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

Background Information

Number of enrolled freeholders:

77 in 1820; 84 in 1826 and 1830


7 Apr. 1828JOHNSTONE HOPE re-elected after appointment to office

Main Article

The Border county of Dumfriesshire was mostly given over to arable agriculture, but it had significant coal and mineral deposits and there was extensive and varied textile manufacturing. In addition to the royal burghs of Dumfries, Annan, Lochmaben and Sanquhar, the principal settlements were Ecclefechan, Langholm, Lockerbie, Moffat, Moniave and Thornhill.1 The most powerful interest was that of the dukes of Buccleuch of Drumlanrig Castle, near Thornhill. Two years before his death in 1812 the 3rd duke had added to his already substantial county property by inheriting the large estates of his kinsman the 4th duke of Queensberry (‘Old Q’). His son and successor the 4th duke of Buccleuch, lord lieutenant since 1798, died in 1819, leaving his eldest son and successor eight years short of his majority. The Buccleuch affairs were supervised in the interim by the 4th duke’s younger brother Lord Montagu. Buccleuch was succeeded as lord lieutenant by Queensberry’s cousin and coheir, the 6th marquess of Queensberry, of Kinmount Castle, near Annan. The second largest landholding in the county was that of the Annandale estates, centred on Raehills, ten miles north of Lockerbie. On the death of the lunatic 2nd marquess of Annandale in 1792 they had passed to his great-nephew James Hope, 3rd earl of Hopetoun (d. 1816), and from him to his daughter, Lady Anne Johnstone, who had married in 1792 her kinsman Sir William Hope, a naval officer. Hope had been returned for the county with the backing of his father-in-law, the 3rd duke of Buccleuch, and Henry Dundas† in 1804. He styled himself Johnstone Hope after his marriage, won a contest in 1806 and came in unopposed at the next three general elections.2 When his wife died soon after the general election of 1818 she was succeeded in the Annandale estates by their eldest son, John James Hope Johnstone, then aged 21, who continued to prosecute the claim to the Annandale peerage which Hopetoun and his mother had initiated.3

There was no opposition to the return of Johnstone Hope, who had just been made a lord of the admiralty in Lord Liverpool’s ministry, in 1820, when he had the election delayed to suit his convenience.4 There was a riot at Moffat during celebrations of the abandonment of the bill of pains and penalties against Queen Caroline in November 1820.5 On 3 Jan. 1821 Queensberry chaired a county meeting which voted a loyal address to the king, moved by Sir John Heron Maxwell of Springkell and seconded by Sir Paulus Irving of Woodhouse. General Matthew Sharpe failed to find a seconder for his amendment demanding restoration of the queen’s name to the liturgy. The inhabitants of Langholm petitioned the Commons to that effect, 21 Feb. 1821.6 On 8 May 1821 the commissioners of supply and landholders petitioned the Commons against the Scottish juries bill and for duty to be levied on spirits only when they were removed from bond.7 The commissioners petitioned the Commons for regulation of salmon fishing and county notaries for repeal of the tax on their licences, 23 Mar. 1824. On 4 May 1824 the commissioners and landholders petitioned the Commons for the free export of Scottish spirits to England and clerks and apprentices of county procurators for repeal of the duty on attorneys’ licences.8 The freeholders petitioned both Houses against alteration of the Scottish banking system in March 1826, and the inhabitants of Moffat petitioned the Commons for the abolition of slavery, 20 Apr. 1826.9 Johnstone Hope was returned unopposed at the general election of 1826 and re-elected quietly in April 1828 after his appointment as treasurer of Greenwich Hospital by the Wellington ministry.10 In 1829 the inhabitants of Langholm petitioned both Houses and the parishes of Applegarth and Sibbaldie the Lords against Catholic emancipation, which Johnstone Hope opposed in the House.11 The freeholders petitioned the Commons, 14 Mar., and the Lords, 27 May 1830, for the imposition of a duty on West Indian rum equivalent to that on Scottish corn spirits.12

Two weeks after the death of George IV in the summer of 1830 Johnstone Hope informed his son, Hope Johnstone, that he intended to retire at the impending dissolution and that the new king had expressed a wish that he should come in. It was at first reported that Hope Johnstone had ‘declined, though the general will of the county strongly urges him to undertake the duty’, and it seemed that Sir William might have to ‘continue for a time’. In the event the ‘very reluctant’ Hope Johnstone was persuaded to stand at the 1830 general election, when he came in unopposed, proposed by Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick and seconded by Sir William Jardine of Applegarth.13 An Ecclefechan Dissenting congregation petitioned the Lords for the abolition of slavery, 15 Apr. 1831.14 Petitions for reform of the Scottish representative system and in support of the Grey ministry’s reform scheme were sent to Parliament from Langholm, Lockerbie and Moffat in March 1831. On 28 Mar. Montagu presented to the Lords one from the commissioners of supply criticizing the English reform bill for its too extensive disfranchisement of small boroughs and £10 borough householder franchise.15 Although Hope Johnstone had voted with the Wellington government in the crucial division on the civil list in November 1830, he supported the English reform bill (possibly to advance his peerage claim) and joined the Whig pantheon of Brooks’s. These actions ‘astonished his supporters and greatly delighted his opponents’ in the county, but he was unchallenged at the general election of 1831 and continued to support reform in the House.16 The inhabitants of Langholm petitioned the Lords in favour of the bill, 4 Oct. 1831.17

At the general election of 1832, when Dumfriesshire had a registered electorate of 1,170, Hope Johnstone was returned unopposed, but as a Conservative. He sat until 1847, when he was replaced by Queensberry’s heir, and came in again in 1857. The first contest since 1806 did not occur until 1868, when a Liberal ended the long Conservative hegemony, only to be unseated on petition.18

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1895), ii. 397-400.
  • 2. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 530-1.
  • 3. Sir W. Fraser, Annandale Fam. Bk. ii. 355-6.
  • 4. Annandale mss (NRA [S] 217) 452, Johnstone Hope to J. Hope, 7 Mar., W. Thomson to same, 11 Mar. 1820
  • 5. Ibid. 459, C. Stewart to Hope, 27 Nov. 1820.
  • 6. Glasgow Herald, 12 Jan. 1821; CJ, lxxvi. 97.
  • 7. CJ, lxxvi. 317.
  • 8. Ibid. lxxix. 204, 320.
  • 9. Ibid. lxxxi. 139, 263; LJ, lviii. 81.
  • 10. Glasgow Herald, 16 June, 3 July 1826.
  • 11. CJ, lxxxiv. 115; LJ, lxi. 155, 380.
  • 12. CJ, lxxxv. 423; LJ, lxii. 558.
  • 13. Annandale mss 669, Johnstone Hope to Hope Johnstone, 12 July; NAS GD157/2976/2; GD224/507/3/33.
  • 14. LJ, lxiii. 437.
  • 15. CJ, lxxxvi. 406, 416, 419; LJ, lxiii. 353, 358, 364, 384.
  • 16. NAS GD224/507/3/25; Glasgow Herald, 29 Apr. 1831.
  • 17. LJ, lxiii. 1047.
  • 18. Scottish Electoral Politics, pp. lxii, 223, 224, 235, 250.