Collection HOP - Hope, Dr. John ( Regius Keeper 1761-86)

Identity area

Reference code



Hope, Dr. John ( Regius Keeper 1761-86)


  • 1761 - 1820 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

3 boxes misc. correspondence & ephemera
12 boxes of photocopies of SRO/NAS papers
4 copies of biography
1 box of index cards

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born Edinburgh 1725; died Edinburgh 1786
John Hope read medicine at Edinburgh University and studied botany in Paris. He was awarded an MD at Glasgow University in 1750 and in 1762 was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. He was appointed physician to the Royal Infirmary and was active in inducing the town council to improve the sanitation of the city. Hope was a key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment, being a foundation fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and, with David Hume, Adam Smith, Allan Ramsay and others, a founder in 1754 of the Select Society. His intellectual passion was botany. In 1761 he became professor of botany and materia medica and also secured a life appointment as the King’s Botanist for Scotland and superintendent of the Royal Garden at Holyrood, Edinburgh. Using family influence, Hope secured Crown funding, to endow a new botanical garden to replace the polluted Royal Abbey Garden and the Town Garden at Trinity Hospital. He moved the rarer plants to a 5 acre site on Leith Walk and this became the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh with greenhouses, ponds and groves arranged on botanical rather than medical principles. In 1763-4 he organised the first British syndicate for importing plant material, especially from North America and he toured English gardens to gather more. Hope himself was an expert plant physiologist, using experimental demonstrations to teach botany, and had a strong interest in systematic botany encouraging his students to explore the flora of Scotland. It was through his advocacy that Linnean teaching gained a hold in Britain. His students became part of an expanding network of plant collectors and one of Hope’s important contributions to science was the creation of an influential school of botanists with international reach.
Sources: Dictionary of National Biography; HR Fletcher and WH Brown ‘The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 1670-1970’; (R. Desmond ‘Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturalists); (Deni Bown, ‘4 Gardens in One’)

Archival history

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Content and structure area

Scope and content

•1 box donated via the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Sibbald Trust containing original letters c.1783 and an ex-registry file 3/3 titled ‘John Hope Papers’ used for A.G. Morton’s book.
•1 box containing I.B. Balfour’s scrap book, memoirs and other assorted items
•1 box containing indices to NAS papers and various photocopies of correspondence, etc.
•12 boxes containing copies of SRO Papers marked:

  1. GD253/143/1-4
  2. GD253/143/5-6
  3. GD253/143/7-9
  4. GD253/143/10-13
  5. GD253/144/1-4
  6. GD253/144/5-7
  7. GD253/144/8-10
  8. GD253/144/11-14
  9. GD253/145/1-6
  10. GD253/145/7-10
  11. GD253/145/10-13
  12. GD253/145/4
    •Box of index cards referring to John Hope
    There is a detailed list stored with the following boxes containing photocopies of papers from the SRO which notes what is inside each box and what the references refer to. Documents include correspondence, bills, receipts and other financial accounts
    • E215/3-6, 1769-1829
    • E414/1-7, 1764. 1769, 1789, 1825
    • E414/8, 1767, 1770, 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, 1780, 1782
    • E414/9-11, 1785, 1786, 1788, 1789
    • E414/12-15, 1789, 1790, 1792
    • E414/16-18, 1793, 1794, 1795
    • E414/19-22, 1788, 1789, 1795, 1796, 1797, 1798, 1799
    • E414/23-25, 1797, 1799, 1800, 1801, 1802
    • E414/26, 1803
    • E414/27, 1801, 1803, 1804
    • E414/28, 1804, 1805, 1806
    • E414/32, 1899, 1800, 1801, 1803
    • E414/33-40, 1769, 1776
    • E414/41-46, 1777, 1778
    • E414/47, 1782
    • E414/48, 1783
    • E414/49, 1785, 1784
    • E414/50, 1787
    • E414/51, 1789, 1788
    • E414/52, 1789
    • E414/53, 1790
    • E414/54 ,1791
    • E414/55, 1792
    • E414/56, 1793
    • E414/57, 1794
    • E414/58, 1795
    • E414/59, 1796
    • E414/57, 1794
    • E414/58, 1795
    • E414/59, 1796
    • E414/60, 1797
    • E414/61, 1798, 1797
    • E414/62, 1799
    • E414/63, 1800
    • E414/64, 1801
    • E414/65 ,1802

exhibition catalogue: John Hope; Enlightened Botanist written by Henry Noltie and relating to exhibition at Inverleith House, May to July 2011

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


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Conditions governing reproduction

SRO/NAS GD papers not to be consulted/copied without permission from the John Hope Trust / NAS.
SRO/NAS E papers not to be copied without permission from the NAS.

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Physical storage

  • Shelf: E:2:4
  • Shelf: E:2:5
  • Shelf: E:2:6
  • Shelf: E:3:1