HOPE, Hon. Sir Alexander (1769-1837), of Farnham, Surr.

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



1796 - 22 Apr. 1800

Family and Education

b. 9 Dec. 1769, 2nd s. of John, 2nd earl of Hopetoun [S] (d. 1781), and 3rd w. Lady Elizabeth Leslie, da. of Alexander, 5th earl of Leven and Melville [S]; bro. of Hon. Charles Hope† and half-bro. of Hon. John Hope†. educ. at home by Rev. John Gillies; grand tour. m. 23 Oct. 1805, Georgina Alicia, da. of George Brown, commr. of excise, of Elliestoun, Edinburgh, 5s. (3 d.v.p.) 1da. KB 29 June 1813, GCB 2 Jan. 1815. d. 19 May 1837.

Offices Held

Ensign 63 Ft. 1786; lt. 64 Ft. 1789; capt. army 1791; lt. and capt. 1 Ft. Gds. 1791; maj. 81 Ft. 1794; lt.-col. 90 Ft. Aug. 1794, 14 Ft. Dec. 1794; brigade maj.-gen. eastern district 1797-9, asst. adj.-gen., dep. adj.-gen. Dutch expedition 1799; brevet col. 1800; adj.-gen. [I] 1801; col. loyal Nottingham fencibles 1801, half-pay 1802; dep. q.m.g. 1802; brig.-gen. 1804; col. Cape regt., 5 W.I. regt. 1806; maj.-gen. 1808; col. 74 Ft. 1809; lt.-gen. 1813; col. 47 Ft. 1813; gen. 1830; col. 4 Ft. 1835-d.

Lt.-gov. Tynemouth 1797-8, Edinburgh Castle 1798-1812, 1819-24; gov. R.M.C. Sandhurst 1812-19, 1824-6; lt.-gov. Chelsea Hosp. 1826-d.


Hope, a veteran and well-connected Melvillite, who had lost an arm and been crippled in Flanders in 1795 (for which he received a disability pension of £450 a year), was on the continent when the death of George III in January 1820 necessitated a dissolution. He hurried back on hearing the news and at the general election in March was returned unopposed, and for the seventh consecutive time, for Linlithgowshire, on the now impregnable interest of his half-brother, the 4th earl of Hopetoun. Between Hopetoun’s sudden death in August 1823 and the coming of age of the 5th earl, his nephew, in November 1824, Hope held the reins. He was secure in the seat for the rest of this period.1

He voted in defence of the Liverpool ministry’s conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821. He was absent from the division on Catholic relief, 28 Feb., perhaps having already departed with his wife and five children on a two-year tour of Germany, Switzerland and Italy.2 He was in the House to divide with government on the sinking fund, 3 Mar., against repeal of the assessed taxes, 10, 18 Mar., and of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., and for the grant for Irish glebe houses, 11 Apr. 1823. In debates on the army estimates he defended the votes of money for garrisons, 7 Mar., the Royal Military College (the governorship of which, an ‘anxious and laborious’ post, he had held from 1812 to 1819), 10 Mar., and the governorship of Edinburgh Castle, his current place, 24 Mar. 1823.3 In March 1824 he resumed control at Sandhurst when Sir George Murray* was appointed to ministerial office. He voted, 5 Mar., and spoke, 11 Mar. 1824, against the abolition of flogging in the army, as he did again, 11 Mar. 1825. He presented petitions from Linlithgow for equalization of the duty on Scottish and Irish spirits, 6 May, and against alteration of the Scottish poor laws, 7 May 1824.4 He voted for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb. 1825. He defaulted on a call of the House, 28 Feb., appeared and was excused next day, but evidently did not then vote on the Catholic question. He presented a petition against relief, 18 Apr., and paired in that sense, 18 Apr.5 He approved the army estimates, 4 Mar. He presented a constituency petition against interference with the corn laws, 9 May 1825. On 6 Mar. 1826 he assured Hume that while he had been absent from Sandhurst for two months on ‘urgent private business’ in 1825, ‘his attention was not withdrawn from the establishment’. Claiming that after a total of ten years in the job he had ‘not grown sixpence the richer’, he explained that he was waiting to hand over to Sir Edward Paget† on his return from India. (This took place in September 1826, when Hope became lieutenant-governor of Chelsea Hospital.) He also defended governorships of garrisons as ‘the only reward in the power of the crown to bestow upon officers who had become distinguished, wounded or worn out in the service of their country’, and protested at Hume’s description of Lord Charles Somerset†, the controversial governor of the Cape, as ‘a man whom everybody detested’. He presented a Linlithgowshire petition against restricting the circulation of small Scottish bank notes, 21 Apr. 1826.6

