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Hope was born at 37 Upper Seymour Street, London, the second son of John Thomas Hope of Netley Hall, Shrewsbury, and Ellen Hester Mary, only child and heiress of Sir Thomas Edwardes. He was first privately educated and from 1817 at Christ Church, Oxford where he graduated in 1820. Presented to the Curacy of Frodesley in Shropshire, he quickly retired as a result of ill health. Hope married, in 1835, the wealthy Ellen Meredith, who had earlier rejected a proposal of marriage from Benjamin Disraeli. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Linnean Society.
Ellen was a great supporter of her husband's interests, which included collecting engraved portraits (140,000); topographical engravings (70,000); and natural history engravings (20,000). These, together with his extensive insect collections, were given to the University of Oxford in 1849. At the same time he founded a professorship of zoology nominating John Obadiah Westwood as the first Hope professor. Westwood also curated Hope’s collections.
Hope's interest in insects began around 1817. He was chiefly interested in Coleoptera. Hope's initial collection of insects included 31 cabinets of varying sizes containing 964 drawers, store boxes, 1800 books, 249 solanders and 18 portfolios. He continued to add specimens and books and purchased specimens for the Hope Department, including material from the collections of Edward Donovan, James Francis Stephens, Thomas Marsham and Thomas Vernon Wollaston. Many are types. He was a founder member of the Zoological Society of London and, in 1833, the Entomological Society of London of which he was subsequently Treasurer, President and Vice-President at different times.
His main work was the Coleopterists Manual, containing the Lamellicorn beetles of Linnaeus and Fabricius in 3 volumes published from 1837 onwards.
Hope's other publications included some 60 papers on entomology of which the majority were on Coleoptera, many describing new genera and species (British and World).
Two of his collections have recently been published. These are:
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