HOPE, Henry Thomas (1807-1862), of The Deepdene, Dorking, Surr. and 1 Duchess Street, Mdx.
Available from Cambridge University Press
Family and Educationb. 30 Apr. 1807,1 1st s. of Thomas Hope of The Deepdene and Louisa, da. of Hon. and Most Rev. William Beresford, abp. of Tuam. educ. privately by Rev. James Hitchings; Eton 1823; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1825. m. 6 Oct. 1851,2 Anne Adele, da. of Joseph Bichat, 1 illegit. da. suc. fa. 1831. d. 4 Dec. 1862.
Groom of bedchamber Mar.-Nov. 1830; metropolitan improvement commr. 1842-51.
Dir. London and Westminster Bank.
Dep. recorder, East Looe 1830.
Hope came from a Scottish family, related to the Hopes of Hopetoun and Craighall, who had migrated to the Netherlands in the seventeenth century and became merchants in Rotterdam. The brothers Thomas and Adrian Hope laid the foundation of the family’s great fortune by establishing a bank in Amsterdam in 1731, which was known as Hope and Company from 1762. Their cousin Henry (1736-1811) became the bank’s active manager and his three sons, of whom the eldest, Thomas, was the father of this Member, were all sleeping partners until 1814, when they sold out to the Barings.3 Thomas, who inherited a large personal fortune on his father’s death, studied architecture and travelled extensively in southern Europe and the Middle East, adding to a large collection of paintings and objets d’art begun by his father. In 1794 the imminent French invasion of Holland drove the Hopes to take refuge in London, bringing the bulk of their moveable property with them. Five years later Thomas bought a town mansion in Duchess Street, which he enlarged, decorated in neo-classical style and filled with his collections; one visitor commented that it ‘resembled a museum’.4 A villainously ugly man, whom one contemporary described as ‘disagreeable ... fastidious and conceited’, and another as having ‘a foolish manner and a very disagreeable voice’, Thomas married the ‘uncommonly pretty and very good natured’ Irish aristocrat Louisa Beresford in 1806. Four years later Dubost’s caricature painting of the couple as ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was mutilated in the Pall Mall exhibition room by Louisa’s brother John.5 Thomas’s publications included an initially ridiculed but eventually influential treatise on Household Furniture and Interior Decoration (1807), which prompted the wags to dub him ‘Furniture’ Hope, Design of Modern Costume (1812), Essay on the Origin and Prospects of Man (1831), and Historical Essay on Architecture (1835).6 Soon after his marriage he purchased The Deepdene, a large country house in Surrey with extensive grounds, which he improved and stuffed with pictures, statuary and marbles. It became a resort for intellectuals and men of letters, including Crabbe, Davy, Rogers, Scott and Sismondi, while Duchess Street, presided over by Louisa, was for many years one of the focal points of the fashionable London scene; the reviled princess of Wales was made welcome there.7 During the French wars Thomas was said to be ‘a little of an opposition man’, though ‘neither a Burdettite or a Jacobin’. Indeed, he coveted a peerage and there was an embarrassing episode in 1823 when a land agent named William Bromley, who turned out to be insane and was probably acting alone, tried to procure a title for him by offering £10,000 to the duke of York, the commander-in-chief, and to the duke of Wellington, a member of Lord Liverpool’s cabinet.8
Henry Hope was groomed by his father for a parliamentary career. Soon after he went up to Cambridge (where he stayed only a year), Maria Edgeworth, who had earlier described him as an ‘ugly’ but ‘simple good boy’, unspoilt by Eton, wrote to his mother:
I am very glad that Henry is in a good set ... That is of much more consequence to a young man of his fortune and station in society than any temporary distinction he might gain. His father regrets, he says, that he is not more desirous of distinction; so do I. Yet he may be a very happy and a very useful and respectable man without ambition.9
Early in 1829 his father purchased the Trenant Park estate in Cornwall and the parliamentary patronage of East Looe which went with it, from James Buller Elphinstone*, and Henry was duly returned there in May. He divided with Wellington’s ministry against Lord Blandford’s reform scheme, 18 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. 1830. The following month he was appointed a groom of the bedchamber. Soon afterwards his mother, enlisting the support of her bastard cousin Lord Beresford, one of Wellington’s Peninsular army comrades, unsuccessfully solicited a peerage for her husband, explaining to the duke:
Our family concerns both as Hopes and Beresfords are ... quite unobjectionable, and the fortune of our house ... is more than sufficient to maintain the dignity of any honour. We may fairly say that our eldest son will be one of the richest commoners in the kingdom. We have done everything, and we feel and believe not unsuccessfully, to give efficiency to his natural talents, and whatever they are we trust they may come to be useful to the support of your administration, and at a vast expense we have secured his being always in a situation to be so, as well as his younger brother [Adrian, b. 1811] as soon as his age will permit.10
Hope voted against Jewish emancipation, 17 May. He divided for the grant for South American missions and against abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830. He was retained in the household by William IV, a family friend, who made his mother, to the surprise of some, who thought it beneath her, a lady of the bedchamber.11 He came in again for East Looe at the general election that summer.
