Hampden, John hămp´dən, hăm´– [key], 1594–1643, English parliamentary leader; cousin of Oliver Cromwell. He entered Parliament in 1621, became closely associated with Sir John Eliot, and was imprisoned (1627) for refusing to pay the forced loan demanded by Charles I. With Viscount Saye and Sele, John Pym, and other parliamentary leaders, he involved himself in various colonization schemes. In 1637, Hampden challenged the king's right to raise revenue by the device of ship money, a tax originally levied on ports for defense purposes but extended by Charles to inland counties. He was convicted (1638) by a very narrow margin for his refusal to pay the tax, and the case inflamed popular resentment against the king. Conspicuous as a leader of both the Short and Long Parliaments, Hampden was one of the five members whose attempted arrest by Charles (1642) helped to precipitate the English civil war. He raised a regiment for the parliamentarians and was mortally wounded at Chalgrove Field, fighting Prince Rupert.
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