HOPE JOHNSTONE, John James (1796-1876), of Raehills, Dumfries.
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Family and Educationb. 29 Nov. 1796, 1st s. of Sir William Johnstone Hope* and 1st w. Lady Anne Hope Johnstone, da. of James, 3rd earl of Hopetoun [S]. m. 8 July 1816, Alicia Anne, da. of George Gordon of Hillhead, 7s. (4 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. mother to Dumfries estates of 2nd mq. of Annandale [S] 1818; fa. 1831. d. 11 July 1876.
Hered. kpr. Lochmaben Palace.
Hope Johnstone was only 19 when he married the ravishing Alicia Gordon in 1816; she bore him at least 11 children.1 Two years later he succeeded his mother, a daughter of the 3rd earl of Hopetoun, to the extensive Dumfriesshire estates of the 2nd marquess of Annandale, who had died unmarried and insane in 1792. This property, with its mansion at Raehills, ten miles north-west of Lockerbie, made him the second largest landholder (after the dukes of Buccleuch) in a county for which his father, a naval hero, had sat as a Melvillite Tory since 1804. Like his maternal grandfather and mother before him, he pursued a claim to the Scottish earldom of Annandale and Hartfell, viscountcy of Annadale and barony of Johnstone as heir of line of Lord Hopetoun, Annadale’s heir general and heir of entail. He also coveted a British peerage in the short term.2 His petition claiming the titles was presented to the Lords by Lord Sidmouth, the home secretary, on 6 July 1820, but the first hearing before the committee of privileges did not take place until 1825. After further consideration in 1826 the proceedings were adjourned. They were resumed in 1830, when a number of other claimants came forward, but nothing was decided.3 His kinsman James Hope Vere* reported that he was ‘much out of humour at the delays of the House of Peers’ and reflected that he had ‘chosen a terrible sea of troubles to sail upon’.4 Shortly before the dissolution in 1830 Hope Johnstone’s father, now a commissioner of Greenwich Hospital, told him that he intended to retire from Parliament and that the new king, William IV, had ‘most strongly solicited me to endeavour to persuade you to take my shoes, and added that it might be the means of forwarding your cause’.5 He was initially reported to be ‘very reluctant to come forward’, but in the end he stood and was returned unopposed at the general election in August.6
The Wellington ministry of course reckoned him as one of their ‘friends’, and he divided in their minority on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He was given three weeks’ leave on account of illness in his family, 22 Nov. 1830. The new Grey ministry dismissed his father from his place but made him a privy councillor. Hope Johnstone presented a Moffat petition for Scottish parliamentary reform, 7 Mar., and voted for the second reading of the English reform bill, 22 Mar. 1831. This vote caused consternation among his county supporters, while William Douglas, Tory Member for Dumfries Burghs, told Buccleuch that Hope Johnstone was ‘a man who is more open to flattery from inferiors than any person I am acquainted with. He is highly respectable in his domestic relations, but his judgement is weak and he has had no experience of the world’.7 On 27 Mar., having, as Hope Vere put it, ‘suddenly become a great reformer’, Hope Johnstone was elected to Brooks’s, sponsored by the duke of Norfolk and Lord Essex.8 He voted against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment to the reform bill, 19 Apr. 1831, and at the ensuing general election retained his seat unchallenged. He had renewed his petition for the committee of privileges to proceed with the peerage case on 28 Mar. 1831, but the business remained in abeyance.9 He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, was given a month’s leave on ‘urgent private business’, 11 July, but attended to give general support to its details, though he cast wayward votes on the cases of Appleby, 19 July, and Downton, 21 July, for the enfranchisement of £50 tenants-at-will, 18 Aug., and to withhold the borough franchise from weekly tenants and lodgers, 25 Aug. He voted to postpone the Dublin, 8 Aug., and Liverpool writs, 5 Sept. He divided for the third reading, 19 Sept., and passage of the reform bill, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and the motion of confidence in the ministry, 10 Oct. 1831.
Hope Johnstone voted for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, generally for its details (though he was probably in the minority against the enfranchisement of Gateshead, 5 Mar.) and for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He divided against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., but with them on relations with Portugal, 9 Feb., and against the production of information on military punishments, 16 Feb. He did not vote for the address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry reform unimpaired, 10 May, but he voted against Conservative amendments to the Scottish reform bill, 1 June, when he criticized the removal of Selkirk from the Linlithgow district of burghs to Selkirkshire but accepted it as ‘absolutely necessary’, and 15 June. On 8 June 1832 he presented and largely endorsed a petition from ministers of the Church of Scotland praying that in the proposed scheme of Irish education all Protestant children should be allowed to attend daily Bible classes, though he considered the plan to be ‘founded ... in reason and justice’; he also brought up hostile petitions from clergymen of Annan and Linlithgow.
At the general election of 1832 Hope Johnstone was returned unopposed for Dumfriesshire as a Conservative. He renewed his peerage claim in 1833 and seemed on the verge of ‘a successful termination to so troublesome, vexatious and costly a job’ the following year, but his hopes, raised by Lord Brougham, were again dashed.10 Soon after Peel’s accession to power in 1841 Hope Johnstone vainly asked him for a British peerage.11 His Annandale claim was rejected by the committee of privileges on 25 June 1844.12 A Peelite Conservative from 1846, he retired from Parliament in 1865.13 He greatly extended the Raehills house, but struggled with estate debts.14 He died of ‘general decay’ in July 1876. His eldest son William had died in 1850, and he was succeeded by his grandson and namesake (1842-1912), Conservative Member for Dumfriesshire, 1874-80, whose renewal of the Annandale claim was conclusively dismissed in 1881.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: David R. Fisher
- 1. Sir W. Fraser, Annandale Fam. Bk. ii. 411.
- 2. Ibid. vol. i, p. cccxxxix; ii. 356-82; NAS GD51/1/191.
- 3. Fraser, ii. 357-66; LJ, liii. 259-60; lvii. 62, 473, 1028, 1041, 1058; lviii. 49, 388; lxii. 139, 205, 262-3, 582-3, 650; lxiii. 171-2, 218; The Times, 23, 26 May 1826, 8, 22 May 1830.
- 4. Hopetoun mss 167, ff. 138, 140, 142.
- 5. Annandale mss (NRA [S] 217), 669, Johnstone Hope to Hope Johnstone, 12 July 1830.
- 6. NAS GD224/507/3/33.
- 7. NAS GD224/507/3/24, 25.
- 8. Hopetoun mss 167, f. 244.
- 9. LJ, lxiii. 387, 792, 982.
- 10. Fraser, ii. 366-79; LJ, lxv. 100; Annandale mss 932, Hope Johnstone to J. Hope, 16 May 1834; Heron, Notes, 238-9.
- 11. Add. 40493, f. 212.
- 12. LJ, lxx. 411-12; Fraser, ii. 379-81.
- 13. Dod’s Parl. Companion (1859), 224-5.
- 14. Annandale mss 970, Hope Johnstone to J. Hope, 30 July 1845.