Thomas Hope [dob:1810 (c)]

Thomas Hope was born in the small village of Ancrum near Jedburgh in the Borders district of Scotland early in the 19th century. Ancrum is a historic village, clustered round a picturesque green, complete with a 16th century Market Cross. References to Ancrum go further back, to the 12th century when it belonged to the Bishop of Glasgow and before, for atop steep Castle Hill was an ancient fort, of pre-Roman times.[1]


Research so far has not been able to identify the year of birth nor anything about Thomas Hope's parents or siblings. According to various documents including shipping records, census returns and Thomas' death certificate they indicate he was born between 1806 and 1810. It should be noted that when a census was taken in the 1800's, the ages were rounded off to the nearest or previous 5 year mark, giving the historian only an approximate time frame.


It was common knowledge within the family that his father was also called Thomas[2], being known as The Laird and a keeper of hounds. Young Thomas' occupation was also recorded as being a Gamekeeper on the various documents that have been sighted so far. Scottish naming patterns indicate that Thomas could have been the 3rd son born to his parents.


Thomas married Alice Armstrong at Southdean, Chesters (near Jedburgh), the home of the Armstrong family, but research to date has not been able to identify the date of their marriage. Southdean rises swiftly above the old kirk, and on its bare top are the remains of an ancient British fort and settlement - for these windswept hillocks have been inhabited since pre-historic times.[3]


According to the 1851 Census[4], Thomas, Alice and their family lived at 83 Castle Street, Jedburgh. His occupation was listed as Gamekeeper and of their children; Sarah was described as a Dressmaker; David a Cabinetmaker; and Euphemia, Thomas. Jessie and Richmond as Scholars.


Go back a thousand years and you will find a settlement at Jedburgh: a thousand years before that, at the time of the Roman invasion, people were living and working on the banks of the River Jed. Defined and dominated by its abbey and its castle, this little burgh encapsulates the history of the kingdom.


Hand in hand with the arts of peace go the arts of war, for Jedburgh was a frontier town even then. Well within a day's march of the English border, Jedburgh suffered terribly in the long wars of Independence; in the lawless centuries which followed, the town struggled for survival in the constant surge of feuding and fighting, cross-border banditry, and rustling that was the way of life of the Border Reivers in the 15th and 16th centuries.


The Abbey, 9 times burned, was abandoned as a monastery at the Reformation, although it continued as the Parish Church until 1875. The Castle had been demolished long before, but the little Burgh survived. Generations of peaceful men built this town, slowly and painfully remaking what war or casual banditry had destroyed; reivers, then weavers, fruit growers and gardeners, merchants, craftsmen. scientists and divines - each in his or her turn made Jedburgh famous, and all have left their marks on the burgh.


Castlegate led to the Burgh's other military target, Jedburgh Castle, which was eventually demolished in 1409 apparently to keep it out of English hands. The building which now stands on the hilltop is the Castle Gaol. Built in 1823 as a model prison, the Gaol now serves the community as a museum of social history.


The medieval street that is Castle Street, or Castlegate, was once the Burgh's fleshmarket, as well as its lawnmarket where linen was sold. The high buildings, some of which date from the 17th century, have been restored and modernised. The old pattern of narrow closes and pends has been conserved.[5]


The present-day Castle Gaol was built on the site of a medieval castle, once one of the most important Border strongholds, but destroyed in 1409 by the Scots to keep it out of English hands. It was reduced to a few masonry fragments and in 1819 usefully occupied only by the burgh gallows. A design in the fashionable castellated style was prepared by one of the best-known Scottish architects of the day Archibald Elliott. The foundation stone was laid by Provost Hope on 17th September 1820, The prison took its name from the site and it has always been called Jedburgh Castle.[6]


The homes in Castlegate were provided for the workers at Jedburgh Castle and therefore one can assume that it was at the Castle that Thomas worked, maybe in his capacity as Gamekeeper.


One of Thomas' daughters, Jessie, spoke lovingly of her father, acknowledging both his autocratic manner and the awe in which his children held him.


It is assumed that after Thomas and Alice were married they stayed on at Southdean for a short time or at least until after the birth of their first child Sarah, who was born in 1833. The young Hope family then moved into Jedburgh where their next 3 children; David (1835), Euphemia Catherine (1838) and Thomas (1840) were born. From Jedburgh the family moved across to Peebles shire where Jessie (1841), Richmond (1844) and Alice (1846) were born and then the family travelled north to Perthshire where Maggie Armstrong was born in 1848. From Perth, the family returned to Jedburgh where William and John were born in 1851 and 1853 respectively.


Using the birth places of their 10 children as a guide, Thomas and Alice appeared to be itinerant although further research could provide answers to the question of why they moved about. Maybe Thomas' work took them from place to place or did they have family in those areas? It was intriguing to note that when the family left their home in Jedburgh in 1856 to emigrate to Australia, they travelled north to Perth before turning south to Liverpool to board their ship. Furthermore, they gave Perth as their former Scottish abode for Immigration records. Why Perth?


It is evident from family stories that Thomas loved his Scotland. He was truly a heather and bagpipes man and almost nothing would entice him to leave his beloved country. His youngest son, John was prone to epileptic fits and the doctor recommended emigration to a warmer climate like Australia. Thomas would have none of it until one day he saw John in a fit. He finally agreed to emigrate provided his wife Alice organised everything. This included arranging shipping and the packing of all their household effects.[7]


No doubt the death of their daughter, Alice in 1852, would have made a big impact on the decision that Thomas reluctantly made to remove his family to Australia. Alice died from measles when she was only 5 years old. The thought of another child's death, where an alternative climate could save him, was no match for any argument he could give.


NOTE: see the page "Arrival at Hynam" for information about the land that Alice & her sons bought &/or lived on, after the death of Thomas, her husband, as it appears that often they bought parcels of land between them.

Home Page: HOPE stemmata

[1]Roxburgh Official Guide

[2]Noel Hope, Joan Helms & Lewis Barker's letters

[3] Jedburgh Town Trail

[4]1851 Census;No of Parish-792,Enumeration District-809,Pages-14-15

[5]Jedburgh Town Trail

[6]Jedburgh Castle, A Georgian Prison by Iain MacIvor, B.A., F.S.A.

[7]Lewis Barker's papers