Papers of Sir Thomas Hope, of Craighall (c. 1580-1646)

Scope and Content

The material includes: minor practicks, Forme of process before the Lords, dictat be Sir T. H. ... to his sone as the ground and principall of Scots law and practique; minor practicks, Ane breiff treatise upon severall substantiall heads of the Scots law verie profitable for young students; and minor practicks, 1670.

Administrative / Biographical History

Thomas Hope was born around 1580. He studied with the intention of going into law and was admitted as an Advocate on 7 February 1605. Hope gained prominence in 1606 when he defended John Forbes (c. 1568-1634), Minister of Alford, and others, at Linlithgow, on the charge of having committed treason when they declined to acknowledge the jurisdiction claimed by the Privy Council (of James VI of Scotland, James I of Great Britain and Ireland) over the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Although his clients were convicted, Hope had shown himself to be in the top rank at the Bar. He became a very successful lawyer and profits from his practices enabled him to build estates in Fife, Stirlingshire, Midlothian, East Lothian, and Berwickshire. In May 1626 he was appointed Lord Advocate and in 1628 he was granted a Nova Scotia baronetcy. In 1634 he managed to secure the conviction of James Elphinstone, Lord Balmerino, for treason. These were difficult years of religious strife but Hope managed to avoid any participation in the preparation of the National Covenant, nor did he sign it. However, he did pronounce an opinion in favour of its legality. Although his son, Sir Thomas Hope of Kerse, served with the army of the Covenanters, Hope neither declared the action of the Covenanters to be illegal, nor did he defend episcopacy, thus putting himself in a precarious position. Indeed, when a Committee of the Estates (Scottish Parliament) required his official signature to Writs of Summons against opponents of the Covenant, he refused it because there was no authority for this from King Charles I. In 1643 he opposed the proposal to summon the Estates without any warrant from Charles. Hope's publications include the legal treatises Minor practicks and Major practicks, Carmen saeculare (1626) in honour of Charles, and a Latin translation of the Psalms and the Song of Solomon. Sir Thomas Hope died on 1 October 1646. Of his four sons, three became Lords of Session and one of these became Lord Justice General. A fourth son was Cupbearer to Charles I. Descendants of Sir Thomas Hope would become Earls of Hopetoun as a reward for supporting the Act of Union with England in 1707, and later on Marquises of Linlithgow.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Minor practicks, purchased Sotheby's, February 1961, Accession no. E.61.4


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 9. Harris-Hovenden. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908. (2) Keay, John. and Keay, Julia (eds.). Collins encyclopaedia of Scotland. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1994.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show various references to Hope related material in the Laing Collection (check the Indexes for more details): major practicks, at La.III.414 and 415; minor practicks, Elements of the municipal law and practiques of Scotland at La.III.404; minor practicks, The compend of Sir T. H. or his lesser practiques at La.III.424/1; minor practicks, An abridgement of the forme of process before the Lords at La.III.402; and, minor practicks, 1649, at La.III.403. There is also mention of Hope in a letter, 1820, at La.IV.17. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: MS legal collection (1 vol), 1631, University of Guelph Library, Ref. XS1 MS A078 NRA 31936 University of Guelph; correspondence with 7th Earl of Glencairn, 1626-1627, National Archives of Scotland, Ref. GD39, and letters (14) to the Earl of Strathearn and others, 1631-1635, Ref. GD22 NRA 29364 Cunninghame Graham; and, deeds and correspondence, 1635-1652, National Library of Scotland, Manuscript Division, Ref. MSS 5070-71 Ch 4091-4103, and letters (6), 1617-1618, Ref. MS 1034.