Hampden, John (1594-1643) (DNB00)
HAMPDEN, JOHN (1594–1643). statesman, was the eldest son of William Hampden (d. 1597) of Great Hampden, Buckinghamshire,' and of Elizabeth (d. 1664), daughter of Sir Henry Cromwell of Hinchinbrook, Huntingdonshire. If Wood's inferences from the matriculation register of Oxford are to be trusted, he was born in London in 1594 (Athenæ, ed. Bliss, iii. 59). Hampden was educated at Thame grammar school under Richard Bourchier (Lee, History of the Church of Thame, p. 483). He matriculated from Magdalen College, Oxford, on 30 March 1610, and is described in the matriculation register as of London and aged fifteen (Clark, Reg. of the Univ. of Oxford, ii. 309). In 1613 he contributed a copy of verses to the collection entitled 'Lusus Palatini,' published in honour of the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth. In November of the same year he became a member of the Inner Temple (Cooke, Members of the Inner Temple, p. 203). Of the amount of knowledge acquired by Hampden at these places of education Sir Philip Warwick speaks very highly: 'He had a great knowledge both in scholarship and in the law. He was very well read in history, and I remember the first time that ever I saw that of Davila of the civil wars in France it was lent me under the title of Mr. Hampden's "Vade-mecum;" and I believe that no copy was liker an original than that rebellion was like ours' (Warwick, Memoirs, p. 240).
On 24 June 1619 Hampden married Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Symeon of Pyrton, Oxfordshire, and probably left London and took up his residence at Great Hampden (Lipscomb, ii. 288). Of an ample fortune and an old family, he might have obtained a post at court or a peerage without great difficulty. 'If ever my son will seek for honour,' wrote his mother in 1620, 'tell him to come to court now, for here is multitudes of Lords a making. I am ambitious of my son's honour, which I wish were now conferred upon him that he might not come after so many new creations' (Nugent, Life of Hampden, i. 36). From the commencement of the reign of Charles I, however, Hampden associated himself with the opposition to the court both in and out of parliament. He seems to have offered some resistance to the privy-seal loan levied in 1625, though he eventually paid 10l. out of 13l. 6s. 8d., at which he was assessed (Verney Papers, pp. 120, 126, 283). A second forced loan he refused altogether, was summoned to appear before the council on 29 Jan. 1626-1627, and was for nearly a year confined in Hampshire (Rushworth, i. 428, 473; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1627-9, p. 31). John Hampden is sometimes confused with his relative, Sir Edmund Hampden, one of the five knights imprisoned for opposing the loan, who tested the legality of their imprisonment by suing for a habeas corpus in the court of king's bench (November 1627; Rushworth, i. 458). Sir Edmund Hampden died in consequence of his imprisonment, and, according to an obituary notice of John Hampden in the 'Weekly Accompt' for 3-10 July 1643, John Hampden also suffered severely. 'He endured for a long time together close imprisonment in the Gatehouse about the loan money, which endangered his life, and was a very great means so to impair his health that he never after did look like the same man he was before.' It is possible, however, that he is here also confused with Sir Edmund Hampden. A popular story, quoted by all John Hampden's biographers, represents him as answering the demand for the loan by saying 'that he would be content to lend as well as others, but feared to draw upon himself that curse in Magna Charta which should be read twice a year against those who infringe it' (Forster, Life of Hampden, p. 312; Nugent, i. 107). This story appears to have been first told in 'Mercurius Aulicus' for 7 April 1644, and the answer is there attributed not to Hampden only, but to Pym, Saye, and others.
