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Table of Contents
Great Scots Edinburgh and the Lothians
a) John Knox (c.1513 – 1572) b. near Haddington, East Lothian.
Protestant reformer and Calvinist, and one of the leading instigators of the Reformation in Scotland during the sixteenth century.
b) George Heriot (1563 – 1624.) b. Gladsmuir, East Lothian.
“Jingling Geordie” – Jeweller and moneylender to James V1 and Anne of Denmark the Queen. He founded George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh, originally to cater for the needs of the parentless children of the city.
c) David Hume (1711-1776.) b. Edinburgh.
Father of Philosophy – together with Adam Smith, widely regarded as representing the highest intellectual achievement of the Scottish Enlightenment, and a hero of the 18h century Age of Reason.
d) William Robertson (1721-1793) b. Borthwick Manse, Midlothian.
Minister, teacher and historian – Minister of Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh from 1751. He served as Moderator of the General Assembly and leader of the Moderate Party. His ‘’History of Scotland (1542-1603)” was widely acclaimed, as was his work of ‘’History of Charles V’’, 10 years later. He became Principal of Edinburgh University in 1762, and Histographer Royal 2 years later. In 1777, he published the first part of ’’A History of America’’, devoted to Hispanic America, but was prevented by his mixed feelings about the American Revolution from completing the final volume. Finally he wrote with distinction on India. He was a central figure of the Scottish Enlightenment.
e) John Witherspoon (1723-1794) b. Gifford, East Lothian.
Theologian – he became President of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1768. He made a big contribution to Common Sense Philosophy in N. American education. He also contributed in a big way to the shaping of the American Declaration of Independence in 1776.
f) James Hutton (1726-1797) b. Edinburgh.
“Father of Geology” – his “Theory of the Earth” (1788) proposed a radically new understanding of how rocks were formed, and thus laid the foundations of modern Geology.
g) Archibald Campbell Tait (1811-1882) b. Edinburgh.
Clergyman – in 1842 he succeeded Dr. Arnold as Headmaster of Rugby School. Presbyterian – Dean of Carlisle in 1849, Bishop of London in 1856, and finally the first Scottish Archbishop of Canterbury in 1868.
h) Samuel Smiles (1812-1904) b. Haddington, East Lothian.
Writer and Social Reformer – He became editor of the Leeds Times, and sat on boards of several Railways, leading to a meeting with George Stephenson, on whom he wrote a biography.
i) Sir Daniel Wilson (1816-1892) b. Edinburgh.
Archaeologist and Historian – became President of Toronto University and published many books on Scottish Archaeology.
j) Stanley Purdie Wood (1939- ) b. Edinburgh.
Fossil collector – he discovered the earliest known amphibian and reptile at East Kirkston near Bathgate, West Lothian, known as ‘’Lizzie.’’
2) Actors And TV Personalities
a) Alastair Sim (1900-76)
b) Tom Fleming (1927 – 2009)
c) Sir Sean Connery (1930 – )
d) Ronnie Corbett ( 1930 – )
e) Annette Crosbie (1934 – )
f) Hannah Gordon (1941 – )
g) Rory Bremner (1961 – )
h) Nicky Campbell (1962 – )
3) Architects And Designers
a) Mylne Family: John (1611 – 67) b. Edinburgh
Built the Tron Kirk in the High Street.
Robert (1633-1710 ) b. Edinburgh
Main contractor for Holyrood House and Mylne’s Court in the Lawnmarket and the rebuilding of Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire.
Robert (1733-1811) b. Edinburgh
Responsible for the lavish interior design of Inveraray Castle in Argyll.
b) William Wallace died in 1631 b. Edinburgh?
Master Mason to the Crown from 1617, and responsible for: Kings’s Lodging at Edinburgh Castle, North Range of Linlithgow Palace, Winton House in Pencaitland and Heriot’s Hospital in Edinburgh.
c) James Adam (1731-1794) b. Edinburgh
3rd son of William Adam (see Fife) – after studying in Rome, he was in partnership with his older brother Robert in London. Together they published ’’The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam (1773, 1779 and 1822)
d) James Craig (1744 – 95) b. Edinburgh.
