HOPSON, Thomas (1643-1717), of Weybridge, Surr.
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Family and Education
bap. 5 Apr. 1643, s. of Anthony Hopson of Shalfleet, I.o.W. m. 1 June 1680, Elizabeth (d. 1740), da. of John Timbrell of Portsmouth, Hants, 1s. 4da. (1 d.v.p.). Kntd. 29 Nov. 1702.1
Midshipman, RN by 1669, 2nd lt. 1672, 1st lt. 1676, capt. 1678, r.-adm. 1693, v.-adm. 1693; ensign, Maj. Oliver Nicholas’ Ft. Coy. Portsmouth garrison by 1682; lt. 1 Ft. Gds. 1685, capt. and lt.-col. 1692–6; c.-in-c. squadron in Channel 1694, 1699; commr. of navy 1702–14.2
Gov. Greenwich Hosp. 1704–8.3
Hopson’s family had acquired Ningwood in the Isle of Wight, formerly monastic property, in the mid-16th century. Subsequently their fortunes declined and his uncle, Thomas Hopson, having sold Ningwood early in the 1630s, was imprisoned for debt in 1652. His father, a younger son, continued to live in the Isle of Wight, where Hopson was born. Little is known of his early career, but he seems to have joined the navy by 1662. At the outbreak of the third Dutch war he was appointed second lieutenant of the Dreadnought. He served throughout the war and in March 1678 while in the Mediterranean was promoted captain of a prize ship by Admiral Arthur Herbert†. Returning to England in 1679 he was out of active service for a while, but by 1682 was an ensign in a foot company in the Portsmouth garrison. Relieved from these duties in January 1682 to serve as captain of the Swan, he accompanied Lord Dartmouth (George Legge†) on the Tangier expedition. There is no further record of his naval service for the next few years and in 1685 he became a lieutenant in the foot guards. In 1688 he was appointed captain of the Bonaventure by James II which was part of the fleet ordered to sea on news of the impending landing of William of Orange. After the Revolution he remained in service, taking part in the battles of Beachy Head and Barfleur. In 1693, having been promoted to rear-admiral, he was second in command to Sir George Rooke* on the squadron in charge of the ill-fated Smyrna convoy. His own share in this action was not criticized in the subsequent inquiry into the incident. He returned to the Mediterranean in the autumn of 1693 as a vice-admiral, convoying the Cadiz fleet safely home in April of the following year and later that same summer was in command of the squadron blockading Dunkirk. He remained on naval service until the end of the war. In the army he had been promoted to a captaincy in 1692 on the recommendation of Admiral Edward Russell*, later 1st Earl of Orford, but he retired from the foot guards in 1696.4
Returned in 1698 for Newtown on the interest of the governor, Lord Cutts (John*), Hopson was listed as a placeman in July 1698 and as a Court placeman in an analysis of the new Parliament of about September. He did not take an active part in proceedings and in 1699 was back at sea in command of a squadron observing the French coast. In early 1700 he was again listed as a placeman. In the summer of that year he was part of the fleet sent under Rooke to try to force Denmark to make peace in the Northern war. He was listed in February 1701 as likely to support the Court in agreeing with the supply committee’s resolution to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’. In the December 1701 Parliament he was classed as a Tory by Robert Harley* and supported the motion of 26 Feb. 1702 vindicating the Commons’ proceedings in the impeachment of William’s Whig ministers. After the accession of Queen Anne he accompanied Rooke on the 1702 expedition to Cadiz, particularly distinguishing himself in the attack on Vigo.5
On his return to England Hopson retired from active service, having been rewarded with a knighthood, an appointment as commissioner of the navy with a salary of £500 p.a., and a pension of £352 p.a. The lord high admiral, Prince George,
advised against paying him half-pay as vice-admiral of the Red while and notwithstanding he is acting as a commissioner of the navy, lest it should create a precedent, but has recommended giving him a pension in consideration of his good services.
Hopson continued to represent Newtown in 1702 and in January 1703 he was given permission to attend the Lords’ inquiry into the previous summer’s expedition. Forecast as an opponent of the Tack, and one of a number of naval officers lobbied by George Churchill* to attend the division, he either voted against it or was absent on 28 Nov. Listed as a placeman in 1705, he did not stand for Parliament again, although he remained on the Navy Board until 1714. The later years of his life were spent in retirement at the house he had purchased in 1700 at Weybridge, where he died on 12 Oct. 1717.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Paula Watson / Sonya Wynne
- 1. Manning and Bray, Surr. ii. 790–1; PCC 22 Rethven; Soc. of Geneal. index to par. regs.
- 2. Info. from Dr P. J. Le Fevre; G. Duckett, Naval Commrs. 6; CSP Dom. 1682, p. 519.
- 3. Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 378; vi. 296.
- 4. Charnock, Biog. Navalis, ii. 50–52; Tangier Pprs. of Pepys (Navy Recs. Soc. lxxiii), 144, 274, 277; CSP Dom. 1689–90, p. 396; 1693, p. 397; 1694–5, pp. 215, 246; Luttrell, iii. 227, 291, 369; HMC Lords, n.s. i. 109, 201, 210, 218; HMC Finch, iv. 178, 201.
- 5. Charnock, 53–54; Luttrell, iv. 534; CSP Dom. 1700–2, pp. 12, 322.
- 6. CSP Dom. 1703–4, p. 454; Speck thesis, 126; Manning and Bray, 790; info. from Dr Le Fevre.