Though less prominent inside parliament, Hampden was also active there on the side of the opposition. In the parliament of 1621 he represented the borough of Grampound; in the first three parliaments of Charles I he sat as member for Wendover, which owed the restoration of its right to send members largely to Hampden's efforts (Nugent, i. 93; Official Return of Members of Parliament, 1878, pp. 450, 462, 468, 474). From an early date he seems to have enjoyed the confidence of Sir John Eliot, for whose use he drew up in 1626 a paper of considerations on Buckingham's impeachment, which is still preserved at Port Eliot (Forster, Life of Eliot, i. 490). Of the assiduity with which Hampden studied parliamentary law and parliamentary precedents additional proof is afforded by a manuscript volume of parliamentary cases compiled from his notes, and now in the possession of Mrs. Russell of Chequers Court, Buckinghamshire (Nugent, Hampden, i. 121). Opposition to the court outside parliament and assiduous attention to his duties in it explain Hampden's increased prominence in the third parliament of Charles I. He was not a frequent speaker, but he was a member of nearly all committees of importance. 'From this time forward scarcely was a bill prepared or an inquiry begun upon any subject, however remotely affecting any one of the three great matters at issue privilege, religion, or supplies but he was thought fit to be associated with St. John, Selden, Coke, and Pym on the committee' (ib. i. 119). In the second session of the same parliament he was specially busy on the different committees appointed to deal with questions of church reform or ecclesiastical abuses (ib. p. 144). In me disorderly scene which closed the parliament of 1629 Hampden took no part himself, but the imprisonment of Eliot for his share in it gave rise to an interesting and characteristic correspondence between the two. From his prison in the Tower Eliot consulted Hampden on all questions of importance, and Hampden was always ready to sympathise with or to assist his imprisoned leader. He watched over the education of his friend's children with affectionate solicitude, and wrote long letters on the advisability of sending Bess to a boarding-school, John to travel, or Richard to serve in the wars (Forster, Eliot, ii. 587, 603). He spoke hopefully of their future (ib. ii. 534), and, perhaps with some premonition of the coming civil wars, urged Eliot that his sons should be husbanded for great affairs and designed betimes for God's own service (ib. ii. 587). Eliot communicated to Hampden the draft of the treatise which he entitled 'The Monarchy of Man.' Hampden in his reply terms it 'a nosegay of exquisite flowers bound with as fine a thread,' but suggests, with the greatest delicacy, that a little more conciseness would improve it (ib. ii. 611, 613, 646). It was to Hampden also that Eliot addressed the last of his letters which has been preserved, telling him of the steady progress of his disease, and the consolation he derived from his spiritual hopes (ib. ii. 719). So few of Hampden's letters exist that the correspondence with Eliot has a special value. His other letters deal mainly with military movements and public business. In these the man himself is revealed. 'We may, perhaps, be fanciful,' remarks Macaulay, 'but it seems to us that every one of them is an admirable illustration of some part of the character of Hampden which Clarendon has drawn.' They exhibit Hampden, moreover, as a man not only 'of good sense and natural good taste, but of literary habits' (Macaulay, Essay on Hampden ; Works).
Among the manuscripts at Port Eliot is a paper in Eliot's writing, headed 'The Grounds of Settling a Plantation in New England,' and endorsed 'For Mr. Hampden.' It was sent to Hampden in December 1629, and was probably connected in some way with the colonial projects of William Fiennes [q. v.], Lord Saye, and the other puritan leaders who had engaged in the recently founded company of Massachusetts Bay (Forster, Eliot, ii. 530, 533). Hampden, though he took a great interest in these colonial schemes, was not himself a member either of the Massachusetts Bay or the Providence Company. Attempts have been made to identify him with a certain 'Mr. John Hampden, a gentleman of London,' mentioned by Winslow as being at Plymouth in 1623, but without confirmatory evidence the similarity of name is insufficient proof (Forster, Life of Hampden, p. 323). on the other hand, Hampden was certainly connected with the foundation of Connecticut. He was one of the twelve persons to whom the Earl of Warwick granted on 19 March 1631-2 a large tract of land in what is now the state of Connecticut, and may be presumed to have borne his share in the cost of the attempt made by the patentees to establish a settlement there (Trumbull, History of Connecticut, i. 495). A popular legend represents him as seeking to emigrate in April 1638, in company with Cromwell and Heselrige, but the story is without foundation (Nugent, i. 254; Neal, Puritans, ii. 287, ed. 1822). It is impossible to suppose that Hampden would have attempted to leave England while the suit about ship-money was still undecided, and the decision of the judges was not given till June 1638 (Rushworth, iii. 599).
The opposition to ship-money, to which Hampden owes his fame in English history, began in 1635. Before that event, says Clarendon, 'he was rather of reputation in his own country than of public discourse or fame in the kingdom, but then he grew the argument of all tongues, every man inquiring who and what he was that durst at his own charge support the liberty and property of the kingdom, and rescue his country from being made a prey to the court' (Rebellion, vii. 82). In that year the second ship-money writ was issued, by which the impost was extended from the maritime to the inland counties, and an opportunity was thus afforded to test the king's right to demand it. A writ addressed to the sheriff of Buckinghamshire, Sir Peter Temple, dated 4 Aug. 1635, directed that officer to raise 4,500l. from that county, being the estimated cost of a ship of 450 tons (the writ is given at length by Rushworth, iii., Appendix, p. 213). For his estates in the parish of Great Kimble, Buckinghamshire, Hampden was assessed at 31s. 6d., for those in the parish of Stoke Mandeville at 20s., and without doubt similar sums for his lands in other parishes. As he possessed property in some dozen parishes, the total amount of the sum demanded from Hampden must have been nearer 20l. than 20s. Hobbes sneers at the smallness of the sum. It was not, however, the amount, but the principle of the tax which Hampden contested. Burke, in his speech on American taxation, admirably expresses this distinction. 