The Death of John Hampden

In 1828, writes John Adair, the great patriot’s tomb was rudely disturbed by an enquiring Whig historian.

‘Poor Hampden is dead... I have scarce strength to pronounce that word.’ So wrote Anthony Nichol, M.P., on hearing that John Hampden had died of wounds received on Chalgrove Field on Sunday June 18th, 1643. ‘Never Kingdom received a greater loss in one subject, never a man a truer and faithful friend.’

Colonel Arthur Goodwin, Hampden’s fellow M.P. for Buckinghamshire, wrote on June 26th in a similar vein to his daughter:

‘I am here at Hampden doing the last duty for the deceased owner of it, of whom every honest man hath a share in the loss, and therefore will likewise in the sorrow...

All his thoughts and endeavours of his life was zealously in this cause of God’s, which he continued in all his sickness, even to his death. For all I can hear the last words he spake was to me, though he lived six or seven hours after I came away as in a sleep.

Truly, Jenny, (and I know you may easily be persuaded to it), he was a gallant man, an honest man, an able man, and take all, I know not to any man living second.

God now in mercy hath rewarded him. I have writ to London for a black suit, I pray let me beg of you a broad black ribbon to hang about my standard...’

Clarendon, who did not conceal an admiration for his old opponent Hampden, reported the universal wave of grief that swept through London, Parliament and the people throughout the land, one so great that it was ‘as if their whole army had been defeated: his private loss is unspeakable’.

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