One of the originators of the Edinburgh New Town.
e) Robert Reid (1774-1856) b. Edinburgh
King’s Architect in Scotland from 1803-39. He rebuilt Parliament Square in Edinburgh, St.George’s Church, Charlotte Square, New West Register House and Leith Customs House.
f) William Burn (1789-1870 ) b. Edinburgh
Responsible for: Edinburgh Academy, National Gallery of Modern Art, St.John’s Church, the restoration of St. Giles, Dornoch Cathedral, and left his practice to David Bryce.
g) David Bryce (1803-76) b. Edinburgh
Responsible for H.Q.of British Linen Bank, Bank of Scotland, Fettes College and the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
h) David Rhind (1803-83) b. Edinburgh
Responsible for: the Scott Monument in George Square Glasgow, the former Commonwealth Bank in George St., Edinburgh and Gordon St. Glasgow and Daniel Stewart’s College in Edinburgh.
i) John Thomas Rochead (1814-78) b. Edinburgh.
Responsible for: Bank of Scotland in St. Vincent St. Glasgow and the Wallace Monument by Stirling.
j) John Dick Peddie (1824-91) b. Edinburgh
Formed a partnership with Charles George Hood Kinnear (see Fife), namely Peddie and Kinnear. Architects to the Royal Bank from 1856 and to the Bank of Scotland from 1859.They designed also the Gothic Morgan Academy in Dundee and Aberdeen Municipal Buildings and numerous country houses. He became an Investment Manager in 1878.
k) Richard Norman Shaw (1831-1912) b.Edinburgh
Pupil of William Burn. Responsible for the former New Scotland Yard (1887-90) on London’s Embankment.
l) Sir Robert Stodart Lorimer (1864-1929) b.Edinburgh
Responsible for: Marchmont in Edinburgh, The Thistle Chapel in St.Giles, Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle, the restoration of Paisley Abbey and the furnishing of Dunblane Cathedral.
m) Ian Gordon Lindsay (1906-66) b. Edinburgh
He restored Iona Abbey, the village of Inveraray in Argyll, Cramond and Culross in Fife.
a) Allan Ramsay (1713-84) b. Edinburgh
Son of the poet Allan Ramsay, he won acclaim in London for his portraits, and one of the few Scots to make a name out of Scotland. Appointed Painter – in – Ordinary to George III.
b) Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823) b. Edinburgh
Artist, jeweller then painter, recognised and cultivated by the Scottish Portaitist David Martin. After a visit to Italy, he established a studio in York Place, Edinburgh. Famous figures of the Enlightenment sat for him, including David Hume and Adam Smith, but in 1822 he perhaps completed his masterpiece of Sir Walter Scott, which is arguably his most famous.
c) Alexander Nasmyth (1758-1840) b. Edinburgh
Worked as an assistant to Allan Ramsay in London, before setting up as a Portrait Painter in Edinburgh. After visiting Italy, he turned to landscape painting. He was a close friend of Robert Burns, and the portrait of him in the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh is perhaps his most famous. Later be became an Engineer, Designer and Architect.
d) David Roberts (1796-1864) b. Edinburgh
From the 1820’s he travelled extensively abroad, turning his sketches of architectural subjects into paintings back in his London studio. Best known for his panoramic scenes of the grand Architecture and landscape of the Middle East, especially Egypt, and much of his work was reproduced widely as lithographs .
e) Sir William MacTaggert (1903-81- ) b. Loanhead, Midlothian.
Grandson of William McTaggert (see Highlands and Islands). Together with William Gillies and Anne Redpath, he is known as one of the Edinburgh School of Artists, who flourished in the mid 20th Century and whose painting was most often of the Scottish scene. He is known particularly for his series of still-life paintings of poppies, set against the night view from his Edinburgh studio window.
f) Richard Demarco (1930 – ) b. Edinburgh.
After studying at Edinburgh College of Art,in the 1960’s he became an enthusiastic advocate of modern arts, promoting the work of both Foreign and Scottish artists. He co-founded the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh in 1963, and has been Director of the Richard Demarco Gallery since 1966. During the Edinburgh International Festival each year, he organises programmes of dance, music and theatre as well as art.
5) Authors And Writers
a) Allan Ramsay (1686-1758) b. Leadhills, Lanarkshire but became renowned in Edinburgh.
Lived in Ramsay Gardens in a curious octagonal house which he designed himself. Poet and bookseller, he established the first Circulating Library in Britain in 1725.
b) James Boswell (1740-1795) b. Edinburgh. (Blair’s Land in Parliament Sq.)
Lawyer and man of letters. His diary published later in the 20th century. A great friend of Dr.Johnson.
c) Robert Fergusson b. 1750 near the Royal Mile in Edinburgh
Often called Scotland’s forgotten poet, it was Robert Fergusson who was the inspiration for Robert Burns to become a poet, and was much admired by his contemporaries.
