HOME, Alexander (1689-1720)

HOME, Alexander (1689–1720)

suc. fa. 22 July 1706 (a minor) as 7th earl of HOME [S]

RP [S] 1710-13

First sat 28 Nov. 1710; last sat 16 July 1713

b. 1689, 1st s. of Charles Home, 6th earl of Home [S], and Anne, da. of Sir William Purves, 1st bt., of Purves Hall, Berwickshire, m. by Oct. 1710, Anne (d.1727), da. of William Kerr, 2nd mq. of Lothian [S] 6s. (4 d.v.p.) 2da. (1 d.v.p.). d. 1720.

Gen. of Mint [S] 1712–14.

Sheriff, Berwickshire 1710.

Associated with: The Hirsel, Coldstream, Berwickshire.

Home inherited his father’s religious and political sympathies, and also his debts. The leader of the ‘cavalier’ faction in the Scottish Parliament, the 6th earl of Home had been Episcopalian in his religion and uncompromisingly Jacobite in his politics.1 He had been vehemently opposed to settling the succession to the Scottish crown in the house of Hanover, and to a union which would have made the Scots ‘slaves to the English nation’, and from 1703 onwards had worked closely in the Scottish Parliament with James Hamilton, 4th duke of Hamilton [S], keeping the cavaliers together behind Hamilton’s opportunistic leadership.2 The Jacobite George Lockhart observed much later that his death in 1706 had been a great loss to ‘the royal family’ and ‘the country party’.3

The 7th earl reached his majority shortly before the 1710 election. Some indication of his political leanings was given in a letter of 19 Sept. to John Erskine, 22nd earl of Mar [S], which noted that ‘he seems very right as to the queen’s measures. I know Duke Hamilton’s people reckon him theirs, but it is likely they are mistaken, and he would never be his (as I think) if he knew Duke Hamilton’s carriage about Mr [George] Baillie’.4 This was a reference to Home’s attempt to run a candidate for Berwickshire in the general election, to upset the interest of Patrick Hume, earl of Marchmont [S], and unseat Baillie, a Squadrone Whig. However, not only did his candidate, George Winram, later described as ‘manager’ of Home’s affairs, appear too late, Marchmont having already secured promises in advance from a majority of voters, but there was also some confusion over the extent to which Home’s campaign enjoyed the backing of government. In a mysterious episode, which has not been satisfactorily elucidated, Hamilton gave voters the impression that he had been requested by ministers to secure Baillie’s election.5 On 9 Oct. Home was recommended by his father-in-law, Lothian, to Robert Harley, later earl of Oxford, as ‘a faithful servant to her majesty’, and his name was also suggested to Harley by Mar, for inclusion on the court slate for the representative peers.6 Home was present at Holyroodhouse for the representative peers’ election on 10 Nov. 1710, where he was chosen with the rest of the court contingent.7 It has been suggested that he owed his inclusion on the court list at least in part to Hamilton’s influence, but in view of the evidence from the Berwickshire election this must remain an open question.8 Notes on the list of successful candidates made by the Episcopalian clergyman Richard Dongworth described Home as an ‘Episcopal Tory’ with an annual income of ‘not £1,500’, making him the second poorest of the newly chosen representative peers.9 The unvarnished view of Daniel Defoe was that he was a professed Jacobite.10 An analysis of the representative peers drawn up shortly after the election was in agreement with him.

Prior to the election in Scotland, Home had been granted a patent as sheriff of Berwickshire in place of Marchmont. He had a hereditary claim to the office, and had allegedly importuned the queen for it, but the appointment was part of Mar’s electoral management in Scotland.11 Restoration to the shrievalty added significantly to Home’s local influence and prestige, and during the following parliamentary session he sought to capitalize by securing the removal of the Berwickshire sheriff’s court from Greenlaw, Marchmont’s town, to Duns. Legislation was required to repeal an act of the Scottish Parliament, and Home sought a private bill in the Lords to that end. At length, after considerable lobbying on each side, Home was prevailed upon to abandon the attempt before any legislation was introduced, possibly on financial grounds, and the next parliamentary election for the county was again held at Greenlaw.12

