Open main menu

HOPE, CHARLES, Lord Granton (1763–1851), lord president of the court of session, born on 29 June 1763, was the eldest son of John Hope (1739–1785) [q. v.], M.P. for Linlithgowshire (a grandson of Charles Hope, 1st earl of Hopetoun [q. v.]), by his wife Mary, only daughter of Eliab Breton of Forty Hill, Enfield (a granddaughter of Sir William Wolstenholme, bart.) He was educated at Enfield grammar school, and afterwards at the high school of Edinburgh, where in 1777 he became the Latin dux. After studying law at Edinburgh University he was admitted an advocate on 11 Dec. 1784, and on 25 March 1786 was appointed a depute advocate. Though not conspicuous as a lawyer he was an accomplished public speaker, and in this capacity made himself useful at the tory political meetings. On 5 June 1792 he became sheriff of Orkney, and in June 1801 was appointed lord advocate in the Addington administration in the room of Robert Dundas of Arniston [see under Dundas, Robert, of Arniston, the younger]. Shortly afterwards he was presented with the freedom of the city of Edinburgh, together with a piece of plate, for his assistance to the magistrates in obtaining a poor's bill for the city. At the general election in July 1802 he was returned to the House of Commons for Dumfries district, but resigned his seat upon Henry Dundas's elevation to the upper house, and was returned unopposed for the city of Edinburgh (January 1803). While lord advocate, Hope conducted through the House of Commons the Scotch Parochial Schoolmasters' Act (43 Geo. III, c. 54), by which heritors were compelled to erect houses with two rooms for the schoolmasters. The only speech of his reported in the ‘Parliamentary Debates’ was one delivered in his own defence in the debate on Whitbread's motion for the production of papers relating to Hope's censure of a Banffshire farmer named Morison, who had discharged his servant for attending drills of a volunteer regiment. Hope made an ingenious defence, and gave a lively description of the multitudinous duties of his office but though the case against him was strong, the motion, after a great party debate in which both Pitt and Fox took part, was defeated by 159 to 82. On 20 Nov. 1804 Hope was appointed an ordinary lord of session and lord justice clerk in the place of Sir David Rae, lord Eskgrove, and assuming the title of Lord Granton took his seat on the bench on 6 Dec. 1804. On 12 Nov. 1811 he succeeded Robert Blair of Avontoun [q. v.] as lord president of the court of session, being succeeded as lord justice clerk by David Boyle [q. v.]. In 1820 he presided at the special commission for the trial of high treason at Glasgow (Reports of State Trials, 1888, new ser. i. 609), and on 17 Aug. 1822 was admitted to the privy council at Holyrood House. On 29 July 1823 Hope was appointed, together with his eldest son John, on the commission of inquiry into the forms of process and the course of appeals in Scotland (Parl. Papers, 1824, vol. x.). Upon the death of James Graham, third duke of Montrose, in December 1836, Hope became lord justice general, by virtue of 11 Geo. IV and 1 Wm. IV, cap. 69, sec. 18, by which it was enacted that ‘after the termination of the present existing interest’ that office should ‘devolve upon and remain united with the office of lord president of the court of session.’ Hope retired from the bench in the autumn of 1841, and was succeeded as lord president by David Boyle. He died in Moray Place, Edinburgh, on 30 Oct. 1851, in his eighty-ninth year, and was buried in the mausoleum at Hopetoun House on 4 Nov.

Hope was a man of imposing presence, with a magnificent voice, which, according to Lord Cockburn, ‘was surpassed by that of the great Mrs. Siddons alone’ (Memorials, p. 160), and a wonderful gift of declamation. Though a violent political partisan, and greatly wanting in tact and judgment, ‘his integrity, candour, kindness, and gentlemanlike manners and feelings gained him almost unanimous esteem’ (Lord Cockburn, Journal, i. 308–9). His charges to juries were singularly persuasive and impressive. Lockhart gives a graphic account of Hope's majestic bearing on the bench in ‘Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk’ (1819, ii. 102–8), while recording what he describes ‘as without exception the finest piece of judicial eloquence, delivered in the finest possible way by the Lord-president Hope.’ When the volunteer movement began, owing to the French war, Hope enlisted as a private in the first regiment of royal Edinburgh volunteers. He was afterwards appointed lieutenant-colonel of the corps, and performed the duties of that office with enthusiasm for several years, until the regiment was disbanded for the second time in 1814. In December 1819, when the ‘old blues’ were once more summoned together, he made them ‘one of the most eloquent addresses that ever was heard’ (Lockhart, Life of Scott, 1845, p. 415), and daily inspected the volunteers on duty at Edinburgh Castle while the regular troops were despatched to the western counties. Hope's famous regimental orders of 18 Oct. 1803, containing most curious and minute details, are given at length in Cockburn's ‘Memorials’ (pp. 187–94).

Hope married, on 8 Aug. 1793, his cousin, Lady Charlotte Hope, second daughter of John, second earl of Hopetoun, by his third wife, Lady Elizabeth Leslie, second daughter of Alexander, fifth earl of Leven and Melville, by whom he had four sons, of whom the eldest, John (1794–1858), is separately noticed, and eight daughters. His wife died at Edinburgh on 22 Jan. 1834, aged 62. His portrait in the robes of lord justice general, painted by Sir John Watson Gordon for the Society of the Writers to the Signet, hangs on the staircase of their library at Edinburgh. Two portraits of Hope and one of his wife were exhibited at the loan collection of the works of Sir Henry Raeburn at Edinburgh in 1876 (Catalogue, Nos. 22, 154, 261). Three portraits will be found in the second volume of Kay's ‘Original Portraits’ (Nos. 253, 254, 300). There is also a mezzotint engraving by Dawe after one of Raeburn's portraits.

Hope was the author of two pamphlets: 1. ‘Charge delivered to the Grand Jury of the County of Stirling on 23 June 1820,’ Edinburgh [1820], 4to. 2. ‘Notes by the Lord President on the Subject of hearing Counsel in the Inner House,’ Edinburgh, 1826, 8vo.

[Lord Cockburn's Memorials of his Time; Lord Cockburn's Journals; Omond's Lord Advocates of Scotland, ii. 205–23; Kay's Original Portraits, ii. 246–55; Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice, p. 545; Anderson's Scottish Nation, ii. 495–6; Douglas's Peerage of Scotland (ed. Wood), i. 745–6, 750; Burke's Peerage, 1888, p. 729; Gent. Mag. 1851, pt. ii. 649; Ann. Reg. 1851, App. to Chron. pp. 344–5; Official Return of Members of Parliament, pt. ii. p. 225; Haydn's Book of Dignities, 1851; Cat. of Advocates' Libr.; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. F. R. B.