HOPE, John Thomas (1807-1835), of Luffness, Haddington

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1830 - 1831
1831 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 10 Jan. 1807, 1st s. of Hon. Sir Alexander Hope* (d. 1837) and Georgina Alicia, da. of George Brown of Elliestoun, Edinburgh. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1823; L. Inn 1828. m. 2 Mar. 1835, Lady Frances Anne Lascelles, da. of Henry Lascelles†, 2nd earl of Harewood, s.p. d.v.p. 17 Apr. 1835.

Offices Held

Lt.-col. Fife militia.


‘Beauty’ Hope, who was born while his father was governor of Edinburgh Castle, apparently went in 1821 with his father, pious mother and siblings on their two-year European tour, which took them to Dresden, Lausanne and Florence. While abroad he received tuition from the Rev. Joseph Langley Mills, chaplain to the forces. He took a first at Oxford, where he recited his Newdigate prize poem on ‘The Arch of Titus’ on the same day, 30 June 1824, that his father received an honorary doctorate. His brother James, who became a fellow of Merton and a leading figure in the Oxford Movement, later commented that John ‘got nothing from Oxford but a good name’, though ‘from his situation’ he had no ‘need of much more’.1 He revisited the continent under his own steam, 1827-8, before entering Lincoln’s Inn.2 At the general election of 1830 he was returned unopposed for Gatton on Lord Monson’s interest.

The duke of Wellington’s ministry listed him among their ‘friends’, and he probably voted with them in the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov. 1830. Two days before his father had asked the home secretary Peel to secure his appointment to the revived select committee on the East India Company, to which subject he had ‘devoted some time ... and I hope not without profit’; but the ministry’s fall intervened.3 He may have been the ‘young Hope’ earlier referred to by Lord Ellenborough, a member of the outgoing cabinet, as one of the ministerialists who were supposedly ‘very unwilling to vote against’ parliamentary reform, ‘thinking the public feeling too strong’.4 However, in his maiden speech, 7 Mar. 1831, he opposed the Grey ministry’s reform bill as an unnecessary concession to popular clamour, which would satisfy neither the ‘middle classes’, who wanted tax reductions, nor the ‘crazy radicals and visionary anarchists’, who wished to ‘share amongst themselves the plunder of the country’. He also argued that it would drive a wedge between the landed and manufacturing interests, give too much power to the Commons and enfranchise men ‘who have neither sufficient property nor sufficient education to guarantee a just and correct use of that privilege’. He divided against the second reading, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he offered for Haddingtonshire, where his kinsman Lord Hopetoun exercised considerable influence, but withdrew in order to avoid splitting the anti-reform vote. He had taken the precaution of ‘securing a seat’ for Okehampton on the Savile interest, and was returned unopposed.5

Hope joined in calls for gradual rather than immediate reduction of the barilla duties, 1 July 1831. He divided against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and for use of the 1831 census as a basis for the disfranchisement schedules, 19 July. Two days later he expressed regret at the extinction of Gatton as a parliamentary borough. He voted to postpone consideration of the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July, and probably opposed the clause of the bill dealing with freeholders of city counties, 17 Aug. It is not clear whether it was he or Henry Thomas Hope who divided against the third reading, 19 Sept., but he certainly voted against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., and the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept. On 16 Dec. 1831 he claimed that many ‘respectable’ people were hostile to reform, and he divided against the second reading of the revised bill the next day. He dined at Peel’s house, 5 Feb.,6 and voted against going into committee on the bill, 20 Jan., the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He asserted that ‘a very large portion’ of Scots, ‘though ... not opposed to some change’, considered the Scottish bill ‘too sweeping and too extensive’, 25 May. He voted against the second reading of the Irish bill that day. He divided against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July, and criticized their foreign policy, 26 Mar., 20 July. He was a resolute opponent of Sadler’s factories regulation bill.7 He presented and endorsed a hostile petition from the flax spinners and linen manufacturers of Cupar, 8 Mar. He spoke at some length against the bill’s second reading, 16 Mar., contending that Parliament could not ‘supply the place of parental affections on behalf of the child’, that legislation was unnecessary and that the bill would be ‘productive of great inconvenience’ to both masters and workers. He asserted that ‘ill health and wretchedness are by no means the necessary consequences of being employed in ... mills’, 27 June, and presented hostile workers’ petitions from Annan, Pendleton and Cupar, 3, 16 July. He called for the postponement of the Scottish cholera prevention bill to facilitate the introduction of a clause to cater for voluntary parish subscriptions, 27 Mar. 1832.

Okehampton was disfranchised by the Reform Act, and at the general election of 1832 Hope stood as a Conservative for Manchester, presumably on the strength of his opposition to the factories bill. He was shouted down on the hustings and finished a distant fourth in the poll.8 On a tour of Norway in the summer of 1834 he fell ‘alarmingly ill’ with sunstroke,9 and he had not fully recovered when the Haddingtonshire Conservatives put him up for the county at the general election of 1835; he was narrowly defeated by a Liberal and resolved never to stand again.10 Two months later he married the eldest daughter of the 2nd earl of Harewood, but soon afterwards his ‘brain fever’ recurred and he died in April 1835, v.p. and aged 28. No will has been found. He was, according to Thomas Raikes, ‘a very handsome man and much liked’.11

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. R. Ornsby, Mems. James Robert Hope Scott, i. 1, 6-8, 21, 35, 53, 86.
  • 2. His travel jnl. is in NAS GD364/263 (NRA 10172).
  • 3. Add. 40340, ff. 246, 249.
  • 4. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 426.
  • 5. Edinburgh Evening Courant, 28 Apr.; Western Times, 7 May 1831; Northumb. RO, Hope Wallace mss ZHW/2/18.
  • 6. NLW, Ormathwaite mss FG 1/6, p. 17.
  • 7. NAS GD364/351.
  • 8. The Times, 17 Oct., 7, 14, 17 Dec. 1832; NAS GD364/350, 352.
  • 9. Keele Univ. Lib. Sneyd mss SC17/187; Ornsby, i. 65.
  • 10. Scottish Electoral Politics, 221; The Times, 19, 21 Jan. 1835; Ornsby, i. 80-81; NAS GD364/156-62, 166, 741.
  • 11. Gent. Mag. (1835), i. 428, 558; Raikes Jnl. ii. 90; Ornsby, i. 85-86.