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Prof. John Hope


1725 - 1786

Botanist. Born in Edinburgh, the grandson of Alexander Hope, Lord Rankeillor. Hope studied Botany in Paris, before returning to Scotland to read medicine at the University of Glasgow. He was able to devote his wealth to medical and scientific endeavours. He became a member of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1750, rising to become its President in by 1764. In 1761, Hope was appointed to the Regius Chair of Botany at the University of Edinburgh. He also served as the King's Botanist and became involved in running the old 'physic' gardens established in Edinburgh by Sir Robert Sibbald (1641 - 1722) and Sir Andrew Balfour (1630-94), which had been granted a Royal Charter in 1699. Hope realised the gardens could benefit from enlargement and obtained 2 ha (5 acres) of land outside the city, on what is now Leith Walk, and moved the gardens there in 1763. Hope was also granted funds by the government to run his new garden.

Hope was a supporter of the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707-78) and was the first to apply his system of plant classification in Britain. Hope commissioned architect Robert Adam (1728-92) to built a monument to Linnaeus, which is now located at the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh at Inverleith.

Hope is credited with introducing many plants to Scotland, including rhubarb, and is remembered by the tropical tree genus Hopea, named in his honour by his former student William Roxburgh (1751 - 1815).


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