The Earl of Buckinghamshire at the Society's 20th anniversary service in Great Hampden Church

The Ship Money monument at Prestwood

The Palace of Westminster in the 17th century

Pyrton Manor, home of John Hampden's first wife

The former Lord Williams's Grammar School, Thame

The Earl of Buckinghamshire at the 350th anniversary ceremony in Thame

St Mary Magdalene church, Great Hampden

Charles I tries to arrest the Five Members in the House of Commons

John Hampden's funeral in 1643

Arthur Goodwin, Hampden's lifelong friend
Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth. Reproduced by permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees.

The Great Hall at Hampden House

St Mary Magdalene church and Hampden House

Hampden's regiment marching through Thame


Why should I join the John Hampden Society?

Some members are happy simply to receive our quarterly newsletter “The Patriot” and to occasionally attend events such as the AGM. However, many others have chosen to become more actively involved by; arranging talks and visits to Hampden related sites, conducting research and writing articles for our newsletter and website.

Members have also collaborated with other groups to conserve monuments and structures with Hampden connections. This has included the erection of battlefield information boards and commemorative plaques.

Members receive priority access to the specialist books held in the Society’s Library.

If you are able to find the time I would encourage you to become an active member of the Society and to even seek election or co-option as a Trustee. All members are welcome to attend the regular meetings of the Executive Committee. The more people actively involved in our work the more that we can achieve.

Why did John Hampden refuse to pay the Ship Money Tax?

Hampden’s legal case against Ship Money was based on the contention that the assessment process was illegal and unprecedented because it was carried out by the county sheriff’s and not by the commissioners as in the past. The case was seen as high profile way  of  testing the legality of the demands being made and not a refusal to pay the tax per se.

Hampden’s lead lawyer, Oliver St John, accepted the principle of the extension of ship money to inland counties since the King’s judges had already twice ruled unanimously that this was legal. St John argued that because Ship Money was a tax that its rate and apportionment required parliamentary consent. Five of the 12 judges trying the case in the Court of King’s Bench agreed with St John but the other seven found in the King’s favour.

The Ship Money Tax was declared illegal at the beginning of the Long Parliament and the outstanding uncollected amounts were never collected. It is unclear if John Hampden ever paid his 20 shillings.

Who erected the Chalgrove Battlefield Monument?

The monument was unveiled on 19th June 1843 by George Grenville, Lord Nugent, Hampden’s first biographer. He obtained subscriptions for the monument from his friends, political allies and others with Hampden family connections. The land on which the monument stands was donated by the Reverend Dickson Hampden DD. Some contemporaries complained that the monument looked unfinished and in 1863 a capstone was added by George Hampden Cameron. The railings that surround the monument were probably erected at the same time.

Where is John Hampden buried?

Hampden’s body was buried in St Mary Magdalene’s the family church beside Hampden House at Great Hampden in Buckinghamshire. Members of his regiment carried the body to Great Hampden from Thame where he had died. It is not known exactly where in the church his body was interred but it is assumed that it is under the floor as was customary. Lord Nugent, Hampden’s first biographer, conducted an excavation in 1828 in an attempt to locate the body. Despite Nugent’s claims to the contrary it is now generally accepted that he failed to conclusively identify where Hampden’s body lies.

Where can I find out more about John Hampden?

The most recent biography “John Hampden, The Patriot” was written by John Adair and can be purchased from the Society via this website.

There is no Hampden Archive as such. Some Hampden family records and papers can be found in the Buckinghamshire Archive (formerly the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies) in Aylesbury. The centre is open Tuesday to Thursday from 9am to 5.15pm and 9am to 3.45pm on the first and third Saturdays of the month. Check the Centre’s website for any changes.

Details of opening hours during the lock down can be found at Bucks Archives

Please do not hesitate to contact the Society if you know where any records or papers relating to John Hampden are located.

What was the cause of Hampden’s death and where did he die?

The general consensus is that Hampden died as result of an infected bullet wound to his shoulder received at the Battle of Chalgrove. This explanation is supported by contemporary accounts.

An alternative story suggests that Hampden was mortally wounded in the hand when he fired his pistol and it exploded because it had been mistakenly double-charged. However this story, although often repeated, is now usually agreed to be a later fabrication.

Hampden died on 24th June 1643 in an upstairs room at the home of Ezekiel Browne on the High Street in Thame, Oxfordshire. The property subsequently became the Greyhound Inn and is now part of a supermarket. A memorial embedded in the outside wall marks the site of the building where Hampden died.

What was Ship Money?

