HOPKINS, Richard I (c.1612-82), of Palace Yard, Earl Street, Coventry, Warws and the Inner Temple.
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Family and Education
b. c.1612, 3rd s. of Sampson Hopkins†, draper (d.1622), of Coventry, being o.s. by 2nd w. Jane, da. of one Butts. educ. I. Temple, entered 1630, called 1639; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1631. m. Sarah, da. of William Jesson, dyer, of Coventry, 6s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. Kntd. 1 Sept. 1660.1
Steward of borough court, Coventry 1647-d.; commr. for assessment, Coventry 1648-9, Aug. 1660-1, Warws. and Coventry 1650-2, Jan. 1660, 1661-80 Warws. 1657; j.p. Warws. 1649-d.; commr. for militia, Warws. and Coventry 1659, Mar. 1660; bencher, I. Temple 1660, reader 1664; dep. lt. Coventry 1661-d.; commr. for loyal and indigent officers, Warws. 1662.2
Hopkins’s ancestors were prominent in municipal affairs in Elizabethan Coventry, and his father, a Puritan, was the first of the family to enter Parliament, representing the borough in 1614 and 1621. Hopkins himself, a lawyer, was presumably a passive Parliamentarian in the Civil War. As legal adviser to the corporation since 1647, he was successful at a very confused general election in 1660. He was named to the committee of elections and privileges and to that for the continuation of judicial proceedings (22 May). On 18 June he proposed the regicide Miles Corbet† for exception from pardon. When a speech attributed to his colleague Robert Beake was printed, he was appointed to the committee of inquiry into this breach of privilege, and also to those to consider a petition from the intruded Oxford dons and a proviso to the indemnity bill concerning John Hutchinson. Although describing himself as no favourer of the Papists, he thought that the proviso to the bill requiring its beneficiaries to take the oaths should be laid aside. The Coventry election was declared void on 31 July, but Hopkins, unlike Beake, was re-elected a fortnight later. He was knighted on the eve of the autumn recess when the corporation surrendered the crown lands which they had purchased in 1649 and presented the King with a basin and ewer and 50 pieces of gold. During the second session of the Convention, Hopkins was added to the committees on the bills to settle the militia, to explain the poll-tax and to establish the Post Office. He urged the House to give more time to debating the militia bill, reported the bill to enable George Faunt to sever the entail on his estate, and seconded the motion for a grant of £1,000 to Jane Lane for assisting Charles II to escape after the battle of Worcester. But he was not an active Member, being appointed in all to nine committees and making four recorded speeches.3
Hopkins lost his seat at the general election of 1661, but remained the most active magistrate in the county. He was raised to the coif under the Cabal, but passed over for further promotion. When Lord Conway asked him in 1676 to curb his son’s opposition to the Danby administration,
Sir Richard Hopkins said he had no reason to concern himself in that matter, for there were two puisne serjeants-at-law to him already put over his head, and called up to the bench before him; but if, upon the death of any of the ancient judges, he might be preferred to be a judge in any of the King’s courts he would not only make his son go right in the King’s business, but several others of his friends that went in the House of Commons as perversely as his son did.
Danby replied that the King was resolved never ‘to make such a fixed bargain’, that could be boasted of to his disadvantage later, but added, ‘he shall not fear to find the effects of the King’s kindness to his satisfaction, if he demonstrate to his Majesty the effects of his service, and that, if he will not depend upon this assurance his Majesty had better want his assistance than lose many others by the umbrage which will be given by any other sort of proceeding’. He died on a visit to his sister-in-law at Lymington and was buried there on 16 July 1682.4