'Would twenty shillings have ruined Mr. Hampden's fortune? No, but the payment of half twenty shillings, on the principle it was demanded, would have made him a slave' (Burke, Works, ed. 1852, iii. 185). The trial of Hampden's cause began towards the close of 1637 before the court of exchequer. The legality of the tax was tested on the 20s. at which Hampden was assessed for his Stoke Mandeville estate. The arguments of the opposing lawyers lasted from 6 Nov. to 18 Dec., Hampden being represented by Holborn and St. John. The barons of the exchequer, the matter being of great consequence and weight, 'adjourned the arguing of it into the exchequer chamber, and desired the assistance and judgment of all the judges in England touching the same' (Rushworth, iii. 599). One after another during the first two terms of 1638-the twelve judges delivered their opinions. Seven decided in favour of the crown, three gave judgment in Hampden's favour on the main question, and two others for technical reasons also ranged themselves on his side. Judgment was finally given by the exchequer court in favour of the crown on 12 June 1638. The decision, as Clarendon points out, 'proved of more advantage and credit to the gentleman condemned than to the king's service.' Ship-money had been adjudged lawful 'upon such grounds and reasons as every stander-by was able to swear was not law;' the reasoning of the judges 'left no man anything that he could call his own,' and every man 'felt his own interest by the unnecessary logic of that argument no less concluded than Mr. Hampden's' (Rebellion, i. 148-53). Henceforth the tax was paid with increasing reluctance. Hampden, on the other hand, had gained not merely the admiration of his party, but the respect of his opponents. 'His carriage throughout was with that rare temper and modesty that they who watched him most narrowly to find some advantage against his person, to make him less resolute in his cause, were compelled to give him a just testimony' (ib. vii. 82). Strafford attributed Hampden's opposition partly to a peevish puritanism, and partly to 'the vain flatteries of an imaginary liberty.' 'Mr. Hampden,' he wrote to Land, 'is a great Brother, and the very genius of that nation of people leads them always to oppose as well civilly as ecclesiastically all that ever authority ordains for them; but, in good faith, were they right served they should be whipped home into their right wits, and much beholden they should be to any one that would thoroughly take pains with them in that kind' (Stafford, Letters, ii. 138, 158, 378).
Hampden sat in the Short parliament (April 1640) as member for Buckinghamshire, and played a leading part in its deliberations. Hyde, who was himself a member, styles him 'the most popular man in the house' (Rebellion, ii. 72). The application made to Hampden by Williams, bishop of Lincoln, shows what outsiders thought of his influence. Williams, in prison and in disgrace, solicited the intervention of Hampden to procure his summons to his seat in the House of Lords. Hampden thought best to decline, urging in excuse the press of public business in the commons, and the danger of meddling with the privileges of the upper house. (The correspondence is printed in full in Lipscomb’s Buckinghamshire, ii. 237; see also Nugent, i. 297, and Fairfax Correspondence, i. 341.)
One of the first subjects considered by the House of Commons was ship-money, and on 18 April it was moved that the records of the judgment in Hampden's case and of all proceedings relating to ship-money should be brought into the house. Hampden was naturally appointed one of the committee to peruse these records, and also a member of that committee which was deputed to consult with the lords 'to prevent innovation in matters of religion, and concerning the property of our goods, and liberties, and privileges of parliament' (Commons' Journals, ii. 6, 10, 16). In the great debate of 4 May on the question of supply Hampden led the opposition. The king demanded twelve subsidies as the price of the abandonment of ship-money. Hampden, whom Macaulay terms 'a greater master of parliamentary tactics than any man of his time,' proposed 'that the question might be put "whether the house would consent to the proposition made by the king as it was contained in the message," which would have been sure to have found a negative from all who thought the sum too great, or were not pleased that it should be given in recompense of ship-money' (Clarendon, Rebellion, ii. 72). On the morning of the next day parliament was dissolved, and the dissolution was immediately followed by the temporary arrest of Hampden and other popular leaders (6 May). With the view of finding some evidence against them, not only their chambers, but even their pockets were searched. A list exists of the papers in Hampden's possession which were thus seized; but, with the exception of the letter of the Bishop of Lincoln, nothing more compromising was found than 'certain confused notes of the parliament business written in several paper books with black lead' (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1640, p. 152; Tanner MSS. lxxxviii. 116).
Hampden's public action during the next few months is obscure. He had now removed to London, and taken lodgings in Gray's Inn Lane, near the house occupied by Pym (Nugent, i. 296). He is mentioned as present at meetings of the opposition leaders, and doubtless took part in the preparation of the petition of the twelve peers (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1640, p. 652). Royalist writers in general charge him with instigating the Scots to invade England.
Did I for this bring in the Scot,
For 'tis no secret new, the plot
Was Saye's and mine together,
are lines Denham puts into Hampden's mouth (Mr. Hampden 's Speech against Peace, The Rump, i. 9). This was one of the charges on which his subsequent impeachment was based, and one of those on which Strafford intended to accuse him and other popular leaders in November 1640 (Gardiner, History of England, ix. 231, x. 130). Evidence is lacking to determine the precise nature of those communications between the English and Scottish leaders which no doubt existed, but there is nothing to prove that they were of a treasonable nature.
