HOPKINS, Richard (c.1641-1708), of Palace Yard, Earl Street, Coventry, Warws.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1 Nov. 1670 - Mar. 1681
1690 - 1695
1698 - 1700

Family and Education

b. c.1641, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir Richard Hopkins† of Palace Yard, Earl Street, Coventry and the Inner Temple by Sarah, da. and coh. of John Button† of Buckland, Lymington, Hants; bro. of Thomas Hopkins*.  educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1657; I. Temple 1658, called 1665.  m. 16 June 1670, Mary (d. 1711), da. and coh. of Robert Johnson, Grocer, of Ilford, Essex, 1s. 1da.  suc. fa. 1682.1

Offices Held

Master, drapers’ co. of Coventry 1672–3, 1682–3, 1703–4.2


Returned after a contest in 1690, Hopkins was classed as a Whig by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) in a list of the new Parliament, and as a supporter of the Court by Robert Harley* in April 1691. He acted as a teller on 17 Dec. against a resolution of the committee on the East India trade to set a minimum amount for the company’s stock, intervening in the same debate to draw attention to evidence which had been given by opponents of the company but had not been reported. On 18 Jan. 1692, during consideration of the land tax, Hopkins, a Tory reported, had

offered a clause (and was so backed with the party as to prevail) that all heads of colleges and halls, all fellows and students, should voluntarily tender themselves the oaths before three commissioners or be charged with 3s. per pound for all stipends and salaries etc. they receive.

He was again a teller on 16 Feb. against an additional clause to the poll tax bill. He spoke on 28 Jan. 1693 in favour of the triennial bill:

Our ancestors always aimed at this, as appears by several ancient laws to this purpose. The like was well enough offered at in the last ill times. When men continue here long, they alter. They come up hither free men, but are here made bondmen. If to be elected be an honour, let neighbours share; if a burden, so likewise.

The same day he was a teller for leave for a local river navigation bill. On 1 Feb. he was heard on the subject of frauds in the postal service; on 6 Feb., in a further debate on the triennial bill, he was one of those to advocate annual sessions; and on 17 Feb. he presented the booksellers’ and printers’ petition against the renewal of the Licensing Act. He spoke against the indemnity bill on 27 Feb., and on 10 Mar. moved that ‘since the House had little to do, we might go upon the report touching . . . privilege’. In Samuel Grascome’s list he appeared as a member of the Court party. He served as teller on the Court side on 18 Jan. 1694 in favour of a clause to be added to the land tax bill.3

In the 1695 election Hopkins followed his own recommendation of two years previously and did not put up, letting his ‘neighbours share’. His proposal the following year that a mint might be established at Coventry was rejected by the Treasury. He had ‘resolved to quit his pretensions’ to Parliament altogether, but in 1698

his nephew Sir Christopher Hales [2nd Bt.*], whose family had many obligations to him, acted in a very unhandsome manner, and at the instigation of a violent party to which he had attached himself, declared himself a candidate in conjunction with another person, an inveterate enemy

to Hopkins’ family ‘without any previous notice or decent compliment’. Resentment at ‘such treatment’ provoked Hopkins, ‘contrary to his intention, again to enter the lists’, to demonstrate the strength of his family’s interest. He and his brother Thomas stood against the two Tories, but although he himself was returned Hales took the other seat. Listed among the Court party in about September 1698, he was forecast as likely to oppose the standing army but voted for it on 18 Jan. 1699. In February 1700, when some of the leaders of the Country party ‘hinted at a farm’ of the excise, he ‘spoke against it as the greatest oppression they could bring on the subject’.4

In January 1701 he finally did ‘retire’ from Parliament, ‘declining’ to stand at Coventry, and leaving an opening for Thomas Hopkins. In subsequent elections he was active in forwarding his son Edward’s* candidature. Hopkins died on 1 Feb. 1708, aged 67, and was buried at Coventry. The monument which Edward Hopkins erected there describes him as having been ‘a tender husband, an indulgent father, a sincere friend, a devout Protestant, and a true, loyal patriot; of the latter he gave proofs in the several Parliaments in which, for many years, he represented this city’.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Soc. of Geneal. Coventry St. Michael bishops’ transcripts; C5/45/82; Lipscomb, Bucks. i. 377; PCC 62 Barrett.
  • 2. Coventry RO, drapers’ co. order bk. 1671–1777, ff. 3, 31, 129.
  • 3. Luttrell Diary, 85, 87, 395, 406, 427, 450, 475; Wood, Life and Times, iii. 380; Grey, x. 301.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1696, p. 254; Hopkins mss (Hist. of Parliament trans.), ‘Travels and Mems. Edward Hopkins’; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 452.
  • 5. Hopkins mss, ‘Travels and Mems.’; Poole, Hist. and Antiqs. Coventry, 140.