Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Claypoole, John

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CLAYPOOLE or CLAYPOLE, JOHN (d. 1688), Cromwell's son-in-law, was the son of John Claypoole of Norborough, Northamptonshire. John Claypoole, senior, was one of those who refused to pay ship-money, and was created a baronet by the Protector on 16 July 1657 (Noble, ii. 374). The date of the birth of John Claypoole the younger and the date of his marriage with Elizabeth Cromwell [see Claypoole, Elizabeth] are both uncertain; the former probably took place in 1623, the latter some time before October 1646 (Carlyle, Cromwell, Letter xli.) According to Heath, Claypoole first appeared in arms for the parliament at the siege of Newark in the winter of 1645-6 (Chronicle, 185). On 11 Aug. 1651 he received a commission from the council of state to raise a troop of horse to oppose the march of Charles II into England (Cal. S. P. Dom. 1651, 516). After the expulsion of the Long parliament he became more prominent. He was appointed by the Protector one of the lords of his bedchamber, master of the horse, and ranger of Whittlewood Forest. He took a leading part in the public ceremonials of the protectorate, such as the reception of the Dutch ambassadors in 1654, the two solemn investitures of his father-in-law as Protector, and the installation of Richard Cromwell on 27 Jan. 1659 (Cromwelliana). On 15 Jan. 1656 he was appointed a member of the committee of trade, and sat in the parliaments of 1654 and 1656, in the former for Carmarthen county, in the latter for Northampton county. He was also one of Cromwell's House of Lords (1657). In the parliament of 1656 he endeavoured to moderate the wrath of the house against James Naylor (Burton, Diary, i. 77), but distinguished himself most by his opposition to the legalisation of the authority exercised by the major-generals (7 Jan. 1657; Burton, i. 310). 'The sycophants of the court, being fully persuaded that Claypoole had delivered the sense if not the very words of Cromwell in this matter, joined as one man in opposing the major-generals, and so their authority was abrogated' (Ludlow, Memoirs, 222). Claypoole also was, according to Lilly, the intermediary by whom Cromwell sought his advice (Life, 175). In character there was nothing of the puritan about Claypoole. Mrs. Hutchinson terms him 'a debauched ungodly cavalier,' and in the 'Second Narrative of the late Parliament' he is described as one 'whose qualifications not answering to those honest principles formerly so pretended of putting none but godly men into places of trust, was for a long time kept out' (Harleian Miscellany, I iii. 480). Pepys mentions a famous running footman who had been in Claypoole's service (Diary, 10 Aug. 1660), and we find him begging from Colonel Verney a dog of superior fighting capacity (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. 460). A letter from Claypoole to Henry Cromwell, expressing his feelings on the loss of his wife and his father-in-law, is printed in the 'Thurloe State Papers' (vii. 489). At the Restoration he escaped scot-free, and till her death gave shelter to his mother-in-law, Oliver's widow. In June 1678 he was arrested on suspicion and imprisoned in the Tower, but speedily released. He died on 26 June 1688 (Noble, ii. 380).

His children by his first wife all predeceased him. He married a second time, in June 1670, Blanche, widow of Lancelot Stavely, by whom he had one daughter, Bridget, but falling under the influence of a certain Anne Ottee disinherited his daughter for her benefit. Mrs. Claypoole brought an action in chancery and recovered some portion of his property, most of which, however, he had been obliged to part with during his lifetime.

[Noble's House of Cromwell, ii. 370-87; Ludlow's Memoirs, ed. 1751; Carlyle's Cromwell's Letters and Speeches; Burton's Cromwellian Diary; Domestic State Papers; Mercurius Politicus.]

C. H. F.