Anthony Stapley, 1590-1655

Sussex MP and Independent, he was one the King's judges and a signatory of the death warrant.

Born at Framfield in Sussex, Anthony Stapley attended Christ's College, Cambridge, and Gray's Inn. He was elected MP for New Shoreham in the Parliaments of 1624 and 1625, and for Lewes in the Parliament of 1628. During the 1630s, Stapley emerged as one of the leading Puritans in Sussex. He was active in resisting Archbishop Laud's reforms of the Church and opposed the Bishops' Wars against the Scottish Covenanters. In 1640, he was elected to both the Short and Long Parliaments as MP for Sussex.

On the outbreak of the First Civil War, Stapley was commissioned a colonel in the Parliamentarian army. He was prominent on the county committee for Sussex, and was governor of Chichester from 1643 until 1645, when he resigned his commissions under the Self-Denying Ordinance. He remained a radical supporter of the Independents in Parliament and was appointed one of the King's judges in 1649. He attended all sessions of the King's trial and signed the death warrant.

Stapley was a member of the Council of State from 1649-52 and continued to support Cromwell after the dissolution of the Rump Parliament. Stapley was appointed to the Nominated Assembly in 1653, and elected to the First Protectorate Parliament in 1654. He died in January 1655.

Stapley's son John (1628-1701) expressed regret for his father's role in the regicide and was recruited into a Royalist conspiracy against Cromwell's Protectorate by John Mordaunt in 1657. Stapley was arrested when the plot was discovered and gave information against his co-conspirators that resulted in the arrest of Mordaunt, John Hewitt and Sir Henry Slingsby. Despite this, Stapley succeeded in gaining the favour of Charles II. He was knighted at the Restoration and created Baronet Stapley of Patcham, though the title became extinct upon his death in August 1701.


Bertha Porter, revised by J. T. Peacey, Anthony Stapley, Oxford DNB, 2004