CHAPMAN, Henry (d.1623), of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

1st s. of Oswald Chapman of Newcastle by Marion, da. of Henry Anderson, merchant and mayor of Newcastle. m. (1) Joanna (d.1604); (2) c.1606, Rebecca Gerrand, 2da. suc. fa. 1566.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Newcastle 1581-2, alderman, mayor 1586-7, 1597, 1608-9, ?1611-12; gov. Newcastle merchants’ co. 1608, gov. hostmen’s co. 1609; member, Tyne conservancy commission 1618.2


The Chapman family first appear in the Newcastle records in the mid-sixteenth century. Chapman’s brother Mathew, his brother-in-law Roger Nicholas, and a nephew and namesake, all held high office in the town. He owned property in Newcastle and Gateshead and salt-pans at Willington. By 1583 he was a leading coal-producer and exporter, owning a share in at least one ship, the New John.3

In 1597 Chapman represented Newcastle in Parliament and received £30 expenses. The only reference found to him in the proceedings of the House is to his membership of a committee concerned with the navy, 18 Jan. 1598. However, he may have attended two committees to which the burgesses for Newcastle-upon-Tyne were appointed, concerning the export of sheepskins (26 Nov.) and Exeter merchants (12 Nov. 1597). His second term of office as mayor saw the culmination of a contest for power within the town between the ‘grand lessees’ (a group in the corporation who held the grand lease of the manors of Gateshead and Whickham, both rich coal areas), and a group of ‘base and turbulent’ lesser merchants, who resented the grand lessees’ acquiring a virtual monopoly not only of mining but also of shipping coal as hostmen, with which body they were virtually identical. The opposition to the grand lessees was led by the customer, Henry Saunderson, who wrote:

As Ahab and his father’s house troubled all Israel, so Mr. Chapman, the chief counsellor of the grand lessees, and his complices, are perturbers of this commonwealth.

Chapman continually blocked attempts to refer the matter to the courts or to have a commission of inquiry sent to the town. He also canvassed for influential support, approaching Michael Hickes on several occasions, and buying the support of the Earl of Essex with an annuity paid by the corporation. In February 1598 the Privy Council took a hand and directed a commission, headed by the bishop of Durham, to take depositions at Newcastle. Eventually the ‘grand lessees’ had their way. Their powers were strengthened in the new charter of 1600, subject to the formality of assigning their right and title to Gateshead and Whickham to the mayor and burgesses of Newcastle. The hostmen received official status by letters patent, Chapman being named as one of the principal members. During the 1604 Parliament he was instrumental in securing the rejection of a bill designed to deprive the hostmen of their exclusive privileges of shipping coal. He died in April 1623 and was buried on the 19th in the parish church of St. Nicholas.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: W.J.J.


  • 1. W. W. Benn, Northern Counties, 581; R. Welford, Hist. Newcastle and Gateshead, ii. 250; R. Welford, Men of Mark ’twixt Tyne and Tweed, i. 516-19; ii. 425; Vis. Northumb. 1615, p. 59.
  • 2. Welford, Newcastle and Gateshead, i. 519; ii. 223; CSP Dom. 1595-7, pp. 501, 502; 1598-1601, p. 24; 1601-3, p. 29; 1603-10, p. 285.
  • 3. J. U. Nef, British Coal Industry, ii. 39; Welford, Newcastle and Gateshead, ii. 128-9, 154; Welford, Men of Mark, i. 516-19; Surtees Soc. xciii. 102, 105-6, 107, 108, 114; Lansd. 148, f. 46.
  • 4. D’Ewes, 564, 571, 582; Welford, Newcastle and Gateshead, ii. 110, 116-21, 125-9, 132-4, 136-9, 142, 159, 162, 250; Welford, Men of Mark, i. 516-19; Nef, i. 115, 122-3, 148-53; ii. 121-2, 128, 147; Lansd. 85, f. 55; HMC Hatfield, iv. 209; viii. 413, 419; CSP Dom. 1595-7, pp. 501-2; 1598-1601, p. 24; APC, xxviii. 225, 311, 317; xxix. 181; xxx. 472-3.