Attended St. Andrews University, but had to quit his studies following the sudden death of his father, and became a clerk, to look after his mother and sister. He produced his first poem in 1771, and the last of his 83 in 1773, 33 of which were in Scots and 50 in English.
He enjoyed a drink, and following a tumble downstairs, he became brain damaged, and spent his last days, penniless, in squalid conditions at the Edinburgh Bedlam Mental Asylum.
Buried in an unmarked grave in the Canongate, this was discovered by Robert Burns, who commissioned and paid for a gravestone, with the inscription on the back: “By special grant of the managers to Robert Burns who erected this stone this burial place.”
Now there is a statue of him outside the Canongate Kirk.
d) Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) b. Edinburgh (College Wynd)
Novelist and Poet. Suffering from polio as a child, he spent much of his time in the Borders, absorbing the impressions that colour much of his writings and developing an affection for the ballads which became one of his literary style. He qualified as Advocate and became Sheriff of Selkirkshire in 1799. Despite publishing so many writings and novels that were hugely popular, he became bankrupt in 1826, largely caused by the expense of building his home Abbotsford. His influence in Europe and North America, especially on the Romantic Movement, was immense, though he was no Romantic; his values were those of the Enlightenment. His orchestration of the visit of George IV to Edinburgh in 1822 did much to establish the perception of Scotland that has since persisted. Certainly in my opinion one of the greatest Scots of all time.
Born at 9 Charlotte Square, the fourth daughter of Lady Diana Macdonald and Sir John Sinclair, Ist Baronet. They lived at 6 Charlotte Square until she was about 10, then moving to 133 George Street.
She acted as her Father’s Secretary from the age of 14 up to 35, when her father died in 1835. She lived at Ormery Lodge, in Ham in Surrey. She was an aunt of the Scottish novelist Lucy Bethia Walford.
Later she began to write independently, her first works being children’s books, prompted by an interest in her nephew, the Hon. George Boyle, 6th Earl of Glasgow. Her story of two anarchic children in perhaps the most famous “Holiday House” and others were very successful, and they were very different from the moralising approach of other works for children in this period.It also encapsulates a fantasy tale of fairies and giants.
She remarks in her preface:
“But above all we now forget those who have humouredly complied with the constant recurring petition of all young people in every generation and in every house – “Will you tell us a story?”
Meanwhile her activities in Edinburgh included charitable works, such as the establishment of cooking depots in both the Old and New Towns, and the maintenance of a mission station at the Water of Leith. She was instrumental in securing seats for crowded thoroughfares, and she set the example in Edinburgh of instituting drinking fountains, one of which bore her name and stood at the City’s West End, before being removed for trams in 1926. She was also noted for discovering that Sir Walter Scott was the author of the “Waverley Novels”, which were originally written anonymously.
She died at Kensington Vicarage in London, the residence of her brother, Archdeacon John Sinclair, and was buried at St.John’s Episcopal Church in Edinburgh. She was unmarried.
A monument, designed by David Bryce, was erected to her memory on the south east corner of St .Colme Street in Edinburgh’s New Town, close to her childhood home.
The inscription reads: “She was a friend of all children, and through her book “Holiday House” speaks to them still.” The monument was modelled loosely on the Scott Monument, to which she had been a major contributor of funds.
She wrote over twenty other books, several of which were very popular in America.
f) William McGonagall (1825-1902) b. Edinburgh
Poet – son of an immigrant Irish family, spent part of his life in Orkney, but settled in Dundee. His audience was a mixture of supporters and hoaxers, mostly the latter, fascinated by his terrible rhyme and metre. ’’The Tay Bridge Disaster’’ was one of his favourites, and the fascination for his work remains to this day. He finally left Dundee, on the grounds that it could not support a poet of Shakespearean stature like himself!!!
g) Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) b. Edinburgh
Brought up at no.17 Heriot Row. Son of Thomas ’’Lighthouse’’ Stevenson and Margaret Isabella Balfour. Writer – an only and often ill child, he took refuge in stories which fuelled his imagination, and some of these coming from his childhood playgrounds in the gardens of Heriot Row. As a young man he investigated the seedier sides of Edinburgh, and often went abroad, and met his wife Fanny Osbourne in France, and married in California. After 7 years in Europe, they returned to America, but spent the last 6 years of his life voyaging the Pacific, trying th find the best place to suit his ill health, finally settling in Samoa. Without doubt one of Scotland’s greatest writers/novelists.
h) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) b. 11 Picardy Place,Edinburgh
Studied medicine at Edinburgh University and attended the lectures of Dr.Joseph Bell, whose remarkable powers of deduction inspired the creation of Sherlock Holmes. Dr.Watson was based on himself.
i) Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932) b. 30 Castle Street, Edinburgh
Writer and author of the wonderful series “The Wind in the Willows“.
j) Norman MacCaig (1910-96) b. Edinburgh
Poet – earlier a school teacher, he was Writer in Residence in Edinburgh University and later Reader in Poetry at Stirling University. He received many awards, including the Queen’s Medal for Poetry (1986). Much of his poetry is based on his observations in Edinburgh and of his favourite part of Scotland, Assynt in Sutherland.
k) Muriel Spark (1918-2006) b. 160 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh.
Author of the famous book turned into a successful film “The Pride of Miss Jean Brodie“.
l) Ludovik Kennedy (1919 – 2009) b. Edinburgh
Famous writer and broadcaster.
m) Irvine Welsh (1958 – ) b. Leith.
Novelist – great success with ’’Trainspotting.’’
n) Ian Rankin (1960 – ) b. Edinburgh
Writer and author of the Rebus novels.
o) J.K.Rowling (1965 – ) b.in Avon but ‘naturalised’ Edinburghian.
After having moved to Edinburgh, she lived in Leith and started the write the famous ‘’Harry Potter’’ series, and she spent many hours at the café at 6a Nicolson St.
a) Sir George Taylor (1904-93) b. Edinburgh
Became Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew from 1956-71. He transformed Kew and acquired Wakehurst Place as its specialist garden. On his retirement he was Director of the Stanley Smith Horticultural Foundation.
7) Civil Servants
A British Civil Servant and the Financial Secretary of Hong Kong from 1961-1971.
His introduction of “Free Market Economic Politics” are widely credited with turning post war Hong Kong into a thriving “Global Financial Centre.”
He built on the economic policies of his predecessors Arthur Clark and Geoffrey Follows, promoting Free Trade, low taxation, budget surpluses, limited State intervention in the economy, a distrust of industrial planning and sound money. It was a policy mix on Adam Smith and Gladstone.
He turned Hong Kong from one of the poorest places on Earth, to one of the wealthiest and most prosperous.
“Low Taxes, lax employment laws, absence of government debt and free trade, are the pillars of the Hong Kong experience of Economic Development.”
a) John Rennie (1761 – 1821) – b. East Linton, East Lothian.
Civil Engineer – bridge builder. Planned London Bridge and built Southwark and Waterloo Bridges and may others,including Kelso Bridge and Leith Docks.
b) William John McQuorn Rankine ( 1820 – 72) b. Edinburgh
Scientist and Engineer – designed the St. Rollox Stack, a 450’ chimney, the largest in the world at the time. In 1855 he was appointed the first Professor of Civil Engineering and Mechanics at Glasgow University, where he produced a theoretical basis for the design of ships’ hulls. One of the ’’ideal’’ heat engine cycles is still known as the ’’Rankine Cycle.”
9) Explorers And Pioneers
a) Henry St. Clair (Sinclair) b.in the 15th century in Midlothian? of Norman stock.
Father of William St Clair, the Builder of Roslin Chapel, he was a shipping magnet and Earl of Orkney. This is not proven, but reportedly sailed in 1397 to the coast of modern day Massachusetts ,some 95 years before Columbus supposedly ’’discovered’ America.
b) Alexander Laing (1793 – 1826) b. Edinburgh
He was the first white man to reach Timbuktoo.
c) Robert Moffatt ( 1795 – 1883) b. Ormiston, East Lothian
Missionary in S.Africa, translated New Testament and later with a colleague the Old Testament into Setswana. He influenced David Livingstone, who married his daughter Mary.
Naturalist and Physician – He helped found a Botanic Garden near Holyrood Palace, which eventually became the Royal Botanic Garden, and also the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. He became the first Professor of Medicine at Edinburgh University in 1685, having already being appointed Royal physician to Charles II. He was also appointed Geographer Royal in recognition of both his Botanical and Medical work.
b) Thomas Coutts (1735 – 1822) b. Edinburgh.
