The Barony of West Niddry

West Lothian


On behalf of the Marquis of Linlithgow :

The place-name Niddry is derived from a first millennium place-name of Cymric origin ‘Nudreff’. ‘Nudreff’ has two components – ‘newydd’ meaning ‘new’ and ‘tref’ indicating ‘farm-town’, thus Niddry signifies a new-farm-town. The medieval barony of Niddry is synonymous with the barony of Winchburgh. The Barony of Winchburgh was held by the head Seton Family from before 12th century, and was confirmed by a Charter given to Philip de Setoune by King William the Lion in 1169.


Today’s Winchburgh lies across a burn from Niddry Castle but originally it is believed the settlement was close to the castle. The castle, an L shaped tower house, was built in the fifteenth century by George, the fourth Lord Seton.  During the Wars of the Reformation of the fifteenth century the Catholic party led by Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, struggled with the Protestants led by the Lords of the Congregation. One of Mary Stuart’s staunchest supporters was the 7th Lord Seton and his stronghold of Niddry Castle, now in ruins, is where Mary Queen of Scots spent her first night after escaping from captivity in Loch Leven Castle in May 1568. From there she rode to defeat at the Battle of Langside and from there to imprisonment and execution in England in 1587. Throughout much of the seventeenth century the barony was owned by the Setons, Earls of Winton, who were ardent supporters of the House of Stuart. In 1671 the barony was sold to John Hope of Hopetoun.


The surname Hope is likely to be one of territorial origin.  There seem to be two possibilities, one based on ‘hop’, Old Norse for a landlocked bay, and the other, ‘hop’ Old English for a piece of enclosed land.  The origins of the Hope family are not well documented.  As far as can be ascertained the first of the family recorded is a John Hope from Peebles-shire who swore loyalty to Edward I of England in Berwick on 28th August 1296.  Subsequently the few references in the late medieval period that do exist for the family indicate a relative concentration in south east Scotland.  From the sixteenth century onwards the family of Hope is continuously linked with Edinburgh and its neighbourhood.


Becoming a burgess of a Scottish burgh was the key to social and economic success for many individuals, and the Hopes were no exception to the general rule.  The burgesses were an urban elite, largely self perpetuating, who had the right to vote and to operate businesses as merchants or craftsmen in burghs which had the right of self government bestowed on them by the king. The original Hope burgess of Edinburgh was a John Hope, alias 'Petit John, trumpet', who was admitted on 14 March 1517, thirteen years later, on 11 March 1530, he was then admitted as a guildsbrother which indicates that he was by then active as a merchant in the city. This John Hope and his wife Elizabeth Eumont, had three sons, Edward, Alexander and Henry all of whom is due course became burgesses and merchants in Edinburgh.  The Hopes of Hopetoun are directly descended from Thomas Hope the fifth son of the said Henry Hope and his wife Jaqueline de Tott.


Thomas Hope trained as a writer (lawyer) under John Nicolson of Lasswade and was admitted as an advocate on 7th February 1605.  His first major case was the defence of six ministers accused of holding an illegal assembly in Aberdeen later that year.  His defence, although unsuccessful, established his reputation as a lawyer which led to financial success.  Soon he was acquiring land in the Lothians and in Fife, such as Caldecottes in the regality of Musselburgh, Prestongrange in East Lothian, Kinninmonth and Craighall in Fife, and Wester Granton.  At this time Sir William Alexander, Lord Stirling, was promoting the settlement of Nova Scotia and on 19th February 1628 Master Thomas Hope of Craighall, the King's Advocate, became a baronet of Nova Scotia.  As such he would have been allocated territory in Nova Scotia and be required to settle six fully equipped men and their families there.  However in 1632 Charles I ordered the Scots colonists in Nova Scotia to abandon their colony and hand it over to the French.  Sir Thomas the most eminent lawyer of his generation was appointed Lord Advocate in 1626.  As such he would have been required to carry out government policy including promoting Episcopacy with which he had a crisis of conscience leading to him being virtually banished by Charles I to his estate of Craighall in Fife, where he died on 1st October 1646.  Sir Thomas married Elizabeth, daughter of John Bennet of Wallyford, and they were the parents of fourteen children.  His eldest son Sir John Hope of Craighall, also a prominent lawyer in Edinburgh, died in 1654; his second son Sir Thomas Hope of Kerse and Wester Granton was an advocate and parliamentarian, during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, 1639-1651, he served as Colonel of Leslie's Lifeguard of Foot in 1639, and in 1640 as Colonel of Horse under General Alexander Leslie during the 1640 occupation of Newcastle,  appointed Justice General of Scotland in 1641, he died in 1643; his fifth son Sir Alexander Hope of Granton, Cupbearer to Charles I, died in 1680; his sixth son was Sir James Hope of Hopetoun, while all his other sons seem to have died at an early age.