Home was absent when the Parliament began on 25 Nov. 1710, taking his seat on the 28th, the day after the queen’s speech. He attended on 69 days of the session, 61 per cent of the total and was named to 11 committees. According to John Bridges, at the turn of the year he had arranged to purchase for £3,000 the Scottish Fusiliers, a regiment which Thomas Meredith had been forced to sell, but the regiment went instead to Charles Boyle, 4th earl of Orrery [I] (later Baron Boyle).13 From Home’s attendance record and the comments of political observers, some of his activities in the House can be discovered. It seems likely, given his attendance on 9 Jan. 1711, when ‘the Scots did the business’, that he helped to provide the ministry’s majority (59-45) in the committee of the whole when the Whigs sought to resume the House rather than vote on the resolution (subsequently passed) that Charles Mordaunt, 3rd earl of Peterborough, had given a ‘a faithful, just and honourable account’ of the councils of war in Valencia. Similarly, in the committee of the whole on the 12th, Baillie noted that ‘all the Scots went one way’ when the committee voted 68-48 to agree that the previous ministry had been responsible for ordering an offensive war in Spain and thus for the failures of the campaign, again suggesting that Home, who was listed as present that day, had supported the ministry. 14

Until the end of January 1711 Home had missed only 11 sittings of the House; henceforth his attendance became more sporadic. He was absent seven times in February, but did attend on 1 Mar., when the Lords considered the appeal of the Scottish Episcopalian minister James Greenshields against a sentence passed against him by the Edinburgh magistrates for using the Church of England liturgy. Once Greenshields’s counsel had been heard, a motion to adjourn was defeated, with Home likely to have been one of the Scots voting in the majority, as he was not one of the five ‘Scots Lords for the delay.’15 The House then resolved that the sentence be reversed. This was an issue on which Home felt strongly: not only did he hail from an Episcopalian family; he was evidently a man with a deep personal interest in matters theological.16 He missed seven sittings in March, was absent on five out of nine occasions in April, which increased to nine out of 22 in May, and attended only two of the seven sittings in June. 

The expenses of attending Parliament placed a great financial strain on the already hard-pressed Home.17 On 19 Oct. 1711, well before the session, Mar wrote to his brother Hon. James Erskine), Lord Grange SCJ, to urge Home to attend the House in time for the Hamilton peerage vote.18 On 29 Nov. Grange reported that Home was expected to depart for London on 1 Dec., commenting ‘how he has got credit I do not know, but he has borrowed 100l. sterling for his journey. You know the narrowness of his circumstances, and it will be extremely hard if the ruin of his family be hastened by his serving the queen.’ Grange reassured Mar that Home had ‘a great inclination … to be much in your interest, and I doubt not but you will improve it.’19 Thomas Hay, 7th earl of Kinnoull [S], wrote to the lord treasurer Oxford (as Harley had become), on 3 Dec. suggesting that Home should be in London ‘before the Parliament sit down’ and noted that, according to his son George Hay, styled Viscount Dupplin [S], the future Baron Hay, Home

is as discreet as any. He says, the devil take him if it were not his circumstances that he has an old family to preserve, if he had but as much money as to maintain him in London he would serve the queen without asking a farthing, he has so good will to the work. He spent a great deal last time and I believe some taken on upon tick, and I am told it was with the greatest difficulty imaginable that he could get credit for one hundred pounds or two; and I believe really that he has but one along with him.20

A proxy exists signed by Home on 1 Dec. 1711 in favour of Archibald Campbell, earl of Ilay [S]. Tantalizingly, an undated letter to Oxford, marked only as ‘Thursday at 3’, and possibly written on 6 or 13 Dec., stated that Home was expected in town that night. 21 However, he missed the crucial vote on the peace on 7 Dec., eventually taking his seat on 17 December. His pattern of attendance was much the same as in the previous session. On 19 Dec. he was forecast as likely to support Hamilton’s claims to sit as a British peer and on the 20th, on the question of permitting Hamilton to sit in the House as duke of Brandon, he voted in the minority against the motion disenabling the duke. He also signed the protest that this resolution not only violated the royal prerogative and the Treaty of Union, but also infringed the rights of the peers of Scotland and was inconsistent with the liberty previously granted to James Douglas, 2nd duke of Queensberry [S], to sit in the Lords as duke of Dover. On New Year’s Day 1712 Home was one of 20 Scottish peers who submitted a ‘memorial’ to the queen against the Lords’ ruling.22

Home was present on 2 Jan. 1712 when the ministry secured a further adjournment. Writing to James Graham, duke of Montrose [S], Baillie warned: ‘I’m told the Scots peers were with the majority but will be no more so unless redressed’, a reference to the sense of grievance over the Hamilton case.23 When no progress was made, the Scots peers boycotted the House. Thus Home, along with all his fellow representative peers, was absent on 8 Feb., the day on which the Lords gave a first reading to the Episcopal communion (Scottish toleration) bill, which otherwise he would certainly have supported. He did, however, attend the following day, and was among the ten representative peers present on 11 Feb. to hear a petition requesting permission to the commissioners of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to lay before the Lords their opinion of the bill. The same ten peers also attended on 13 and 15 Feb. for the second reading, the proceedings in the committee of the whole on the bill, and the third reading. On 26 Feb. the Lords considered further amendments to the bill from the Commons, in the presence of only six representative peers. Baillie told Montrose that Home and his fellow Scots ‘were for agreeing with the Commons’; this was confirmed by a correspondent of the Presbyterian minister Robert Wodrow, who noted that ‘all present voted for it’.24

