HAMPDEN, Richard (1631-95), of Great Hampden, nr. Wendover, Bucks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

1656 - 10 Dec. 1657
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679
22 Nov. - 12 Dec. 1695

Family and Education

bap. 13 Oct. 1631, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of John Hampden of Great Hampden by Elizabeth, da. of Edmund Symeon of Pyrton, Oxon. m. 11 Mar. 1652, Letitia, da. of William, 5th Baron Paget, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. fa. 1643.

Offices Held

J.p. Bucks. 1653-?62, Feb. 1688-?d.; commr. for assessment, Bucks. 1657, Jan. 1660-80, Bucks. and Oxon. 1689-90, militia, Bucks. and Oxon. Mar. 1660; capt. of militia horse, Bucks. Apr. 1660, commr. for recusants 1675, dep. lt. Feb. 1688-?d.1

PC 14 Feb. 1689-3 May 1694; chairman of committees of supply and of ways and means 27 Feb. 1689-Oct. 1690; ld. of the Treasury 1689-94; chancellor of the Exchequer 1690-4.

Biography

Hampden’s family had been seated on the Buckinghamshire estate from which they took their name since at least the reign of Edward the Confessor and first represented the county in 1352. His father, the celebrated opponent of ship-money under Charles I, died of wounds after the battle of Chalgrove Field, leaving an estate of over £1,500 p.a. Hampden supported the Protectorate, and was called to the ‘other House’ in 1657. Returned to the Convention for the family borough of Wendover, he was classed as a friend by Lord Wharton. But he made only two recorded speeches, in one of which he proposed that the moderate Presbyterian Baxter should be invited to preach to the House, and was appointed to seven committees, including those for settling ecclesiastical livings (30 July) and for supplying defects in the poll bill (13 Nov.). As Oliver Cromwell’s kinsman he applied for confirmation of the grant of certain goods of the late Protector worth £400 to be recovered towards the satisfaction of a debt of £6,000.2

Hampden was again marked as a friend by Wharton on his re-election in 1661. He was moderately active in the Cavalier Parliament, serving on 86 committees, acting as teller in three divisions, and making 34 recorded speeches, often on procedural matters. He remained a Presbyterian, and was reported to the House on 3 July for failure to receive the sacrament. Baxter, who often stayed and preached at Great Hampden, described him as ‘the true heir of his famous father’s sincerity, piety and devotedness to God’. He was inactive during the administration of Clarendon, but on 25 Nov. 1667 he was appointed to the committee to examine the accounts of the French merchants. He was called to order on 7 May 1668 for urging dissolution. On 8 Apr. 1669 he supported the motion that the King should consult all Protestants, including dissenters, on remedies for the decay of trade. He took the chair for the bill to enable the coheirs of (Sir) John Fitzjames to sell the estate. On 4 Feb. 1673 he seconded the motion that no writs should be issued for by-elections except on certificate from the Speaker. Two days later he urged an address to ‘represent how grievous the war is, and how grateful peace’, and to submit all to the King’s judgment. In January 1674 he spoke in favour of a separate peace with the Dutch and a breach of the alliance with France. On 19 May 1675 he was appointed to the committee on the bill for appropriating the customs to the use of the navy, and in June he perused the Lords’ Journals as chairman of the committee on the Ouse navigation bill. Sir Richard Wiseman listed him in 1676 among the gentlemen of whom he had ‘little cause to hope well’, and Shaftesbury marked him ‘thrice worthy’. He was appointed to the committee to prevent the growth of Popery (8 Mar. 1677). Hampden came to the fore with the Popish Plot, and the French ambassador reported to Louis XIV that he and William Harbord were ‘two of the most considerable Members of Parliament’ whose services he had engaged. Between 1678 and 1680 he received 500 guineas from the French. Some of this money was distributed to Members by Coleman, the Duchess of York’s secretary, and on 2 Nov. 1678 he was among the Members sent to examine Coleman in Newgate. When pressed in the House for details of Coleman’s distribution of bribes to Members, Hampden replied that ‘to the best of my remembrance, Coleman made great protestations that he knew no more, but he told you of three and four hundred pounds given the last session, and £2,500’. He was added to the committee to examine Coleman’s papers, and appointed to that to receive evidence for the impeachment of Danby, though he was said to be among the ‘Presbyterians’ who were willing to drop the prosecution if the Parliament were dissolved and Danby resigned.3

