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MARCHMONT, earl of, a title (dormant since 1794) in the peerage of Scotland, conferred by William III. on Sir Patrick Hume of Polwarth. He was descended from Sir Patrick Home of Polwarth, comptroller of Scotland from 1499, when he was knighted, to 1502, second son of David Home, younger of Wedderburn. The comptroller’s great-grandson, Patrick Home of Polwarth, was a chief promoter of the Reformation in Scotland, and one of those who in 1560 entered into an association to protect the preachers of the gospel. The eldest son of this gentleman, Sir Patrick Home of Polwarth, was, in 1591, appointed master of the household to King James VI., one of the gentlemen of his bedchamber, and warden of the marches. He died 10th June 1609. Sir Patrick Home, his son, had a pension of £100 sterling from James VI., from whom he received several other marks of favour. By Charles I. he was created a baronet in 1625, soon after his succession to the throne. He died in April 1648. His eldest son was the first earl of Marchmont, so created 23d April 1697. He had previously, 26th December 1690, been raised to the peerage by the title of Lord Polwarth. The patent of the earldom was to him and his heirs male whatsoever, and the secondary titles were viscount of Blasonberrie and Lord Polwarth of Polwarth, Redbraes and Greenlaw. This nobleman, it is well known, when Sir Patrick Home, suffered much for his patriotism, during the persecution in Scotland in the reigns of Charles II. and James VII., and had many narrow escapes of being taken. When he had decided upon leaving his place of concealment for the continent, he set out during night accompanied by a trustworthy servant named John Allan, who was to conduct him part of his way to London. In traveling towards the Tweed, they unconsciously separated, Sir Patrick having somehow quitted the proper road without being aware of it till he reached the banks of the river. This mistake proved his safety; for his servant Allan was overtaken by those very soldiers who were in pursuit of him. In the assumed capacity of a surgeon Sir Patrick got safely to London. Thence he proceeded to Holland, and returned to Scotland at the Revolution. He had four sons and five daughters. His eldest daughter, Grizel, afterwards Lady Grizel Baillie was the heroine who, when only twelve years of age, supplied her father with food and other necessaries, at the time he was under concealment in the family burial-vault, beneath the parish church of Polwarth. His eldest son, Lord Polwarth, predeceased him in 1710. His second son, the Hon. Captain Robert Home, also died young, without issue.

The third son, Alexander, was the second earl of Marchmont. Born in 1675, he was admitted advocate 25th July 1696. He married in July 1697, Margaret, daughter and heiress of Sir George Campbell of Cessnock, Ayrshire, and having been knighted, he assumed the name of Sir Alexander Campbell. He was elected member in the Scots parliament for Berwickshire, and on 16th October 1701, appointed a lord of session, taking his seat as Lord Cessnock. He was at the same time made a commissioner of the court of exchequer, and sworn a privy councilor. He supported the Union in parliament, and in November 1714 he resigned his seat in the court of session in favour of his younger brother, the Hon. Sir Andrew Home of Kimmerghame, Berwickshire. On the breaking out of the rebellion of 1715, he raised 400 of the Berwickshire militia, on the side of the government, and marched with three battalions to join the duke of Argyle at Stirling. The same year he was appointed envoy extraordinary to the courts of Denmark and Prussia. In December 1716, he became lord-clerk-register. In 1721 he was appointed first ambassador to the congress at Cambray, and in March of that year made his public entry into that city in a style of splendour and magnificence becoming the representative of the British nation. He succeeded his father as earl of Marchmont, August 1, 1724, and the following year was invested with the order of the Thistle. In 1726 he was sworn a privy councilor, and in 1727 chosen one of the sixteen representative Scots peers. In 1733 he joined the opposition against Sir Robert Walpole, and in consequence he was, in May of that year, dismissed from his office of lord-clerk-register. He died at London February 27, 1740, in his 65th year, and was buried in Canongate churchyard, Edinburgh. In the Scots Magazine for March 1740, is a high character of this nobleman. He had four sons and four daughters. The two eldest sons died young, the two youngest, Hugh, third earl, and the Hon. Alexander Home, were twins, born at Edinburgh 15th February 1708. At the general election of 1734 the latter was chosen M.P. for Berwickshire, and constantly rechosen till his death 19th July 1760. He took an active part in parliamentary business, and was an eminent barrister in London. In 1741 he was appointed solicitor to the prince of Wales, and 27th January 1756, lord-clerk-register of Scotland.

