Hume, Patrick (1641-1724) (DNB00)
HUME or HOME, Sir PATRICK, first Earl of Marchmont (1641–1724), eldest son of Sir Patrick Hume of Polwarth, Berwickshire, by Christina, daughter of Sir Alexander Hamilton of Innerwick, was born on 13 Jan. 1641. The earliest of the Homes of Polwarth was Sir Patrick, knight, son of David Home of Wedderburn, and comptroller of Scotland from 1499 to 1502. The Earl of Marchmont's great-grandfather, Sir Patrick Hume or Home, was among the more prominent supporters of the Reformation in Scotland, and his grandfather, also Sir Patrick, was master of the household to James VI, and warden of the marches. His father, whom he succeeded in April 1648, had been created a baronet by Charles I in 1625. The son owed his zeal for the principles and traditions of presbyterianism chiefly to the care exercised by his mother in his early training. After completing his education in Scotland he went to Paris to study law, among his fellow-students there being Sir David Hume of Crossrig [q.v.] (Hume of Crossrig, Domestic Details, p.43). Elected a member of parliament for the county of Berwick in 1665, soon after his return from France, he manifested a decided hostility to the extreme measures enforced by the government against the covenanters. In 1673 he spoke with great plainness in parliament in opposition to the policy of the Duke of Lauderdale (Wodrow, Sufferings of the Church of Scotland, ii. 228), and in the following year he accompanied the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Tweeddale to London to lay their grievances before the king. But although received with every mark of respect and good will, they only succeeded in discrediting themselves in the king's opinion. Polwarth resisted the project of the privy council for garrisoning the houses of the gentry in order more effectually to curb the covenanters, presented a petition against it, and refused in 1675 to pay the contribution levied for the support of the garrison in his shire. The language in which the petition was couched led to his committal to prison by the privy council till the king's pleasure should be known (ib. p. 294). The king commended the council's action, declared him incapacitated from all public trust, and directed the council to send him close prisoner to Stirling Castle until further orders (ib. p. 295). On 24 Feb. he was liberated, but was still declared incapable of public trust (ib. p. 357). Shortly afterwards he was again imprisoned, and on 4 Sept. 1678 was removed from the Tolbooth of Edinburgh to a more healthy prison, Dumbarton Castle (ib. p. 481). On 6 Feb. of the following year he was removed to Stirling (ib. iii. 4), but was liberated by order of the king, 17 July 1679 (ib. p. 172).
Thereupon, according to Crawford, Polwarth, `finding that he could not live in security at home, went to England, and entered into a strict friendship with the Duke of Monmouth, the Earl of Shaftesbury, and the Lord Russell, who was his near relation' (Officers of State, p. 241). Crawford asserts that Polwarth protested to him that `there never passed among them the least intimation of any design against the king's life or the Duke of York's' (ib. p. 242). Naturally, however, the government regarded Polwarth and his friends as more or less directly responsible for the Rye House plot. Polwarth returned to Scotland, and, fearing arrest in the autumn of 1684, took refuge in the family vault under the church of Polwarth, where his eldest daughter, Grizel, afterwards Lady Grizel Baillie, then only twelve years of age, secretly supplied him with food (Lady Murray, Memoirs, p. 36). Towards winter he removed to a place dug out below an under apartment of his own house, but an inflow of water compelled him to vacate it. Soon afterwards he escaped to London by byways, travelling in the character of a surgeon, in which art he had some skill. From London he crossed over into France, and travelled by Dunkirk, Ostend, and Bruges to Brussels, in order to have an interview with the Duke of Monmouth (`Narrative of the Earl of Argyll's Expedition' in Marchmont Papers, iii. 2). Failing to meet the duke, he stayed for a time at Rotterdam, and thence went to Utrecht, where he learned the news of the death of Charles II (ib. p. 3). Ascribing Charles's death to murder, and believing it to be part of a great conspiracy for the re-establishment of popery, Polwarth entered into communication with Argyll and the other Scottish leaders in exile. It was finally resolved by them to do their utmost for the `rescue, defence, and relief of their religion, rights, and liberties' (ib. p. 5). Argyll, who claimed an equality of authority with Monmouth, deprecated Monmouth's resolve to claim the throne of England. Some of their companions were moreover hostile to the re-establishment of a second monarchy. Polwarth therefore urged Monmouth to withdraw his claims to the crown (ib. p. 12), and Monmouth apparently accepted his advice.