Founder of Coutts Bank.
c) William Smellie (1740 – 1795.) b. Edinburgh
Printer and Editor – Set up a Printer in 1765 and produced the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1768 – 1795). A close friend of Robert Burns, he printed the first edition of Burns’s Poetry. He assisted Sir John Sinclair with the “Statistician Account of Scotland”, and was a founder member of the “Society of Antiquaries of Scotland”.
d) James Braidwood (1800 – 1861) b. Edinburgh
In 1824 he persuaded the local Council and Insurance Companies to work together to develop what would become the World’s first Municipal Fire Service. In 1833 he left for London to lead the London Fire Engine Establishment, and he invented the first form of breathing apparatus.
e) Robert McVittie
Photo courtesy Edinburgh World Heritage
The modest shops at numbers 23 and 24 Queensferry Street, built by Robert Reid in 1807, hold a special place in the history of British tea breaks. Barclay Price writes that it was here, in 1892, that Alexander Grant, a young new employee in Robert McVitie’s bakery, invented the digestive biscuit.
It was Robert McVitie’s father who opened a provisions shop in Rose Street in 1839, where soon he and his son were working as bakers. By the 1880s, they had a number of shops in the city. Alexander Grant was working in the basement of Robert McVitie Junior’s Queensferry Street bakery when he came up with the recipe for the firm’s new biscuit.
It was claimed that the McVitie’s Digestive’s high baking soda content served as an aid to food digestion, hence the name. In 1888, McVitie & Price built its enormous St Andrews Biscuit Works on Robertson Avenue in the Gorgie district and Alexander Grant later became the expanded firm’s managing director.
In 1925, the McVitie’s Chocolate Homewheat Digestive was created and, today, over 71 million packets are eaten in the United Kingdom each year.
e) James Thin (1824 – 1915) b.?
He opened the first bookshop in Edinburgh in 1848 and soon expanded from success. He was great friends with both R.L.Stevenson and Thomas Carlyle.
f) William Thompson (? – 1889) b.?
He established the shipping company “William Thompson and Co” in Leith in 1825. They began to name all their ships with the prefix “Ben” in the late 19th century, and was renamed “The Ben Line” in 1919, remaining successful for many years, well into the container revolution. It was liquidated in 2000, but they still maintain a very successful chain of shipping agents in the Far East.
g) Andrew Usher (1826 – 98) b. Edinburgh
Whisky Distiller and Blender – introduced in about 1860 the practice of blending Scotch Malt and Grain Whisky, to make a standard product, which he marketed as “Old Vaulted Glenlivet.” This became the foundation of the subsequent International success of the Scotch Whisky Industry. He was the builder of the Usher Hall, the main Concert Hall in Edinburgh.
h) William McEwan (1827 – 1913) b. Edinburgh
He established the Fountain Brewery in Edinburgh in 1858. From his great wealth as a Brewer, he left funds for the development of the McEwan Hall, Edinburgh University.
i) John Muir (1838 – 1914) b. Dunbar, East Lothian.
Naturalist – emigrated to the USA in 1849, becoming an inventor until an industrial accident cost him an eye in 1867. Exploring the wild areas of the west, he developed an interest in many aspects of natural history. He led a campaign to form the Yosemite Country Park in 1890, and helped form the Sierra Club in 1892. He is regarded as one of the first environmentalists and the “Father of Ecology.” The John Muir Trust was founded in Scotland in 1983 to further his ideals and now has care of 7 large areas of wild land, including Knoydart, Schiehallion, Ben Nevis and parts of Skye. There is a Museum to him in his native Dunbar.
j) John Menzies (1852 – 1935) b. Edinburgh
Bookseller and Newsagent – established a business in 1883, which grew into a chain, now the John Menzies Distribution Group.
k) John Bartholomew (1860 – 1920) b. Edinburgh
Cartographer – he enrolled into his Father’s firm, where he produced atlases and developed a system of indicating contours by colour. The firm continued into the 1990s.They also produced the cartography for the Times Atlas.
l) Sir Tom Farmer (1940 – ) b. Leith.
Founder of the Kwik Fit Tyre Repair chain, for it to become the largest chain of its type in the world, with 2000 centres in 18 different countries. He received an OBE in 1990, whilst also being responsible for the survival of Hibernian FC from financial oblivion in the same year.
11) Heroes and Heroines
a) Agnes Randolph (1312 – 1369) b.?
Daughter of Thomas Randolph, Ist Earl of Moray, known as “Black Agnes”, because of her dark hair and olive skin, she totally withstood the siege of Dunbar Castle against the English under the Earl of Salisbury.
a) John Reid (1655 – 1723 ) b. Niddry Castle, West Lothian.