Hope again defended the public funding of Sandhurst, 19 Feb., garrison appointments, 20 Feb., and the selective use of corporal punishment to subdue ‘the unruly passions’ of miscreant soldiers, dismissing the views of ‘visionary philanthropists’, 12 Mar. 1827. He paired against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827. In April he affirmed to John Hope, the Scottish solicitor-general, his unwavering attachment to the 2nd Lord Melville, who had declined to serve in the new ministry headed by Canning: ‘as one of a cabinet he was most valuable when under the check of thinking men, but as premier without a cabinet which will control him I apprehend danger from his administration’.7 He voted against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and again paired against Catholic claims, 12 May 1828. He presented a constituency petition against the revised corn duties, 14 May. He expressed ‘surprise’ at Hume’s objection to the appointment of Murray as colonial secretary in the duke of Wellington’s administration, 30 May. On 13 June 1828, answering Hume’s rant against the funding of Sandhurst, he complained that far from the finance committee’s investigation having helped to expose the nonsense of ‘garbled statements’ about the military establishments, as he had hoped, ‘insidious use’ was being made of its findings by Hume and his cronies to spread ‘poison’; he was drawn into further tart exchanges with Hume, Hobhouse and Waithman. He justified the grants for Kilmainham Hospital and the Royal Military Asylum, 20 June 1828. He was expected to side ‘with government’ for the concession of Catholic emancipation in 1829, but in the event he cast a token vote against the second reading of the relief bill, 18 Mar. He was appointed to the select committee on Scottish entails, 27 Mar., and called for urgent reform of the current laws, 2 June 1829. He voted against Lord Blandford’s parliamentary reform scheme, 18 Feb. 1830. He presented but dissented from the prayer of a Cupar merchants’ petition against the Dundee harbour bill, 19 Mar. 1830. Ministers listed him among their ‘friends’ after the 1830 general election (when he was joined in the House by his eldest son John Thomas as Member for Gatton), and he was in their minority in the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented a petition from Linlithgowshire distillers for revision of the regulations governing grain purchases, 28 Feb. 1831. He voted against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s English reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr., but presented a constituency petition for reform, 14 Mar. He voiced fears that allowing Scottish clergymen to vote would infuse ‘the poison of politics ... between the pastor and his flock’, 25 Mar. His last recorded vote was against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July 1831. He paired against its passage, 21 Sept., and the second and third readings of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, 22 Mar. 1832. He demanded to know if Lord Milton intended to move for repeal of the corn laws, 1 June 1832. He was given a month’s leave on account of a family illness, 11 July 1832.

Hope narrowly retained his seat after a contest at the general election of 1832, when he gave ‘as his definition of a Tory, which he avowed himself to be, that he was one anxious for every rational improvement, without dangerous and speculative experiments’.8 He retired from Parliament at the dissolution of 1834, lost his eldest and youngest sons the following year and died at Chelsea Hospital in May 1837.9 He was succeeded by his elder surviving son George William Hope (1808-63), Conservative Member for Windsor, 1859-63. His personalty was sworn under £30,000, but with admitted debts in 1834 of £60,000 against assets of £54,000, his estate was deemed ‘insolvent’ for death duty purposes.10

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Caledonian Mercury, 19, 26 Feb., 27 Mar. 1820; Add. 40358, f. 359; 40370, f. 92.
  • 2. Black Bk. (1823), 164.
  • 3. The Times, 8, 11, 25 Mar. 1823.
  • 4. Ibid. 7, 8 May 1824.
  • 5. Ibid. 19 Apr. 1825.
  • 6. Ibid. 22 Apr. 1826.
  • 7. NAS GD364/289.
  • 8. Caledonian Mercury, 20 Dec. 1832.
  • 9. Gent. Mag. (1837), ii. 423-4.
  • 10. PROB 11/1880/460; IR26/1453/389.