Sir Ralph HOPTON of Witham Friary, Knight
Born: ABT 1510, Witham Friary, Somersetshire, England
Died: 15 Dec 1571
Father: Arthur HOPTON (Sir)
Mother: Agnes HAINES
Married: Dorothy WILLOUGHBY
The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.
Born ABT 1510, son of Sir Arthur Hopton by Agnes Haines. Married Dorothy, dau. of Sir Christopher Willoughby of Parham, Suff., sis. of William, 1st Baron Willoughby of Parham, s.p. Kntd. 30 Sep 1544. 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 Jul 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 Oct 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 Feb 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 Apr 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 Peerage, vi. 610
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