TitleCollection of John Hope
DescriptionHope was born in Edinburgh on 10 May 1725. He was educated locally and from the age of about fifteen read medicine, partly under Charles Alston at Edinburgh University, and about 1748-9 in Paris, where he studied botany under Bernard de Jussieu at the Jardin du Roi. In 1750 he was awarded MD at Glasgow University and, in 1762, elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. Hope practised medicine in Edinburgh, being appointed a physician to the Royal Infirmary and, in 1784, became president of the college. He was active in inducing the town council to improve the sanitation of the city and became a governor of the Orphan College, a member of the university senate and a foundation fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He was a member of the Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen, Haarlem, and was elected FRS 1767.

With David Hume, Adam Smith, and others, Hope was a founder, in 1754, of the Select Society, inaugurated by Allan Ramsay: his intellectual passion was botany. In 1761 he was appointed Alston's successor as professor of botany and materia medica and also king's botanist for Scotland and superintendent of the royal garden in Edinburgh. In the winter sessions he lectured on materia medica, in the summer on botany, being, with Thomas Martyn at Cambridge, the first in Britain to teach the Linnaean system. After seven years he persuaded the council to divide his duties between two professors, so that he gave up the former and was appointed regius professor of medicine and botany in 1768.

Hope established a botanical garden on Leith Walk. This garden (now the Royal Botanic Garden) was not merely for the demonstration of materia medica but had greenhouses, ponds, and groves and, as in Paris, was arranged on botanical rather than medical principles. He introduced uniform Linnaean nomenclature ahead of Paris and, in 1779, at his own expense, set up to Robert Adam's design a monument to Linnaeus. In 1763-4 he organized the first British syndicate for importing plant material, especially from North America.

Hope's contribution to science was the building up, in little more than twenty years, of an influential school of botanists, some of whom were to be the driving force for forest conservation in India, and one of the leading botanical gardens in Europe. His attempt to develop a natural classification of plants matured through another pupil, his successor, Daniel Rutherford, who in turn lectured to Robert Brown who re-established the natural system in 1810. Hope's lectures, which stressed the importance of anatomical and physiological work, though not oratorical, were scholarly and well attended; in 1780 some fifty-nine students took his botany course.

Hope was known for his common sense and generosity and for his simple and unostentatious lifestyle. He died in Edinburgh on 10 November 1786 and was buried in the family plot in Greyfriars churchyard there.
[Source: Dictionary of National Biography]

Contents: 'Praelectiones Chemicae' by Hieronymous Gaubius, 1748
Extent2 volumes
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