The Hopes of Hopetoun dynasty was established by Sir James Hope, sixth son of Sir Thomas Hope.   Born in 1614 and educated at the University of Orleans, James followed the family tradition and became a lawyer in Edinburgh.  Through his first wife Anna, only daughter and heiress of Robert Foulis of Leadhills, a goldsmith in Edinburgh, he acquired Leadhills in Lanarkshire, a source of lead and formerly silver and gold.  After Anna's death in 1656 he married Mary Keith, eldest daughter and co-heiress of William Keith, the Earl Marischal.  Sir James was appointed Master of the Mint in 1641 and Lord of Session in 1649.  On 23rd November 1661 he died in Granton on his return from the Netherlands.  Sir James was the father of fourteen children, most of whom died at a young age. His fifth son John inherited Hopetoun, while his thirteenth child was Sir William of Balcomie.  The said Sir William [1660-1724], a soldier and author, inherited Granton from his uncle Sir Alexander, then acquired Kirkliston, and in 1675 bought Balcomie.


John Hope of Hopetoun, [1650-1682] purchased the barony of Abercorn in 1678 and about the same time the baronies of Niddry and Winchburgh.  He married Margaret Hamilton, eldest daughter of the Earl of Haddington in 1668, and were the parents of Charles and Helen.


Charles Hope of Hopetoun, [1681-1742], became Member of Parliament for Linlithgow in 1702, a Privy Councillor in 1702, and on 15 April 1703 he was created Earl of Hopetoun, Viscount of Airthrey and Lord Hope, Lord Lieutenant of Linlithgowshire in 1715, Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly in 1723, Knight of the thistle in 1738, and a Representative Peer of Scotland.  He was responsible for the erection of Hopetoun House designed by Sir William Bruce, the prominent architect of the period.  Charles married Henrietta Johnstone, daughter of the first Marquess of Annandale, and had thirteen children including John, his heir, and Charles.  Charles Hope [1710-1791], succeeded to the estate of Craigiehall in 1730, and was MP for Linlithgowshire from 1743-1768.


John Hope, second Earl of Hopetoun [1704-1781], was one of the Lords of Police from 1744 to 1760, and Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1754. Between 1721 and 1754 the existing Hopetoun House was expanded and rebuilt to the design of the Adams family of architects. John Hope had three wives and was the father of eighteen children.  By his first wife, Anne Ogilvy daughter of the Earl of Findlator and Seafield,  he had nine children including Charles, his eldest son who died in 1766 at Portsmouth on returning from a voyage to the West Indies, and  James, his second son who became heir to the Earldom.


James Hope, [1741-1816], third Earl of Hopetoun, an officer of the 3rd Foot Guards from 1758 to 1764, succeeded to the title of Earl of Hopetoun in 1781.  In 1792 he succeeded to the estates of the Marquess of Annandale. During the Napoleonic wars he raised regiments of Fencibles, Yeomanry and Infantry, to resist the anticipated French invasion. Consequently an appreciative government created him Baron Hopetoun of Hopetoun in 1809.  He married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the Earl of Northesk, and as his children were all girls he was succeeded on his death by his brother John.


Sir John Hope of Rankeillour, [1765-1823], fourth Earl of Hopetoun, was the eldest son of  John, the second Earl of Hopetoun, and his second wife Jean Oliphant, had a military career from 1784 to 1821. He fought in the Netherlands, Egypt, Spain, Portugal, France and the West Indies, reaching the rank of full general of the British Army.  In 1814 he was created Baron Niddry of Niddry.   In 1822 he was Captain-General of the Royal Company of Archers which escorted George IV on his visit to Scotland. He died in Paris on 27th August 1823 and was succeeded by his son John.


John Hope, [1803-1843], fifth Earl of Hopetoun, was the eldest son of the fourth Earl and his second wife Louisa Dorothea Wedderburn. He married Louisa Macdonald, eldest daughter of Godfrey, third Lord Macdonald of Sleat, who had one child, a son named John Alexander.


John Alexander Hope, [1831-1873], sixth Earl of Hopetoun, served in the British Army and was Lord Lieutenant of Linlithgowshire.  He married Ethelred Anne Reynardson in 1860, who were the parents of four children including his successor John Adrian Louis.


John Adrian Louis Hope, [1860-19..], seventh Earl of Hopetoun, Lord-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria,  Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Governor of Victoria, Privy Councillor, Paymaster General, Lord Chamberlain of the Household, first Governor-General of Australia, Secretary for Scotland, Brigadier of the Royal Company of Archers.  He married Hersey Alice, daughter of Lord Ventry in 1886 and was the parent of four children including Victor Alexander John Hope, eighth Earl of Hopetoun.


Victor, [1887-1952], the eighth Earl of Hopetoun, was created Marquess of Linlithgow in 1902. During World War One he fought as Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Scots. Later he was awarded the Order of the British Empire and was became Civil Lord of the Admiralty.  In 1911 he married Doreen Maude Milner. He was succeeded as ninth Earl of Hopetoun by his son Charles William Frederick Hope, [1912-1987] in 1952.  The ninth earl was married twice, firstly in 1939 to Vivien Kenyon Slaney, of Co. Salop, who died in 1963, and secondly in 1965 to Judith Lawson from Cincinnati, Ohio, who died in 1991.  On his death in 1987 he was succeeded by his son Adrian John Charles Hope born 1946.