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Table of Contents
Great Scots Aberdeenshire
a) Thomas Reid (b. Strachan, Kincardineshire) 1710-1796
Philosopher – a professor at both Aberdeen and Glasgow Universities – writer – Father of the Common Sense school, that argued against the contentions of Hume, that the existence of anything out-with the mind cannot be proved. His viewpoint became dominant in Scotland, and very influential in England and the US. His works included Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man in 1785.
b) Lord James Burnett Monboddo (b. Monboddo House, Kincardineshire) 1714-1799.
Judge and Philosopher. Origin and Progress of Language. Postulated a relationship between humans and monkeys before Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species.
c) Sir Patrick Geddes (b. Ballater) 1854-1932.
Biologist, Sociologist, Geographer, Philanthropist and pioneering Town Planner – renowned for his innovative thinking in the focus of Urban Planning and Sociology.
2) Actors and TV / Radio Personalities
a) Andrew Cruickshank (b. Aberdeen) 1907 – 1988
Famous for his role as Dr. Cameron in the TV Series Dr. Finlay’s Casebook
b) Robbie Shepherd (b. Dunecht) 1936 –
The Voice of Scottish Country Dance Music – a fluent Doric speaker and has written several books on the subject. He has also written books on Scottish Country Dancing and the Music. He took over as the Presenter of BBC Radio Scotland’s Take the Floor
3) Artists and Painters
a) George Jameson (b. Aberdeen) 1588-1644.
Britain’s first portrait painter.
b) Sir John Steel (b. Aberdeen) 1804-1891
Artist and pre-eminent sculptor of the Victorian period in Scotland viz the Marble of Sir Walter Scott on the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, Queen Victoria at the Royal Scottish Assembly and the Duke of Wellington in front of Register House, Edinburgh.
c) James McBey (b. nr Aberdeen) 1883 – 1959.
Produced etchings and watercolours of Venice and Tangiers where he finally settled.
4) Architects and Builders
a) William Schaw of Sauchie (d. 1602.)
Royal Master of Works from 1583 – organised the Royal Return Ceremonial for James V1 and Queen Ann of Denmark. Carried out major rebuilding additions at Dunfermline Palace. In 1599 he rebuilt the Chapel Royal at Stirling Castle – also Seton Palace and the Danish inspired Scots Renaissance seen at Heriots Hospital in Edinburgh,together with the North Range of Linlithgow Palace. He was the founder of Freemasonry in Scotland, introducing the first statutes.
b) Archibald Simpson (b. Aberdeen) 1770 – 1847
Trained in London – green revival designer.His works in Aberdeen include the Music Hall (1820-22), the Athenean (1822) the old Royal Infirmary (1822-40) and Marischal College (1837-44.)
a) Alexander Garden (b. Birse) 1730-91.
The Gardenia flower is named after him – he lived most of his life in S. Carolina, studying flora and fauna in Cherokee country. He introduced the first electric eel to Britain.
b) Francis Masson (b. Aberdeen) 1741 – 1805
Plant collector – Gardener in Kew and collected from S. Africa, Madeira, Azores, Canaries and Tenerife. Overall he introduced 500 new species to Britain.
Educated at Aberdeen University, he began working life as a clerk in the London office of the P&O Steam Navigation Co, and later was promoted to Superintendent, assigning him to Hong Kong to manage the first Asian operation.
In 1863 at the age of 29, he became the first Chairman of the Hong Kong and Whampoa
Dock. In order to help finance the burgeoning trade between China and Europe, and explore the potential of the China – USA trade, Sutherland established the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in 1865, and became its first Vice-Chairman.
He was appointed Member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong from 1865 – 1866, and in 1872 he was appointed MD of the P&O.
In 1884, he entered British Politics as MP for Greenock.
Sutherland Street in Sheung Wah, Hong Kong was named after him.
b) James Taylor (b. Laurencekirk) 1835 – 92
Tea planter – involved in the earliest experiments,and set up the first Tea Factory in Ceylon and invented a Tea – Rolling machine.
c) Thomas Blake Glover (b. Fraserburgh) 1838-1911
Started out a Tea Trader with Jardine Matheson, and posted to Nagasaki in Japan.He had a genius for spotting and importing key technologies to Japan for the emerging Industrial Superpower. He introduced Coal-mining to the country and started the first Drydock in Nagasaki,a venture that launched the powerful Mitsubishi conglomerate. He founded also the Kirin Brewing Company, and introduced telegraphic technology. He imported the the first steam engine ,and brokered Japan s first 3 Naval ships built in Aberdeen. He was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Japan s highest honour in 1908,the first foreigner.
d) John Reith, 1st Baron of Reith of Stonehaven (b. Stonehaven) 1899-1971
First G.M. of the BBC, then Director General 1927-38. Pioneering figure in Broadcasting and his censoriousness set the tone within the BBC for decades. Minister of Works and Buildings 1940- 42, and later Chairman of the Commonwealth Communications Board in the immediate post-war years.
