HOPE, Hon. Alexander (1769-1837), of Craighall, Linlithgow.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1796 - May 1800
12 May 1800 - 1834

Family and Education

b. 9 Dec. 1769, 2nd s. of John, 2nd Earl of Hopetoun [S], by 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. 1da. KB 29 June 1813; GCB 2 Jan. 1815.

Offices Held

Ensign 63 Ft. 1786; lt. 64 Ft. 1788, capt. 1791; lt. and capt. 1 Ft. Gds. 1791; maj. 81 Ft. 1794; lt.-col. 90 Ft., 14 Ft. 1794; brigade maj.-gen. eastern district 1797-9, asst. adj.-gen., dep. adj.-gen. Dutch expedition 1799; brevet col. 1800; adj.-gen. Ireland 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, 47 Ft. 1813; lt.-gen. 1813; gen. 1830; col. 14 Ft. 1835-d.

Lt.-gov. Tynemouth 1797-8, Edinburgh Castle 1798-1812, 1819-26, gov. Sandhurst 1812-19, lt.-gov. Chelsea Hosp. 1826-d.


Hope pursued a military career like his elder brother John, who in 1791 informed the prime minister that Alexander had raised an independent company which was to be placed on half-pay and wished to exchange into the first Foot Guards.1 This was arranged, and Hope served in Flanders where he was a.d.c. to Sir Ralph Abercromby in 1794. On 8 Jan. 1795 he was severely wounded in action, losing an arm and becoming permanently lame, for which he received a pension. He subsequently became a military administrator.

In 1796 Hope’s brother-in-law Henry Dundas secured his return for Dumfries Burghs, and with Dundas as his mentor he could be counted on to support Pitt’s administration. He voted with the majority for the assessed taxes, 4 Jan. 1798, which he went on to defend against opposition critics in the House, and spoke at some length in denunciation of Jacobinism on 19 Apr. 1799. Soon afterwards Hope accompanied the expeditionary force to Holland. In May 1800 in a family reshuffle he replaced his brother John as Member for Linlithgowshire, a seat he retained for 34 years despite sporadic opposition from Henry Erskine*. Late that year he was military commissary to the allied subsidiaries on the Danube. In 1802 he superintended his absent brother’s unsuccessful candidature for Fifeshire. He was at first on good terms with Addington as prime minister, putting in a word for him against Grey in a military debate, 22 Apr. 1801, and sending him his views on the fortification of Ireland where he served as adjutant-general.2 He was not happy, however, about Henry Dundas’s withdrawal from the political scene, and he approved of the ministry only in so far as Pitt did so.3 He went to the Continent in 1802 and was not expected back until after Christmas.4 On 3 June 1803 he divided with Pitt’s minority, and in October Charles Yorke reported:

Hope is clearly hostile to the present administration, and decidedly attached to Pitt, so much so, that in the last session he stayed away when Craufurd and Windham made their military attacks, although it was his own department, and the commander in chief that were more particularly the object of censure.5

Hope himself had written confidentially to Lord Melville, 5 Aug. 1803:

My staff situation requires every deference to the King’s choice of ministers, and is at variance with my feelings, judgment, and observation of what is either fit or necessary in the direction of public affairs.6

In February 1804 when he was keeping a secret journal on the King’s illness, Hope was Pitt’s intermediary with Lord Melville in his bid to rally the latter to opposition to Addington, although he did not at first succeed. He did not divide with Pitt on his naval motion on 15 Mar. 1804, under pressure from Addington; writing to the Duke of York, 12 Mar., Hope explained that it was to prevent disclosure of military policy that he had avoided debates on the subject. He offered to resign if Addington was not satisfied. He was in the minorities of 23 and 25 Apr. 1804 which brought down Addington’s ministry.7

Hope was very much in Pitt’s confidence during his second ministry. In October 1804 it was reported of him: ‘no one here is nearer to the principal man in power than he is’. The reporter, the Irish under-secretary Marsden, wished Hope might become Irish secretary, but realized that it was not ‘practicable’.8 On 15 Nov. 1804 after a conversation with Pitt, Hope wrote urging him ‘for the peace of the country and of Europe’ to form a coalition government, but only with his ‘old friends’, as ‘upon public grounds there is far less to be forgiven and forgot upon this side than upon the other’.9 Despite this, he was credited by Lord Euston in April 1805, when he duly voted against the opposition bid to censure Lord Melville, with tending to encourage Pitt, whose ‘sanguine disposition’ he shared, to forego any political coalition if the current crisis could be weathered.10 Hope in fact wrote to Lord Melville, 9 May 1805, ostensibly for political guidance, but really to deprecate all thought of deserting Pitt, even though Pitt might seem to abandon Melville, if he could possibly carry on the government.11