Hugh, third earl of Marchmont, became eminent for his learning and brilliant genius. At the general election of 1734, he was chosen M.P. for Berwick, and in the House of Commons he made himself so formidable to the government to one of the leaders of the opposition, that Sir Robert Walpole, then prime minister, declared that there were few things he more ardently desired than to see that young man at the head of his family; which would have had the effect of removing him from parliament altogether. On the death of his father in February 1740, he became third earl of Marchmont.

By his contemporaries his lordship was held in high estimation. He formed an intimate friendship, with Lord Cobham, who gave his bust a place in the Temple of Worthies at Stow, and with Pope, who introduced his name into the well-known inscription in his grotto at Twickenham:

“There the bright flame was shot through Marchmont’s soul.”

He was one of the executors of Pope, and also of Sarah, duchess of Marlborough, both of whom died in 1741. The latter left him a legacy of £2,500. In 1750 he was elected one of the sixteen representative peers of Scotland, and rechosen at every general election till 1784. During the 34 years that he sat in the house of Lords, he took an active part in the business of the house, few of their lordships possessing a greater amount of parliamentary information and experience. In 1747 he had been appointed first lord of police, a department long since abolished, and on 28th January 1764, keeper of the great seal of Scotland. He died at Hemel-Hempstead, Hertfordshire, 10th January 1794, in his 86th year, when the earldom of Marchmont became dormant. He built Marchmont House, in the parish of Polwarth, Berwickshire, and on his death Sir Hugh Purves, sixth baronet of Purves Hall, great-grandson of Lady Anne Purves, eldest sister of the third earl of Marchmont, assumed the names of Hume and Campbell on succeeding to the estates.

His lordship married, first, in May 1731, Miss Anne Western, London, by whom he had a son, Patrick, Lord Polwarth, who died young, and three daughters. The youngest daughter, Lady Diana Home, married, 18th April, 1754, Walter Scott of Harden, Berwickshire, M.P., who died at Tonbridge, 25th January, 1793, and had one son, Hugh Scott of Harden, who, in 1835, made good his claim to the title of Lord Polwarth in the Scottish peerage (see POLWARTH, lord). Lady Diana was the only one of the earl’s daughters who left surviving issue, and the Polwarth peerage, when conferred on the first earl of Marchmont, was with remainder to the heirs male of his body, and failing these to the heirs general of such heirs male. His countess having died 9th May 1747, the earl married, secondly, at London, 30th January 1748, Miss Elizabeth Crompton, daughter of a linen-draper in Cheapside. By this lady he had one son, Alexander, Lord Polwarth, born in 1750, married 16th July 1772, Lady Annabella Yorke, eldest daughter of Philip, second earl of Hardwicke. He was created a peer of the United Kingdom by the title of Baron Hume of Berwick, 14th May, 1776. He died, without issue, 9th March 1781, in his 31st year, when his British title became extinct.

Lord Marchmont bequeathed his library, consisting of one of the most curious and valuable collections of books and manuscripts in Great Britain, to his sole executor, the Right Hon. George Rose, whose son, Sir George Henry Rose, published in 1831, ‘A Selection from the papers of the Earls of Marchmont, illustrative of Events from 1685 to 1750,’ in 3 vols. 8vo.

A Selection of Papers of the Earls of Marchmont
In the Possesion of the Right Honourable Sir George Henry Rose Illustrative of Events 1685 to 1750 in 3 volumes
Volume 1  |  Volume 2  |  Volume 3

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