JOHNSTONE HOPE, Sir William (1766-1831).

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



22 May 1800 - 1802
8 Nov. 1804 - 1830

Family and Education

b. 16 Aug. 1766, 3rd s. of John Hope† (d. 1785) of Cragiehall, Linlithgow and Mary, da. of Eliab Breton of Forty Hill, Enfield, Mdx.; bro. of Charles Hope†. educ. Edinburgh h.s. 1774-6. m. (1) 8 July 1792, Lady Anne Hope Johnstone (d. 28 Aug. 1818), da. of James, 3rd earl of Hopetoun [S], 4s. 2da.; (2) 30 Oct. 1821, Maria, da. of Sir John Eden†, 4th bt., of West Auckland, co. Dur., wid. of Frederik Willem, 6th earl of Athlone [I], s.p. Took name of Johnstone before Hope after 1st m. KCB 2 Jan. 1815; GCB 4 Oct. 1825. d. 2 May 1831.

Offices Held

Entered RN 1777, lt. 1782, cdr. 1790, acting capt. 1790, capt. 1794; col. marines 1811-12; r.-adm. 1812; c.-in-c. Leith 1813, 1816-18; v.-adm. 1819.

Ld. of admiralty Apr. 1807-Mar. 1809, Mar. 1820-May 1827; member of ld. high admiral’s council May 1827-Mar. 1828; treas. Greenwich Hosp. 1828, commr. 1829-30; PC 24 Nov. 1830.


In March 1820 Johnstone Hope, a war hero and veteran Melvillite Scottish Member, was appointed to a place at the admiralty board, at £1,000 a year, in Lord Liverpool’s ministry, under the 2nd Viscount Melville. At the general election he was returned unopposed for Dumfriesshire, where he had sat for 15 years on his own and the Buccleuch interest; he came in for the seventh time in 1826.1 He could of course be relied on to vote with his colleagues when present, but he was evidently not an assiduous attender: for example, he paired against the opposition censure motion on the Queen Caroline affair, 6 Feb. 1821, and his only known vote in the 1824 session was a paired one in defence of the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 11 June 1824. He was absent from the division of 28 Feb. 1821 on Catholic relief, but paired against it, 30 Apr. 1822, 1 Mar., 10 May 1825, 6 Mar. 1827. On 8 May 1821 he denied that the Dumfriesshire petition against the Scottish juries bill had been factiously got up; and he presented the county’s petition against interference with the Scottish banking system, 8 Mar. 1826.2

When the duke of Clarence was made lord high admiral after Melville’s resignation with the Tory ministers who would not serve in Canning’s ministry in April 1827, he asked Johnstone Hope to remain as one of his council, despite their ‘violent quarrel’ in the service in 1787, which had ‘not [been] made up for ten years’.3 He did so, but Canning subsequently vetoed as ‘quite impossible’ his ‘pretension to be made a privy councillor’, not least because he had recently ‘waived his seniority ... by leaving the chief management in the hands’ of Sir George Cockburn*.4 He divided against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb. 1828. A week later, on the recommendation of Clarence, which was endorsed by the new premier, the duke of Wellington, he was made treasurer of Greenwich Hospital at £800 a year.5 Quietly re-elected for Dumfriesshire, he divided against Catholic relief, 12 May, and with government on the ordnance estimates, 4 July 1828. Wellington had by then turned down Clarence’s request for Johnstone Hope to be made a privy councillor.6 He voted against the concession of Catholic emancipation, 6, 18, and (as a pair) 30 Mar., and presented hostile petitions, 12 Mar. 1829. Two months later his office was abolished by statute and he was named as the first of the new commissioners responsible for managing the hospital’s affairs and property, at a salary of £800 a year and with the promise of a new house near Greenwich Park.7 He presented petitions for the imposition of a duty on West Indian rum equivalent to that levied on Scottish spirits, 14 May 1830. On 12 July 1830 he told his eldest son John James Hope Johnstone, owner of the extensive Annandale estates in Dumfriesshire, that he intended to retire from Parliament at the impending dissolution and that Clarence (now William IV) was keen for him to come in in his room.8 This duly occurred.

Johnstone Hope, who had married the widowed countess of Athlone in 1821, was removed from his commissionership by the incoming Grey ministry in November 1830, but was made a privy councillor in compensation. He died at Bath, where he had gone ‘for the benefit of his health’, in May 1831. He was remembered for his ‘unvarying urbanity of manner and benevolence of heart’.9 By his will, dated 26 May 1830 and sworn under £14,000 in the province of Canterbury and under £1,500 in that of Chester, he left his wife, his sole executrix, £6,000 of the £10,000 secured for her by their marriage settlement, and distributed the remaining £4,000 among his five younger children.10

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Annandale mss (NRA [S] 217) 452, Johnstone Hope to J. Hope, 7 Mar. 1820.
  • 2. The Times, 9 May 1821, 9 Mar. 1826.
  • 3. Colchester Diary, iii. 495.
  • 4. Canning’s Ministry, 264.
  • 5. Wellington mss WP1/925/6; 1028/1.
  • 6. Ibid. WP1/937/20; 939/19.
  • 7. Ibid. WP1/1028/1; Annandale mss 687, Johnstone Hope to J. J. Hope Johnstone, 18 May 1829.
  • 8. Annandale mss 669.
  • 9. Glasgow Herald, 13 May 1831.
  • 10. PROB 11/1786/335; IR26/1260/296.