Col. Thomas Culpeper

Male, #8676, (25 Dec 1637 - Dec 1708)
Father*Sir Thomas Culpeper of St. Stephen's (1598 - s 10 Apr 1643)
Mother*Barbara Sydney (s 1610 - 1643)
Name-AltSpell This surname is sometimes spelled Colepeper. 
Name-AltSpell This surname is sometimes spelled Culpepper. 
Birth*25 Dec 1637 Thomas was born on 25 Dec 1637. 
Death of Fathersay 10 Apr 1643 His father Sir Thomas Culpeper of St. Stephen's died say 10 Apr 1643 at co. Kent, England
Death of Mother1643 His mother Barbara Sydney died in 1643. 
Marriage*1662 He married Frances Frecheville in 1662. 
Death of Spouse3 Dec 1698 His wife Frances Frecheville died on 3 Dec 1698. 
Death*Dec 1708 He died at Westminster, London, England, in Dec 1708. 
Burial*28 Dec 1708 His body was interred on 28 Dec 1708 at St. Margaret's, Westminster, London, England
Biography* Thomas Culpeper (1637-1708). Colonel
Thomas Culpeper (1637-1708). colonel, was the only son of Sir Thomas Culpeper, knight, lieutenant of Dover Castle; and of St. Stephen's, otherwise Hackington, Kent, by his wife, Lady Barbara, daughter of Robert Sydney, earl of Leicester, and widow of Sir Thomas Smythe, K.B., first viscount Strangford (Hasted, Kent, fol. ed. iii. 595-6, iv. 76).
     Born, according to his own statement, on the Christmas day of 1637, he lost both his parents six years later. He lived as steward with the Strangford family. With his half-brother, Philip Smythe 2nd Viscount Strangford, he busied himself in promoting the king's return, and was imprisoned by the council of state in August and September 1659 (State Papers, Dom. 1659-60).
      In 1662 he married Frances, third and youngest daughter of John, lord Frecheville, of Staveley, Derbyshire, by his second wife, Sarah, daughter and heiress of Sir John Harrington, knight. It was a stolen match, and so displeasing to Lord Frecheville, that, while outwardly reconciled, he refused to make his daughter any settlement. At his death, in March 1682, he left her an annuity of £300, which owing to the reduced state of his fortune was probablv never paid. Lord Frecheville had in fact been obliged to sell his manor of Stavelev and other lands appurtenant thereto to the Earl of Devonshire [William Cavendish, 1640-1707] in the October previous to his death for the sum, it is stated, of £2,600. (Harl. MS. 6820, f. 100).
      This was afterwards made the subject of much litigation by Culpeper. He used every means in his power to set aside the sale, and, exasperated by repeated failure, he took occasion to publicly insult his opponent by striking him within the precincts of the court at Whitehall, on 9 July 1685. The assault was witnessed by Evelyn (Diary, 1850-2, ii. 227). For this offence Culpeper was imprisoned in the marshalsea, and subsequently condemned to lose his hand. His wife's devotion alone saved him. Her letters to him during his imprisonment (Harl. MS. 7005) and the account of her efforts to procure his release are deeply pathetic. At her entreaty Lord Danby used his influence with the king, and Culpeper was pardoned.
      After Monmouth's defeat, Culpeper for some reason was encouraged to show himself at court, where he would in all probability have obtained some minor office. But on the evening of 26 April 1687, the Earl of Devonshire, encountering him in the Vane Chamber at Whitehall, while the king and queen were in the presence, challenged him to walk out, and on Culpeper's refusal struck him with his cane (Bramston, Autobiography, Camd. Soc., pp 275, 278-9). It was now the earl's' turn to be imprisoned and tried. In the result he was fined £30,000. (Lords' Journals, April-May 1689), and in default of payment was committed to the king's bench, from which, however, he soon managed to escape, and in the next reign the fine was remitted (Collins, Peerage, ed. Brydges, i. 343). The sequel is recorded by Luttrell, who under the date of 1 Jul 1697 writes: "Yesterday the Duke of Devon meeting Coll. Culpepper at the auction house in St. Albans Street, caned him for being troublesome to him in the late reign' (Relation of State Affairs, iv. 246).
      Culpeper had now lost all hope of preferment at court, and, having sold his family estate in 1675, was left without provision in his old age. His wife had died on 3 Dec 1698, leaving no issue. The rest of his life is a dismal record, of want and sickness, of perpetual schemes for the amendment of his fortunes, by pretended discoveries of mines, and of various projects for the improvement of the army, navy, and revenue, besides inventions without number. He died at his lodging in Tothill Street, Westminster, in December 1708, and was buried on the 28th in the neighbouring church of St. Margaret (Burial Register).
      Although flighty and eccentric even to madness, Culpeper was possessed of undoubted abilities and knowledge. His scientific attainments had procured his election to the Royal Society on 28 May 1668. He was the familiar friend of Thomas Bushell, the engineer [q. v.] (Westminster Abbey Registers, Harl. Soc., pp: 183-4 n.)
      Many of his manuscripts are preserved in the British Museum. The more important are his transcript of the 'Frecheville Evidences,' from a copy 'made by some herald,' probably Richard St. George (Harl. MS. 7535), and the eighteen volumes of what he called 'Adversaria' (HarL MSS. 7587-7605). 'In these volumes; writes Sir F. Madden, 'is contained an immense mass of information relative to the lands and descent of the Frecheville family, and more particularly to the claims advanced by Col. Culpeper, in right of his wife, to the title and estate of Lord Frecheville, and to his own various schemes and undertakings; but the whole is written so negligently, and with so many errors, as to make these collections of less value than they otherwise would be' (Nichols, Collectanea, iv 218). Other manuscripts are 'Collections from Public Records, &c. (Harl. MS. 6833), 'Commonplace Books' (ib. 6817-18), 'Memorandum Book' (Addit. MS. 11265)
      At the end of Harl. MS. 7560, ff. 293-7, are some sheets of a petition to the court of chancery, a most extraordinary document, detailing a secret marriaga between the colonel and the widow of Sir Thomas Grosvenor, and told with a graphic vigour and minute references to dates and persons which make us think that Culpeper would have excelled as a writer of fiction.1
Biography He is referenced in a biographical note for William Culpeper of London.2,3 
Biography He is referenced in a biographical note for Henry Culpeper of Lower Norfolk Co., VA.2,3 


Frances Frecheville (1 Nov 1638 - 3 Dec 1698)
Marriage*1662 He married Frances Frecheville in 1662. 
ChartsThe 12th century Culpepers of England: Descendant Chart (16 generations, Males only)
Last Edited5 Jun 2011


  1. The Dictionary of National Biography. The Concise Dictionary, London: Oxford University Press, 1953.
    Part 1, From the beginnings to 1900.
    (Reliquary, iii. 152, 154-6, xii. 27-32; Gent. Mag. lxvii. i. 477, ii. 563, xcvii. ii. 296 ; Luttrell's Relation of State Affairs, i, 401, iii. 197; Nichols's Collectanea, iv. 6, 6, 210, 213, 218, 384, 386-8; Wilson's Hist. of St. Laurence Pountney, p. 240 n (d) ; Cal. State Papers (Treas. 1702-7), p. 223 ; Harl. MSS. 6819-20, 7005, 7559-62 ; Addit. MSS. 11324, 28094, p. 127; Will of Lord Frecheville, reg. in P.C.C. 155, Cottle; Cal. State Papers (Dom.), 1660-7).
  2. Warren L. Culpepper (#1942), Former publisher of Culpepper Connections, e-mail address.
  3. Lewis W. Griffin Jr. (#47), e-mail address.