STAPLETON, Sir Robert (1548-1606), of Lacock Abbey, Wilts.; Chelsea, Mdx. and Easdyke, Wighill, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



20 Feb. 1576
1604 - by 3 Oct. 1606

Family and Education

b. 25 May 1548, o.s. of Sir Robert Stapleton of Wighill, Yorks. and Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Mallory† of Studley, Yorks.1 educ. L. Inn 1565; Court.2 m. (1) Catherine (d.1580), da. of Sir Marmaduke Constable of Everingham, Yorks., 2s. 2da.; (2) c.1584, Olive (d.1646), da. and coh. of Sir Henry Sharington† of Lacock Abbey, wid. of John Talbot of Salwarp, Worcs., 4s. 4da. suc. fa. 1557;3 kntd. 28 Aug. 1570.4 bur. 3 Oct. 1606.5

Offices Held

J.p. Yorks. (W. Riding) c.1569-83, (E. Riding) c.1575-83;6 capt., militia ft., York 1569;7 commr. musters, Yorks. by 1573;8 sheriff 1581-2.9

Vol., Low Countries 1585-6.10


Stapleton’s ancestors purchased Wighill in 1375 and occasionally represented Yorkshire in Parliament from 1416. His father remained a Protestant under Mary, and he himself assisted in the defence of York against the Catholic rebels in 1569. An habituĂ© of the early Elizabethan Court, he was described as (Sir) Philip Sidney’s† equal ‘for person, address, and skill in languages’; he also rebuilt Wighill in palatial style, and was returned as knight for Yorkshire at a by-election in 1576. However, his career was blighted by involvement in the blackmail of Archbishop Sandys over a sexual scandal. Following this episode he retired to his second wife’s Wiltshire estates; the £3,000 fine imposed by Star Chamber was granted to Hull’s corporation, and he spent the rest of the reign evading debt collectors.11

In 1604 Sir Edmund Ludlow* and Sir John Thynne* solicited Stapleton’s support ahead of the Wiltshire county election. To the latter Stapleton replied: ‘this is not my native country, neither my power in it of any great certainty; but as it is, so shall you command it’. He was himself returned for Wells in Somerset, perhaps largely to evade his creditors, although in the 1604 session he was appointed to two committees, one to recommend the fittest course for the relief of veterans of the Irish wars (26 Mar.), the other for the simony bill (18 June).12

In the spring of 1605 Stapleton’s fine was pardoned but, upon complaints from Hull, he agreed to compound for £100. In Parliament the following year, he was named to attend a conference with the Lords on the recusancy laws (3 Feb. 1606) and a committee for the bill attainting the Gunpowder plotters (30 April). He took the chair for the bill to naturalize the Scottish courtier Sir Thomas Erskine (19 Mar.), and although not named to the committee for reforming abuses in the Marshalsea, he was put in charge of the bill by 6 May, when he moved for its third reading. He was also appointed to the committee on the bill for the restitution in blood of his Wiltshire neighbours, the Danvers family (13 March).13

Stapleton died intestate shortly before the third session, and was buried on 3 Oct. at Wighill. His inquisition post mortem stated that he had died on 13 Dec., but this must have been an error, as Edward Forsett was returned in his stead at a by-election on 13 November. Robert Stapleton* was his grandson by his first marriage, and by his second wife he was father of Brian Stapleton†, Recruiter MP for Aldborough in 1647.14

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Simon Healy


  • 1. Clay, Dugdale’s Vis Yorks. i. 171-2.
  • 2. LI Admiss.
  • 3. C142/113/35.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 74.
  • 5. H.E. Chetwynd-Stapylton, ‘Stapeltons of Yorks.’, Yorks. Arch. Jnl. viii. 422.
  • 6. Eg. 2345, f. 136; SP12/104; Royal 18/D/III.
  • 7. York Civic Recs. ed. A. Raine (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cxii), 169.
  • 8. Lansd. 56, f. 168.
  • 9. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 163.
  • 10. Leicester’s Triumph ed. R.C. Strong and J.A. van Dorsten (Sir Thomas Browne Institute, spec. ser. ii), 130.
  • 11. Chetwynd-Stapylton, 72, 382, 414-22; HMC Hatfield, xx. 312.
  • 12. Longleat House, Bath mss Thynne Pprs. vii. f. 310; CJ, i. 153a, 241a.
  • 13. HMC Hatfield, xvii. 195; CJ, i. 263a, 283b, 286b-7a, 303a, 305b, 1002a.
  • 14. Chetwynd-Stapylton, 422; C142/299/156.