CHAPMAN, Thomas (1663-aft.1744), Caldecote, Newport Pagnell, Bucks.
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Family and Education
bap. 20 Apr. 1663, 1st s. of Roger Chapman of Caldecote by his 1st w. Rebecca, prob. da. of Thomas Catesby of Hardmead, Bucks., sheriff of Bucks. 1659–60. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1679; I. Temple 1680, called 1687. m. lic. 17 July 1682, Elizabeth Goodman of St. Andrew, Holborn, 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da. (2 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1703.1
Chapman’s father, an attorney, was actively purchasing land in the Newport Pagnell area as early as 1680, including the manors of Sherington (1682) and Caldecote (1695), although the family may have resided at Pindon End. During the 1680s and early 1690s a Thomas Chapman appears regularly on the Buckinghamshire grand jury, and Roger himself appears to have joined the bench in February 1688, and to have acted as a j.p. in the following April. That this did not denote a firm attachment to James II was made clear when Captain Thomas Chapman helped to raise the Buckinghamshire militia and joined its march to Northampton in November 1688 in order to rendezvous with the rebels under Lord Grey of Ruthin. Years later, in a letter to Robert Harley*, Chapman set out his own services in 1688:
After I had carried a troop of horse to Nottingham upon the Revolution at a very great expense to myself, King William was pleased to order a company of guards in the second regiment, but before the commission was made out (by the influence as I suppose of a great man [Hon. Thomas Wharton*] whose interest I have always opposed in Bucks.), my name was struck out of the roll.2
Even before the Revolution parish registers reveal Chapman’s residence to have been at Hanslope, near to Stony Stratford and eight miles from Buckingham. Nothing is known of his career in William III’s reign. According to his later letter to Harley, his lack of reward following the Revolution was known to the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), and after Queen Anne’s accession he ‘promised to do me justice, but before that was done an unexpected turn at court put an end to my pretensions, and I believe I am the only man in England whose services upon that occasion, and constant fidelity to the government have been thus rewarded’. The death of his father saw him appointed to the county bench and lieutenancy, but as one of Lord Wharton’s ‘greatest opponents’ in Buckinghamshire elections nothing further came his way.3
Chapman’s opportunity to enter Parliament occurred with the change of ministry in 1710 and subsequent dissolution. In August Lord Cheyne (William*) wrote to Harley on Chapman’s behalf detailing his services at the Revolution and loyalty to the Tories, adding ‘if I can, I’ll get him into Parliament’. As ‘the most popular man in those parts where freeholders are the thickest’, Chapman had no difficulty in transferring his popularity to the corporation, being returned by one vote. Marked as a Tory on the ‘Hanover list’, he was included in the list of ‘worthy patriots’ who in the 1710–11 session exposed the mismanagements of the previous administration. An active Member, he helped to manage several pieces of legislation through the Commons. After being named on 31 Jan. 1711 to draft the bill continuing the Act for the better preservation of game, he was added to the second-reading committee, acted as a teller on 24 Apr. in favour of its passage and was appointed on 7 May to the conference committee on the Lords’ amendments to it. He showed an interest in highway bills, being named on 21 Feb. to draft a bill for the more effectual regulation of waggoners, which he presented on 6 Mar. and then managed through the House, and on 10 Apr. he was named to draft a bill making the laws for the repair of highways more effectual. In the interim he managed the Dunstable to Hockley [Hockliffe] road bill through all its stages in the Commons, including the conference proceedings with the Lords over the bill. His name appears on a broadsheet list of October Club members, but not on Abel Boyer’s more accurate list. Certainly in May 1711 he was still seeking patrons from government circles, such as Hon. James Brydges*.4
