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JOHN HAMPDEN (c. 1595-1643)

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Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 900 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JOHN HAMPDEN (c. 1595-1643), English statesman, the eldest son of William Hampden, of Great Hampden in Buckinghamshire, a descendant of a very ancient family of that place, said to have been established there before the Conquest, and of Elizabeth, second daughter of Sir Henry Cromwell, and aunt of Oliver, the future protector, was born about the year 1595. By his father's death, when he was but a child, he became the owner of a good estate and a ward of the crown. He was educated at the grammar school at Thame, and on the 3oth of March 1610 became a commoner of Magdalen College at Oxford. In 1613 he was admitted a student of the Inner Temple. He first sat in parliament for the borough of Grampound in 1621, representing later Wendover in the first three parliaments of Charles I., Buckinghamshire in the Short Parliament of 164o, and Wendover again in the Long Parliament. In the early days of his parliamentary career he was content to be overshadowed by Eliot, as in its later days he was content to be overshadowed by Pym and to be commanded by Essex. Yet it is Hampden, and not Eliot or Pym, who lives in the popular imagination as the central figure of the English revolution in its earlier stages. - It is Hampden whose statue rather than that of Eliot or Pym has been selected to take its place in St Stephen's Hall as the noblest type of the parliamentary opposition, as Falkland's has been selected as the noblest type of parliamentary royalism. Something of Hampden's fame no doubt is owing to the position which he took up as the opponent of ship-money. But it is hardly possible that even resistance to ship-money would have so distinguished him but for the mingled massiveness and modesty of his character,. his dislike of all pretences in himself or others, his brave contempt of danger, and his charitable readiness to shield others as far . as possible from the evil consequences of their actions. Nor was he wanting in that skill which enabled him to influence men towards the ends at which he aimed, and which was spoken of as subtlety by those who disliked his ends. During these first parliaments Hampden did not, so far as we know, open his lips in public debate, but he was increasingly employed in committee work, for which he seems to have had a special aptitude. In 1626 he took an active part in the preparation of the charges against Buckingham. In January 1627 he was hound over to answer at the council board for his refusal to pay the forced loan. Later in the year he was committed to the gate-house, and then sent into confinement in Hampshire, from which he was liberated just before the meeting of the third parliament of the reign, in which he once more rendered useful but unobtrusive assistance to his leaders. When the breach came in 1629 Hampden is found in epistolary correspondence with the imprisoned Eliot, discussing with him the prospects of the Massachusetts colony,2 or rendering ' An earlier viscountcy was bestowed in 1776 on Robert Hampden-Trevor, 4th Baron Trevor (1706-1783), a great-grandson of the daughter of John Hampden, the patriot; it became extinct in 1824 by the death of the 3rd viscount. 2 Hampden was one of the persons to whom the earl of Warwick granted land in Connecticut, but for the anecdote which relates his attempted emigration with Cromwell there is no foundation (v. under
End of Article: JOHN HAMPDEN (c. 1595-1643)

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