In the Long parliament Hampden again represented Buckinghamshire. No man's voice had a greater weight in the councils of the popular party, and yet it is extremely difficult accurately to trace his influence on their policy. Pym was the recognised leader of the party, so far as they recognised a leader at all, and Pym, according to Clarendon, 'in private designings was much governed by Mr. Hampden' (Rebellion, vii. 411). Hampden often intervened with decisive effect in the debates of the House of Commons. Yet while we have elaborate reports of the speeches of other parliamentary leaders, his only survive in a few disjointed sentences jotted down by Verney and D'Ewes. Hampden's speeches were not published, because he never made set speeches. As Clarendon points out, he was not an orator, but a great debater. 'He was not a man of many words, and rarely began the discourse, or made the first entrance upon any business that was assumed; but a very weighty speaker, and, after he had heard a full debate and observed how the house was like to be inclined, took up the argument and shortly and clearly and craftily so stated it that he commonly conducted it to the conclusion he desired; and if he found he could not do that, he never was without the dexterity to divert the debate to another time, and to prevent the determining anything in the negative which might prove inconvenient in the future' (ib. iii. 31). D'Ewes describes him as 'like a subtle fox' striving to divert the house from an inconvenient vote, and speaks of the 'serpentine subtlety' with which he 'put others to move those businesses that he contrived' (Sanford, Studies, pp. 365, 547; Gardiner, x. 77). Equally remarkable was his personal influence. He was distinguished for 'a flowing courtesy to all men.' He had also a way of insinuating his own opinions in conversation while he seemed to be adopting the views of those he was addressing, and 'a wonderful art of governing and leading others into his own principles and inclinations.' But above all Hampden's reputation for integrity and uprightness attracted Falkland and many more to his party. 'When this parliament began,' writes Clarendon, 'the eyes of all men were fixed on him as their Patriæ pater, and the pilot that must steer their vessel through the tempests and rocks that threatened it. And am persuaded his power and interest at that time was greater to do good or hurt than any man of his rank hath had in any time: for his reputation for honesty was universal, and his affections seemed so publicly guided that no corrupt or private ends could bias them.'
In the Long parliament as in the Short parliament ship-money was one of the first subjects to be considered. On 7 Dec. 1640 the commons declared the judgment in Hampden's case 'against the laws of the realm, the right of property, the liberty of subject, and contrary to former resolutions in parliament and to the Petition of Right.' The lords passed a similar vote, and followed it up by ordering on 27 Feb. 1641 that 'the record of the Exchequer of the judgment in Hampden's case be brought into the upper house and cancelled' (Rushworth, iii. 212).
In Strafford's trial Hampden played an active though not a prominent part. He was a member of the preliminary committee of seven appointed on 11 Nov. 1640 to draw up the indictment, and one of the eight managers of the impeachment on behalf of the commons (Rushworth, Trial of Strafford, pp. 3, 14, 20, 22, 33, 40, 45). He supported Pym in endeavouring to carry the impeachment to its legitimate conclusion, and opposing the resolution to proceed by bill of attainder (Sanford, Studies, p. 337; Forster, Grand Remonstrance, ed. 1860, pp. 133, 141; Gardiner, ix. 329). After the second reading of the bill of attainder (14 April 1641), a serious difference arose between the two houses. The majority of the commons wished to abandon altogether the forms of an impeachment, to put an end to all discussion on the question whether Strafford's acts legally amounted to treason, and neither to hear the arguments of Strafford's counsel on that point nor to permit their own to reply to them. Hampden spoke with great effect in favour of a compromise (16 April 1641). He urged that the fact that an attainder bill was pending did not bind the commons to proceed by that method alone. Their counsel had been already heard, and it was only just to hear those of Strafford also. He was so far successful that Strafford's counsel were heard by parliament on 17 April, and the danger of a quarrel with the lords was averted (ib. ix. 337; Verney, Notes of the Long Parliament, p. 50).
Yet while thus eager for the punishment of the king's evil ministers, Hampden, like his party, had no aversion to monarchy, and was anxious to lay the foundation of a permanent agreement between the king and his parliament. The feeling is well expressed in the words attributed to him later:' Perish may that man and his posterity that will not deny himself in the greatest part of his fortune (rather than the king shall want) to make him both potent and beloved at home, and terrible to his enemies abroad, if he will be pleased to leave those evil counsells about him, and take the wholesome advice of his great counsell the parliament' (The Weekly Intelligencer, 27 June to 4 July 1643). In the summer of 1641 rumours went abroad that the king had resolved to admit some of the parliamentary leaders to office. It was reported in July that Hampden was to be secretary of state, and Nicholas mentions him as about to be appointed chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster (Cat. State Papers, Dom. 1641-3, pp. 53, 63). His own ambition is said to have been to be governor of the Prince of Wales, that so he might imbue the prince with 'principles suitable to what should be established as laws' (Memoirs of Sir Philip Warwick, p. 242). Any such projects, however, were frustrated by the increasing divisions on the church question, and the decided views held by Hampden himself on the subject of episcopacy. In early life he had not been accounted a puritan. 'In his entrance into the world he indulged to himself all the license in sports and exercises and company which was used by men of the most jolly conversation. Afterwards he retired to a more reserved and melancholic society,' and 'they who conversed nearly with him found him growing into a dislike of the ecclesiastical government of the church, yet most believed it rather a dislike of some churchmen' (Clarendon, Rebellion, vii. 82). At the visitation of the diocese of Lincoln in 1634 Hampden was presented for two ecclesiastical offences, 'holding a muster in the churchyard of Beaconsfield, and for going sometimes from his own parish church.' On giving satisfaction to the visitor for his offences, and promising obedience to the laws of the church hereafter, he escaped punishment (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1634-5, p. xxxii). He was not in 1640 deemed one of the 'root-and-branch' men, and though he supported the acceptance of the London petition against episcopacy, agreed to a compromise by which that institution should be reformed and not abolished (ib. iii. 147, 152; Gardiner, History of England, ix. 281). But when the bill for the exclusion of the bishops from the House of Lords failed to pass, Hampden became a zealous supporter of the root-and-branch bill, thus losing the friendship of Falkland, and putting an end to any prospect of preferment.