The ministry of course regarded him as one of their ‘friends’, and he voted with them in the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov. 1830. He resigned from the household on the consequent change of government. On his father’s death in February 1831 he inherited the Duchess Street house, all the pictures and works of art and an equal share with his three siblings in a residue which yielded over £361,000. His mother subsequently exercised the option of selling The Deepdene to him for £12,000.12 Following the introduction of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, which proposed to disfranchise East Looe, Hope’s colleague, Thomas Kemmis, reported that he felt deterred from speaking on the issue because of his ‘strong views’ on it, and that ‘he tells me ... he would be delighted to give up Looe and politics if he could make sure of keeping the remainder of his property’.13 He presented an East Looe corporation petition with which he agreed in condemning the bill as ‘a violation of the constitution’, 18 Mar. He divided against the second reading, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. He returned himself at the ensuing general election. He voted against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and in favour of using the 1831 census to determine the disfranchisement schedules, 19 July. He supported a futile attempt to have East and West Looe combined to return one Member, 22 July, contending that the boroughs had ‘never been under any other than ... just and natural influence’. He responded tartly to Daniel O’Connell’s denunciation of them as ‘nomination boroughs’. He divided against the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July, may have supported a bid to have Rye combined with Winchelsea to return two Members, 30 July, and voted against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept. He divided against the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He voted against ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July, and was credited with a vote in the minority against the crown colonies relief proposals, 3 Aug. 1832.
Hope was left without a seat at the general election of 1832. At a by-election in March 1833 he offered for Marylebone as an ‘advocate [of] moderate Conservative principles’, but was defeated. Shortly afterwards he was returned for Gloucester and sat until his defeat in 1841.14 Later that year he asked Sir Robert Peel for a peerage as a reward for his services to the Conservative party, to no avail, but he eagerly accepted the premier’s invitation to sit on the metropolitan improvement commission in 1842.15 He came in again for Gloucester as a free trade Conservative in 1847, but was defeated there in 1852 and at a by-election the next year. He became very friendly with Benjamin Disraeli† and may have been a financial backer of the Young England group, though he was out of Parliament during its brief heyday. His youngest brother Alexander James Beresford Hope (1820-87), whom Disraeli privately dismissed as ‘an imbecile’ and ‘a cretin’, was a fellow-traveller.16 Disraeli dedicated Coningsby (1844) to Hope, claiming that it had been conceived during conversations at The Deepdene, where his friend had created ‘the most perfect Italian palace you can conceive’, set in ‘the most romantic grounds and surrounded by the most picturesque park I can well remember’.17 In April 1843 a daughter, Adele Henrietta, was born to Hope and his lover Anne Adele Bichet, whom he married in 1851, soon after the death of his mother. He died in December 1862 and left the bulk of his property to his daughter, who had married the future 6th duke of Newcastle.