Hampden entered Parliament in 1621; throughout the late 1620s and 1630s he was often in legal trouble for his resistance to King Charles's initiatives and taxes. When the Civil War began in 1641 he took an active part from his station in Oxford, near which, at Chalgrove Field, he suffered fatal wounds in June of that year.
The Shelleys visited Hampden's tomb in October 1817.
Thomas Gray famously refers to Hampden in his "Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard":
Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breastSee also Iain Crawford's "Wading through Slaughter: John Hampden, Thomas Gray, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein."
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.