7) Heroes and Heroines
a) Mary Slesser (b. Aberdeen ) 1848 – 1915
Missionary – a mill worker and Sunday School Teacher in Dundee,she became a missionary in Calabar, Nigeria – she showed great respect for tribal traditions,whilst working against real cruelty and hardship. She adopted many orphans herself, although never married.
8) Industrialists and Inventors
a) James Gregory (b. Drumoak, Aberdeenshire) 1638 – 75.
An achiever of a long list of theories and discoveries in mathematics,astronomy and physics. However best known for his construction of the famous Gregorian telescope, to which he gave his name and as the man who first distinguished between convergent and divergent series.
He advanced our knowledge in the area of trigonometry when he discovered the ‘infinite series’. By 29 he had established himself amongst the intellectual elite, and after some time in Italy, was immediately elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in his return to England in 1668. Indeed Charles 11 created a position for him at St. Andrews University as first Regis Chair of Mathematics, and later on to Edinburgh University.
Gregory also became famed for his work on ‘diffraction grating’, and was in correspondence with Isaac Newton. He was also known for his work on calculus.
He died so young, after producing 3 children, and the genes would produce much further talent. He died doing what he loved, viewing the moons of Jupiter through a telescope with his students in Edinburgh.
Today he is remembered by two neighbouring craters on the far side of the moon. ‘Gregory K’ is 26km in diameter and the larger ‘Gregory Q’ as around 68km across.
The James Gregory telescope,which was constructed in 1962 by the University of St. Andrews, is the largest working telescope in the UK.
b) Peter Williamson (b. Aberdeen) 1730 – 99
Introduced the Penny Post and the first Edinburgh Street Directory
William came from a prosperous Episcopalian family. Educated at Marischal College, he became an apprentice architect in 1836, in 1839 joining the Royal Institute of British Architects as an associate member.
In 1842, he was signed up to teach Astronomy and Physics to a College of Native Youth in Calcutta. En route he made paintings of an extremely bright comet, which were later presented to the Royal Astronomical Society. Indeed during his days in India he painted continuously until he left in 1845.
Coffee planting had taken off in Ceylon, and he was employed by James Pattle to run his Hope estate. Here he set his ingenious mind to the task of improving on Laborie’s methods of processing coffee beans, and put his signature to a petition to the governor to complete work on a trunk road into the highlands, as communications were dire. Life for young William was a lonely one.
The extreme wet climate caused great problems for coffee bean decomposition and in 1847 William expounded his hypothesis of removing stagnant air by means of fans extracting the air in a space between two perforated floors on which the beans were spread, in a lecture in Kandy. His work, which he patented, turned his plantation into the model estate on the island.
In 1851 William visited Bombay, Aden, Cairo and further around the Middle East making drawings as he went, then on to Cyprus and Greece.
William visited the Exhibition of Industry of all Nations at the Crystal Palace, and William submitted a model of his ‘patent stove and apparatus for curing coffee.’ The Society for the Arts decided to grant William its gold medal for his work.
After a return to Ceylon, he returned again to England in 1853, and he received the Isis gold medal from Prince Albert, and back to Aberdeen.
His apparatus lived long after his death, and used universally in the coffee plantations of Ceylon by 1866, probably the first forced-air crop drier in history, it embodied the essence of the modern coffee- or tea- dryer, indeed could have been the ancestor of the modern grain dryer, all coming from the “Clerihew stove.”
d) Robert William Thomson (b. Stonehaven) 1822 – 1873
First inventor of the Pneumatic Tyre.
e) Sir David Gill (b. Aberdeen) 1843 – 1914
Took the first ever photograph of the moon
9) Journalists, Publishers and Writers
a) Lord George Byron (b. London) 1788 – 1881
Mother was a Gordon, he grew up near Ballater. Dark Lochnavar set to music by Beethoven, a major inspiration for Queen Victoria to come to Deeside.
b) Bertie Charles Forbes (b. New Deer) 1880 – 1954
Started up the Forbes Magazine in N.Y. in 1917.
c) Alan Massie (b. Singapore) 1938 –
Journalist brought up in Aberdeenshire.
d) Nan Shepherd (1893-1981) b. Peterculter
Novelist and Poet – a major contributor to the early Scottish Modernist literature. Her novels included “The Quarry Wood“, “The Weatherhouse” and “A Pass in the Grampians“. Her novels dealt with the clash between the demands of tradition and the pull of modernity.
