Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hampton, Christopher

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HAMPTON, CHRISTOPHER, D.D. (1552–1625), archbishop of Armagh, called John in the printed Patent Rolls, born at Calais in 1552, was of English descent, and was educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. 'One Christopher Hampton was admitted a scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1570, and in 1585 was elected a fellow. Probably this was the archbishop' (Cole, Addit. MS. to Ware). On the death of Brutus (or Brute) Babington, D.D., bishop of Derry, he was nominated to that see (Cat. State Papers, Ireland, 1611-14, p. 181) by king's letter dated 21 Dec. 1611, and was elected accordingly, with a remission of the first-fruits, and with authority to issue commissions for the discovery of the concealed lands belonging to the sea, and to let such lands, if not mensal, to 'Brittons,' for a term of sixty years, &c. (Rot. Pat. 5, 11 Jac. I.) He thereupon 'prevailed on the tenants to make surrenders and take out new leases on increased rents, by means whereof the revenues were well increased to the honour of Almighty God.' Thomas Smith, D D. (Life of Ussher, p. 34), states that Hampton, as vice-chancellor of the university of Dublin in 1612, conferred the degree of D.D. on James Ussher, who eventually succeeded him as archbishop of Armagh; but Hampton acted on this occasion as moderator of the divinity disputations, and not as vice-chancellor. Notwithstanding his nomination he was not consecrated to the see of Derry, but was advanced to that of Armagh, which had become vacant by the death of Henry Ussher, D.D., by king's letter dated 16 April, and by patent of 7 May 1613, and was consecrated the next day in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. A few days after, on the opening of parliament by the lord deputy, Arthur, lord Chichester, the new primate preached in the cathedral before the peers. He was likewise appointed king's almoner (being the first to hold that office), and a member of the Irish privy council. In 1622 James Ussher, then bishop of Meath, having preached a sermon before the lord deputy to which exceptions were taken by the recusants, Hampton at once addressed him in a letter of great mildness, but indicating a sense that the sermon had been in some respects indiscreet (Parr, Collection of Letters, p. 84). Hampton was a prelate of much gravity and learning, and was also a very liberal benefactor to his see, having built a palace at Drogheda (then the principal place of residence of the archbishops) for himself and his successors, and having restored at considerable expense the cathedral church of St. Patrick, Armagh, which had been reduced to ruins by Shane O'Neill. He recast the great bell, and repaired the old episcopal residence at Armagh, to which he added new buildings, and annexed three hundred acres for mensal lands (Visitation Book in Archbishop Marsh's library, Dublin, p. 69). He appears, moreover, to have been most assiduous in repairing and rebuilding parish churches throughout the diocese. Against the claims advanced by Thomas Jones and Lancelot Bulkeley, archbishops of Dublin in succession, he firmly maintained the rights of his see to precedence, both in parliament and in convocation, and among the manuscripts in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, is his 'Collection of Proofs relating to the Precedence of the Archbishops of Armagh.' He died unmarried at Drogheda on 3 Jan. 1625, and was buried in the parish church of St. Peter in that town.

[Sir James Ware's Works, ed. Harris, i. 97; Cotton's Fasti Ecclesiæ Hibernicæ, iii. 20, 316, v. 198; Mant's Hist. of the Church of Ireland, i. 379, 410, 414, 479; Ordnance Survey of the County of Londonderry, i. 60 (all published); Stuart's Hist. of Armagh, pp. 308-10; D'Alton's Hist. of Drogheda, i. 21, ii. 213-14, 218, 404.]

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