On 20 Aug. the parliament appointed a committee to attend the king to Scotland, and Hampden was one of the four commissioners of the commons (Clarendon, iii. 254, iv. 18; the instructions of the committee are printed in Lords' Journals, iv. 372, 401). The knowledge which he thus gained of the king's intrigues with the Scottish nobles no doubt led him to distrust the king, and the discovery of the plot known as 'The Incident' could only increase his suspicions. 'This plot,' wrote the commissioners, 'hath put not only ours but all other business to a stand, and may be an occasion of many and great troubles in this kingdom if Almighty God in his great mercy do not prevent it' (Lords' Journals, v. 398; Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 102). By the middle of November Hampden was back at Westminster, zealously supporting the Grand Remonstrance, which he described as wholly true in substance, and as a very necessary vindication of the parliament (Verney, Notes of the Long Parliament, p. 124). In the tumult which arose when the minority attempted to enter a protest against printing it, Hampden's presence of mind and authority were conspicuously displayed. 'I thought,' says Warwick, 'we had all sat in the valley of the shadow of death; for we, like Joab's and Abner's young men, had catch't at each others locks, and sheathed our swords in each others bowels, had not the sagacity and great, calmness of Mr. Hampden by a short speech prevented it' (Memoirs, p. 202; Gardiner, x. 77).
On 3 Jan. 1642 the king, instigated by the news that the parliamentary leaders were about to impeach the queen, sent the attorney-general to the House of Lords to impeach Hampden and others, and a sergeant-at-arms to the House of Commons to arrest them (the instructions to Sir E. Herbert are given in the Nicholas Papers, p. 62; the articles of impeachment are in Rushworth, iv. 473). They were charged with aspersing the king and his government, encouraging the Scots to invade England, raising tumults to coerce parliament, levying war against the king, and, like Strafford, endeavouring to subvert the fundamental laws and government of the kingdom. The commons replied by voting the seizure of the papers of their members a breach of privilege, authorised them to resist arrest, and refused to give them up; but ordered them to attend in their places daily to answer any legal charge brought against them (Commons' Journals, ii. 367). Nalson prints a speech said to have been delivered by Hampden on 4 Jan., which is reproduced by Forster in his 'Arrest of the Five Members' (p. 166); Mr. Gardiner points out that it is a palpable forgery (History of England, x. 135). On the afternoon of 4 Jan. the king came personally to arrest the members, but they, having been warned in time, escaped by water into the city, and a week later they were brought back in triumph to Westminster. When the news of Hampden's impeachment reached his constituents, some four thousand gentlemen and freeholders of Buckinghamshire rode up to London to support and vindicate their member. They presented one petition to parliament, promising to defend its rights with their lives, and another to the king, declaring that they had ever had good cause to confide in Hampden's loyalty, and attributing the charges against him to the malice which his zeal for the service of the king and the state had excited in the king's enemies (Rushworth, iv. 487). On 6 Feb. the king announced his intention of dropping the impeachment, but that was no longer sufficient to satisfy either the accused members or the kingdom. Clarendon observes that after the impeachment Hampden 'was much altered, his nature and carriage seeming much fiercer than it did before' (Rebellion, vii. 84). One sign of this was his resolution to obtain securities for the parliament's future safety. On 20 Jan., when the answer to a conciliatory message from the king was read in the commons, Hampden moved an addition to desire the king to put the Tower of London, and other forts of the kingdom with the militia thereof, into such hands as parliament could confide in (Commons' Journals, ii. 389; Sanford, p. 475). The king's refusal to grant these demands made war inevitable, and on 4 July the two houses appointed a committee of safety, of which Hampden was from the first a leading member. He undertook to raise a regiment of foot for the parliament, and his 'green coats' were soon one of the best regiments in their service. Tradition represents him as first mustering his men on Chalgrove Field, where he afterwards received his death-wound (Mercurius Aulicus, 24 June 1643).
