This gentleman, who has been dubbed by the artist a
"Knight of the Turf," was the ninth baronet of Craighall—the original
designation of the family. He was grandson to Sir Thomas, a
distinguished member of the College of Justice, and one of the early
promoters of agricultural improvements in Scotland. By his skill in this
latter department, the Meadows, now one of the pleasantest and most
frequented walks about Edinburgh, was converted from its original marshy
and waste condition into a state of high cultivation. In commemoration
of this circumstance, it obtained the name of "Hope-Park;" but it is
still generally known as "the Meadows."
The Hopes of Craighall are the stem from which has
sprung the noble family of Hopetoun, noticed in a preceding part of this
work. The designation of Craighall was laid aside by Lord Rankeillor,
son of the second baronet, who had been knighted by the title of Sir
Archibald Hope of that Ilk.
Sir Archibald, who succeeded to the title on the
death of his grandfather in 1771, does not appear to have been ambitious
of obtaining distinction either at the bar or in the senate; and the
only public situation which he ever held was that of Secretary to the
Board of Police, to which he had been appointed for life; and, on its
abolition, received a compensation in lieu of the office.
On his own estate, and throughout the neighbourhood,
he supported the character of a country gentleman, more intent on
improving his lands than desirous of engaging in those political and
party animosities, which so much distract the harmony of society, and
retard the progress of substantial national improvement. On his property
he established extensive salt and coal works, from which he derived very
considerable emolument, and which still continue the source of much
wealth; and, by his judicious management, he otherwise greatly enhanced
the value of his estate.
Sir Archibald took an active hand in superintending
his numerous colliers and salters. They were a rough, uncultivated set
of people; and, like most workmen in similar employments, not very
deeply impressed with proper notions of subordination. He had his own
system of management, however; and, although not strictly in accordance
with the principles of constitutional government, it proved not less
efficacious than it was summary in its application. He
required no sheriff or justice courts to
settle matters of dispute. Armed with his jockey-whip, Sir Archibald
united in his own person all the functionaries of justice; and, wherever
his presence was required, he was instantly on the spot. On several
occasions, when, by the example and advice of neighbouring works, his
men were in mutiny, he has been known to go down to the pits, and, with
whip in hand, lay about him, right and left, until order was restored.
The work would then go on as formerly—the men as cheerful and compliant
as if nothing untoward had occurred. Upon the whole, his people were
happy and contented; and although the means which he took to enforce
obedience were somewhat arbitrary, his subjects felt little inclination
to object to them.
Although much of his time was thus devoted to his own affairs, public
matters of local interest received a due share of his attention and, on
every occasion of a patriotic or charitable nature, he stepped nobly
forward with his counsel and assistance.
Sir Archibald resided
chiefly at Pinkie House, where he maintained the genuine hospitality of
the olden times, and kept such an establishment of "neighing steeds" and
"deep-mouthed hounds" as at once declared the owner to be, in sentiment,
one of those doughty "squires of old," whose masculine ideas of
enjoyment were widely at variance with the effeminacy attributed to the
luxurious landholders of more modern times.
As might be anticipated
from his character, Sir Archibald was a member of the Caledonian Hunt—a
body of Scottish gentlemen well known to be somewhat exclusive in the
admission of members. Of this honourable club he held the high
distinction of President in 1789, at which period the etching of the
"Knight of the Turf" was executed.
Sir Archibald married, in
1758, Elizabeth, daughter of William M'Dowall, Esq., of Castle Semple,
by whom he had two sons and five daughters. On the death of this lady in
1778, he married (the year following) Elizabeth, daughter of John Patoun,
Esq.—a gentleman whose name was originally Paton ; but who, having gone
abroad in his youth, and amassed a large fortune, on his return to his
native country, changed the spelling of it to Patoun. The issue of this
second marriage were three sons and one daughter.
Sir Archibald died at
Pinkie House on the 1st of June, 1794. He was succeeded by his second
son of the first marriage; on whose death in 1801, without issue, John,
eldest son of the second marriage, became the eleventh baronet.