Hampton, Christopher (1552–1625), Church of Ireland archbishop of Armagh, was born at Calais, France, son of John Hampton of Hampshire, clergyman, and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, to which he was admitted as a scholar (1570). He became a fellow in 1574, receiving his MA in 1575 and a bachelor's degree in theology seven years later. A position as chaplain to the earl of Southampton brought him to the attention of James I, who appointed him as a royal chaplain. In this capacity he attended a meeting of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1610 at which he strongly upheld episcopacy and denigrated presbyterianism.
On 21 December 1611 he was appointed bishop of Derry by king's letter. He was allowed a remission of first fruits to offset the expenses of transporting himself and his family to Ireland, was granted the land and fishing rights at Clonley, Raphoe, and was empowered to issue commissions for the discovery of concealed crown land. On his arrival in Derry Hampton found that the revenues of the bishopric had seriously deteriorated, and that as a result of a grant to an agent of the Irish Society, John Rowley, 3,000 trees had been exported to Spain. He secured an order for the preservation of the timber of the bishopric from the lord deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester (qv), and set about improving the revenues of the bishopric by persuading the tenants to take out new leases on increased rents.
Hampton's consecration had been delayed and his status was still that of nominee when the archbishop of Armagh, Henry Ussher (qv) died on 2 April 1613, less than seven weeks before the scheduled meeting of the convocation of the Irish church. Hampton was nominated to the primatial see on 16 April and consecrated in St Patrick's cathedral, Dublin, on 8 May. In convocation he successfully defended the precedence of Armagh over Dublin, but at no stage did he succeed in replacing the entrenched archbishop of Dublin and lord chancellor, Thomas Jones (qv), as principal advisor to the administration on ecclesiastical matters. What influence he exerted was through his English connections, notably with Archbishop George Abbot of Canterbury, rather than in Ireland. He was at ease with the articles adopted by convocation in 1615, though they differed from the English articles in their unambiguous predestinarianism and their identification of catholicism as anti-Christian. On the other hand, he was intolerant of those who had puritan objections to certain ceremonial and ritual practices, and made it clear that conformity was his goal. Thus he both strenuously called for the expulsion of priests and the enforcement of the laws against recusancy, and proceeded against Scots presbyterians in Ulster.
His most distinctive characteristic, however, was his readiness to subordinate his convictions to his belief in the king's right to the absolute obedience of his subjects. In a celebrated reproof to his suffragan bishop, James Ussher (qv), who had preached on the need to impose penalties on recusants at the inauguration (1622) of the lord deputy, Falkland (qv), he suggested that Ussher should attend to his diocese rather than to affairs of state. At the same time that he was condoning royal lenience towards catholics, Hampton secured a royal grant of the courts of prerogative and faculties that enhanced his ability to exercise discipline within the Church of Ireland.
Although he made little impact as primate, Hampton administered his own diocese conscientiously. He undertook the redevelopment of Armagh, which had been shunned and neglected by his predecessors: he repaired the cathedral, which had remained in ruins since Shane O'Neill (qv) had attacked it, recast the great bell, and rebuilt the old episcopal residence, adding new buildings and annexing 300 acres for mensal lands. He also erected a handsome palace in Drogheda (which included a chapel without a communion table, as Viscount Wentworth (qv) sourly observed some years later) and saw to the repair and rebuilding of parochial churches in the diocese. This was made possible by the improved revenue resulting from more efficient management and the favouring of British over Irish tenants on church lands, but it also involved significant outlays by the primate himself. Christopher Hampton died a bachelor in Drogheda on 3 January 1625. He was buried in the parish church of St Peter, Drogheda.