On 8 Apr. 1712 Home attended, along with 11 other representative peers, for the first reading of the bill restoring to patrons their ancient rights of presenting ministers to churches vacant in Scotland. Home had a personal interest, since he was involved in a tussle with a local presbytery over his right to patronage in a parish.25 On 20 May he was present when the bill to examine the grants made by the crown since 1689 was rejected on third reading; it was reported that ‘all our Scots Lords except Argyll [John Campbell, 2nd duke of Argyll [S]] and Ilay were for the bill.’26 On 28 May he backed the ministry against a Whig attempt to overturn the ‘restraining orders’ given to James Butler, 2nd duke of Ormond. All in all he was present on 63 days of the session, 59 per cent of the total, and was named to five committees.

On 20 Nov. 1712 Mar requested Lord Grange to press upon Home that he was expected to attend the opening of the parliamentary session, noting that ‘I’m sure it is for his interest to come up immediately tho’ his stay should be short.’27 Significantly, perhaps, the day before a warrant had been signed to appoint Home general of the Mint in Scotland: the emoluments were a modest £300 p.a., but for someone in Home’s financial straits they were a lifeline.28 He was present for further prorogations of Parliament on 13 Jan. and 17 and 26 Mar. 1713, but was absent when the session started on 9 Apr. 1713. He resumed his seat on 4 May and was expected to support the Tory ministry (according to a list drawn up by Swift shortly before the session began), and in particular to vote for the bill confirming the eighth and ninth articles of the French Commercial Treaty. His possession of office meant that the events of the session would prove acutely embarrassing for him. On 5 June the House debated whether to give a second reading to the bill extending the malt tax to Scotland. John Elphinstone, 4th Lord Balmerinoch [S], acting on behalf of the Scottish peers and in concert with the Whigs, moved that the second reading be delayed and that instead, on 8 June, the Lords should consider the state of the nation with regard to the Union. After three hours of debate the ministry carried its point by a whisker on a division. Supporters of the motion blamed their defeat on Dupplin (voting in the House as Baron Hay) having given his vote ‘for the court’. Despite being sent for, Home had arrived at the House too late for the division. Balmerinoch charitably accepted his explanation that he ‘meant no ill’ and had in fact been delayed by a bad hangover: he ‘had got his bottle overnight’. 29 On 8 June Home signed the protest after the passage of the third reading of the malt bill. He was present on the last day of the session, 16 July, having been present on 36 days, 54.5 per cent of the total, and been named to four committees.

An undated letter from Home to Oxford laid out the claims Home felt he had upon royal bounty. No family in Scotland had ‘suffered in the service and support of the crown’ more than his, he wrote, rehearsing a long tradition of unrequited loyalty. During the civil wars the Homes had sold land in order to advance money to the crown, and although repayment had been promised at the Restoration it had not been made. Home thought it reasonable that the queen should grant him compensation, and though he admitted ‘that it is not incumbent on her to pay her grandfather’s or uncle’s debt’, he did believe ‘that if rightly informed of this matter, she would show such regard to their memory as in some measure to reward the services of a family who have suffered so much in defending and supporting her royal progenitors’.30

By the end of the session Home was so impoverished that, according to a paper drawn up by Dupplin for the lord treasurer in preparation for the next election of representative peers, he needed some ‘money to carry him away [to the election at Edinburgh], he having a place of but £300.’31 Oxford agreed to meet the cost of his journey, and a warrant for the payment of £300 ‘royal bounty’ was issued on 18 Sept. 1713.32 However, it seems likely that Home cast his vote by proxy in the peerage election of October 1713, for on 5 Nov. he wrote to Oxford of his ‘very pressing’ affairs in Scotland ‘having three lawsuits on which the welfare of my family depends’, and on the following day referred to his ‘sudden resolution’ to go for Scotland on 11 November. That very day, the countess of Home sent Oxford a letter, telling him that she could not afford to accompany her husband and feared falling ill on the road (she was heavily pregnant). She presented a history of Home’s financial mismanagement, noting that as he had only just turned 21 when first chosen as a representative peer, he had not had time to regulate his finances before coming to London, ‘and not knowing the way of living here both spent his own money and what you were pleased to bestow upon him: not one farthing came to me but a trifle of some clothes that it is not worth the naming’. As to Oxford’s most recent gift, ‘I only got five guineas of it, he having so many necessary affairs of his own which I know nothing about. Therefore, if your Lordship will be infinitely good to assist me’. She ended her appeal with one final request, ‘for God’s sake the concealment of this trouble’.33

