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of Hamden, in Buckinghamshire, a celebrated political character

, of Hamden, in Buckinghamshire, a celebrated political character in the reign of Charles I. was born at London in 1594. He was of as ancient (Whitlocke says the ancientest) extraction as any gentleman in his county; and cousin-german to Oliver Cromwell, his father having married the protector’s aunt. In 1609 he was sent to Magdalen college in Oxford whence, without taking any degree, be removed to the inns of court, and made a considerable progress in the study of the law. Sir Philip Warwick observes, that “he had great knowledge both in scholarship and the law.” In his entrance into the world, he is said to have indulged himself in all the licence of sports, and exercises, and company, such as were used by men of the most jovial conversation; but afterwards to have retired to a more reserved and austere society, preserving, however, his natural cheerfulness and vivacity. In the second parliament of king Charles, which met at Westminster, February 1625-6, he obtained a seat in the house of commons, as he also did in two succeeding parliaments; but made no figure till 1636, when he became universally known, by a solemn trial at the king’s bench, on his refusing to pay the ship-money. He carried himself, as Clarendon tells us, through this whole suit with such singular temper and modesty, that he obtained more credit and advantage by losing it, than the king did service by gaining it. From this time he soon grew to be one of the most popular men in the nation, and a leading member in the long parliament. “The eyes of all men,” says the same writer, “were fixed upon him as their pater patrite, and the pilot that must steer the vessel through the tempests and rocks which threatened it.” After he had held the chief direction of his party in the house of commons against the king, he took up arms in the same cause, and was one of the first who opened the war by an action at a place called Brill, a garrison of the king’s, on the edge of Buckinghamshire, about five miles from Oxford. He took the command of a regiment of foot under the earl of Essex, and shewed such skill and bravery, that, had he lived, he would; probably, soon have been raised to the post of a general. But he was cut off early by a mortal wound, which he received in a skirmish with prince Rupert, at Chalgrove-field, in Oxfordshire, where, it is generally reported, he was shot in the shoulder with a brace of bullets, which broke the bone, June 18, 1643; and, after suffering much pain and misery, he died the 24th, an event which affected his party nearly as much as if their whole army had been defeated . “Many men observed,” says Clarendon, “that the field in which this skirmish was, and upon which Hampden received his deathwound, namely, Chalgrove-field, was the same place in which he had first executed the ordinance of the militia, and engaged that county, in which his reputation was very great, in this rebellion: and it was confessed by the prisoners that were taken that day, and acknowledged by all, that upon the alarm that morning, after their quarters were beaten up, he was exceeding solicitous to draw forces together to pursue the enemy; and, being a colonel of foot, put himself amongst those horse as a volunteer, who were first ready, and that, when the prince made a stand, all the officers were of opinion to stay till their body came up, and he alone persuaded and prevailed with them to advance: so violently did his fate carry him to pay the mulct in the place where he had committed the transgression about a year before. This was an observation made at that time;” but lord Clarendon does not adopt it as an opinion of his own.