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JOHN HAMPDEN.*

[1594—1643.]

FEW private individuals, in any age or nation, have acquired or deserved greater honour than John Hampden, whose memory is revered to this hour by every lover of his country and every friend to the rights of mankind. As it is the chief object of civil society to provide for the welfare of the whole by delegating authority to one or more officers under certain prescribed limitations, it appears naturally to follow from this consideration that, failing in the execution of their duties, such officers may be lawfully stripped of their function: and those illustrious characters, who have been instrumental in resisting their encroachments, whether under the name of

Emperors,' of Kings,' of · Protectors, or of republican magistrates, will ever be considered, when the tide of passion and prejudice has had it's flow, as genuine patriots.

John Hampden, the son of John Hampden Esq. descended from an ancient family of that name, whose paternal estate was situated at Great Hampden in

AUTHORITIES. Warwick's Memoirs of the Reign of Charles I., Clarendon's History of the Rebellion, and Macauley's History of England.

Buckinghamshire, and of Elizabeth second daughter of Sir Henry Cromwell,* was born in London in 1594. At fifteen, he was admitted a GentlemanCommoner of Magdalen College, Oxford; but he took no degree. From Oxford he removed to one of the Inns of Court, and closely applied himself to the study of the lawt till the death of his parents, which occurred in the course of a few years. Upon this event succeeding to an ample fortune, he indulged with other young men in some of the dissipations of his age; though he subsequently adopted a more reserved and austere mode of life, and courted the society of persons of graver dispositions.

He preserved, however, in his temper a natural vivacity and cheerfulness; and by a complete personal reform qualified himself for those public duties, in the discharge of which he afterward rendered himself so conspicuous. In 1621, he sate in parliament for Grampound; and in 1625, for Wendover, a borough in the neighbourhood of his own seat. In 1626, he was confined in Hampshire, for having resisted an arbitrary loan. In the course of the latter year, he was elected a member of the second parliament of Charles I.; and about the same time he married a daughter of Thomas Foley Esq., great-grandfather to the first Lord Foley, then the widow of Edward Knightley, Esq. of Northamptonshire. He no sooner took his seat as a senator, than he vigorously promoted an inquiry into the national grievances, strenuously recommended an application to the throne

* The grandfather of Oliver Cromwell.

+ Sir Philip Warwick observes, that he had great know. ledge both in scholarship and the law.'

for redress before any permanent revenue was settled on the new Sovereign, and declared himself an adversary of the Duke of Buckingham. This line of conduct endeared him to the leading members of opposition, by whom, as he likewise possessed the talent of speaking well, he was deemed a great acquisition. In 1628, when he was again returned for Wendover, he narrowly escaped imprisonment with some others (called, the Riotous Members') who were committed to the Tower for having locked the doors of the House and held the Speaker in the chair, while the famous protestation was read against innovations in religion, and the levying of tonnage and poundage without consent of parliament. But, though he was omitted in this warrant, he was soon afterward taken into custody in consequence of having refused to supply the King with money on an illegal loan.

His patriotic character now began to display itself without doors; but it was not generally known till the year 1636, when the eyes not only of his countrymen, but of all Europe, were fixed upon him. They beheld with astonishment a private gentleman ( a simple individual,' as he is stiled by some foreign writers) standing forth singly to assert the rights of his fellow-subjects, invaded in his person by the exaction of ship-money, against the united efforts of the King, the ministry, the crown-lawyers, and the numerous dependents of a court; all of them inter, ested in many instances, against their own consciences) to oppress, or to defame, him for presuming to dispute the will of his Sovereign. Unawed however by authority, and unabashed by calumny, he

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resolutely sustained the whole weight of royal vengeance for contemned prerogative.

And what made this, his noble resistance against the encroachments of arbitrary power, the more extraordinary was, that the King had newly fortified himself with an opinion of the twelve Judges, • that it was lawful for him, when the good and safety of the kingdom is in danger, by writ under the great seal of England to command all his subjects at their charge to provide and furnish such a number of ships with men, victuals, and ammunition, and for such a time as his Majesty should think fit, &c.

The case, with respect to Hampden, stood as follows: He was rated at twenty shillings, for an estate which he held at Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire. Rightly judging, that this was the proper crisis to try the merits of the impost, he refused to pay it: Upon this, he was prosecuted by the Crown in the Court of Exchequer, where the cause was brought to a solemn trial. To render the issue more decisive in all subsequent cases, the barons requested the assistance of their brethren. It was argued for twelve days by the most eminent counsel at the bar, and in the end, as might have been expected, determined against Mr. Hampden.* The Judges however were not unanimous, as they had previously been, when they delivered their opinion

* The arguments of Hutton and Crooke, with the certificate of Denham, were published in 1641, and give many copious and constitutional views of the subject.

Hampden had previously, with some others, engaged a vessel to convey them to New England, in order to escape the tyranny

to the King. Weston, Crawley, Berkeley, Vernon, Trevor, Finch, Bramston, and Smith gave the cause in favour of the Crown: Hutton, C. P., Crooke, K. B., and Denham of the Exchequer were for Mr. Hampden; and the judgement of Jones was, “ that Hampden should pay ship-money, with this condition however, that none of it should pass into the King's purse, as if it did, his opinion was against it.' From this time, Mr. Hampden received the appellation of the Patriot.'

Lord Clarendon, speaking of the imposition of ship-money, says, “ That pressure was borne with much more cheerfulness before the judgement for the King, than ever it was after: men before pleasing themselves with doing somewhat for the King's service, as a testimony of their affection, which they were not bound to do: many really believing the necessity, and therefore thinking the burthen reasonable; others observing, that the advantage to the King was of importance, when the damage to themselves was not considerable; and all assuring themselves, that when they should be weary or unwilling to continue the payment, they might resort to the law for relief and find it. But when they heard this demanded in a court of law as a right, and found it by sworn judges of the law adjudged so, upon such grounds and reasons as every stander-by was able to

of the Star-Chamber and the High-Commission Courts ; not for the purpose, as Hume sarcastically remarks, of “ enjoying lectures and discourses of any length, or form, which pleased them” (whence that historian would infer, that the ensuing quarrel was rather theological, than political): but Charles I., by an exercise of power fatal to himself, prohibited the projected emigration.

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