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Hopetoun, seventh Earl of (1860–1908)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

seventh Earl of Hopetoun (1860-1908), by unknown photographer

seventh Earl of Hopetoun (1860-1908), by unknown photographer

National Archives of Australia, A1200:L16928

seventh Earl of Hopetoun (1860-1908), governor-general, later 1st Marquess of Linlithgow, was born on 25 September 1860 at Hopetoun House, South Queensferry, Scotland, eldest son of John Alexander Hope, sixth earl, and his wife Ethelred Anne Birch, née Reynardson. After education at Eton, where he rowed and debated a little, he went to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, passing in 1879. The affairs of his family estate, over 42,500 acres (17,199 ha) on both sides of the Firth of Forth, to which he had succeeded at 13, and probably his poor health, prevented his entering the army.

In 1883 Hopetoun was appointed Conservative whip in the House of Lords. He became a lord-in-waiting to Queen Victoria in 1885 and in 1887-89 represented the Queen as lord high commissioner to the general assembly of the Church of Scotland. On 18 October 1886 at All Saints' Church, Knightsbridge, he had married a childhood friend Hersey Alice Eveleigh-de-Moleyns, daughter of the 4th Baron Ventry.

In 1889 Hopetoun was appointed governor of Victoria and G.C.M.G., arriving in Melbourne in sumptuous style in November. During a time of depression and ministerial instability, Hopetoun entertained extravagantly and handled the political situation ably. Notwithstanding poor health and colonial astonishment at his habit of wearing hair-powder, his youthful enthusiasm for routine duties and his fondness for informal horseback tours won him many friends, even in Sydney. But Lady Hopetoun was criticized for her haughty manner. His governorship coincided with important years of the Federation movement of which he was a fervent supporter. After an extension of his term he left Melbourne in March 1895.

In 1895-98 Hopetoun was paymaster-general in Salisbury's government. In 1898, having declined the governor-generalship of Canada, he became lord chamberlain. On 13 July 1900 it was announced that the Queen had approved his appointment as first governor-general of the Commonwealth of Australia. He was made Knight of the Thistle and G.C.V.O.

After a disastrous journey via India, where he caught typhoid fever and Lady Hopetoun malaria, Hopetoun arrived in Sydney on 15 December 1900. Ill and poorly advised, he invited the New South Wales premier (Sir) William Lyne to form the first Australian ministry—a choice subsequently known as 'the Hopetoun blunder'. Upon Lyne's failure (Sir) Edmund Barton was commissioned. The governor-general took the oaths of office at the inauguration ceremony on 1 January 1901, and then swore in Barton's ministry.

Hopetoun's term was brief but beset with difficulties. His relationship with State governors was strained by a controversy over his attempt in February to obtain copies of all their correspondence with the British government. In May-July he supervised successfully the tour of the Duke of Cornwall and York (later King George V). A speech Hopetoun made in January 1902 to the Australian Natives' Association on the delay in sending an Australian contingent to the South African War earned him a gentle rebuke from (Sir) George Reid, leader of the Opposition. In May Hopetoun was humiliated when parliament refused to agree to Barton's proposal that the governor-general's salary of £10,000 be augmented by an allowance of £8000. He had already spent considerably out of his private income, and he asked the secretary of state, Joseph Chamberlain, to recall him. On 17 July Hopetoun sailed from Brisbane for England. He was created Marquess of Linlithgow in October.

Slightly built, with what the Bulletin described as a 'willowy stoop and a cat like, Lord Chamberlain's tread', he was usually clean shaven, but sometimes grew a moustache. Sir George Clarke regarded him as 'charming but not at all clever'. Hunting was his one hobby; a fearless rider, 'Probably he had more of his bones broken in the hunting-field than any man of his time in England'. Secretary for Scotland during the last months of Balfour's ministry in 1905, Linlithgow was already seriously ill. He died of pernicious anaemia while wintering at Pau in France on 29 February 1908. He was survived by his wife, a daughter and two sons, the elder of whom, the second marquess, in 1935 declined the governor-generalship of Australia, and was viceroy of India in 1936-43. Hopetoun's portrait, by James Quinn, is in Parliament House, Canberra, and another by Robert Brough is in Hopetoun House. A statue by Bernie Rhind was erected in Melbourne in 1911.

Select Bibliography

  • J. A. La Nauze, The Hopetoun Blunder (Melb, 1957)
  • D. I. Wright, Shadow of Dispute (Canb, 1970)
  • Bulletin, 14 June 1890, 2 July 1892, 16 Nov 1901
  • Argus (Melbourne), 2 Mar 1908
  • Times (London), 2 Mar 1908
  • C. Cunneen, The Role of Governor-General in Australia 1901-1927 (Ph.D. thesis, Australian National University, 1973)
  • Hopetoun House MSS, M936, 937, 1154-56 (Australian Joint Copying Project, National Library of Australia).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Hopetoun, seventh Earl of (1860–1908)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hopetoun-seventh-earl-of-6730/text11621, published in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 18 April 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2014

seventh Earl of Hopetoun (1860-1908), by unknown photographer

seventh Earl of Hopetoun (1860-1908), by unknown photographer

National Archives of Australia, A1200:L16928

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Hope, John Adrian Louis
  • Linlithgow, first Marquess of
Birth

1860
South Queensferry, Linlithgowshire, Scotland

Death

29 February 1908
Pau, France

Cultural Heritage
Occupation