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

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1 Nov. 1670
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

b. c.1641, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Richard Hopkins I, and bro. of Thomas Hopkins. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1657; I. Temple 1658, called 1665. m. 16 June 1670, Mary (d. 13 Oct. 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; commr. for assessment, Warws. and Coventry 1673-80, 1689-90; j.p. Warws. 1690-d.2


Although Hopkins qualified himself to follow his father’s profession there is no evidence that he practised. His long association with the Coventry drapers’ company and his interest in the copperas industry suggests that he may have reverted to the mercantile pursuits of his grandfather. But he also purchased land, and his status as a gentleman was sufficiently established for him to cross swords with Sir John Hales when they quarrelled over their wives’ inheritance. He soundly defeated a Royalist at a by-election in 1670, and became a moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament. He was named to 81 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in four sessions, acted as teller in nine divisions, and made six speeches. In his first session he was among those appointed to bring in bills to prevent the growth of Popery and to regulate the hearth-tax. During the debate of 22 Feb. 1673 he favoured a further address from the King to demand a speedy answer on the suspending power. He served on the committees which produced the test bill and prepared a bill of ease for dissenters, remarking that the renunciation of transubstantiation was a test that no Papist would endure, but presented no difficulties to any Protestant. When John Grobham Howe I charged Speaker Seymour with calling the House a company of curs, and cited Hopkins as a witness,

Mr Hopkins said indeed he had heard the words, but he took them but as raillery, to which he himself had given the occasion; for telling the Speaker that he was very nimble, and had started from his seat as quick as a hare from her form, the Speaker replied he had reason to do so, when such curs were at his heels.

Hopkins defended Lord Arlington in the 1674 session, acting as teller for candles on 19 Jan. so that the debate could continue to the minister’s advantage. He was named to the committees on the bills for the relief of those detained under habeas corpus, the prevention of illegal exactions, and the settling of fees and powers in judges’ patents, and was among those ordered to conduct an inquiry into the condition of Ireland.3

In the spring session of 1675 Hopkins was again concerned with measures to prevent illegal imprisonment and exactions, and on 21 May he was appointed to the committee on the bill to hinder Papists from sitting in Parliament. Sir Robert Holte told Secretary Williamson ironically that he ‘need not doubt of enjoying the good company of Mr [John] Swinfen and Dick Hopkins’ in the autumn session, and indeed he acted as teller for the Opposition against supply. He was among those to whom a petition from the London Weavers’ Company against machinery and foreign competition was committed. During the long recess which followed, Lord Conway ineptly tried to curb Hopkins’s hostility to the court through his father, but the latter demanded a judgeship, which Danby refused. Hopkins was marked ‘thrice worthy’ on Shaftesbury’s list in 1677. He was named to the committee for the recall of British subjects from the French service and acted as teller for the appropriation clause in the bill for building warships. He was also appointed to the committee for the Protestant education of the royal children, and helped to draw up two addresses on foreign affairs. In the earlier sessions of 1678 he was among those entrusted with inquiring into the conviction of Quakers for recusancy, preparing reasons for a conference on the growth of Popery, summarizing foreign commitments, and drawing up the address for the removal of counsellors. He was appointed to the committees to consider the bills for wearing woollen cloth, requiring burial in wool, and preventing its export, and he also served on the committee to investigate the breach of parliamentary privilege involved in the printing and distribution of arguments against these measures. In the last session of the Cavalier Parliament he was named to the committees to inquire into the Popish Plot, to prepare reasons for believing in it, and to translate Coleman’s letters.4

Hopkins was re-elected to the Exclusion Parliaments and marked ‘worthy’ on Shaftesbury’s list. He was moderately active in 1679, with seven committees, of which the most important were to bring in a bill to regulate parliamentary elections, to consider the bills for the speedier conviction of recusants and security against Popery, to prepare an address for the removal of Lauderdale, and to inquire into the shipping of artillery. He voted for the committal of the first exclusion bill. An active Member of the second Exclusion Parliament, he was appointed to 13 committees, including those for the inquiries into abhorring and the judges’ proceedings. He was also among those to whom the address insisting on exclusion, the bill for Protestant unity, and the repeal of the Corporations Act were committed. On 7 Jan. 1681 he urged the postponement of the debate on Laurence Hyde. In the short Oxford Parliament he was named only to the committee of elections and privileges.5

Hopkins was among those who welcomed the Duke of Monmouth to Coventry in 1682, and after the Rye House Plot Thomas Lucy searched his house for arms, finding four cases of pistols, a blunderbuss and a small gun. Hopkins bid Lucy disarm him at his peril, but he was left with only one case of pistols, and Secretary Jenkins wrote that Hopkins’s ‘language and confidence is much wondered at’. He was defeated in 1685, but in 1687 James II on his way to Banbury races held court at Hopkins’s magnificent town house, rejecting an offer from the loyal Anglican Sir Thomas Norton. It is not known whether he became a Whig collaborator, but it may be significant that he apparently did not stand in 1689. A court Whig under William III, he died on 1 Feb. 1708 in his 68th year and was buried in St. Michael’s Coventry. His son Edward, who also sat for the borough as a Whig, described him in his epitaph as ‘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’.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: A. M. Mimardière


  • 1. Soc. of Genealogists, 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. T. W. Whitley, Parl. Rep. Coventry, 105; PCC 62 Barrett; CSP Dom. 1671, p. 452; Grey, ii. 48-49, 86, 287; Dering, 153.
  • 4. CJ, ix. 365, 392; CSP Dom. 1675-6, p. 323; SP16/522/18 (misplaced).
  • 5. HMC 12th Rep. IX, 113.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1682, p. 429; Jan.-June 1683, pp. 362, 374; July-Sept. 1683, p. 26; B. Poole, Coventry, 140, 405; Add. 41803 f. 53; Coventry RO, council bk. 1635-96, ff. 342-4.