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Kay's Edinburgh Portraits
James, Third Earl of Hopetoun


The immediate ancestor of the Earls of Hopetoun was Henry Hope, a merchant of considerable extent in Edinburgh, who married Jacquiline de Tott, a French lady, by whom he had two sons. The eldest, Thomas, was bred a lawyer, and, by his eminent talents, obtained great practice, and amassed a considerable fortune, with which he made extensive landed purchases. He was appointed Lord Advocate by James VI., and created a Baronet in 1628. His grandson Charles was the first Earl of Hopetoun. Henry, the second son, went to Amsterdam, and was the ancestor of that opulent branch of the family long settled there.

James, third Earl, the subject of this sketch, was born in 1741. He entered the army when very young, and held an ensign's commission in the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards. He was with the troops in Germany, and, when only eighteen years of age, was engaged at the

memorable battle of Minden in 1759, where the British infantry signally distinguislied themselves. He continued in the same regiment till 1764, when he retired from the army, in consequence of the ill-health of his elder brother, Lord Hope, with whom he travelled some time on the Continent, but without producing any beneficial change in the state of his health, and who died in 1766. On the death of his father in 1781, he succeeded to the earldom, and was chosen one of the sixteen representative Peers of Scotland at the General Election in 1784. The Earl took an active part in all political questions, and continued to sit in the House of Lords during a great many succeeding years.

On the death of his grand-uncle, the third Marquis of Annandale, in 1792, Lord Hopetoun succeeded to the large estates of that nobleman, on which occasion he added the surname of Johnstone to his own. On the breaking out of the French War in 1793, when seven regiments of Fencibles were directed by his Majesty to be raised in Scotland, the Earl, who was firmly and sincerely attached to the British Constitution, stood forward in defence of his country, and embodied a corps called the Southern or Hopetoun Fencibles, of which he was appointed Colonel. The officers belonging to this regiment were men of the first rank and respectability: Lord Napier was Lieutenant-Colonel; the veteran Clarkson, Major; the Earl of Home, Captain of Grenadiers; Mr. Baillie of Mellerstain, and Mr. M'Lean of Ardgower, Captains, etc. The Earl assiduously attended to his military duties, and soon brought the discipline of the corps to great perfection.

While the regiment was stationed at Dalkeith, several attempts were made by some of the more desperate members of the British Convention, to seduce the soldiers from their allegiance, or at all events to sow the seeds of discontent among them; but without effect.

At Dumfries, where the corps was quartered in 1794, the following curious circumstance occurred:—"One of the Hopetoun Fencibles, now quartered in that town," says a newspaper of the day, " was discovered to be a woman, after having been upwards of eighteen months in the service. The discovery was made by the tailor, when lie was trying on the new clothes. It is remarkable that she has concealed her sex so long, considering she always slept with a comrade, and sometimes with two. She went by the name of John Nicolson, but her real name was Jean Clark. Previous to her assuming the character of a soldier, it seems she had accustomed herself to the dress and habits of a man : having been bred to the business of a weaver at Closeburn, and employed as a man-servant at Ecclefechan."

The services of the Hopetoun Fencibles were at first limited to Scotland, but were afterwards extended to England. They remained embodied till 1798, when they were disbanded, after the regular militia had been organized.

His lordship afterwards, as Lord Lieutenant of the county of Linlithgow, embodied a yeomanry corps and a regiment of volunteer infantry, both of which were among the first that tendered their services to Government. These he commanded as Colonel, and took a deep interest and a very active part in training them, and rendering them efficient for the public service. During those times of alarm, when the country was threatened by foreign invasion, his influence, his fortune, and his personal exertions were steadily devoted to the public safety; and so much were his services appreciated by the Executive, that he was created a Baron of the United Kingdom in 1809, by the name, style, and title of Baron Hopetoun of Hopetoun.

The Earl died at Hopetoun-House, on the 29th May 1810, at the advanced age of 75. He married, in 1750, Elizabeth, daughter of the Earl of Northesk, by whom he had six daughters. They all died prior to himself, except Lady Anne, upon whom the Annandale estates devolved, and who married Admiral Sir William Johnstone.

Inheriting from bis ancestors high rank and ample fortune, Lord Hopetoun maintained the dignity and noble bearing of the ancient Scotch baron, with the humility of a Christian, esteeming the religious character of his family to be its highest distinction ; and he was not more eminent for the regularity of his attendance on all the ordinances of religion, than for the sincerity and reverence with which he engaged in them. He was an indulgent landlord, a most munificent benefactor to the poor, and a friend of all who lived within the limits of his extensive domains.

