From the Book of Eminent Burgesses of Dundee 1513 to 1885.

Joseph Hume M.P. - 26th August 1831



The distinguished career of JOSEPH HUME, the great advocate of Financial and Political Reform, is so well known that it is not necessary to do more than allude briefly to the principal events in his long life. He was born at Montrose in January, 1777, his father being a shipmaster and owner of two vessels belonging to that port. The father died when HUME was only five years of age. The rudiments of his education were imparted at the Grammar School of Montrose, and he was apprenticed to a surgeon in that Burgh, having chosen the medical profession. His studies were completed at Edinburgh University with so much success that he was admitted a member of the College of Surgeons there in 1795.

Two years later he obtained a similar distinction from the London College of Surgeons, and then entered as an assistant surgeon in the service of the East India Company. Immediately afterwards he set out for India, and having employed his leisure in the study of Persian and Hindostani, and made himself familiar with the forms of official accounting, he was appointed Postmaster and Paymaster of the division to which he was attached, and was frequently engaged as interpreter, besides acting as medical superintendent, during the Mahratta War. He remained in this position till 1808, and returned to Britain in possession of a fortune of nearly £40,000. During the next few years he travelled over the principal countries of the European Continent, and on his return in January, 1812, he entered Parliament as member for Weymouth, a vacancy having occurred through the death of SIR JOHN JOHNSTONE.

His first recorded speech in the House of Commons was in favour of popular education, a subject then regarded with considerable suspicion by the majority of the legislature; and he advocated the principles of Free Trade at a time when they were looked upon as impracticable. These views did not meet the approval of the trustees of SIR JOHN JOHNSTONE, and he was not returned by them for Weymouth at the General Election in March, 1812. Six years afterwards he was chosen Member for the Aberdeen (now Montrose) Burghs, and continued to represent them till 1830. He was Member for Middlesex from 1830 till 1837, and is described as such in the entry on the Burgess Roll. From 1837 to 1841 he represented Kilkenny, and in 1842 he was returned as Member for the Montrose Burghs, in which post he continued till his death in 1855. Throughout the long contest upon the extension of the Franchise which raged during the greater part of his political career Mr HUME advocated Radical Reform, and survived to see many of his ideas put into practice. He died at his seat of Burnley Hall, Norfolk, on 20th February, 1855, in his seventy eighth year.


Iain D. McIntosh, Friends of Dundee City Archives