Ralph Hopton, 1st Baron Hopton

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Lord Hopton.

Ralph Hopton, 1st Baron Hopton DL (March 1596 – September 1652) was a Royalist commander in the English Civil War, appointed lieutenant-general under the Marquess of Hertford in the west at the beginning of the conflict.


Hopton was the son of Robert Hopton of Witham Somerset. He was apparently educated at Lincoln College, Oxford and served in the army of Frederick V, Elector Palatine in the early campaigns of the Thirty Years' War. In 1624, he was lieutenant-colonel of a regiment raised in England to serve in Mansfeld's army. King Charles I, at his coronation, made Hopton a Knight of the Bath (Order of the Bath).

In the political troubles which preceded the outbreak of the English Civil War, Hopton, as member of parliament successively for Bath, Somerset and Wells, at first opposed the royal policy, but after Strafford's attainder (for which he voted) he gradually became an ardent supporter of Charles, and at the beginning of the conflict he was made lieutenant-general under the marquess of Hertford in the west.

His first achievement was to rally Cornwall to the royal cause by indicting the enemy before the grand jury of the county as disturbers of the peace, and had the posse comitatus called out to expel them. Next, he carried the war into Devon. In May 1643, he defeated the Parliamentarian forces in the West Country at Stratton, enabling him to overrun Devon and link up with reinforcements under Prince Maurice. On 5 July, their combined forces clashed indecisively with Sir William Waller at Lansdowne. Hopton was severely wounded there by the explosion of a powder-wagon. Soon afterwards, he was besieged in Devizes by Waller; he defended himself until he was relieved by the Royalist victory at Roundway Down on 13 July. He was soon made Baron Hopton of Stratton.[1]

These successes in the west enabled the Royalists to expand their control across southern England as far as the western fringes of Sussex in late 1643. But a counter-attack led by Waller forced Hopton back to Winchester. Hopton was reinforced by a force under the Earl of Forth. But on 29 March 1644 he was defeated by Waller at Cheriton and again forced to retreat. After this, he served in the western campaign under Charles' own command, and towards the end of the war, after Goring had left England, he succeeded to the command of the royal army. Hopton was defeated at Torrington on 16 February 1646 and surrendered to Thomas Fairfax.

Subsequently, he accompanied the Prince of Wales in his attempts to prolong the war in the Isles of Scilly and the Channel Islands. His intransigent views were incompatible with the spirit of concession and compromise which prevailed in the prince's council from 1649 to 1650, and he withdrew from active participation in the cause of royalism. He died in exile at Bruges in September 1652. His title was extinguished with his death. The king, Prince Charles, and the governing circle appreciated their faithful lieutenant less than did his enemies Waller and Fairfax, the former of whom wrote, "hostility itself cannot violate my friendship to your person," while the latter spoke of him as "One whom we honour and esteem above any other of your party."[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2F1911_Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica%2FHopton%2C_Ralph_Hopton%2C_Baron "Hopton, Ralph Hopton, Baron" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 687.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • F. T. R. Edgar, Sir Ralph Hopton. The King's Man in the West (1642-1652). A Study in Character and Command, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1968. ISBN 0-19-821372-7

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Parliament of England
Preceded by
William Beecher
Thomas Sheppard
Member of Parliament for Shaftesbury
With: Percy Herbert, 2nd Baron Powis
Succeeded by
William Whitaker
John Thoroughgood
Preceded by
Sir Robert Pye
John Malet
Member of Parliament for Bath
With: Edward Hungerford
Succeeded by
Richard Grey
William Chapman
Preceded by
Sir Edward Rodney
Sir Thomas Lake
Member of Parliament for Wells
With: John Baber
Succeeded by
Parliament suspended until 1640
Preceded by
Parliament suspended since 1629
Member of Parliament for Somerset
With: Thomas Smith
Succeeded by
Sir John Poulett
Sir John Stawell
Preceded by
Sir Edward Rodney
John Baber
Member of Parliament for Wells
With: Sir Edward Rodney
Succeeded by
Lislebone Long
Clement Walker