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Lord Hopton.

Ralph Hopton, 1st Baron Hopton (1598 – September 1652) was a Royalist commander in the English Civil War.

Life

The son of Robert Hopton of Witham, Somerset, he appears to have been educated at Lincoln College, Oxford, and to have 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 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; his next, to carry the war from there 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 and soon afterwards he was besieged in Devizes by Waller; he defended himself until relieved by the Royalist victory at Roundway Down on 13 July. He was soon afterwards created Baron Hopton of Stratton. 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 to fall 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 the merits of "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.'"

References

  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain. See the article: HOPTON, RALPH HOPTON, BARON (1598-1652),
  • 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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