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 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.