HARTOPP, Sir William (c.1626-at least 1692), of Rotherby, Leics.

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



Family and Education

b. c.1626, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Hartopp of Burton Lazars by 1st w. Dorothy, da. of Sir Thomas Bendish, 1st Bt. of Steeple Bumpstead, Essex. educ. Bumpstead (Mr Thorbeck); St. John’s, Camb. adm. 20 Apr. 1642, aged 16; M. Temple 1646. m. (1) 12 Aug. 1649, Agnes (bur. 26 June 1667), da. of Sir Martin Lister of Thorpe Arnold, Leics., 2s. 3da.; (2) settlement 4 Dec. 1668, Elizabeth, da. of John Poulett, 1st Baron Poulett of Hinton, wid. of William Ashburnham of Chiswick, Mdx., s.p. Kntd. 19 June 1660; suc. fa. 1661.1

Offices Held

Maj. of militia ft. Leics. Apr. 1660, j.p. July 1660-85, commr. for assessment, Leics. Aug. 1660-80, Leicester 1664-9, enclosures, Deeping fen 1665; dep. lt. Leics. 1667-?81, receiver of taxes 1677-8.2

Gent. of the privy chamber 1675-85; proofmaster of ordnance by 1692.3


Hartopp came of a strongly parliamentarian family. His father, a second cousin of Sir John Hartopp, served on the Leicestershire county committee, acquired Rotherby in 1654, and after marrying the widowed mother of Sir Thomas Mackworth held local office in Rutland throughout the Interregnum. Another cousin, and also brother-in-law, William Hartopp of Little Dalby, was probably a security commissioner under the Protectorate. But Hartopp himself apparently imbibed royalist views from the Mackworths, and was knighted at the Restoration.4

Hartopp was involved in a double return for Leicester at the general election of 1661, but his name was on both indentures and he took his seat at once. An inactive Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was appointed to the committee of elections and privileges in nine sessions and to only eight others, none of them of major political significance, and he defaulted on a call of the House in 1668. He reported to the mayor of Leicester that when Parliament assembled for the 1674 session:

There was great calmness in the House, and I hope it is a sign of unanimity in that place, the contrary to which can be no less than ruin to us all. ... There was a very great appearance in the House of Commons, more numerous than I e’er did see it heretofore.

On receiving the government whip from (Sir) Joseph Williamson for the autumn session of 1675, he replied:

His Majesty being resolved of our meeting on the 13th, I hope they will be firm in his honour and happiness: I am certain my vote will ever be so. I hope to be in London on the 13th, and shall be very impatient till I have presented you my humble service.

But in December, Sir Richard Wiseman, apparently unaware of his connexion with Williamson, wrote that he

was a most steady man last sessions. He is acquainted with none of us, and I know not any that correspond with him. He ought to know by somebody how well the King approves and takes notice of his services.

Hartopp’s name duly appeared on the working lists among the Members ‘to be remembered’, and he was assigned to the management of Sir Robert Carr. He was made receiver of taxes in 1677, and marked ‘doubly vile’ on Shaftesbury’s list. On 27 Dec. he wrote to Williamson

I am very glad to hear of the approaching Parliament. At my first coming to London I shall give you my humble respects, and shall heartily rejoice that some may be found to disappoint those that desire the overturning of this kingdom.

But in the event he was detained in the country by ‘a violent fit of gout’, and Williamson listed him among those Members ‘wanting’ in a debate. Nevertheless he was on both lists of the court party in 1678, and described in A Seasonable Argument as ‘a pensioner of £200 p.a., and promised to be clerk of the kitchen. Threatens to sue his town for his wages because he hears they will choose him no more’.5

Hartopp did not in fact stand in 1679, and in a list of the Leicestershire commission of the peace in November 1680 it was noted that he was ‘very much in debt, absconds, and goes by another name’. Ormonde obtained an Oxford fellowship for his younger son in 1684 on the grounds that Hartopp’s ‘loyalty and service to the King have reduced his income [by] £2,000 p.a.’. By 1692 he was serving as gentleman proofmaster in the Ordnance at £20 p.a. The date of his death has not been ascertained. His elder son retained some property in the county, but no later member of the family entered Parliament.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Nichols, Leics. ii. 267; Reps. Assoc. Architectural Soc. xxiv. 86; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 78; PCC 178 May.
  • 2. Merc. Pub. 12 Apr. 1660; SP44/20/141A; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 431.
  • 3. Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 192; HMC Lords, iv. 190.
  • 4. Nichols, ii. 128, 152, 267; iii. 397.
  • 5. Recs. Bor. Leicester ed. Stocks, iv. 534; CSP Dom. 1675-6, p. 318; 1677-8, pp. 473, 571.
  • 6. HMC Lords, i. 182-3; iv. 190; CSP Dom. 1683-4, p. 379; HMC Ormonde, n.s. iv. 638.