HAMPDEN, Richard II (aft.1674-1728), of Great Hampden, nr. Wendover, Bucks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Feb. 1701 - 1708
1708 - 1710
22 Dec. 1711 - 1715
1715 - 1722
1722 - 1727
1727 - 27 July 1728

Family and Education

b. aft. 1674, 1st s. of John Hampden† of Great Hampden by his 1st w. Sarah, da. of Thomas Foley† of Witley Court, Worcs., wid. of Essex Knightley of Fawsley, Northants., and sis. of Paul*, Philip* and Thomas Foley I*; bro of John Hampden†.  educ. Utrecht 1699.  m. March 1702, his cousin, Isabella, da. of Sir William Ellys, 2nd Bt.*  suc. fa. 1696.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Bath 1713.2

Chairman, cttee. of privileges and elections 1715–22.

Teller of the Exchequer 1716–18; treasurer of the navy 1718–20.


Hampden could have been in no doubt of his family’s role in national affairs. In December 1696 Daniel Baker wrote that the Hampden name ‘has a very great vogue in this country’, and, as if to reinforce the burden, Hampden’s kinsman Sir Edward Harley* soon reminded him of it when proffering some advice to the young man early in 1697: ‘you have the advantage to be descended from many successive persons signally famous in public stations. It is a bright but weighty obligation upon yourself to walk in the course of virtue.’ Both his father and uncle, Richard Hampden I*, had been prominent parliamentary figures, and after the ‘late sad cloud upon your family’ (his father’s suicide), Harley cautioned against that ‘destructive conceit which has been pernicious to many, that there must be a time for young men to sow their wild oats’. Hampden was educated abroad, but returned to capture the family’s traditional seat at Wendover in January 1701. However, he made little impact on this Parliament, being appointed to only two committees of inquiry. After Hampden’s re-election in November, Robert Harley* marked him as absent in his list of December 1701. Returned again in 1702 Hampden acted as a teller on 2 Nov. against a Tory resolution that right had not been done the Commons in the matter of the impeachments. In February 1703 he voted for agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill enlarging the time for taking the Abjuration. By October 1704 Hampden was at The Hague and he was still absent during the controversy over the Tack. Lord Wharton (Hon. Thomas*) wrote to him in December 1704 to urge his return to England in order to prepare for the forthcoming general election. From this letter it is clear that cheaper living costs (and possibly health) were the reasons for Hampden’s residence abroad.3

Re-elected in 1705, Hampden seems to have decided to become more involved in public affairs at home. After the Wendover poll he attended the Aylesbury election, where he was pelted with some stones and subsequently prosecuted his assailants. In October 1705 he took the oaths and qualified to serve as a Buckinghamshire j.p., and was in London in time to vote on 25 Oct. for the Court candidate as Speaker. He was classified as ‘no church’ on an analysis of the new Parliament. He acted as a teller on 16 Feb. 1706 in favour of the committee of privileges hearing the Newcastle-under-Lyme election on the following Tuesday, the Whigs wishing to obtain an early hearing of the case. Two days later he voted against the ‘place clause’ in the regency bill, seeming at this stage to be an adherent of the Junto rather than a more independently minded Country Whig.4

In the 1706–7 session Hampden managed through the House the bill to allow Henry Grey* to change his name. A further indication of his growing activity was his nomination to four committees of inquiry. Finally, on 19 Apr. 1707, he was a teller for those agreeing with the amendments to the bill preventing frauds by drawbacks. In the next session, Hampden’s activity increased further. He was involved in the Junto attack on the Admiralty in November and December 1707 which sought to exploit the grievances of various merchants. Although the attack eventually petered out, it was Hampden who moved the motion on 13 Dec. that the merchants had proved their petition, which led to a bill to prevent the collusive trade in French wine. Hampden continued probing the Admiralty and was involved in the bill for the protection of trade through the provision of cruisers. On 27 Jan. 1708 James Vernon I* reported that Hampden, who chaired the committee of the whole on this bill, had ‘pressed going into this committee’ because ‘the Admiralty of Great Britain is so destitute of council’. On 2 Apr., when the Commons discussed a motion to thank Prince George ‘for his great care in fitting out the fleet that had defeated the design of the French invasion’, Hampden secured the addition of the words ‘under the conduct of Sir George Byng*’. Hampden was also involved in the management of other legislation, reporting three bills to the House, and being named to several drafting committees. Not surprisingly he was listed as a Whig on two lists of early 1708.5