Macaulay asserts that Polwarth's `interminable declamations and dissertations ruined the expedition of Argyll;' but it can scarcely be doubted that Argyll himself ruined his expedition by stubborn adherence to his own plans. Polwarth throughout took practical and common-sense views. He found Argyll jealous of Monmouth, and their `first difficulty was how to prevent mistakes arising between them ' (ib. iii. 15). This difficulty was surmounted by an agreement to have separate expeditions to England and Scotland commanded by Monmouth and Argyll respectively. Polwarth then used his utmost persuasion to induce Argyll to disclose his plans to the other leaders, but was unsuccessful. Though distrustful of Argyll's intentions and of his ability as a commander, Polwarth set sail with him from the Vlie on 2 May. He strongly opposed Argyll's proposal to land in the western highlands, and earnestly pressed him to permit at least a portion of the forces to proceed to the lowlands to encourage the friends who had promised to assist them there; but Argyll by excuses and promises delayed coming to a decision till it was too late. After ` spending five weeks in the highlands to no purpose,' Argyll crossed the Leven with a view, it was supposed, of marching to Glasgow. Polwarth did his utmost to urge expedition, but ultimately discovered that Argyll had really no definite plan in view. After Argyll's ignominious `flight towards his own country,' Polwarth, with Sir John Cochrane and others, crossed the Clyde in a boat, were joined by about a hundred of their followers, and successfully resisted until nightfall a sustained attack made upon them by the enemy at Muir Dykes. During the night they marched off unperceived, and before the morning came to a safe hiding-place, where they remained all day. On learning late the next night that Argyll was taken, they resolved to separate. On 26 Jan. 1685 Polwarth had been prosecuted for complicity in the Rye House plot, and, failing to appear, had been denounced a rebel and put to the horn (Wodrow, iv. 227). A reward was now on 21 June offered for the apprehension of him and others (ib. p. 312). At first he found refuge in the house of the laird of Langshaw, Ayrshire, but afterwards Eleonore Dunbar, aunt to the Earl of Eglinton, invited him to Kilwinning, where she sheltered him for several weeks. A report of his death was spread to lull suspicion, and he escaped from the west coast of Scotland to Ireland, whence he sailed to Bordeaux, and thence journeyed by Geneva to Utrecht. Here he was joined by his wife and children, and lived under the name of Dr. Wallace, professing to be a Scotch surgeon. His estate had been forfeited to the Earl of Seaford in 1686 (Marchmont Papers, iii. 67), and he was reduced to severe straits. He was unable to keep a servant, and pawned portions of the family plate in order to meet current expenses. From Utrecht he on 15 June 1688 addressed, through Sir William Denholm, of West Shiel, a long letter to the presbyterian ministers of Scotland, warning them against `the proposal to petition King James for a toleration which would have included the papists' (ib. pp. 73-98).
In this letter Polwarth eulogised William, prince of Orange. By that date he had formed with his friends an informal privy council, with whom the prince was in consultation, regarding his expedition to England. In November 1688 he came over from Holland with the prince, and accompanied him in the march to London (`Diary of the March from Exeter to London,' ib. pp. 99-102). That the deliberations of the leading Scotsmen in London regarding what should be done in the crisis lasted three days is, according to Macaulay, attributable to the fact 'that Sir Patrick Hume was one of the speakers.' But Macaulay's hypothesis is unjustifiable. There is every reason to suppose that Polwarth expedited rather than hindered a satisfactory settlement. There can be little doubt at least that his influence with the presbyterians helped greatly to facilitate arrangements. At the Convention parliament which met at Edinburgh 14 March 1689 he took his seat as member for Berwickshire. By act of parliament in July of the following year the act of forfeiture against him was formally rescinded. Soon afterwards he became a member of the new privy council, and on 20 Dec. of the same year he was, in recognition of his services in promoting the establishment of William on the throne, created a peer of Scotland by the title of Lord Polwarth, the king granting him in addition to his armorial bearings `an orange proper ensigned, with an imperial crown to be placed in a surtout in his coat of arms in all time coming, as a lasting mark of his majesty's royal favour to the family of Polwarth and in commemoration of his lordship's great affection to his majesty.' Although a steadfast and sincere supporter of William III, Polwarth's earlier experiences led him to jealously guard against any seeming encroachments of royalty on the prerogatives of the parliament. He was a member of the political association known as the Club, one of whose main aims was to carefully protect the rights of parliament. He took a specially prominent part in the debates on the nomination of judges, boldly expressing the opinion that the appointment to such offices ought to be vested, not in the king, but in parliament. When the Cameronian regiment was embodied in 1689, certain stipulations of the men were submitted to Polwarth, who succeeded in persuading them to content themselves with adopting a declaration expressing in general terms a determination to `resist popery, prelacy, and arbitrary powers, and to recover and establish the work of the reformation in Scotland.' In October 1692 Polwarth was appointed sheriff-principal of Berwickshire, and in November of the following year one of the four extraordinary lords of the court of session. On 2 May 1696 he was promoted to the highest office in Scotland, that of lord chancellor, and in that capacity earned in the same year unenviable fame by giving his casting vote for the execution of the young student, Thomas Aikenhead [q.v.], for promulgating what were regarded as blasphemous opinions. In April of the following year he was created Earl of Marchmont. In 1698 he was appointed lord high commissioner to the parliament which met in July of that year. He was also in 1702 appointed high commissioner to the general assembly of the church of Scotland. Its proceedings were interrupted by the death of the king, and although Marchmont was immediately appointed commissioner by Queen Anne, the assembly was dissolved before the warrant arrived.
