Club. But in 1794 he returned to his allegiance to Fox, voting for his motion on convoy protection, 18 Feb., for Whitbread’s motion for a separate peace with France, 6 Mar., and for Fox’s against the war, 30 May. He further voted for peace negotiations on 26 Jan., 6 Feb., 24 Mar. and 27 May 1795. He was in the minority on the question of the Prince of Wales’s debts, 1 June. He voted against the seditious meetings bill, 25 Nov. 1795, and for Grey’s motion on the cost of the war effort, 10 Mar. 1796. Both in 1790 and in 1796 he proposed Lord William Russell* as county Member.
Clayton sold his seats for Bletchingley in 1796 and came in for Ilchester by an arrangement with his attorney Richard Troward, who had an interest in the borough. He voted with Fox against the advance of money to the Emperor, 14 Dec. 1796, in the minority critical of the defence of Ireland, 3 Mar., and against the triple tax assessment, 14 Dec. 1797, 4 Jan. 1798. In his only known speech after 1790 he opened the opposition attack on the second reading of the income tax bill, 5 Dec. 1798, with a rambling summary of the views of a Whig country gentleman. ‘His object was not to support men but measures’ ... he was against Mr Pitt and for Mr Fox’ (the Speaker had to remind him that it was improper to mention names). He was for strengthening the navy and not the army and opposed continental connexions and subsidies to foreign princes. ‘Present ministers could be turned out if opposition showed patience as they had under Lord North—otherwise we should lose Ireland as we had America.’ He was against the assessed taxes but paid them, and against income tax unless graduated. ‘He was no orator and knew not how to speak to advantage, but his conscience dictated he ought to speak.’
Clayton died 10 May 1799 ‘in his 60th year’, whereupon his electoral patronage reverted to the Kenrick family.
A state of the dispute between Sir Robert Clayton ... and John Kenrick, relative to the purchase of the manor and borough of Bletchingley; Gent. Mag. (1799), i. 445.