Charles Hope was born in 1681 and was educated at Edinburgh University. He married Henrietta Johnstone (1682-1750), daughter of William, 1st Marquess of Annandale in 1699. Hope was created 1st Earl of Hopetoun at the age of 22 on 15 April 1703. Family tradition holds that the 1st Earl's father, John Hope (1650-1682), gave his seat in a lifeboat to the Duke of York, later King James II, during the disastrous wreck of the Royal Gloucester in 1682. It is said that since John Hope had given his life for the sake of the Royal Duke, her father, Queen Anne granted a peerage to Hope's son Charles as soon as he came of age.
The 1st Earl was a zealous supporter of the Union of England and Scotland in 1707, but is best remembered today as the builder of Hopetoun House, Linlithgowshire, chiefly from the designs of the architect Sir William Bruce.