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James Barron Hope

Elmwood Cemetery
2nd Alley East, Lot 57
(1829 – 1887)

 James Barron Hope picture

James Barron Hope was born March 23, 1829 at his maternal grandfather’s home in Hampton, Virginia.  His parents were Wilton Hope of Bethel, Elizabeth City County, and Jane Barron.  Born into a very patriotic family, Mr. Hope’s great-grandfather, the elder James Barron, organized the Virginia Colonial Navy, of which he was commander-in-chief during the Revolutionary War.

Mr. Hope was educated in Pennsylvania and at the “Academy” in Hampton, Virginia.  He graduated in 1847 from the College of William and Mary.  Remaining true to the family’s naval roots, young Mr. Hope served as secretary on board the man-of-war Pennsylvania under his uncle, Captain Samuel Barron.  He was later transferred to the [USS] Cyane.  After his brief tenure in the navy, Mr. Hope returned to his home in Hampton, where he was elected Commonwealth Attorney in 1856.  In 1857, he married Annie Beverly Whiting of Hampton.  They had two daughters.

Already known as Hampton’s “bard” while using the nom-de-plume Henry Ellen, many of his poems were published in various southern publications.  On May 23, 1857, he was the poet at the 250th anniversary of the English settlement of Jamestown and on February 22, 1858, [one of] his poem[s] was recited at the dedication of Crawford’s statue of General Washington in Richmond.

When Virginia seceded from the union in 1861, Mr. Hope served as the acting quartermaster in Smith’s Battery of Artillery and also with the Confederate War Department.  He obtained the rank of Captain and was paroled at the capitulation of Johnston’s Army in 1865 at Greensboro, North Carolina.

Captain and Mrs. Hope moved to Norfolk, where he put aside his law career, becoming a journalist and the editor of the Norfolk Daily Book.  In 1881, he had the honor of being chosen by Congress as poet for the Yorktown Centennial Celebration.  Later he delivered poems at Lynchburg’s founding celebration and at the unveiling of the monument raised to Annie Lee in Warren County, North Carolina.  [He also wrote and recited] memorial odes in Warrenton and Portsmouth, Virginia and at the Virginia Military Institute.  He was elected [as] the first Commander of the Pickett-Buchanan Camp of the United Confederate Veterans of Norfolk.

Captain Hope was called upon to write the poem that was to be read at the October 1887 laying of the cornerstone of the monument to General Robert E. Lee in Richmond.  He died at his home in Norfolk on September 15th, having completed the poem the day before except for some finishing touches.*

The Cadets At New Market
by James Barron Hope

Their sleep is made glorious,
And dead they’re victorious
Over defeat!
Never Lethe and billows
Shall roll o’er their pillows,
Red with the feet
Of Mars from the wine press
So bitterly sweet!

Sleeping, but glorious,
Dead in Fame’s portal,
Dead, but victorious,
Dead, but immortal!
They gave us great glory,
What more could they give?
They have left us a story,
A story to live –
And blaze on the brows of the State like a crown,
While from these grand mountains the rivers run down.
While grass grows in graveyards, or the Ocean’s deep calls,
Their deeds and their glory shall fresco these walls. **

*Excerpt from:  The Recording Angel:  News from the Friends of Norfolk’s Historic Cemeteries, Volume I, Issue 2, May 17, 2002 by Mrs. JoAnn Gardner Clay courtesy of Mr. Tim Bonney.

**Delivered at Virginia Military Institute, 1870, and published in A Wreath of …Virginia Bay Leaves:  Poems of James Barron Hope.  Richmond, Virginia:  West, Johnson & Co.

Biographical information provided by Norfolk Bureau of Cemeteries.

Visitor Information

Visitor Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Office hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM

Free parking inside cemetery.

Admission Cost: Free

Address: 238 E. Princess Anne Road , Norfolk, VA 23510

Official web site for more information: www.norfolk.gov/cemeteries

Norfolk Society for Cemetery Conservation Web Site: www.norfolksocietyforcemeteryconservation.org