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John Hampden

John Hampden - the Robert Walker portrait - © John Hampden SocietyLink with the Chilterns

The Hampden family in the Chilterns goes back to a grant of land by Edward the Confessor before the Norman Conquest. John Hampden lived in Hampden House in Great Hampden high in the Buckinghamshire Chilterns.






John Hampden studied law and, following family tradition, became an M.P. He opposed King Charles 1st’s imposition of Ship Money, a tax to raise money for the Royal Navy, when it  was extended to inland counties in 1636. He took the side of the Parliamentarians in the Civil War.  He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Chalgrove Field in Oxfordshire and died at Thame.

John Hampden went to Thame Grammar School and to Magdalen College, Oxford. He studied law and qualified at the Inner Temple whilst living in his mother"e;s house on the site of what is now No.10 Downing Street.

In 1619 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Edmund Simeon of Pyrton Manor.

In 1640 King Charles summoned Parliament and what became known as the Long Parliament began. John Hampden played a leading role in it.

In 1642 King Charles 1st failed in an attempt to arrest John Hampden and other Parliamentary leaders. The Civil War broke out. Hampden raised his own regiment of Greencoats and joined the Parliamentarian army. After actions at Brentford and Turnham Green, the King and his troops went into winter quarters in Oxford. Hampden House lay between the two armies.   

In 1643 Prince Rupert, the King’s nephew, led 2000 soldiers out of Oxford to teach the Roundheads a lesson. He raided Chinnor and moved south. With superior forces Rupert charged and scattered a Parliamentary force at Chalgrove, south of Thame. Hampden was wounded early in the battle and retired to Thame. There he died on 24 June. His body was taken to St Mary’s Church in Great Hampden for burial. 

Further Information

The John Hampden Society has a website full of information on his life and times

A Life of John Hampden, the Patriot by Dr John Adair  published by Thorogood in 2003 (usually available from the John Hampden Society)

Grid Reference


What you can visit

Hampden House in Great Hampden is listed Grade 1 of architectural and historical significance. It is a private house with no public access. But it is clearly visible from the Chiltern Way which passes in front.

The Church of St Mary Magdalene (adjacent to Hampden House) is open for Sunday services and contains a monument to John Hampden by Sir Henry Cheere.

Chalgrove Field battle site and John Hampden monument, Chalgrove, Oxfordshire.

Ship Money Memorial on Honor End Lane near Prestwood.

Statue of John Hampden in Aylesbury Market Square

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