The following lines, written at the period of his death, describe his estimable character in glowing and forcible language:

"For worth revered, lo! full of years,
Does Hopetoun to the tomb descend,
Amid the sorrowing people's tears,
Who mourn their constant, kindest friend.

Oft have I heard, as o'er his land
I wandered in my youthful days,
The farmer bless his fostering hand,
And ploughman's ruder note of praise.

Oft, too, in Humbie's fairy vale —
Romantic vale ! so sweetly wild—
Of Hopetoun have I heard the tale
Of sorrow soothed or want beguiled.

The mausoleum may arise,
Displaying well the sculptor's art;
But far superior are the sighs
That rise from many a wounded heart.

The historic record shall survive,
And unimpaired its meed bestow;
The legendary tribute live
When time has laid the structure low.

In early life to warfare trained,
He gained the glory arms can yield;
When Gallia had her lilies stained
On Mindeu's memorable field.

Hence wreathed, the titled path he trod—
A path (how few pursue his plan!)
Bright, marked with piety to God
And warm benevolence to man.

The niche he leaves a brother fills,
Whose prowess fame has blazoned wide;
Long, long o'er Scotia's vales and hills
Shall Niddry's deeds be told with pride!"

Having no male issue, the Earl of Hopetoun was succeeded by his half-brother John, fourth Earl, G.C.B., and General in the Army, who had distinguished himself so much by his gallantry and abilities in the West Indies in 179-1; in Holland in 1799 ; and at the battles of Corunna, Bayonne, Bourdeaux, and Toulouse. For these services he was created a British Peer iu 1814, by the title of Baron Niddry. He died at Paris on the 27th August, 1823. A handsome equestrian statue has lately been erected to his memory in St. Andrew Scpuare, in front of the Royal Bank, by the citizens of Edinburgh.

Earl John was twice married,—first, in 1798, to Elizabeth, youngest daughter of Charles Hope Vere of Craighill, who died without issue in 1801; secondly, in 1803, to Louisa Dorothea, third daughter of Sir John Wedderburn of Ballendean, by whom he had twelve children, of whom seven sons and one daughter still survive. It will be recollected, that when George IV. visited Scotland in 1822, his Majesty embarked at Port-Edgar, having previously partaken of a repast at Hopetoun-House with the Earl, his family, and a select company assembled for the occasion. While at breakfast, one of the earl's sons, a lively boy about twelve years of age, came into the room and sat beside his mother. The King asked the Countess how many children she had ? On being answered by her ladyship that she had ten sons and an infant daughter, his Majesty, either struck by the number of male children, or by the beautiful and youthful appearance of the mother, exclaimed, "Good God! is it possible?" After breakfast Lady Alicia, then an infant, was presented to his Majesty, by whom she was affectionately kissed. Thomas and Adrian, the two youngest sons, were next led into the dining-room, and presented by the Earl to his royal guest. The King graciously received the little boys ; and raising Adrian's frock, took hold of his leg, saying, "What a stout little fellow!" The child, thinking the King was admiring his frock, held it up with both his hands, and cried, "See, see!" His Majesty was amused with the notion of the child, and said, "Is that a new frock, my little man?" The other sons of Lord Hopetoun were presented to the King in the drawing-room. During his Majesty's short visit at Hopetoun-House, the honour of knighthood was conferred on Captain Adam Ferguson, and Mr Henry Raeburn, the celebrated painter. Notwithstanding the unfavourable state of the weather, tho lawns around the princely mansion presented a scene of the most animating description. Great preparations had been made for the reception of his Majesty, and an immense concourse of all ranks. including a body of his lordship's tenantry "on horseback, were assembled to greet their sovereign. The band of Royal Archers, who acted as the King's body guard, were in attendance, under the command of the Earl of Elgin. The Earl of Hopetoun was the commander-general of this ancient body, and acted as such on the day of his Majesty's arrival at Holyrood-House. As a memorial of that event, they entreated the Earl to sit for his picture in the dress which he wore on the occasion. The painting was executed by Mr John Watson, and has been hung up in the Archers' Hall.

John, the eldest, succeeded to the titles, and married, in 1826, Louisa Bosville, eldest daughter of the late Lord Macdonald, by whom he has issue one son. His lordship's remaining six brothers and one sister are all unmarried. Charles, the third son, is at present Member of Parliament for the county of Linlithgow. The Countess-Dowager died at Leamington in 1836.


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