Hope, John (1794-1858) (DNB00)

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HOPE, JOHN (1794–1858), Scottish judge, eldest son of Charles Hope [q. v.], lord president of the court of session, was born on 26 May 1794, and received some part of his education at the high school of Edinburgh. He was admitted an advocate on 23 Nov. 1816, and on Rae becoming lord advocate was appointed one of his deputes. On 25 June 1822 James Abercromby [q. v.] unsuccessfully moved in the House of Commons for the appointment of a committee of inquiry into the conduct of the lord advocate and the other law officers of the crown in Scotland in relation to the public press. Hope sent Abercromby a letter of protest, and was summoned to attend the house. He was heard at the bar in his own defence on 17 July following (Parl. Debates, new ser. vii. 1668–1673), but though it was unanimously agreed that he had been guilty of a breach of the privileges of the house, no further proceedings were taken in the matter. On the death of James Wedderburn in November of the same year, Hope was appointed by Lord Liverpool solicitor-general for Scotland, a post which he held until the formation of Lord Grey's ministry in 1830, when he was succeeded by Henry Cockburn. On 17 Dec. 1830 Hope was elected dean of the Faculty of Advocates in the place of Francis Jeffrey, in whose favour Hope had generously waived his claims to the chair in the previous year. In 1841 he succeeded David Boyle as lord justice clerk, taking his seat on the bench as president of the second division of the court of session on 16 Nov. 1841, and on 17 April 1844 was sworn a member of the privy council. Hope was an able and indefatigable judge. He presided over the second division of the civil court as well as at nearly all the trials of importance which took place in the high court of justiciary during his seventeen years of office. He died in Moray Place, Edinburgh, on 14 June 1858, from a sudden attack of paralysis, and was buried at Ormiston, near Tranent. He married in August 1825 Jessie Scott, daughter of Thomas Irvine of Shetland, by whom he had several children. His widow survived him, and died in Royal Terrace, Edinburgh, on 26 Jan. 1872, aged 79. While comparing the English with the Scottish bar, Cockburn makes the following amusing allusion to Hope's style of advocacy at the bar: ‘I heard no voice strained, and did not see a drop of sweat at the bar in these eight days. Our high-pressure dean screams and gesticulates and perspires more in any forenoon than the whole bar of England (I say nothing of Ireland) in a reign’ (Memorials of his Time, i. 114). Sir Walter Scott had a very high opinion of him (Lockhart, Life of Scott, 1845, p. 587). There is a portrait of him by Colvin Smith, R.S.A., taken when dean of the faculty, in the National Gallery of Scotland (Catalogue, No. 67). There are also portraits of Hope in the Parliament House and in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Hope was the author of the following works: 1. ‘A Letter to Francis Jeffrey, Esq., Editor of the “Edinburgh Review.” By an Anti-Reformist,’ Edinburgh, 1811, 8vo. 2. ‘Letter to the Honourable James Abercromby, M.P. [answering certain charges made by the latter against Hope in his speech in the House of Commons, on the 25th of June 1822]’ [Edinburgh, 1822], fol. 3. ‘A Diary of the Proceedings in the Parliament and Privy Council of Scotland, May 21 mdcc–March 7 mdccvii. By Sir David Hume of Crossrigg, one of the Senators of the College of Justice’ [edited by Hope for the Bannatyne Club], Edinburgh, 1828, 4to. 4. ‘A Letter to the Lord Chancellor on the claims of the Church of Scotland in regard to its Jurisdiction and on the proposed changes in its Polity,’ Edinburgh, 1839, 8vo; second edition (with an appendix), Edinburgh, 1839, 8vo.

[Cockburn's Memorials of his Time; Omond's Lord Advocates of Scotland; Anderson's Scottish Nation, ii. 496; Times for 16 and 17 June 1858; Gent. Mag. 1822, pt. ii. p. 559, 1858 new ser. v. 192; Ann. Reg. 1858, App. to Chron. p. 417; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. F. R. B.