Hampden as a deputy-lieutenant of Buckinghamshire actively executed the militia ordinance there, and his first exploit was the seizure of the Earl of Berkshire and the king's commissioners of array at Sir Robert Dormer's house at Ascot on 16 Aug. (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1641-3, p. 382; Sanford, p. 519). Sending his prisoners up to London, he then marched to take part in the relief of Coventry, which was effected on 23 Aug. (Lords' Journals, v. 321). Lord Nugent represents Hampden as present at Lord Saye's occupation of Oxford, and the newspapers and pamphlets of the period relate victories gained by him at Aylesbury and elsewhere which are entirely fictitious. In reality Hampden continued with the main body of Essex's army struggling hard to preserve discipline amongst his unruly soldiers. 'We are perplexed,' he wrote to Essex, 'with the insolence of the soldiers already committed, and with the apprehension of greater. . . If this go on, the army will grow as odious to the country as the cavaliers. . . . Without martial law to extend to the soldiers only it may prove a ruin as likely as a remedy to this distracted kingdom' (Tanner MSS. lxiii. 153, lxii. 115, 63153, 62115). The celebrated conversation between Cromwell and Hampden on the possibility of raising 'such men as had the fear of God before them,' probably took place about this time (September 1642; Carlyle, Cromwell, speech xi.)
At the battle of Edgehill Hampden was not present, having been charged with the duty of escorting the artillery train from Worcester. He joined Essex after the battle was over, condemned his retreat to Warwick, and urged a renewed attack on the king's forces. At Brentford also Hampden eagerly advocated an attack on the returning royalists, and was actually on the march to cut off their retreat when Essex recalled him (Whitelocke,pp. 187, 192; The Scots Design Discovered, 1654, p. 66). In December a pamphlet was published containing 'an account of Hampden's capture of Reading, but, though accepted by Lord Nugent and Mr. Forster, this is simply one of the fictitious victories so frequent during the first years of the war (A True Relation of the Proceedings of his Excellency the Earl of Essex, with the taking of Reading by Col. Hampden and Col. Hurry). In the same fashion 'Mercurius Aulicus' for 27 Jan. and 29 Jan. 1643 describes Hampden as commanding an attack on the royalist forces at Brill, whereas Hampden's letters prove that he was not present (Carte MSS., Bodleian Library, ciii. 121, 123).
During the winter of 1642-3 Hampden's activity was rather political than military. All his energy and influence were employed to keep his party together and to prevent the sacrifice of their cause by the conclusion of a peace on unsatisfactory terms. 'Without question,' says Clarendon, 'when he first drew his sword he threw away the scabbard; for he passionately opposed the overture made by the king for a treaty from Nottingham, and as eminently any expedients that might have produced an accommodation in that at Oxford; and was principally relied upon to prevent any infusions which might be made into the Earl of Essex towards peace, or to render them ineffectual if they were made' (Rebellion, vii. 84). D'Ewes, who represented the peace party in the commons, describes Hampden as one of the 'fiery spirits, who, accounting their own condition desperate, did not care though they hazarded the whole kingdom to save themselves.' He also states that when the proposed articles of peace were discussed, on 18 March 1643, Hampden and others purposely absented themselves, 'because they easily foresaw it would not lie in their power to stop the said articles' (Sanford, pp. 540-3). About the same time a pasquinade by Denham was published, under the title of 'Mr. Hampden's Speech on the London Petition for Peace' (broadside in the British Museum, dated by Thomason 23 March; reprinted in The Rump, 1662, p. 9).
On the conclusion of the abortive negotiations at Oxford, Hampden was, as usual, zealous for decisive action. 'Mr. Hampden,' says Clarendon, 'and all they who desired still to strike at the root very earnestly insisted' that Essex should attack Oxford rather than Reading, and he expresses the opinion that such a stroke would have put the king's affairs into great confusion (Rebellion, vii. 38). It was reported at Oxford that Hampden was to supersede Essex as general, but such a change was never seriously contemplated, nor did his own disapproval of the strategy of Essex in any way diminish Hampden's loyalty to his leader, He took part in the siege of Reading, and the letter in which he announced its capture has been preserved (Tanner MSS. lxii. 85; An exact Relation of the delivering up of Reading, as it was sent in a Letter to the Speaker by Sir P. Stapleton, John Hampden, &c., 4to, 1643). Another letter, addressed to Sir Thomas Barrington, exhorting him to stir up the county of Essex to reinforce the army, is Hampden's last recorded utterance (Gardiner, Civil War, i. 179). Early in June Essex at last advanced on Oxford, and quartered his troops in the district round Thame. They were widely scattered, and Prince Rupert, seizing the opportunity, sallied from Oxford with a body of about one thousand horse, and fell on the parliamentarian quarters at Postcombe and Chinnor. A few troops, hastily collected, pursued him, and endeavoured to hinder his retreat to Oxford, but Rupert turned and routed them at Chalgrove Field on 18 June. In this skirmish Hampden was mortally wounded. 'Col. Hampden,' says the despatch of Essex to the parliament, 'put himself in Captain Cross's troop, where he charged with much courage, and was unfortunately shot through the shoulder' (A Letter from his Excellency Robert, Earl of Essex, relating the true State of the late Skirmish at Chinnor; see also His Highness Prince Rupert's late beating up the Rebels' Quarters at Postcombe and Chinnor, and his Victory in Chalgrove Field, June 18, 1643, Oxford, 1643; A true Relation of a great Fight between the King's Forces and the Parliament's at Chinnor, 1643). He was observed 'to ride off the field before the action was done, which he never used to do, with his head hanging down, and resting his hands upon the neck of his horse' (Clarendon, vii. 79).