Hampden had decided by December 1707 to contest the county of Buckinghamshire at the ensuing general election and was returned. On 16 Dec. 1708 the House intervened to settle a quarrel between him and Robert Walpole II* (who had been a member of the Prince’s council). The same day he told for a motion to imprison the high bailiff of Westminster. Hampden’s committee appointments show a considerable level of parliamentary activity. His main legislative involvement of the session followed a petition from Tower Hamlets on the non-payment of seamen’s wages. He chaired the committee of the whole on the petition and managed the resultant bill. He also acted as a teller on 15 Apr. for an amendment to a supply bill, in an attempt to force the lord treasurer to release funds for the payment of seamen’s wages. His only other tellership was on 2 Mar. when he opposed the motion for the orders of the day to be read; why is unclear, especially as the next matter under discussion was the bill naturalizing foreign Protestants, for which he voted. During this session he was appointed to two further drafting committees and helped in the management of two private estate bills. Finally, on 21 Mar., he reported from the committee examining the accounts of cruisers and convoys, to which he had been first-named on 26 Nov. 1708. At the beginning of March 1709 John Pringle* grouped Hampden together with John Aislabie, [?Grey] Neville, (Sir) Peter King and ‘one or two of your old brethren’ as Members who made occasional attacks on the ministry, but without success. Ironically, this group was successful on 8 Apr. when they joined with the Scots and the Tories to amend the bill improving the Union so as to restrict the punishment for those convicted of treason to the life of the attainted person (Hampden had been appointed to the drafting committee on the bill to standardize treason laws on 29 Jan.).6

In the 1709–10 session Hampden carried a motion on 30 Nov. for ‘an account to be brought in of all monies paid for service of the navy since her Majesty’s accession to the crown . . . there being a debt of some millions due to the fleet’. He seconded Edward Wortley-Montagu’s motion on 25 Jan. 1710 for a place bill and was nominated to the drafting committee. Other drafting committees included a bill to prevent bribery at elections (14 Feb.), a local road bill which he managed through all its stages in the Commons, and a bill he presented on 11 Mar. preventing French subjects living in France from claiming estates in the Queen’s dominions, which was subsequently dropped ‘upon the private suggestions of some eminent French Protestants’. Naturally, he voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. The ministerial revolution of 1710 saw Hampden tempted with office by its chief architect (and his own kinsman) Robert Harley. Rather astutely, Harley offered him a place on the board of the Treasury, but Hampden replied that ‘he could not serve with those that were for dissolving the Parliament’. He even tried to dissuade the Queen from a dissolution, but was reportedly rebuffed by her answer ‘that though she offered him an employment yet she did not seek his advice’. Hampden then promptly lost his seat at the 1710 election, only returning at a by-election for Berwick in December 1711.7

Back in the Commons Hampden emerged in February 1712 as a leader of the Whig rearguard action against the superior numerical strength of the Tories. Thus, he acted as teller on 5 Feb. against a Tory motion criticizing the provision of troops by the Dutch, and a week later sought to co-ordinate moves in the Lords by telling (on the previous question) for a day to consider the Queen’s latest speech on the progress of the peace negotiations. With the ministry intent on repudiating the Barrier Treaty in order to facilitate the peace negotiations with France, Hampden was on hand on the 14th in committee of the whole to defend the treaty because it guaranteed the Protestant succession, and on the 26th seems to have defended those making the treaty. On 1 Mar. he spoke and acted as a teller in favour of recommitting the Tory ‘representation’ on the conduct of the war and on the 12th told against addressing for an estimate for completing the work on Stirling Castle. He was nominated on 8 Mar. to a committee ordered to inquire into the Daily Courant libel, which was in fact a Dutch complaint against the ministry. He spoke on this issue on the 11th, challenging the idea that one could call the complaint of an ally a libel and declaring that the memorandum had come from the Dutch. On 21 Apr. he told against tacking to the land tax bill a measure to examine crown grants since 1688. On 22 May he ‘spoke with some warmth’ in launching an attack on the ‘state of our affairs’, declaring that ‘we had a lazy and unactive war, a trifling negotiation of peace, we were amused by the ministry at home, and tricked by our enemies abroad’. So virulent was Hampden that Henry St. John II threatened him with the Tower, although other Tories believed him ‘too inconsiderable to bear his brother Walpole [Robert II] company’. Swift felt inspired to make the pun ‘and Hampden to have Walpole’s place’ in his satire of a dinner held by the Calves Head Club to honour the Earl of Nottingham (Daniel Finch†). It was probably this speech which the Dutch printed to vent their anger at the ministry’s conduct. Following his appointment to the address committee to thank the Queen for communicating the peace terms, Hampden spoke on 17 June

that an address should be presented to the Queen, that she would be pleased to give particular instructions to her plenipotentiaries, that, in the conclusion of the treaty of peace, the several powers, in alliance with her Majesty, might be guarantors to the Protestant successor to the crown of these realms, as settled by Act of Parliament, in the illustrious house of Hanover.