In the first Exclusion Parliament Hampden was classed as ‘worthy’ by Shaftesbury. A very active Member, he was appointed to 38 committees, in seven of which he took the chair. He acted as teller in three divisions and made 21 recorded speeches. On 22 Mar. 1679 he was ordered to inform the Upper House that it was unparliamentary to demand a conference without specifying the subject. He was appointed to the committee to draw up Danby’s attainder, and acted as chairman of the committees to draft the bill for regulating elections and the address for the execution of the Jesuit Pickering. On 27 Apr. he moved that ‘the Duke of York being a Papist and the hopes of his coming to the crown have given the greatest countenance and encouragement to the present conspiracies and designs of the Papists against the King and the Protestant religion’. He was appointed to the committees to examine the disbandment accounts and to consider the habeas corpus amendment bill. On 5 May he reported reasons for the illegality of Danby’s pardon, saying that if it were allowed ‘accusing great men and accounting for money’ would become impossible. He was also responsible as chairman for preparing for the conference on 10 May about the trials of the lords in the Tower, and for three inspections of the Lords’ Journals. He strongly supported the exclusion bill:

For us to go about to tie a Popish successor with laws for the preservation of the Protestant religion is binding Samson with withies; he will break them when he is awake. The Duke of York is the presumptive heir of the crown indeed, but if a man be likely to ruin the estate he may be heir to, we disinherit every day.

He was appointed to the committee and acted as teller for the second reading. On 26 May he reported the successful conference with the Lords on habeas corpus.4

In the second Exclusion Parliament Hampden was again very active. He was appointed to 51 committees, acting as chairman of three, and made 42 recorded speeches. He served on the committees to inquire into abhorring and to consider the exclusion bill, which he again supported in debate, ‘since the succession of the crown had been often changed and yet continued hereditary. ... If the Dauphin or Infanta of Spain should become Protestant he doubted not but those kingdoms would be more impatient than we for this remedy’. He moved the second reading on 4 Nov. 1680 with the words: ‘The Pope is your King when you have a Popish successor’, under whom the Inquisition would soon be introduced. He reported the conference on the Irish plot, and on 27 Nov. brought in an address on the state of the kingdom; a correspondent of Ormonde’s described it as ‘the matter of the moment’:

It is not to be wondered at that it consisted of two sheets of paper, when ’tis considered what it contained, all the miscarriages past and present, in its close an assurance to the King that if he pleased to apply remedies, not only Tangier but all other his Majesty’s necessary wants should be satisfied.

Hampden was one of the managers of Lord Stafford’s prosecution, and chairman of the committee which drew up the address of 20 Dec. insisting on exclusion. He supported the bill to give toleration to Protestant dissenters. On 6 Jan. 1681 he was named to the committee for the bill to repeal the Corporations Act. He sat for the county in the Oxford Parliament. He was appointed as usual to the committee of elections and privileges, and made nine speeches. On 24 Mar. he spoke about the disappearance in the previous Parliament of the bill to repeal the Elizabethan statute against Protestant dissenters, and was appointed to prepare for a conference on ‘the constitution of Parliaments in passing of bills’. He reported the proceedings to date on Danby’s impeachment, and was appointed to the committees for the impeachment of Fitzharris and the exclusion bill, though the Duke of York included him among ‘the most violent and cunning Members’ who professed readiness to consider expedients.5

Hampden was returned to James II’s Parliament for his borough. His sole committee was to prepare the address for the dismissal of Roman Catholic officers. Danby listed him among the eminent Parliamentarians in opposition ‘most considerable for parts’, and he maintained his attitude despite restoration to local office in 1688. In fact he was one of William’s chief contacts among the Whigs, urging action before it became too late to shake James’s position, and adding that nobody now favoured setting up a republic. He was chairman of the committee of Members of Charles II’s Parliaments which drew up the address to William of 27 Dec.6