Gardener – moved to Drummond Castle and Lawers in Perthshire. He is accredited with the first Gardening book in Scotland, “The Scots Gardener” (1683) and emigrated to N. Jersey USA, where he eventually became Surveyor-General of the Province.
a) Alexander Cowan b. Penicuik, Midlothian 1775 died 1859.
Scottish Papermaker and Philanthropist:he owned and ran the huge Valleyfield paper-works In Penicuik. He improved the process of paper-making, setting up what in those days was one of the largest mills in the world, which operated for 150 years.
Amongst his Philanthropist acts was funding the reglazing of every needed window on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, having been disturbed by the poverty he saw there.
In 1797 he set up a Public Library in Penicuik, one of the first free libraries in Britain.
During the Napoleonic Wars in 1810, the Government commandeered the mills at Valleyfield as a prisoner of war camp, and the house as a prison hospital. Paper manufacturing recommenced in 1820, and Cowan commissioned Thomas Hamilton to design a memorial in the memory of the 309 prisoners who died there, erected on a mound near Valleyfield. The Memorial bears the inscription: ”All men are brethren.”
In 1832 during the cholera epidemic in Edinburgh, Cowan is said to have sat with victims on the Canongate to comfort them.
Through his agency, the town of Penicuik was supplied with gas lighting from 1845-1877, with the Valleyfield Mills being one of the first large mills to have gas supply from 1830.
Meanwhile in 1809, he improved the existing Water Supply of Penicuik, and later from his legacy, he provided a further provision for the establishment of a completely new Water Supply for the town.
In 1851, he set up a town museum in Penicuik within the Mill complex, the contents being removed when the Mill was take over by the Reed Paper Group in 1976.
He had 8 surviving children, some of whom went on to great things.
His will left monies to the town of Penicuik sufficient to build the Cowan Institute in 1893, later to become the Town Hall.
He gave the town of Penicuik with the fame as one of the leading early paper locations in the world.
b) James Naysmyth (1808 – 90) b. Edinburgh
Son of Alexander Naysmyth, moved to Manchester and established a Foundry business and specialised in the production of steam powered machine tools, including the steam hammer and steam lathe. His inventions helped to enable massed production in factories, reducing the need for skilled labour.
a) Sir John Napier (1550 – 1617) b. Edinburgh
Mathematician and Inventor of Logarithms and “Napier’s Bones”, a calculating device of multiplication and division. Napier University in Edinburgh named after him.
b) Andrew Fletcher (1653 – 1716) b. Saltoun in East Lothian.
Passionate leader of the opposition to the Union, then left politics to concentrate on the agriculture of his lands. He introduced from Holland a mill to produce pot barley, known at the time as “Saltoun Barley.”
c) Andrew Meikle (1719 – 1811) b. Houston Mill Nr. Dunbar, East Lothian.
Agricultural Engineer – Son of James Meikle who helped Andrew Fletcher (see above). His inventions included improvement to windmill designs and the first practical Threshing Machine, the principal of which is still embodied in the modern combine harvester. His son George invented a water-raising wheel, used in draining Kincardine Moss in 1787.
d) Henry Bell (1767 – 1830) b. Linlithgow
Launched “The Comet” on the River Clyde, the first passenger steamer in Europe.
e) Sir Charles Bell (1774 – 1842) b. Edinburgh
Surgeon – pioneer in the field of Neurology, and “Bells Palsy” named after him.
f) Alexander Graham Bell (1847 – 1922) b. Edinburgh
He moved to Canada in 1870 and then to the USA. His experiments in telephony led in 1875 to telephone transmission, and the Bell Telephone Company was set up in 1877. However the US Courts decided in 2002 that the telephone was invented by Antonio Meucci, who demonstrated his invention in 1860. Bell’s other inventions included the photo phone and a number of aeronautical innovations. He founded the journal “Science” in 1883.Another candidate surely for one of the greatest Scots of all time.
A Scot whose achievements are still celebrated today in a small town, Krosno, situated in the south east of Poland, with street names and statues in his honour, and even hotels and a shopping centre sharing his name.
On leaving Scotland as a young man, he quickly joined the country’s emerging Merchant Class, and he made his fortune by bringing fine quality wine into a country more used to vodka.
He became one of the richest men in Poland, and by 1632 he had won privileged Royal Merchant status, which allowed him to supply wine to the King Sigismund 111.
Each year, the Porteous Society holds a Wine Festival in Krosno in his honour, and there are plans to form a train line between Krosno and the Tojak region of Hungary from where he bought his wine.
He financed vast town improvements, including a new Town Wall and replacing burnt out churches, and he embedded his story into the very fabric of Krosno.