In the first session of the Scottish parliament after Queen Anne's accession, Marchmont, according to Lockhart, `from a headstrong, overgrown zeal, against the advice of his friends and even the commands of my lord `commissioner' (Lockhart Papers, i. 48), presented an act for the abjuration of the Pretender, James, son of James II. Lockhart states that the abjuration was 'in the most horrid scurrilous terms imaginable.' The most violent expression employed was that in which the Pretender was stated not to have `any right or title whatsoever to the crown of Scotland,' thus implying that he was not really the son of James II. After the bill had been read a first time the commissioner, who had made various efforts to bring about a compromise, adjourned the house, in order to prevent the excited debates which the discussion would occasion. On 11 July Marchmont presented a memorial to the queen in vindication of his conduct, and giving reasons why `it appears to be indispensably necessary that the parliament should meet upon 18 Aug., to which it is adjourned, to the end that that act which has had a first reading marked upon it may be passed' (Marchmont Papers, iii. 249). But his memorial was without effect, and he was superseded in the office of chancellor by the Earl of Seafield. In the following year he passed an act for the security of the presbyterian form of government, but aroused violent disapprobation by attempting to propose an act for settling the succession to the throne on the house of Hanover. After his dismissal from office he became one of the leaders of the squadrone party, and ultimately along with them strenuously supported the proposal for a union with England. His name appears in the list given by Lockhart of those whose support of the union was gained by a money bribe, and it was asserted that the bargain was so hardly driven that he had to return fivepence of change. Certain it is that at the time of the union the sum of 20,540l. 12s. 7d. was paid by the government to various Scottish noblemen and gentlemen, and that of this sum Marchmont received 1,104l. 15s. 7d.; but it has been plausibly argued by Sir G. H. Rose that the sum paid to Marchmont was merely arrears of his salary as lord chancellor, and of his pension (see defence in Marchmont Papers, i. pp. lxxxv-cxxxii). If this explanation be accepted, the most that can be charged against Marchmont is that he took advantage of a favourable opportunity to enforce his rightful claims. Marchmont was an unsuccessful candidate at the first election of representative peers which took place after the union, and also at the election which followed the dissolution of parliament on 15 April 1708. He was in fact too pragmatical and opinionated to win the cordial regard of any party in the state. In 1710 he was succeeded in the sheriffship of Berwick by the Earl of Home; but after the accession of George I he, as a consistent supporter of the Hanoverian succession, again came into favour, and, besides being reappointed sheriff of Berwick, was made a lord of the court of police. He, however, took no further prominent part in politics. He died at Berwick-on-Tweed on 1 Aug. 1724, and was buried in Canongate churchyard, Edinburgh. Writing about 1710 Macky, in his `Secret Memoirs,' says of him: `He hath been a fine gentleman of clear parts, but always a lover of set speeches, and could hardly give advice to a private friend without them; zealous for the Presbyterian government in Church and its Divine Right, which was the great motive that encouraged him against the crown. Business and years hath now almost worn him out; he hath been handsome and lovely, and was since King William came to the throne.' He was the author of an essay on surnames contributed to Collier's `Dictionary.'
By his wife Grisell or Grizel, daughter of Sir Thomas Ker of Cavers, Marchmont had four sons: Patrick, lord Polwarth, who, after serving through the campaigns of King William and the Duke of Marlborough, died without issue in 1710; Robert, a captain in the army, who predeceased his elder brother; Alexander, second earl of Marchmont, who assumed the surname of Campbell and is noticed under that name, and Sir Andrew Hume of Kimmerghame, a lord of session. His five daughters were: Grizel, married to George Baillie of Jerviswood [see Baillie]; Christian, died in Holland unmarried in 1688; Anne, married to Sir John Hall of Dunglass; Juliana, married to Charles Billingham; and Jean, married to Lord Torphichen.