He was the son of John Hope of Hopetoun by a daughter of the 4th Earl of Haddington. His paternal grandfather was Sir James Hope of Hopetoun and paternal great-grandfather was Sir Thomas Hope, 1st Baronet of Craighall, Fife. His father, John Hope, purchased the barony of Niddry Castle from George Seton, 4th Earl of Winton around 1680. He also bought the neighbouring barony of Abercorn, with the office of heritable sheriff of the County of Linlithgow, from Sir Walter Seton. In 1681, John Hope was shire commissioner for Linlithgow in the Parliament of Scotland.
His father drowned with the sinking of HMS Gloucester in 1682. Traveling with the Duke of York, family tradition has that his father had secured a seat in a rescue boats but gave it up to the Duke of York. The tradition continues that in recognition of this act, Charles was created Earl of Hopetoun in the Peerage of Scotland by Queen Anne in 1703, shortly after reaching his majority.
Charles Hope supported the union with England. He later served as a Scottish representative peer at Westminster, from 1722 until his death. Lord Hopetoun acted as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1723, and was Governor of the Bank of Scotland from 1740 until his death. He was created a Knight of the Thistle in 1738.
In 1699, Charles Hope married Lady Henrietta Johnstone, daughter of William Johnstone, 1st Marquess of Annandale. Their children include:
- John Hope, 2nd Earl of Hopetoun (1704–1781)
- Charles Hope-Weir (1710–1791)
- Lady Christian Hope-Graham
- Paul, Sir James Balfour (ed.). "The Diary of Sir James Hope, 1646-1654". Volume 19, The Miscellany of Scottish History. Scotland: The Scottish Historical Society. p. 105. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
- Thomas Bailey Saunders (1894). The Life and Letters of James Macpherson. University of Michigan. S. Sonnenschein & co .; Macmillan & co. pp. 63–64.
- Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. .