HOPTON, Sir Ralph (c.1510-71), of Witham Friary, Som.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1553
Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. c.1510, s. of one Hopton by Agnes Haines. m. Dorothy, da. of Sir Christopher Willoughby of Parham, Suff., sis. of William, 1st Baron Willoughby of Parham, s.p. Kntd. 30 Sept. 1544.

Offices Held

Servant of Thomas Cromwell; knight marshal of the Household 26 Aug. 1542-11 May 1556, Dec. 1558-60, jt. (with Robert Hopton) marshal of the Household from 1560; surveyor of ct. of augmentations, Som. from July 1551; j.p.q. Som. from 1559.


Hopton, kinsman of the half-blood to Owen, Arthur and Robert Hopton, began his career in Thomas Cromwell’s household whence he moved into that of the King. He built up considerable estates in north Somerset, and, through the influence of his brother-in-law, a favourite of Henry VIII, became knight marshal. Though a supporter of Northumberland, Hopton was elected to Mary’s first Parliament where he ‘stood for the true religion’. He did not lose his court post until May 1556, though absent for some time before this. On returning from the Parliament of October 1553 he had meetings with Sir John Thynne and ‘others of that religion’, inveighing ‘against the coming in of the King of Spain and the Spaniards’. He was arrested at the time of Wyatt’s rebellion in February 1554, but was not brought to trial. Again he opposed the government in the 1555 House of Commons, after which he did not sit again until the accession of Elizabeth. She restored him to his marshal’s office, ignoring the suggestion of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton that he should be made assistant to the constable of the Tower. For the first Elizabethan Parliament he was found a seat (no doubt by Thynne) at Heytesbury. He never sat again, though continuing active in local affairs. In April 1565 he received the Privy Council letter about the ‘good assessing’ of the Somerset subsidy.

Hopton made himself responsible for bringing up his wife’s niece Rachel, daughter of Edmund Hall of Gretford and cousin of Arthur Hall. He arranged her marriage to his nephew Arthur Hopton, and settled the reversion of nearly all his lands on them in tail male. In the will he made on 8 Dec. 1571, six days before his death, Hopton remembered other kinsmen and servants and made various charitable bequests. The residue went to his wife, the sole executrix. The will was proved 15 Feb. 1572.

Foxe, Acts and Mons. vi. 191; Collins, Perage, vi. 610; Genealogist, n.s. xxx. 21; APC, vii. 25, 283; E315/223, f. 181; Bodl. e Museo 17; SP11/2/33; CSP Span. 1554, p. 126; Loseley 1331/2; CPR, 1558-60, p. 351; 1560-3, p. 237; Lansd. 8, f. 80; Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. li), 441; N. and Q. (ser. 1), iv. 97; C142/162/140; PCC 7 Daper.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Roger Virgoe