CHAPLIN, Robert (c.1670-1728), of Louth, Lincs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1715 - 28 Jan. 1721

Family and Education

b. c.1670, 3rd s. of Sir Francis Chaplin, ld. mayor of London, by Anne, da. of Daniel Huett of Essex. educ. M. Temple 1685; I. Temple 1688, called 1692, bencher 1717. m. da. of one Harrington, 1da. cr. Bt. 19 Sept. 1715.

Offices Held

Director, South Sea Co. 1718-21.


Chaplin describes himself as having lived ‘a country gentleman’s life till he came into Parliament, when he was prevailed on to be a director [of the South Sea Company] by an intimate friend, since dead’,1 i.e. Sir James Bateman,2 whose daughter married his younger son. In Parliament he voted against the septennial bill in 1716, for the repeal of the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts, but against the peerage bill in 1719. After the South Sea smash he was expelled from the House, along with other directors who were Members, committed to the custody of the serjeant at arms, and examined by the secret South Sea committee of the Commons. On the introduction of the bill disqualifying the late directors from sitting again or holding public office he petitioned the Commons for lenient treatment on the ground that he

had an estate before he became a director; that he was not, knowingly or designedly, guilty of any corruptions or frauds mentioned in the bill now depending; ... that he is a sufferer, with others, in the common calamity ... that he was none of the contrivers nor admitted into the secret consultations about the South Sea scheme; nor was he privy to the taking in, holding, or disposing of any part of that fictitious stock which is entered in the cash books of that company; that instead of being a gainer he is a great loser.

But on examination by the secret committee a few weeks later he had to admit that he had accepted £5,000 of this ‘fictitious stock’ at 174½ without any payment from John Knight, the cashier of the South Sea Company, in the following circumstances:

Mr. Knight and he going in a coach together to Westminster the examinant complained he had no money; upon which Mr. Knight offered to buy £5,000 stock for him; that at Westminster Mr. Rolt made the same complaint of want of money and the examinant told him what had passed between him and Mr. Knight; and then Mr. Rolt and the examinant agreed to have £10,000 stock in partnership, Mr. Knight agreeing to get it for them. That Mr. Rolt and he afterwards agreed to sell this stock at 197 and Mr. Knight paid them the difference of the advanced price.

He pleaded that neither he nor Rolt ‘knew it was the company’s stock but thought it was bought with Mr. Knight’s money’.3 Allowed to keep £10,000 out of an estate valued at £45,000, he died 1 July 1726.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. Case of Sir Robert Chaplin.
  • 2. HMC Portland, v. 555, 573.
  • 3. CJ, xix, 523, 574.