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Significant Scots
Alexander Hume


HUME, ALEXANDER, second earl of Marchmont, the eldest surviving son and successor of the first earl, having maintained the historical luster of the family, deserves a place in the present work, though only perhaps in a subordinate way. He was born in 1675, and in his boyhood shared the exile and distress of his family. Before his elder brother’s death, he was distinguished as Sir Alexander Campbell of Cessnock, having married the daughter and heiress of that family. He was brought up as a lawyer, and became a judge of the court of session before he was thirty years of age. He was a privy councillor and a baron of the court of Exchequer, and served in the Scottish parliament, first for Kirkwall, and then for Berwickshire, when the act of union passed. Emulating his father’s feelings, he zealously promoted that measure, and took a very active share in the arduous labours that were devolved upon the sub-committee, to which the articles of the union were referred.

But the principal historical transaction in which this nobleman was concerned, was the introduction of the family of Hanover to the British throne. A report having been circulated that the electoral family was indifferent to the honours opened up to them by the act of succession, lord Polwarth, (for he had now attained this designation,) proceeded in 1712, to Hanover, and entered into a correspondence with the august family there resident, which enabled him fully to contradict the rumour. He took a leading part in suppressing the rebellion of 1715, by which that succession was sought to be defeated, and, in 1716, was rewarded for his services, by being appointed ambassador to the court of Denmark.

After acceding to the family honours in 1722, the earl of Marchmont was honoured with several important places of trust under government, till joining the opposition against the excise scheme of Sir Robert Walpole, he forfeited the favour of the court and his place as a privy councillor, which he then held. "It appears," says Sir George Henry Rose, [Preface to Marchmont Papers.] "that the distinguished members of the Scottish nobility who joined in this act of hostility to the ministers, were less induced so to do by any particular objections to that measure of finance, than by the hope, that their junction with the English who resisted it, might lead to the subversion of lord Ilay’s government of Scotland, a rule which they felt to be painful and humiliating. They knew it moreover to be sustained by means, many of which they could not respect, and which they believed to tend to degrade and alienate the nation. That they judged rightly in apprehending that the system adopted by Sir Robert Walpole and his virtual viceroy, for the management of the public affairs in North Britain, was ill calculated to conciliate to the reigning family the affections of the people, was but too sufficiently proved by subsequent events. He sat as one of the sixteen Scots peers in the parliament of 1727; but at the general election in 1754, the hand of power was upon him; and, being excluded, he, together with the dukes of Hamilton, Queensberry, and Montrose, and earl of Stair, and other Scottish noblemen, entered into a concert with the leading English members of the opposition, in order to bring the machinations unsparingly used to control the election of the peers in Scotland, to light, and their authors to punishment. Sir Robert Walpole’s better fortune, however, prevailed against it, as it did against a similar project in 1739." The earl of Marchmont died in January, 1740, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son Hugh, who was destined to exhibit the extraordinary spectacle of a family, maintaining, in the third generation, the same talent, judgment, and worth which had distinguished the two preceding.


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