Round Hampden's last days a number of legends have gathered and animated controversies have taken place. The precise nature of the wound which caused his death has been much discussed (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. viii. 647, xii. 271). All contemporary accounts agree in ascribing his death to the consequences of a bullet-wound in the shoulder, but in the next century a report spread that it was due to the explosion of an overloaded pistol which shattered his hand. This story, said to have been related by his son-in-law, Sir Robert Pye, found its way into Echard's 'History' (App. 1720) and Seward's 'Anecdotes' (i. 235, ed. 1795). Its original source seems to have been a memorandum drawn up by Harley, earl of Oxford (now in the possession of Captain Loder-Symonds of Hinton Manor, Faringdon). In order to settle this important question Lord Nugent and a select party of friends, on 21 July 1828, broke open what they believed to be Hampden's grave, and 'to remove all doubts' amputated both arms of the body with a penknife, and minutely inspected them. A detailed account of this outrage was published, in which judgment was solemnly given in favour of Pye's story. Later, however, Lord Nugent found reason to believe that he had examined some one else's body, suppressed all mention of these researches in his 'Life of Hampden,' and there described Pye's story as unworthy of any credit ('Narrative of the Disinterment of the Body of John Hampden, Esquire,' Gent. Mag. 1828, pp. 125, 201, 395; reprinted in Lipscomb, Buckinghamshire, ii. 251; cf. Nugent, Life of Hampden, ii. 434). It is certain that Hampden died at Thame, and local tradition points out the Greyhound Inn there as the house in which his death took place.
It is frequently stated that the king offered to send his own surgeon to attend Hampden. The source of this statement is a passage in the memoirs of Sir Philip Warwick (p. 240), who says that 'the king would have sent him over any chirurgeon of his had any been wanting, for he looked upon his interest, if he could but gain his affection, as a powerful means of begetting a right understanding betwixt him and his two houses.' Charles accordingly sent Dr. Gyles, the parson of Chinnor, to inquire as to his progress. A detailed narrative of Hampden's last moments and last words, said to have been drawn up at the time by a certain Edward Clough, was contributed to the 'Gentleman's Magazine' in 1815 by an anonymous correspondent (Gent. Mag. 1815, p. 395, 'A true and faithfull Narrative of the Death of Mr. Hambden;' reprinted by Lipscomb, ii. 250). This, though accepted as genuine by Hampden's biographers, is an impudent forgery, largely based on hints derived from Clarendon, and containing many words and expressions not in use in the seventeenth century. The last words attributed to Hampden ('O Lord, save my country') are probably copied from the somewhat similar utterance ascribed to the younger Pitt (Academy, 2 and 9 Nov. 1889).
Hampden's will, dated 28 June 1636, is printed in the selection of 'Wills from Doctors' Commons' published by the Camden Society in 1862 (p. 99). He was buried, on 25 June 1643, in the church of Great Hampden, where a monument to him was in the next century erected by his great-grandson, Robert Trevor Hampden, fourth lord Trevor (Lipscomb, ii. 285). Other memorials were erected by Lord Nugent at Stoke Mandeville and Chalgrove (F. G. Lee, History of the Church of Thame, p. 538).
Hampden's death, according to Clarendon, caused as great a consternation in the puritan party 'as if their whole army had been defeated' (Rebellion, vii. 80). 'Every honest man,' wrote Colonel Arthur Goodwin, 'hath a share in the loss, and will likewise in the sorrow. He was a gallant man, an honest man, an able man, and take all, I know not to any living man second' (Webb, Civil War in Herefordshire, i. 306). 'Never kingdom received a greater loss in one subject,' wrote Anthony Nichol (Hist. MSS. Comm. 6th Rep. vii. 553). 'The loss of Colonel Hampden,' said a newspaper article published the week after his death, 'goeth near the heart of every man that loves the good of his king and country, and makes some conceive little content to be at the army now he is gone. . . . The memory of this deceased colonel is such that in no age to come but it will more and more be had in honour and esteem' (The Kingdom's Weekly Intelligencer, 27 June-4 July 1643).