He is also remembered for other various acts of generosity, such as financing a teachers’ pay increase.
In 1651, he paid a tax to King Charles II in Scotland,and he became one of the biggest benefactors to the King.
Robert Porteous’s life helped to illustrate the links that have developed between Scotland and Poland over the centuries.
a) Sir Robert Sibbald (1641 – 1722) – see Founders
b) Archibald Pitcairne (1652 – 1713) b. Edinburgh
Doctor, Latinist and Jacobite Propagandist – a leading figure in early Scottish Enlightenment, Professor of Medicine in London and Edinburgh, and one of the Founders of the Royal College of Physicians.
c) Alexander Monro and Family – Primus (1697 – 1767) Secundus (1733 – 1817) and Tertius (1773 – 1859) b. Edinburgh
They all followed one another as professors at Edinburgh University. Monro Primus was a distinguished anatomist, who helped found Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and write several works on anatomy and medicine.
d) James Lind (1716 – 94) b. Edinburgh
He discovered the anti scurvy properties of fresh fruit, especially lemon juice. “A Treatise of Scurvy” in 1753 is credited with banishing the crippling disease from the British Navy. It was his vision and breakthrough that resulted in Brits becoming known as “Limeys”. There is no doubt his work helped the Empire to dominate two thirds of the globe. even though his findings were not implemented until after his death. A plaque to him was placed in Teviot Square in Edinburgh. Another truly great and influential Scot.
e) Robert Liston (1794 – 1847) b. Linlithgow
Trained in Edinburgh and London, lecturing in surgery and anatomy in Edinburgh, before becoming Professor of Clinical Surgery at University College London. He devised the “Liston Splint” and in 1846 was the first to use a general anaesthetic. His writings include “Elements of Surgery” (1831).
f) Sir James Young Simpson (1811 – 70) b. Bathgate, West Lothian.
Obstetrician – Pioneer of the use of ether as an anaesthetic in childbirth in 1847. He used chloroform on himself. Pioneer also of Gynaecology and Hospital Reform. His name was given to the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion in Edinburgh in 1979, and now part of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Certainly a great Scot who has made a great difference to our lives.
g) Elsie Maud Inglis (1864 – 1917) b. in India of Scots parents
She returned to Scotland in 1874, received her degree in Medicine, and set up a dedicated maternity hospital for the poor in Edinburgh’s High Street in 1904, and founded the Scottish Women’s Suffragette Federation in 1906. During World War 1, after being rejected by the Royal Army Medical Corps and the Red Cross, she set up her own women’s ambulance units in France, Serbia and Russia. Her name was commemorated in the Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital in Edinburgh (1925-88.) A candidate for the greatest of Scottish women?
17) Military Men
a) Patrick Ferguson (1744-80) b. Edinburgh
Soldier who invented the breach-loading rifle. In spite of earlier injuries, he fought bravely in the War of the American Revolution and was killed at the Battle of King’s Mountain.
b) Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Of Bemersyde (1861 – 1928) b. Edinburgh
Military Commander, and member of the Haig family of distillers. He served in the Boer War and in India. He displaced his fellow cavalryman, Sir John French, to become C.I.C. of the British Expeditionary Force in France in World War 1,becoming Field Marshall in 1917. Admired at the time, but later criticised for the human cost of his campaigns. More recently his generalship has been strongly defended and his 1918 offences were undoubtedly decisive victories. In later years he was concerned for those who had been wounded and bereaved, and founded the Earl Haig Poppy Fund, which provides for disabled servicemen to this day.
c) Eric Melrose “Winkle” Brown CBE, DSC, AFC, HON FRAeS, RN (1919 – ) b. Leith
Pilot – a British former Royal Naval Officer and Test Pilot, who flew 487 different types of aircraft, more than anyone else in history. He also holds the world record for the most aircraft carrier landings performed (2,407) and is the Fleet Air Arm’s most decorated living pilot. As a fluent German speaker, at the end of the Second World War, assisted in interrogating German war criminals. “Winkle ” because of how he was able to roll into a ball, owing to his small frame.
18) Musicians and Singers
a) Sir Harry Lauder (1870 – 1950) b. Portobello
Great singer and entertainer to the troops during World War I.
b) Alex Welsh (1929 – 82) b. Edinburgh
Jazz musician and one of the key members of the Trad Jazz revival.
c) Roy Williamson (1936 – 90) b. Edinburgh?
