Robert Clayton was born in Northamptonshire, England. He became an apprentice to his uncle, a London scrivener, where he met a fellow apprentice, Alderman John Morris. They became successful businessmen and established the bank, Clayton & Morris Co.
Clayton entered politics, representing London and Bletchingley alternately as a Whig between 1679 and his death in 1707. He was knighted in 1671. Clayton made a considerable fortune. In 1697 he lent the king £30,000 to pay for the army. In the mid-1650s Clayton purchased Brownsea Island and its castle.
He was president of the St Thomas' Hospital in London next to the River Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament. He employed Thomas Cartwright to rebuild the hospital and St Thomas Church nearby. A statue of Clayton now stands at the North Entrance to Ward Block of North Wing at St Thomas' Hospital and is Grade I listed.
Robert Clayton was a member of the Scriveners and Drapers Company, an Alderman of Cheap Ward in the City of London (1670–1683), a Sheriff in 1671, Lord Mayor of London (1679–1680), a Member of Parliament for the City of London (1678–1681), Colonel of the Orange Regiment of militia (various times, 1680–1702), President of the Honourable Artillery Company (1690–1703), Commissioner of the Customs (1689–1697), an Assistant to the Royal African Company (1672–1681) and a director of the Bank of England (1702–1707).
- [toolserver.org/~rhaworth/os/coor_g.php?pagename=Grade_I_listed_buildings_in_the_London_Borough_of_Lambeth¶ms=TQ3062379615_region%3AGB_scale%3A25000 Grade I listed buildings in the London Borough of Lambeth]. Accessed 10 August 2013
- Robert Clayton information from AIM25.
- Catalogue record for the papers of Clayton and Morris Co. at the Archives Division of the London School of Economics.
- Melton, F. C., Sir Robert Clayton and the Origins of English Deposit Banking, 1658–1685, Cambridge, 1986.