Lord Hopton’s Regiment of Horse

The last of the current batch of cavalry. Can't wait to paint something in 'not-brown'™ paint for a change.

Lord Hopton’s cavalry cornet was noted by Symonds (1644) as red, fringed red and white, with a cannon discharging in gold and a motto in gold letters above: Hopton was General of Artillery to Prince Maurice, so a rather fitting cornet device.

Sir Ralph, Lord Hopton was the Royalist commander of the King's army in the west country. He raised a Troop of Horse in Somerset, in July 1642. The Regiment fought st Sherborne Castle, Braddock Down, Beacon Hill, Sourton Down, Lansdown, Bristol (the Troop had expanded sometime about now, and become a fully fledged Regiment), First Newbury, Cheriton, Second Newbury, the relief of Donnington Castle, Langport, Torrington before  surrendering at Truro in March 1646.

Sir Ralph was an interesting fellow: as a 21 year old he undertook the C17th equivalent of a gap year, but instead of travelling to 'find himself' his goal was to 'learn languages'. Finding himself caught up in the Thirty Years War he joined a volunteer English force fighting for Frederick of the Palatinate (whose sons Rupert and Maurice we know quite well). He, and his good friend William Waller, were part of the group that escorted Frederick and his wife Elizabeth (who just happened to be Charles I's sister) from the battlefield of White Mountain.

Ralph returned to London and became an MP. During the turbulent time that he was a member of Parliament he seems to have been a moderate. In March 1642 he was sent to the Tower of London for objecting to Parliament censuring the King.

Prior to Edgehill, Hopton was made commander of the Trained Bands in the West Country, eventually raising volunteer army in support of the King. This ultimately led to him facing his friend William Waller across many battlefields, but their friendship endured, this touching letter typifies the tragedy that was tearing Britain apart:

To my noble friend Sir Ralph Hopton at Wells
The experience I have of your worth and the happiness I have enjoyed in your friendship are wounding considerations when I look at this present distance between us. Certainly my affection to you is so unchangeable that hostility itself cannot violate my friendship, but I must be true wherein the cause I serve. That great God, which is the searcher of my heart, knows with what a sad sense I go about this service, and with what a perfect hatred I detest this war without an enemy; but I look upon it as an Opus Domini and that is enough to silence all passion in me. The God of peace in his good time will send us peace. In the meantime, we are upon the stage and must act those parts that are assigned to us in this tragedy. Let us do so in a way of honour and without personal animosities.
Whatever the outcome I will never willingly relinquish the title of Your most affectionated friend.
William Waller
Following the collapse of the Royalist cause, Ralph found himself in exile in the Low Countries. He was to die in Bruges, of fever, in 1652.

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  1. That letter never ceases to move me.

    1. Very sad... it really was a civil war...

      The cavalry may be brown but they are also lovely..

    2. The friendship between Hopton and Waller would make a good movie script; dramatic backdrop of battles, friendship remains whilst loyalties are divided.

      (And thanks Steve)


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