The House rejected this proposal, with Hampden telling for the minority.8

Hampden’s financial plight now came into play as Harley (now Lord Oxford) grappled with the need to secure a majority for the peace. It was reported in November 1712 that ‘Mr Hampden is to turn Tory and be made chancellor of the Exchequer’, and when chided with this in December at White’s Hampden replied ‘he was a Whig still, but he was for peace’, and to prove his loyalty gave two guineas towards a subscription for George Ridpath, the principal author of the Flying Post, recently arrested for writing against the ministry. It may have been as early as this that Hampden received money for the Queen’s service paid out of Oxford’s own pocket.9

Hampden may well have begun the 1713 session determined to prove his worth to Oxford for on 10 Apr. he ‘showed himself by voting with the majority’ when the Whigs attempted to amend the Address. On the following day he seconded the unanimous address that the treaties of peace and commerce be laid before the House. However, a few days later Hampden joined with his old allies – King, Sir Richard Onslow, 3rd Bt., and Nicholas Lechmere – to oppose the naval estimate of only 30,000 men because the peace terms were not yet known. In May he became heavily involved in the campaign against the commercial treaty with France. On the 6th he joined other Whigs in ‘a pretty warm’ debate on the second reading of the bill suspending the additional duty on French wine for two months, taking the occasion to attack the peace in general. He told on the 14th in favour of reading the merchants’ petitions and on the following day in favour of committing the bill to a committee of the whole. On 3 June he proposed a motion, subsequently carried despite opposition from the Court, that the Queen be asked to furnish details of the equivalent promised to Louis XIV for demolishing Dunkirk and what would happen if this equivalent were not carried out. On the 18th he spoke and voted against the French commerce bill. On the 26th, in committee of the whole on the civil list debt, Hampden claimed that ‘there was nothing owing, but this would be a fine sum to lay out in the next election’.10

At the end of the 1713 session Kreienberg reported to Robethon that Hampden had visited the Queen at Kensington and told her some home truths about public affairs. The same correspondent described him as having zealous affections ‘pour la maison et succession protestante’. This visit was probably the one mentioned in the Examiner at which Hampden was accused of expressing regret when he found that the Queen was not ill. At the next general election he stood for Buckinghamshire and was defeated, but this time he had taken the precaution of also securing his return for Berwick and Wendover. In September 1713 he approached Oxford, possibly for a diplomatic post, and in November was writing to the Lord Treasurer to remind him of this request.11

At the beginning of the 1714 session Defoe informed Oxford of a design of the Whigs for Richard Steele* to make speeches in the Commons and then publish them: Hampden’s spare seat at Wendover was to be used to re-elect Steele if he were to be unseated for Stockbridge. In fact when Hampden chose to sit for Berwick on 3 Mar. James Stanhope was returned for Wendover. There were indications that Hampden was not present at the start of the session, for on 13 Mar., when proceedings against Steele were put off until the 18th, it was widely believed that the delay was to allow time for Hampden and other Whig leaders to attend. Hampden was present by the 17th, and duly voted on the 18th against Steele’s expulsion. However, Hampden may have been in dire straits, for on 14 Apr. he was trying to wait on Oxford. On 22 Apr. he spoke against the Commons joining the Lords in an address praising the Queen for securing peace despite ‘obstructions’ placed in the way. By May Hampden’s financial plight and Oxford’s need for allies had thrown the two men together. Hampden’s lament on the 11th that ‘’tis very difficult for me to stand by myself, and to be of no side, nor have any friend’, is suggestive of pandering to Harley’s basic political maxim of avoiding reliance on any one party. This may explain why Hampden is noted on the Worsley list as a Whig who often voted with the Tories. Clearly, rather than outright rejection of the Whigs, Hampden was thinking of service abroad as a means of living cheaply, or at the very least of residence in Holland. It seems that Oxford could only keep him in London by doling out cash payments, such as the £400 in July, and after one such payment Hampden wrote of his regret at having been ‘a slave to those who never meant any thing but themselves . . . I am sure my conversion is sincere’. He was in the House on 1 June to oppose the third reading of the schism bill, a measure Oxford voted for but with which he was profoundly out of sympathy, and on the 23rd acted as a teller for agreeing to the Lords’ amendment extending the Toleration Act to Ireland.12