Hampden's memory was also celebrated in two elegies published in 1643: (1) An 'Elegiacal Epitaph ' by John Leicester; (2) an 'Elegy on the Death of that worthy Gentleman, Col. John Hampden,' by Captain J[ohn] S[tiles] of Hampden's own regiment. More remarkable than these verses was the tribute of Richard Baxter to Hampden's character. In the earlier editions of his 'Saint's Rest,' 1653-9, Baxter wrote that he thought of heaven with the more pleasure because he should there meet among the apostles and divines of all ages Lord Brooke and Pym and Hampden. Afterwards, to avoid offence, he blotted out this passage, but defended his estimate of Hampden:' One that friends and enemies acknowledged to be most eminent for prudence, piety, and peacefulness, having the most universal praise of any gentleman that I remember of that age' (Saint's Rest, chap, vii.; Reliquiæ Baxterianæ, ed. 1696, iii. 177). Royalist opinion admitted Hampden's ability, and rejoiced at the death of so formidable an enemy. 'He was,' says Clarendon, 'a supreme governor over all his passions and affections, and had thereby a great power over other men's. He was of an industry and vigilance not to be tired out or wearied by the most laborious, and of parts not to be imposed upon by the most subtle or sharp; and of a personal courage equal to his best parts.... In a word, what was said of Cinna might well be applied to him, he had a head to contrive and a tongue to persuade, and a hand to execute any mischief. His death, therefore, seemed to be a great deliverance to the nation' (Rebellion, vii. 84; this character of Hampden was written by Clarendon in 1647; a second, written later, in 1669, is inserted in book iii. § 31). Sir Philip Warwick also gives a character of Hampden with a curious note on his personal appearance (Memoirs, p. 239). A portrait of Hampden is in the possession of his descendant, the Earl of Buckinghamshire, at Hampden House, Buckinghamshire (Lipscomb, ii. 279). One belonging to Renn Dickson Hampden, bishop of Hereford, was in the collection of national portraits exhibited in 1866 (Catalogue, No. 613). The best known, however, is that at Port Eliot, belonging to the Earl of St. Germains, and engraved in Nugent's 'Memorials of Hampden,' although Lipscomb asserts that it is in reality a portrait of John Hampden the younger (ii. 280). There is a bust of Hampden in the National Portrait Gallery. Engraved portraits are to be found in Peck's 'Life of Milton' and Houbraken's 'Heads of Illustrious Persons.' The curious relic known as 'Hampden's jewel,' now in the Bodleian Library, is engraved in Webb's 'Civil War in Herefordshire,' 1879, i. 143.
Hampden was twice married, first, 24 June 1619, to Elizabeth, daughter of Edmund Symeon of Pyrton, Oxfordshire (d. August 1634); secondly, to Letitia (d. 1666), daughter of Sir Francis Knollys and widow of Sir Thomas Vachell, knt., of Cowley or Coley House, Reading (Diary of Richard Symonds, p. 4). By his first wife he had nine children: (1) John, a captain in his father's regiment in 1642, died about the beginning of the civil war (Mercurius Aulicus, 15 April 1643); (2) Richard [q. v.]; (3) William (1633-1675); (4) Elizabeth (b. 1622), married Richard Knightley, esq., of Fawsley, Northamptonshire, and died early in 1643 (Warwick, Memoirs, p. 242; Mercurius Aulicus, 15 April 1643); (5) Anne (b. 1625), married Sir Robert Pye; (6) Ruth (b. 1628), married Sir John Trevor, from whom the Trevor-Hampden family descended (Collins, Peerage, vi. 297); (7) Mary (b. 1630), married, first, Colonel Robert Hammond [q. v.], secondly Sir John Hobart, bart., of Blickling, Norfolk, from whom the Hobart- Hampden family descends (Foster, Peerage, 'Buckinghamshire, Earl of'); (8, 9) two daughters who died unmarried (for the history of the Hampden family, see Lipscomb, Buckinghamshire, vol. ii. passim; Noble, House of Cromwell, ii. 60, ed. 1787; and Ebbewhite, Parish Registers of Great Hampden, Buckinghamshire, 1888).
[Lives of Hampden are given in Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 59, and in Biographia Britannica. The first detailed biography was Lord Nugent's Memorials of John Hampden, published in 1831, valuable also as containing some of Hampden's private letters. It occasioned Macaulay's Essay on Hampden (Edinburgh Review, December 1831), and gave rise to a lively controversy. Southey criticised it with severity in the Quarterly Review, vol. xlvii. Lord Nugent defended himself in A Letter to John Murray, Esq., touching an article in the Quarterly Review, 1832. Southey retorted in A Letter to John Murray, Esq., touching Lord Nugent, by the author of the article, 1833. and Isaac D'Israeli intervened in a pamphlet entitled Eliot, Hampden, and Pym, 1832. In 1837 a life of Hampden by John Forster was published in the series of biographies of Eminent British Statesmen in Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopædia, and in his life of Sir John Eliot (1865) Forster printed additional letters of Hampden's from the manuscripts at Port Eliot. Sanford's Studies and Illustrations of the Great Rebellion contain many details concerning Hampden, drawn from the Diary of Sir Symonds D'Ewes. Additional information from various sources is embodied in Gardiner's History of England, 10 vols., and History of the Great Civil War, 1886, vol. i.; a life of Hampden was contributed by Mr. Gardiner to the 9th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.]