Ship money was a medieval tax levied in England during times of war in order to fund the equipping of a navy. It was traditionally only assessed on the inhabitants of coastal areas and it was one of several taxes that English monarchs could levy by their prerogative right without the approval of Parliament. In 1619 James I levied £40,000 of ship money on London and other seaport towns without arousing any popular opposition.

The attempt by King Charles I from 1634 onwards to levy ship money during peacetime and to extend it, without Parliamentary approval, to the inhabitants of the inland counties of England provoked increasingly fierce resistance, and was one of the grievances of the English propertied class in the lead-up to the English Civil War.

What happened at the battle of Chalgrove?

In summary, the battle was contested by a flying column led by Prince Rupert that left the besieged City of Oxford late on 17th June 1643 and an informal collection of parliamentarian cavalry, billeted in and around Thame, and hastily assembled early on the morning of 18th June in response to news of Rupert’s raid that was still in progress.

The main engagement began when Prince Rupert, whilst in the process of escorting prisoners and looted livestock back into Royalist Oxford, chose to turn and fight his parliamentarian pursuers in a corn field not far from the village of Chalgrove. During this relatively brief engagement the royalists routed their disorganised pursuers. The parliamentarian survivors fled. Hampden was wounded at an early stage in this action. He rode off the battlefield to Thame where he died six days later.

The details of the events of 17th – 18th June 1643 remain disputed. The latest published research suggests that historians may have misunderstood the nature and importance of the battle, the number of combatants involved and even the location where Hampden received his mortal wounds. Gill and Derek Lester have set out a radical reassessment of the battle in their article reported in the Oxoniensia journal 2015.

What became of Colonel Hampden’s regiment of Foot after his death?

The regiment survived Hampden’s death and was briefly commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William Barriff who died in July 1643. He is chiefly remembered as the author of “Military Discipline: or The Yong (sic) Artillery Man”. He was succeeded by Colonel Tyrill and the regiment saw action at the First Battle of Newbury on 20th September 1643, Lostwithiel in August 1644 and the Second Battle of Newbury in October 1644.

In October 1644 command passed to the future regicide, Colonel Richard Ingoldsby. He had been an officer in the regiment since long before Hampden’s death. Richard Cromwell said of him “Here is Dick Ingoldsby who can neither pray nor preach, and yet I will trust him before ye all”. The regiment was absorbed into the New Model Army in April 1645 as Colonel Ingoldsby’s Regiment of Foot and it was still in existence at the time of the Restoration in 1660.

Was Sir Winston Churchill a descendant of John Hampden?

John Hampden was Sir Winston Churchill’s eight times great-grand father. Churchill was descended from Hampden’s daughter Ruth who married Sir Thomas Trevor.

Winston Churchill’s family tree

Was John Hampden the Patriot also known as Sir John Hampden of The Hill?

No, they were two separate people. Sir John Hampden (died 1553) lived at Great Hampden in Buckinghamshire and is buried there. He had three daughters but no sons. He bequeathed the bulk of his estate to a distant relative, also called John Hampden, who was,the great grandfather of John Hampden MP “The Patriot”.  It is common to find postings on the internet that confuse or merge the identities of the two men.

I believe that I am a descendant of John Hampden can you help to trace my ancestry?

If you have not done so already you should consult the genealogy section of this website. The Society does not provide a formal family history service but requests for assistance emailed to and will be responded to.

How was John Hampden related to Oliver Cromwell?

Hampden and Cromwell were first cousins. John Hampden’s mother Elizabeth was the sister of Oliver Cromwell’s father, Robert Cromwell. When the Civil War began in 1642 Hampden was far better known as a public figure and a much more senior politician than his cousin Oliver.

Did the Hampden family line continue after John Hampden’s death in 1643?

The direct male line of the Hampden family ended with the suicide of his grandson John Hampden the only son of the Patriot’s only surviving son Richard Hampden. However the family name continued through the female line. The current Earl of Buckinghamshire, Miles Hobart-Hampden, is descended from Hampden’s daughter Mary who married into the illustrious Hobart (pronounced Hub-art) family.

Did John Hampden own slaves?

John Hampden ‘The Patriot’ did not own slaves or invest in any enterprise based on the use of slave labour. Nor did he either directly or indirectly engage in slave trading. Several of his political associates invested in the short lived Providence Island Company that did own African slaves. Hampden was offered land in Connecticut by Lord Saye and Sele but appears not to have taken up this offer.

The Reverend John Hampden (c. 1785-1847) and his brother the Reverend Renn Hampden, the sons of John Hampden of Christ Church Barbados owned slaves and slave plantations on that island. No genealogical link has been established between the family of the seventeenth century John Hampden and the nineteenth century Barbados based Hampden family. More information is available on the website of the UCL Centre for Study of the Legacies of British Slavery