Sussex. The Stapley family removed about 1615 from Framfield to Patcham. Anthony about 1640 gave 10l. to the new building at Christ's College, Cambridge, and was probably educated there. He represented the borough of New Shoreham in the parliaments of 1624 (elected 21 Jan. 1623–4) and of 1625 (elected 2 May), and the borough of Lewes in that of 1628 (elected 26 Feb. 1627–8), having unseated Sir George Rivers by petition. He was returned both for the county of Sussex and for the borough of Lewes to the Short parliament in March 1639–40, when he elected to sit for the county. He was again chosen by the county on 22 Oct. 1640 (Long parliament), and represented it in the parliaments of 1653 and of 1654.
In January 1639–40 Stapley, then a justice of the peace, was reported to Dr. William Bray (d. 1644) [q. v.], Laud's chaplain, as causing trouble to the churches by his puritan leanings. On the outbreak of the civil war he received a colonel's commission in the parliamentary army, and was present at the siege of Chichester in December 1642 under Sir William Waller [q. v.] He was left as governor of the town and garrison when Waller moved on to the siege of Arundel. On 22 Sept. 1643 he took the covenant. At the beginning of 1644 he raised objections to the quartering in the town of some of Waller's horse. The dispute was referred to a committee of the House of Commons, and finally to the committee of both kingdoms on 26 Feb. He was ordered by both bodies to observe Waller's commands. While detained in London he was exonerated from all blame in the event of disaster at Chichester. He resumed the command of the town and garrison at the termination of the proceedings early in March. He retained his governorship till 1645, when he was succeeded by Colonel Algernon Sidney [q. v.] In January 1644 he was deputy lieutenant of the county of Sussex.
Stapley was one of the judges of Charles I. He was present at Westminster Hall on 27 Jan. 1648–9 when sentence was pronounced, and signed the death-warrant on 29 Jan. He was elected a member of the first council of state of the Commonwealth on 17 Feb. 1648–9 (when he signed the engagement), and re-elected on 17 Feb. 1649–1650, 25 Nov. 1651, 30 Nov. 1652, and 9 July 1653. He was one of Cromwell's interim council of thirteen (29 April to 14 July 1653), and of the supreme assembly called on 6 June 1653. He had joined the admiralty committee of the committee of both kingdoms on 6 June 1649, was nominated vice-admiral for the county of Sussex on 22 Feb. 1650, and took the oath of secrecy the following day. He died early in 1655, and was buried at Patcham on 31 Jan. At the Restoration he was one of the regicides notified as dead, and excepted from the act of pardon and oblivion of 6 June 1660.
Stapley married Ann, daughter of George Goring of Danny, and sister of George, lord Goring [q. v.] She was buried at Patcham on 11 Nov. 1637. By her Stapley had three sons and one daughter. Stapley married a second wife, ‘Dame Anne Clarke,’ who predeceased him on 15 Jan. 1654.
Sir John Stapley (1628–1701), the second but eldest surviving son, was baptised at Patcham on 29 June 1628. He represented the county of Sussex in the parliaments of 1654 and 1656 (elected 20 Aug.), and the borough of Lewes in the first Restoration parliament of 1661 (elected 23 March 1660–1). In January 1655–6 he was appointed deputy lieutenant of the county. In 1657 Stapley, abandoning the political views of his father, became entangled in a plot for the return of Charles II. At the house of his grandmother, Lady Champion, he had come under the influence of Dr. John Hewit [q. v.] and John Mordaunt, baron Mordaunt (1627–1675) [q. v.] Ostensibly with a view to ‘the expiation of his father's crime,’ he professed himself anxious to ‘venture his life and his fortune for his majesty's restoration.’ In June 1657, through the instrumentality of Hewit, he had received from the exiled king a commission for the raising of a troop of horse and six colonels' commissions, to be distributed at his discretion. His interest in the county was considered to be great, and his promises of support to the royalist party were confident. Doubts were, however, thrown upon his ability to carry out all his plans (Carte, Collections, ii. 123, 130). Through the treachery of a subordinate he fell into the hands of Cromwell in the spring of 1658, when he disclosed such particulars of the plot as led to the arrest of Hewit, Mordaunt, and Sir Henry Slingsby [q. v.] Cromwell, however, dismissed him with a reproof, presumably on account of his friendship with his father. Stapley appeared as a witness against Mordaunt at his trial on 2 July 1658, but, according to Clarendon, answered ‘in so disorderly and confused a manner that it appeared that he had much rather not have said it.’ His younger brother Anthony was also concerned in the plot, and made full disclosures when examined by Colonel William Goffe [q. v.] and Henry Scobell [q. v.] in April 1658. Many of the informations are among the Rawlinson MSS. in the Bodleian Library.
At the Restoration Stapley contrived to