It is not always possible to distinguish Hampden from his son in the Convention, despite their increasingly divergent views. But he was clearly very active. The new regime gave him office with special responsibility for finance and for liaison with and between the Houses. He was chairman of the supply committee and seven other grand committees, from which he presented 50 reports. He brought 12 messages from the King, and was as often employed by the House as messenger to the Lords. He was named to 82 committees, in 15 of which he took the chair, and made 113 recorded speeches. On 22 Jan. 1689 he seconded the proposal that William should be asked to undertake the government pending the settlement of the succession, and took the chair of the committee to draw up the address. As chairman of the grand committee on the state of the nation, he reported on 28 Jan. that the throne was vacant, an opinion for which he was at once sent to desire the Lords’ concurrence, and on the following day he brought the resolution that it had been found by experience to be inconsistent with the safety and welfare of a Protestant kingdom to be governed by a Popish prince. He was appointed to the committee to bring in a list of the essentials for securing religion, laws and liberties. On 4 Feb. he reported from the committee to prepare reasons for a conference on the state of the throne, declaring: ‘I do not only serve the King as my prince, but—pardon my low expression—as one whom I love’. He twice reported from the conferences which followed, and also from that for the proclamation of the new sovereigns. On 1 Mar. he brought a message from the King about ‘divers cabals against the Government about the town’, and was appointed to the committee to bring in a temporary bill for the suspension of habeas corpus. Three days later he was sent to desire a conference on the address promising support to the King. He was appointed to the committee to inquire into the authors and advisers of the grievances of the last two reigns. He spoke in favour of an address on the Ipswich mutiny and took the chair in the drafting committee. It was on Hampden’s recommendation that the King agreed to abolish the hearth tax, and he was appointed to the committee for the bill. He helped to manage the conference on the removal and disarming of Papists. Hampden, by his own account, was the only English politician whom William consulted on the religious settlement; he was willing to excuse beneficed clergymen from the new oath of allegiance, but, even as chairman of the committee to draw up reasons for a conference on the subject, he could not carry the Whigs with him. On 8 May he opposed the proviso to the bill of rights that nothing in it should ‘prejudice the right of any Protestant Prince or Princess in their hereditary succession’ on the grounds that it would enable James II’s son to succeed if he became a convert. He carried the toleration bill to the Lords on 17 May and reported a conference five days later, making ‘as few differences with the Lords as I can’ in his anxiety to expedite the measure. On the bill of indemnity he thought that the precedent of 1660 should be followed by excepting a definite number of offenders: but here again the Whig pressure for the exclusion of all who could be inculpated under various categories was too strong for him. He was chairman of the grand committee for the suspension of habeas corpus, and carried the bill to the Upper House on 25 May. He invited Tenison to preach to the House on 5 June, and was ordered to thank him for his sermon. He reported three more conferences in the first session: those on the tea, coffee and chocolate duties, on the reversal of Titus Oates’s conviction, and on the attainder of the Jacobite rebels in Ireland. He also carried the bills for repayment to the Dutch of their expenses in the liberation and for prohibiting trade with France, and acted as teller against the reference to the Quakers in the security bill. After the recess he secured as chairman of supply a grant of £2,000,000 ‘for a vigorous prosecution of the war with France, both by sea and land’. On 20 Dec. he attended the King with a request that Commissary Shales should be sent over from Ireland in custody, and on the next day he reported the address on the miscarriages of the war. In the debate on restoring corporations he supported the disabling clause, wishing ‘that they who gave up charters might be liable to this penalty, though they were a majority’.7

Hampden regained the county seat at the general election, and sat for Buckinghamshire for the rest of his life as a court Whig and (until 1694) a member of the Government. He died on 12 Dec. 1695 and was buried at Great Hampden.8

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Leonard Naylor / M. W. Helms / Eveline Cruickshanks

Notes

  • 1. Merc. Pub. 12 Apr. 1660; CP, iv. 609-10; DNB; Lipscomb, Bucks. ii. 260; CSP Dom. 1694-5, p. 204; 1695, p. 112.
  • 2. Keeler, Long Parl. 202; M. Sylvester, Reliquae Baxterianae, ii. 448; CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 338.
  • 3. Milward, 300; Grey, i. 130; vi. 132, 152; Dering, 104, 351; Witcombe, Cavalier Parliament, 163; Dalrymple, Mems. i. 357, 382; Browning, Danby, i. 312.