The accession of George I saw Hampden in a struggle to regain his county seat in the face of an agreement between the two parties to divide the representation. In the event, Hampden was able to elbow aside the Whig nominee and take his place in the ‘comprehension’. The propaganda launched by Hampden in this campaign made great appeal to what Browne Willis* called ‘the good cause, or old interest which he never will forsake’. Hampden was classed as a Whig on two lists of MPs re-elected in 1715, and no doubt was able to parade his Whig credentials, including, perhaps, the report noted after his death that he had been willing to take up the armed struggle for the house of Hanover.13

Hampden’s career flourished under George I with appointment to several lucrative offices in turn, until as treasurer of the navy he invested government money in the South Sea Company and ended owing the Exchequer £73,706. Following a separation from his wife in 1725, a private Act was eventually required to secure part of the debt and his wife’s jointure, leaving him a fixed sum upon which to live. In straitened circumstances he was forced to exploit family tradition in an attempt to extract maintenance out of the Whig ministers. To Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) he could declare that, although he would accept a pension, ‘I have always had a mean opinion of them’, and when soliciting an ambassadorial post he referred to ‘the remembrance of his ancestors’ services and sufferings for the protestant cause, and his own constant attachment to the interest of his present majesty and his family’. His ?nancial affairs still in disorder, Hampden died on 27 July 1728.14

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. M. Noble, House of Cromwell, 104–20; Huntington Lib. HM 30659/88, newsletter March 1701–2; J. Habakkuk, Marriage, Debt and the Estates System, 275.
  • 2. Bath AO, chamberlains’ accts. (modern list).
  • 3. BL, Verney mss mic. 636/49, Baker to John Verney* (Ld. Fermanagh), 5 Dec. 1696; Add. 70127, Sir Edward Harley to Hampden, 24 Feb. 1696[–7]; 70230, Hampden to Robert Harley, 12 Oct. 1704 N.S.; E. Suss. RO, Glynde mss 795, Wharton to Hampden, 1 Dec. 1704.
  • 4. Bucks. Sessional Recs. iii. 15, 19, 22.
  • 5. Cunningham, Hist. GB, i. 460; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 293, 326; 7th Duke of Manchester, Court and Soc. Eliz. to Anne, ii. 331.
  • 6. Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 169; Cunningham, ii. 210–11; SRO, Ogilvy of Inverquharity mss GD205/34/4, Pringle to William Bennet*, 1 Mar. 1709.
  • 7. Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 517; Add. 70435, newsletter 26 Jan. 1709[–10]; Bull. IHR, xxxix. 60; Rapin, Hist. Eng. ii. 162; Wentworth Pprs. 131, 135, 138; G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 196; Addison Letters, 233; Surr. RO (Guildford), Midleton mss 1248?3, f. 9.
  • 8. D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pol. 97, 99, 108–9; Add. 17677 FFF, ff. 84, 209, 250; 61461, f. 151; NSA, Kreienberg despatches 15 Feb., 4 Mar., 15 Apr., 23 May, 17 June 1712; SRO, Leven and Melville mss GD26/13/158, 22 May 1712; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. vi. 1134, 1165; Boyer, Pol. State, vi. 126; Verney Letters 18th Cent. 272.
  • 9. Poems on Affairs of State ed. Ellis, vii. 569; Holmes, 49; Wentworth Pprs. 305, 310; HMC Portland, v. 481.
  • 10. Hervey Letterbks. i. 355; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 7, ff. 129–30; Kreienberg despatch 21 Apr. 1713; BL, Trumbull mss Add. mss 136, Ralph Bridges to Sir William Trumbull*, 8 May 1713; Alphab. 51, James Bateman to Trumbull, 3 June 1713; Rapin, 320; Wentworth Pprs. 339.
  • 11. Huntington Lib. HM 44710, Kreienberg to Robethon, 15 July [?1713]; Hamilton Diary, 57, 102; Add. 70230, Hampden to Oxford, 13 Sept., 10 Nov. 1713.
  • 12. HMC Portland, v. 334, 384, 481; Cobbett, vi. 1267; Douglas diary, 22 Apr. 1714 (Hist. of Parl. trans.); Bodl. Ballard 25, f. 113; Rapin, 360; Add. 70230, Hampden to Oxford, 11 May 1714, n.d.
  • 13. Huntington Lib. Ellesmere mss EL10770, Willis to Ld. Cheyne (Hon. William*), 15 Dec. 1714; HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 509; Verney Letters 18th Cent. 317–20.
  • 14. Habakkuk, 323–4; Add. 61650, ff. 109–10; Verney Letters 18th Cent. ii. 176.