On Pitt’s death Hope followed Melville’s line of abstention under the Grenville ministry. Windham disliked his proposals for military reform, but the prime minister’s brother mocked the ploy of keeping Hope away from the division on Windham’s military plan by giving him a regiment at the Cape, as he was ‘always a warm advocate for limited service’ and would have supported it. Hope did, however, receive military promotion. On 20 Jan. 1807 he warned Melville that the absence of a coherent opposition to the ministry was dangerous, and that he could not subscribe to any tactics adopted by them liable to discredit the Prince of Wales, as an opposition extending into a future reign would destroy their electoral sway. He thought ‘the marked neglect shown to Mr Pitt’s memory’ the only practical basis for opposition strategy. Not happy with Melville’s reply, he wrote again on 5 Feb. as trustee of his family interest, which must suffer by a long opposition, to urge Melville to play his part in a ‘steady and extended’ union of opposition.12 His fears were dispelled by the fall of the ministry, and he was firmly in the Melville and government camp thereafter. On 26 June 1807 he or his brother Charles defended Melville in debate against his Whig calumniators. Called by the House to identify a note as being in the Duke of York’s handwriting, 17 Feb. 1809, he declined committing himself.13

Hope, who had helped to plan the Scheldt expedition, stood by government when it was censured, January-March 1810, complaining privately that the army was unrepresented and its interests ‘left to chance’. On 23 Mar. 1810 he helped defend the army estimates. The Whigs then listed him ‘against the Opposition’. He was in the government minority on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811, and urged Lord Melville to attend in the Lords and vindicate the revival of Pitt’s proposals.14 On 28 Mar. 1811 he paid tribute to his friend Gen. (Sir) Thomas Graham I* for his victory at Barossa. In 1812 he had to be urged to attend.

Listed a Treasury supporter, Hope played little part in the next Parliament until May 1815: in 1813 he was sent on a special mission to Scandinavia to promote the allied war effort. On 2 June 1815, and again on 7 May 1819, he defended the record of Sandhurst military college, of which he had become governor. Although he presented a petition from his constituents’ against the property tax, he was in the government minority in favour of it, 18 Mar. 1816. On 13 Mar. he had defended the army estimates and on 6 May, as in the previous year, he was in the majority on the civil list. He supported ministers on the operation of the suspension of habeas corpus, 10, 11 Feb. 1818, and was in the government minority on the ducal grant, 15 Apr. He was a critic of the reduction of the King’s equerries on the Windsor establishment, 23 Feb. 1819, and on 16 Mar., denying that he was instigated by the Duke of York, successfully moved the restoration of the number of equerries from four to six. Interrupting his third leave of absence that session, he was in the government majority against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May 1819. Hope died 19 May 1837.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. PRO 30/8/146, f. 90.
  • 2. Bucks. RO, Hobart mss D/MH/144; Colchester, i. 279.
  • 3. SRO GD51/9/219, Hope to Dundas, 12 Dec. 1801; Add. 33049, f. 350; NLS mss 9370, f. 197.
  • 4. Sidmouth mss, H. Dundas to Addington, 14 Oct. 1802.
  • 5. Add. 35704, f. 48.
  • 6. SRO GD51/1/72/1.
  • 7. SRO GD51/1/72/3, 4, 5; Hope of Luffness mss, A. Hope to Duke of York (copy), 12 Mar.; Malmesbury mss, FitzHarris to Malmesbury, 16 Mar. [1804].
  • 8. Add. 35725, f. 58.
  • 9. PRO 30/8/146, f. 64.
  • 10. Camden mss C237/1.
  • 11. SRO GD51/1/85.
  • 12. HMC Fortescue, viii, 118, 124; SRO GD51/1/113/1; 51/1/114/2; Hope of Luffness mss, A. Hope to Hopetoun (copy), 19 Feb. [1806], Melville to A. Hope, 2 Feb. [1807].
  • 13. Castlereagh Corresp. vi. 261; PRO 30/8/367f. 157; Geo III Corresp. v. 4118.
  • 14. SRO GD51/1/169/8.