The next session saw Chapman named to two drafting committees including one on the Aylesbury to Buckingham highway. He also managed Owen Bromsall’s estate bill through the Commons after it had been brought down from the Lords. He acted as a teller on six occasions: against declaring Sir Henry Belayse disqualified from sitting in the House for becoming a commissioner into the forces in Spain and Portugal (15 Feb.); against postponing the call of the House for a week (28 Feb.); to agree with the amendment from committee to exempt London ships employed within North Foreland from the duties employed for Greenwich Hospital (16 Apr.); against declaring Lord Bellew (Richard*) elected for Steyning (8 May); in favour of declaring William Cotesworth* not elected for Boston (3 June); and in favour of an amendment from committee on the bill allowing Dr Dixon to compound with the Treasury (5 June). In June he presented Buckingham’s address upon the peace and in October took the chair at the quarter sessions.5
On 18 June 1713 Chapman voted in favour of the French commerce bill. His major legislative role during the session was to manage through the Commons the bill regulating the armed forces, which included chairing the committee of the whole on the bill and acting as a teller on 10 July for a motion that the Speaker leave the chair so that the House could go into committee. At this time he was having to shoulder the financial burden of various suits appertaining to membership of Buckingham corporation, the outcome of which would determine the make-up of the electorate. Some observers felt that this would overwhelm him as ‘it is generally said he hath but a small estate, several children and outruns his income’. However, with the suits dragging on he was re-elected for Buckingham in 1713 and keen to make an impression for he went to court on the Queen’s birthday (6 Feb. 1714), dressed ‘as fine as a prince’.6
Chapman continued to be active in the House. He acted as a teller on six occasions: against a motion stating that the commissioners appointed to treat with France over trade should be classed as a new government office (19 Apr.); against reading for a second time an amendment to the bill to regulate the armed forces that fictitious names on musters might be investigated into by j.p.s (20 May); against postponing the report on the bill explaining the act to encourage wool manufacture (21 June); to agree with the Lords’ amendments to the schism bill about not being prosecuted in other courts under the Act while a prosecution was pending (23 June); to engross the bill settling the Earl of Ranelagh’s (Richard Jones*) debts (24 June); and to pass the bill relieving poor debtors (28 June). Legislatively he was named to the drafting committee of the bill amending the Dunstable Highway Act and managed through the Commons another bill regulating the armed forces, the bill preserving the navigation of the Thames and was involved in two naturalization bills. Accounted a Tory in the Worsley list, he remained faithful to Lord Oxford (Harley) after the latter’s fall from power, writing to him on 10 Aug. 1714 that ‘in my opinion (notwithstanding the unreasonable clamours of your enemies), we in a great measure owe to you the peace of our country, and the security of our constitution’. Chapman was defeated in the general election of 1715, petitioning without success. However, he regained his seat in the Commons at a by-election in 1722. The date of his death has not been ascertained, but it was after 1744 when he was obliged to sell Caldecote.7
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley
- 1. IGI, Bucks.; VCH Bucks. iv. 363; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 265; Lipscomb, Bucks. iv. 178; PCC 24 Dogg.
- 2. VCH Bucks. 348, 417, 454; Bucks. Sess. Recs. i. 59, 100, 124, 151, 252, 272, 371, 467; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1883), 153; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. xxiii), 116; Add. 70217, Chapman to Harley, 22 Dec. 1711.
- 3. Lipscomb, 178; Add. 70217, Chapman to Harley, 22 Dec. 1711; Wharton Mems. 30–31.
- 4. Add. 70217, Cheyne to Harley, 12 Aug. 1710; 29599, f. 119; Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 58(8), p. 161; Huntington Lib. Q. xxxiii. 157.
- 5. London Gazette, 21–24 June 1712; Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 243.
- 6. BL, Verney mss mic. 636/55, Ld. Fermanagh (John Verney*) to Ralph Verney†, 4 June 1713; Verney Letters 18th Cent. 390.
- 7. Verney Letters 18th Cent. 331; Add. 70217, Chapman to Oxford, 10 Aug. 1714; VCH Bucks. 417.