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HAMPDEN, John (c.1695-1754), of Great Hampden, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. c.1695, 2nd s. of John Hampden, M.P., of Great Hampden by his 2nd w. Anne, 2nd da. and coh. of Hon. Frederick Cornwallis (2nd s. of the 1st Baron Cornwallis), and mat. aunt of Anthony Duncombe, 1st Lord Feversham. unm. suc. e. bro. Richard Hampden at Great Hampden 1728.
Page of honour of the royal stables bef. 1713-c.1715; capt. Col. Sir Robert Rich’s regt. of Dragoons c.1715-18; commissary gen. for Gibraltar 1735-47.
John Hampden, ‘a very sensible and observing man [who] would have made a figure in the world if his unfortunate brother Richard had not ruined the estate’, succeeded in 1728 to an inheritance which was entirely in the hands of government appointed trustees. However, by the sale of outlying properties, arrangements were made for him to retain Great Hampden and Wendover,1 with its parliamentary interest; and, though he wrote to his steward in 1737 that he had ‘been cheated out of a vast sum’, his brother’s debts to the Crown were cleared or written off by 1739. Returned as a Whig for Wendover in 1734 he was granted a lucrative place, voting with the Administration in all the chief divisions, though he was among the ministerial supporters who voted against them on Pitt’s motion of October 1745 to recall all British troops from Flanders. He spoke in support of a Quakers bill in May 1736 but no other speech of his is known for the next 15 years. During this period he sold his Wendover manors and interest to Ralph, Lord Verney, with whom, at the cost of six guineas a vote,2 he was returned in 1741. He took care, apparently, to retain for himself a life interest in one of the seats, for he was again elected in 1747. Horace Walpole relates that when Pitt declared for 10,000 instead of 8,000 seamen in January 1751,
he was attacked by Hampden, who had every attribute of a buffoon but cowardice and none of the qualifications of his renowned ancestor but courage. He drew a burlesque picture of Pitt and Lyttleton under the titles of Oratory and Solemnity, and painted in the most comic colours what mischief rhetoric had brought upon the nation and what emoluments to Pitt. Pitt flamed into a rage and nodded menaces of highest import to Hampden, who retorted them, undaunted, with a droll voice that was naturally hoarse and inarticulate.
Walpole also wrote that Hampden ‘hates the cousinhood [Pitt, Lyttelton, and the Grenvilles] and thinks his name should entitle him to Pitt’s office’. In January 1752 he opposed Lord Harley’s motion against subsidy treaties in time of peace ‘but, with a sneer, said that he approved bribing electors, as he saw by other instances how it had contributed to quash opposition’. A year later he spoke in favour of Lord Hardwicke’s marriage bill.3 At the time of his death, 4 Feb. 1754, he was receiving a secret service pension of £1,000 a year,4 presumably in lieu of his office which, in 1747, had become incompatible with a seat in the Commons under the Place Act of 1742.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: R. S. Lea
- 1. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxvii, p. 511; Cal. Treas. Bks. and Pprs., 1720-28, pp. 401-2; 1729-30, pp. 85, 167; HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 508.
- 2. Hampden to Henry Harding, 1 Jan. 1737, Earl of Buckinghamshire's mss 39/25, 39/31, 40/41, Bucks. RO; Cal. Treas. Bks. and Pprs. 1739-41, p. 127; Malmesbury Letters, i. 8.
- 3. Walpole, Mems. Geo. II, i. 18, 254, 342; Walpole to Mann, 9 Feb. 1751.
- 4. Add. 33038, f. 352.