Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


.BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 197 by some of the more desperate members of the British Convention to seduce the soldiers from their allegiance, or at all events to sow the seeds of discontent among them, but without effect. At Dumfries, where the corps was quartered in 1794, the following curious circumstance occurred :-“ One of the Hopetoun Fencibles, now quartered in that town,” says a newspaper of the day, “ was discovered to be a woman, after having been upwards of eighteen months in the service. The discovery was made by the tailor, when he was trying on the new clothes. It is remarkable that she has concealed her sex so long, considering she always slept with a comrade, and sometimes with two. She went by the name of John Nicolson, but her real name was Jean Clark. Previous to her assuming the character of a soldier, it seems she had accustomed herself to the dress and habits of a man; having been bred to the business of a weaver at Closeburn, and employed as a man-servant at Ecclefechan.” The services of the Hopetoun Fencibles were at first limited to Scotland, but were afterwards extended to England. They remained embodied till 1798, when they were disbanded, after the regular militia had been organised. His lordship afterwards, as Lord Lieutenant of the county of Linlithgow, embodied a yeomanry corps and a regiment of volunteer infantry, both of which were among the first that tendered their services to Government. These he commanded as Colonel, and took a deep interest and a very active part in training them, and rendering them efficient for the public service. During those times of alarm, when the country was threatened by foreign invasion, his influence, his fortune, and his personal exertions were steadily devoted to the public safety; and so much were his services appreciated by the Executive, that he was created a Baron of the United Kingdom in 1809, by the name, style, and title of Baron Hopetoun of Hopetoun. The Earl died at Hopetoun House, on the 29th May 1816, at the advanced age of 75. He married, in 1756, Elizabeth, daughter of the Earl of Northesk, by whom he had six daughters. They all died prior to himself, except Lady Anne, upon whom the Annandale estates devolved, and who married Admiral Sir William Johnstone. Inheriting from his ancestors high rank and ample fortune, Lord Hopetoun maintained the dignity and noble bearing of the ancient Scotch baron, with the humility of a Christian, esteeming the religious character of his family to be its highest distinction; and he was not more eminent for the regularity of his attendance on all the ordinances of religion, than for the sincerity and reverence with which he engaged in them. He was an indulgent landlord, a most munificent benefactor to the poor, and a friend to all who lived within the limits of his extensive domains. The following lines, written at the period of his death, describe his estimable character in glowing and forcible language :-
Volume 8 Page 277
  Enlarge Enlarge  
198 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. “ For worth revered, 10 I full of years, Amid the sorrowing people’s tears, Does Hopetoun to the tomb descend, Who mourn their constant, kindest friend, Oft have I heard, as o’er hie land I wandered in my youthful days, The farmer bless his fostering hand, And ploughman’s ruder note of praise. Oft,(too, in Humbie’s fairy vale- Of Hopetoun have I heard the tale Romantic vale I so sweetly wild- Of sorrow soothed or want beguiled. The mausoleum may arise, But far superior are the sighs Displaying well the sculptor’s art ; That rise from many a wounded heart. The historic record shall survive, The legendary tribute live And unimpaired its meed bestow ; When time haa laid the structure low. In early life to warfare trained, He gained the glory arms can yield ; When Gallia had her lilies stained On Minden’s memorable field. Hsnce wreathed, the titled path he trod- A path (haw few pursue his plan !) Bright, marked with piety to God And warm benevolence to man. The niche he leaves a brother fills, Long, long o’er Scotia’s vales and hills Whose prowess fame has blazoned wide ; Shall Niddry’s deeds be told with pride !” Having no male issue, the Earl of Hopetoun was succeeded by his half-brother John, fourth Earl, G.C.B., and General in the Army, who had distinguished himself so much by his gallantry and abilities in the West Indies in 1794 ; in Holland in 1799 j and at the battles of Corunna, Bayonne, Bourdeaux, and Toulouse. For these services he was created a British Peer in 1814, by the title of Baron Niddry. A handsome equestrian statue has lately been erected to his memory in St. Andrew Square, in front of the Royal Bank, by the citizens of Edinburgh. . Earl John was twice married,-first, in 1798, to Elizabeth, youngest .(aughter of Charles Hope Vere of Craighall, who died without issue in 1801 ; secondly, in 1803, to Louisa Dorothea, third daughter of Sir John Wedderburn of Ballendean, by whom he had twelve children,’ of whom seven sons and It will be recollected that when George IV. visited Scotland in 1822, his Majesty embarked at Port-Edgar, having previously partaken of a repast at Hopetoun House with the Earl, his family, and a select company assembled for the occasion. While at breakfaat, one of the Earl’s sons, a lively He died at Paris on the 27th August 1823. ‘
Volume 8 Page 278
  Enlarge Enlarge