APSLEY, Sir Allen (1616-83), of St. James's Square, Westminster.
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Family and Education
b. 28 Aug. 1616, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir Allen Apsley, lt. of the Tower 1617-30, being 1st s. by 3rd w. Lucy, da. of Sir John St. John of Lydiard Tregoze, Wilts. educ. Merchant Taylors 1626-8; I. Temple, entered 1629; Trinity, Oxf. 1631. m. Frances (d. 22 Sept. 1698), da. and h. of John Petre of Bowhay, Devon, 1s. 2da. suc. fa. 1630; kntd. 17 Oct. 1646.1
Col. of horse (royalist) 1642-6; lt.-gov. Exeter 1643; gov. Barnstaple 1645-6; capt.-lt. Duke of York’s Horse Gds. July 1660-1; col. of ft. 1667.2
Master of the hawks June 1660-75; treas. to the Duke of York 1666-d.; commr. for accounts, loyal and indigent officers fund 1671.3
J.p. Norf. and Oxon. July 1660-d., Mdx. Aug. 1660-d.; dep. Lt. Norf. c. Aug. 1660-d.; keeper of Wilbraham Bushes, Cambs. Sept. 1660-d.; commr. for assessment, Norf. and Thetford 1661-79, Oxon. and Westminster 1665-80, Mdx. 1673-9, loyal and indigent officers, London, Westminster and Norf. 1662, sewers, Bedford level 1662-3; keeper of North Park, Hampton Court 1662-70; asst. R. Adventurers into Africa 1665-6, 1668-70.4
Apsley’s family, who took their name from a Sussex manor which they had held under Edward III, provided a Member for Arundel in 1459. His father, a younger son, held office as victualler to the navy and lieutenant of the Tower, but left debts amounting to over £20,000. Apsley fought for the King in the Civil War until the fall of Barnstaple, of which he was governor. His brother-in-law John Hutchinson secured for him exceptionally favourable composition terms, because most of his property was in the right of his wife, who was then childless, and he paid his fine of £434 in 1647. In the later years of the Protectorate he joined the faction of royalist conspirators headed by his cousin, Allen Brodrick, and bitterly opposed to Mordaunt and his Presbyterian contacts.5
At the Restoration Apsley was made master of the hawks, with fees and perquisites totalling some £1,250 p.a. The Duke of York recommended him as court candidate for Seaford in 1661, but he was rejected by the corporation. He was successful, however, at Thetford, where he enjoyed some patronage as keeper of a new warren in the neighbourhood. A moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was appointed to 143 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in 14 sessions, acted as teller in nine divisions, and made six recorded speeches. In the opening session he was appointed to all the committees of major political importance, including those for the corporations bill, on which he helped to manage a conference, and the uniformity bill. He was also named to the committee on the bill to prevent the poaching of deer. In 1663 he was among those ordered to devise remedies against conventicles, and to prepare bills restricting office to Anglican loyalists and regulating the sale of places and honours. He acted as teller for supply, and was listed as a court dependant in the following year. After seeing active service in the navy with the Duke of York in the second Dutch war, he replaced the incapable Thomas Povey as treasurer of his household, in which capacity he handled large sums of money. In the Oxford session he was appointed to the committee for another game preservation bill, and added to that for the attainder of English officers in the Dutch service. On 19 Dec. 1666 Samuel Pepys was told how Apsley and Brodrick
did come drunk the other day into the House, and did both speak for half an hour together, and could not be laughed or pulled or bid to sit down and hold their peace, to the great contempt of the King’s servants and cause.
Apsley, at least, sobered up quickly enough to act again as teller for the Court over supply a few days later; but Andrew Marvell described the two cousins as leading the drunkards in support of the Clarendon administration, and went on to imagine them advising the lord chancellor on plans for his magnificent new town house:
To proceed on this model he called in his Allens,
The two Allens when jovial who ply him with gallons,
The two Allens who serve his blind justice for balance,
The two Allens who serve his injustice for talons.6
In the retrenchment of the Household by the treasury commission, Apsley’s salary of £800 p.a. was unaffected, but his perquisites and the royal mews establishment were drastically reduced, and he was heard to complain that the country had hardly been worse off under the Commonwealth. He mischievously brought in a bill for the sale of crown lands to pay off a debt of £2,300 owed to his father, which actually obtained a second reading. Nevertheless he advanced £6,000 to the crown at the standard rate of 6 per cent and, as a dependant of the Duke of York, he figured on both lists of the court party at this time. He was appointed to two committees for the continuance of the Conventicles Act, and to those for the Waveney and Brandon canal bill promoted on behalf of his constituency (3 Mar. 1670), the sale of fee-farm rents (5 Apr.), and to confirm the surrender of wine-licensing by the Duke (26 Jan. 1671). With the break-up of the Cabal Apsley’s activity fell off, though on 23 Oct. 1673 he told the House that preparations for the Duke’s second marriage were so far advanced ‘that to stop it now would be the greatest dishonour imaginable’, and he acted as teller against presenting an address. He surrendered the keepership of the hawks to the Earl of Rochester in 1675, receiving fee-farm rents worth £375 p.a. in compensation. He was named on the Paston list, the list of officials, and the working lists. Shaftesbury marked him ‘thrice vile’ in 1677, and he was on both lists of the court party in 1678, though Danby reckoned him among his enemies. On 21 Nov. he supported the Lords’ amendment excepting the Duke of York from the bill disabling Roman Catholics from sitting in Parliament, arguing that ‘when the House is all of a mind, as to the Duke’s valour and exposing himself for the honour of the nation, we cannot without ingratitude throw out this proviso’. The author of an opposition pamphlet, A Seasonable Argument, wrote of him as ‘the King’s falconer, worth £1,200 p.a., the Duke’s treasurer, got by boons and other acts, £60,000 a red-letter man if any religion’. The insinuation that he had become a Roman Catholic has no known foundation.7
One of the ‘unanimous club’, Apsley lost his seat in 1679 to William Harbord, though during the Duke of York’s exile he was expected ‘to manage his interest in Court and Parliament’. The Duke told Thomas Bruce that he used his great intimacy with Sir William Jones to have the second exclusion bill drawn up ‘in so violent a strain that he was well assured that the House of Peers would never pass it, as it proved afterwards’. On the Duke’s return to England, he stayed at Apsley’s West End house. He died on 15 Oct. 1683, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, the last of his family to sit in Parliament.8
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 372.
- 2. Clarendon, Rebellion, iv. 47; Parl. Intell. 23 July 1660.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 77; 1671, p. 324; HMC 8th Rep. pt. 1 (1881), 280; Cal. Treas. Bks. iv. 655.
- 4. CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 280; 1661-2, p. 476.
- 5. Elwes and Robinson, Castles and Manors of W. Suss. 234; Hutchinson Mems. 286; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1295; SP23/197/485, 487; D. Underdown, Royalist Conspiracy, 236, 244-7.
- 6. CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 214; Cal. Treas. Bks. iv. 685; Adm. 1745, ff. 35, 38; CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 214; CJ, viii. 311, 501, 669; HMC Bathurst, 2; Pepys Diary, 19 Dec. 1666; Marvell ed. Margoliouth, i. 138, 146.
- 7. Pepys Diary, 22 Aug. 1667; Milward, 132; Cal. Treas. Bks. ii. 95, 99, 195, 631; iii. 523, 681, 812; iv. 654-5; vii. 1650; Grey, ii. 191; vi. 242.
- 8. Ailesbury Mems. 36-37; Clarke, Jas. II, i. 566; Westminster Abbey Reg. (Harl. Soc. x), 208.