The family often speculated that our (adopted Ward) ancestor was a descendant of the Hope diamond family or some other famous family. When I started actively researching our family genealogy, I followed a link in our local (NSDCGS) genealogy newsletter to access the British Archives. It was there I found a record of his birth. His name was listed in the Pancras birth registry as Alexander Ernest Hope, his father was not listed, and his mother was listed as Marie Brennar.
Yet today, thanks to the internet and genealogy message boards, I have found a missing piece to our family puzzle. Hope is not a surname at all! It comes from where he was born. His 1879 birth registry along with family letters indicate that he was born at 4 Regent Square in the sub-district of Gray’s Inn Lane in Pancras, in the county of Middlesex, England.
At the same time, there was a charitable institution called "Homes of Hope" which occupied three houses, No. 4, No. 5, and No.6, in Regent Square. This was a place where 'fallen women' could go to have their children if they had no one else to turn to. Servants who had been 'taken advantage of' were segregated from prostitutes, etc. Their slogan was "for the restoration of the first fallen and the protection of friendless, young women."
According to the Rootsweb message board, the three buildings (circa 1891)
were divided as follows: No. 4 was devoted exclusively to the reception of young women about to become mothers, No. 5 was for young women in danger of being led astray, and No. 6 was a Reformatory Home for industrial training of penitent young women and girls.
London's Global University has more information on the Homes of Hope within their UCL Bloomsbury Project.
So, even though we have yet to discover Alexander's natural father, connecting the Homes of Hope at 4 Regent Square, with his birth registry, and family letters, we now know where the Hope name came from.