Robert Clayton 1629-1707

From Book Owners Online

Sir Robert CLAYTON 1629-1707

Biographical Note

Born at Bulwick, Northamptonshire, son of John Clayton, a joiner. He was apprenticed to his uncle, a scrivener in Cornhill, London, and developed a successful moneylending business which evolved into a thriving private bank, Clayton & Morris, specialising in mortgages on landed estates. By 1670 he was very wealthy, buying an estate at Marden in Kent and building a mansion in Old Jewry. He was knighted in 1671, became an MP for London in 1679, and was Lord Mayor 1679-80. Supporting William III, he continued as an MP throughout the 1690s and 1700s, serving on numerous committees. He sponsored various schools, hospitals and other charitable causes; the scale of his wealth and lifestyle led John Evelyn to describe him as "this prince of citizens, there never having been any, who, for the stateliness of his palace, prodigious feasting, and magnificence, exceeded him".


The size of Clayton's library is not known; we can assume it to have been of a scale and decorative expense in keeping with the rest of his lifestyle. He had an engraved armorial bookplate made, "Sr. Robert Clayton of the City of London Knight Alderman & Mayor thereof ano. 1679", which exists in two states (Franks 6024-5); it is not clear whether it was first made in 1679 or a little thereafter. Clayton's will has no mention of books; the bulk of his estate passed to his nephew.