Home’s financial difficulties ensured that he was not even a candidate in the 1713 election of representative peers. He received further payments of royal bounty in December 1713 (£150) and May 1714 (£300).34 He lost his post in the Scottish Mint with the death of the queen, and the Berwickshire shrievalty was returned to Marchmont after the Hanoverian succession. This brought his affairs into a truly desperate condition.35 In May and June 1715 he sought to organize a shire meeting to address the king against the hardships Scotland had suffered on account of the Union, against the opposition of Marchmont.36 By the end of August he was confined in Edinburgh Castle, while his brother John joined the rebels and was taken prisoner at Preston.37 Home was released on 24 June 1716, but his health and spirit had been broken by imprisonment, and, although his Jacobite kinsman George Home of Whitfield tried to persuade the exiled Jacobite court of his ‘chief’s’ continuing loyalty, Home does not seem to have given any indication of this himself.38 Home died in 1720.


  • 1 Lockhart Mems. 28.
  • 2 NRS, GD 406/1/5094, 5300; Seafield Letters, 74; P.W.J. Riley, Union, 45; A.I. Macinnes, Union and Empire, 255.
  • 3 Lockhart Mems. 133.
  • 4 HMC Portland, x. 343-4.
  • 5 NRS, GD 406/1/5643; GD 124/15/975/19; GD 248/560/45/59; HP Commons, 1690-1715, i. 152-3, ii. 834; HMC Portland, x. 414-15; Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scot. 155.
  • 6 Add. 70245, Lothian to Harley, 9 Oct. 1710; HMC Portland, x. 351.
  • 7 NLS, ms 1026, ff. 62-65.
  • 8 D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pols. 65.
  • 9 SHR, lx. 62.
  • 10 HMC Portland, iv. 630-1.
  • 11 NRS, GD 158/967, pp. 40-41, 43, 45; GD 124/15/975/19; HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 834.
  • 12 NRS, GD 158/967, pp. 49-50, 65-66; Haddington mss at Mellerstain, 4, Baillie to wife, 10, 12, 17 Apr. 1711; HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 837-8.
  • 13 Add. 72491, f. 23.
  • 14 Haddington mss, 3, Baillie to wife, 11, 13 Jan. 1711.
  • 15 Ibid. 4, Baillie to wife, 3 Mar. 1711.
  • 16 The Hirsel, Coldstream, Home mss, box 22, folder 2, J. Middleton to Home, 26 Jan. 1718/19.
  • 17 Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 172.
  • 18 NRS, GD 124/15/1024/24.
  • 19 HMC Portland, x. 407.
  • 20 Ibid. v. 121; Pols. in Age of Anne, 394.
  • 21 Add. 70281, [-] to Oxford, ‘Thursday 3 o’ clock’ [6 or 13 Dec. 1711].
  • 22 HMC Laing, ii. 164-7.
  • 23 Haddington mss, 4, Baillie to Montrose, 3 Jan. 1712.
  • 24 Ibid. 5, Baillie to Montrose, 28 Feb. 1712; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 6, f. 126.
  • 25 Home mss, box 22, folder 2, J. Gordon to Home, 7 Feb. 1713.
  • 26 Wodrow letters Quarto 6, f. 183; Haddington mss, 5, Baillie to Roxburghe, 22 May1712.
  • 27 NRS, GD 124/15/1024/27.
  • 28 CTB, xxvi. 85, 519.
  • 29 Scot. Hist. Soc. Misc. xii. 158; Haddington mss, 5, Baillie to wife, 5 June 1713; More Culloden Pprs. ed. Warrand, ii. 35.
  • 30 HMC Portland, x. 481.
  • 31 Ibid. v. 314.
  • 32 CTB, xxvii. 353.
  • 33 HMC Portland, x. 213-14.
  • 34 CTB, xxvii. 469; xxviii. 241.
  • 35 Home mss, box 22, folder 3, R. Moncreiffe to Home, 31 Mar. 1715.
  • 36 NRS, GD 158/1191; NLS, ms 10285, ff. 7, 9.
  • 37 TNA, SP54/7/89; Add. 72502, ff. 83-84; NRS, GD 27/6/13; GD 220/5/641, 669; Szechi, 1715, pp. 244-5.
  • 38 HMC Stuart, v, 214; vi. 304.