|Ship money was a property tax, traditionally levied on coastal towns
as a contribution towards the cost of their naval protection. When
in 1635 Charles I extended it to the whole country, the returns were
initially high; but opposition to the tax soon developed and the yield
John Hampden, who had served as MP for Wendover in Buckinghamshire,
refused to pay his assessment. As a result, in 1637 he was brought
to trial in the Court of Exchequer, in what became a test case regarding
the legality of taxation levied without the consent of Parliament.
On 12 June 1638 the court found in favour of the Crown, by a majority
of only 7 to 5. Ship money was declared illegal by Parliament in
Reproduced here is the argument of Sir John Finch, Lord Chief Justice
of the Court of Common Pleas, in favour of the tax.
Catalogue reference: SP 16/394, f. 79, pp. 82-3 (June 1638)