Her poetry includes “In the Cairngorms” and the non fiction “The Living Mountain“.
She is commemorated in Makar’s Court outside the Writers Museum in the Lawnmarket, Edinburgh, and in April 2016 her image was selected to appear on the £5 pound note issued by the RBS.
10) Musicians and Singers
a) James Scott Skinner (b. Banchory) 1843 – 1927
Great fiddler and prodigious song writer.
b) Elvis Presley
The famous American singer had family roots from Aberdeen.
b) Annie Lennox (b. Aberdeen) 1954 –
a) William MacGillivray (b. Aberdeen) 1796 – 1852
Father of British Ornithology
Son of a farmer, he became a surgeon, who was the first to inoculate people against the disease of smallpox, which had terrorised Europe for centuries.
In 1718, he was serving in the British Embassy in Constantinople, Turkey, and inoculated the Ambassador’s 5 year old son, Edward.The process was carried out by an elderly Greek woman from Perla, under Maitland’s direction. The Ambassador’s wife, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, did not tell her husband for a week, after which time it had proved to be successful !
His process was entailed around exposing the patient to the ills of a sufferer, and indeed was the precursor to Edward Jenner’s vaccination to come later. Maitland had picked up this process from wise old women in the Middle East, by extracting pus from a sufferer of the less virulent form of the disease, rubbing it onto the patient and covering the area with half a walnut shell, in the hope that a blister would form.
If it did, the patient would be successfully infected with the mild strain and would have lifelong immunity, even against the most severe strains.
On returning to Britain in 1721, Maitland started putting this system of inoculation into practice, albeit whilst the practice had indeed been heard of, it was regarded as much too novel and dangerous.Aided by Lady Montagu championing his cause, and she was known in high places, Maitland inoculated her daughter during a smallpox epidemic in London in 1722, carried out in front of three witnesses from the Royal College of Physicians, and one of these, a James Keith, got him to inoculate his 6 year old son, having lost his other children to this horrific disease. By this time, Maitland was beginning to get noticed in high places.
Next the Princess of Wales decided to have her daughter inoculated.
It is fair to say, that the success of his process to date had stemmed from the skill of Maitland to ensure the patient was infected by the milder version, the variola minor, as opposed to the variola major, which was much too dangerous.
In the same year, of 6 inoculations carried out in Aberdeenshire, one patient died.
He then carried out another experiment on 6 convicted prisoners at Newgate Prison, and their reward if successful, would be pardons. Well success meant 6 pardons!!!
More experiments were carried out on a group of London orphans, again successful, followed by the inoculation of the Princesses Amelie and Caroline.
Two years later, Maitland was sent to Germany to inoculate their brother, Prince Frederick, with Maitland being very nervous in inoculating the Heir to the throne!
Otherwise, little is known about Charles Maitland, who left a fortune of about £770,000, with some of this being used to support the poor in his Parish of Methlick.
At his death, he was described as a “ Gentleman justly esteemed by those who knew him.”
b) Sir Patrick Manson (b. Aberdeenshire) 1844 – 1922
Mosquito Manson – Parasitologist – Pioneer in Malaria research with Sir Ronald Ross, he helped found the London School of Tropical Medicine
13) Politicians and Statesmen
a) William Farquhar (b. Newhall) 1774
First British Governor of Singapore from 1819 – 23. An emissary of Sir Stamford Raffles and part of the negotiating team of the Singapore Treaty, which saw the island become a British settlement and Trading Post.
b) George Hamilton – Gordon (b. Aberdeen)
British P.M. from 1852-55
a) Michael Kosterlitz b. Aberdeen (1942 – )
Awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics together with David Thouless and Duncan Haldane for work on condensed matter physics.
a) Donald Dinnie (b. Aboyne)
Great 19th century Highland Games Competitor and Champion, who became one of the first Professional International Sportsmen.
b) Denis Law (b. Aberdeen) 1940 –
Footballer and known simply as The King.