APREECE, Robert (1638-1723), of Washingley Hall, Hunts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



22 Nov. 1673 - July 1679
4 June - 7 July 1698

Family and Education

b. c. Dec. 1638, 1st s. of Robert Apreece of Washingley Hall 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. 4da. (1 d.v.p.) 1 other ch.  suc. fa. 1644.1

Offices Held

Commr. complaints, Bedford level 1663; appeals 1668.


Apreece was descended from the most prominent recusant family in Huntingdonshire. He himself admitted in 1688 that ‘most of his relations’ were ‘Romanists’, including two Benedictine monks who were to accompany James II into exile. Moreover his father had been martyred for allegiance to his religion and the Royalist cause during the Civil War, shot in cold blood at Lincoln in 1644 by parliamentarian troops on identifying himself to them as ‘Apreece the papist’. His mother’s second husband Humphrey Orme† was, however, a Protestant, who brought up Robert as an Anglican. Although his patrimony was depleted and encumbered because of recusancy fines during the Interregnum, his stepfather secured a composition for delinquency and at the Restoration married him off to an heiress of modest fortune, so that at least the Washingley estate was kept in the family’s possession, even if it was no longer worth the £1,500 value put down when he was named to the abortive order of the Royal Oak. An active justice on the county bench, he was returned as knight of the shire at a by-election in 1673, and turned towards oppositionist politics in the later 1670s, eventually becoming a member of the Green Ribbon Club and voting for Exclusion. Presumably it was his manifold Catholic connexions that induced ministers to restore him as a justice and deputy lieutenant on James II’s accession, and even though he gave essentially negative, and indeed almost impertinent, replies to questions over the repeal of the Penal Laws and Test Act, so that he was again removed from local office, he was still nominated as a court candidate for Huntingdonshire (where, admittedly, loyalists were relatively scarce) to the projected Parliament of 1688. He took no part in the Revolution but was restored once more to the bench by William III and in due course also as a deputy-lieutenant. ‘Colonel’ Apreece was a somewhat surprise candidate for Huntingdonshire in a by-election in 1698, quite possibly as a nominee of the 4th Earl of Manchester, since Manchester had appointed him as a deputy-lieutenant only two months before. Why he should have wished to resume a parliamentary career after such a lengthy interval is perhaps to be explained by an imminent crisis in his financial affairs, he having unwisely stood as surety for a defaulting land-tax receiver. After the briefest sojourn in the House, during which he supported the Court, according to a list compiled in about September that year, he lost the protection of parliamentary privilege and in 1702 was obliged to sell a considerable portion of his estate, obtaining a private Act for the purpose, in order to settle his debt of over £2,000 to the crown.2

Little more is heard of Apreece. His son, a gentleman of the privy chamber to George I, petitioned the crown successfully in 1718 for the office of bailiff of Norman Cross hundred, in Huntingdonshire. He himself died in 1723 and was buried at Fulham, where eventually his daughter Susanna was also laid to rest, the widow of Admiral Sir John Balchen.3

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Lansd. 921, f. 76; Vis. Norf. ed. Dashwood, i. 226.
  • 2. Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1883), 68; H. N. Birt, Obit. Bk. of Eng. Benedictines, 68, 73; R. Challoner, Mems. Missionary Priests ed. Pollen (1924), 456–7; VCH Hunts. i. 365; ii. 30–31; iii. 228; Trans. Cambs. and Hunts. Arch. Soc. v. 114; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 193; 1700–2, p. 254; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 391; Cal. Treas. Bks. xiv. 382; xv. 47–48; xvii. 6, 54; xviii. 162.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxxii. 216, 248; T. Faulkner, Fulham and Hammersmith, 115; Lysons, Environs (1792–6), ii. 375.