Together with Ronnie Browne made up the famous Corries Scottish Folk Group, and wrote “Flower of Scotland”, still used today as Scotland’s National Anthem.
d) Ronnie Browne (1937 – ) b. Edinburgh?
e) Jean Redpath (1937 – ) b. Edinburgh
Famed for her singing of all Scots songs, especially perhaps Burns.
f) Phil Cunningham (1960 – ) b. Edinburgh
Famed accordion player and composer.
g) Charlie and Craig Reid (1962 – ) b. Leith
Famed as “The Proclaimers”.
h) Tommy Smith (1967 – ) b. Edinburgh
Jazz saxophonist, composer and teacher – described as “Of the generation which emerged in the mid 1980’s, he might be the most outstandingly talented.”
a) Albert Watson (1942 – ) b. Penicuik, Midlothian
Emigrating to New York in about 1974, blind in one eye, has become one of the world’s top celebrity photographers, creating iconic images of Mick Jagger, Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Alfred Hitchcock and David Bowie amongst others. He studied graphic design at Duncan of Jordanstone College in Dundee, and film and television at the Royal College of Art in London. His images are said to have appeared on more than 100 covers of Vogue magazine.
20) Politicians and Statesmen
a) Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl Balfour (1848 – 1930) b. East Lothian
Nephew of Robert Cecil, Lord Salisbury, he rose rapidly, a Secretary for Scotland 1886, Leader of the Commons 1892-3, and P.M. from 1902-1906. He continued to hold senior offices, was Foreign Secretary to Lloyd George and authored the Balfour Declaration of 1917, pledging support for Zionist’s aims for a home in Palestine.
b) Sir Leander Starr Jameson (1853 – 1917) b. Edinburgh
Statesman – close fried of Cecil Rhodes – involved in settlement of Rhodesia. In 1895 “Jameson Raid” for which he was imprisoned. From 1904 – 08 Premier of the Cape Colony and in 1913, became President of the British S. Africa Company.
c) John Adrian Louis Hope Linlithgow (1860 – 1908) b. Hopetoun House. In Midlothian
He became the first Governor – General of Australia from 1900 – 1902.
d) Tam Dalziel (1932 – ) b. the Binns, West Lothian
MP for West Lothian from 1962 – 83. He opposed devolution for Scotland, and raised what became known as the “West Lothian question’ on the problem of Scottish Westminster MPs being able to vote on English matters, and not the other way round. In 2001 be became the Father of the House in the Commons (oldest serving MP).
e) Sir Malcolm Rifkind (1946 – ) b. Edinburgh
Secretary of State for Scotland from 1982 – 86, then Transport Minister 1990-2 and Foreign Secretary 1995-7.
f) Alex Salmond (1954 – ) b. Linlithgow.
Leader of the SNP from 1990 and current First Minister of Scotland responsible for bringing Scotland the Referendum for Independence from the UK in September 2014.
a) James Clerk Maxwell (1831 – 79) b. Edinburgh
Physicist – formulation of the Theory of Electromagnetism and Gas Dynamics. His last appointment was as the first Cavendish Professor of Physics at Cambridge. Seen as one of the greatest Physicists of all time, as his discoveries paved the way for modern inventions e.g. the mobile phone, television and X Ray machines. He is said to be the single most admired man by Einstein. One of the truly great Scots, there is no doubt.
b) Professor Peter Higgs (1929 – ) b. N.E. England
Adopted by the City of Edinburgh, where he has worked for most of his professional life at Edinburgh University. Nobel Prize winner in 2013 for the “Higgs Bosun Theory.”
(c) Sir Fraser Stoddart (1942 -) b. Edinburgh
Joint winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2016, for the design and synthesis of molecular machines.
a) Eric Liddell (1902-45) b. China of Edinburgh parents
Athlete made famous from the movie “Chariots of Fire.” Died in China as a missionary.
b) Dave Mackay (1934 – ) b. Edinburgh – Football
c) Jim Telfer (1940 – ) b. Pathhead, Midlothian – Rugby.
d) John Greig (1942 – ) b. Edinburgh – Football
e) Ken Buchanan (1945 – ) b. Edinburgh – Boxing
f) Bernard Gallagher (1949 – ) b. Bathgate, West Lothian. – Golf
g) Andy Irvine (1951 – ) b. Edinburgh – Rugby
h) Alan Wells (1952 – ) b. Edinburgh – Athetics
i) Graeme Souness (1953 – ) b. Edinburgh – Football.
j) Findlay Calder (1957 – ) b. Edinburgh – Rugby
k) Gavin Hastings (1962 – ) b. Edinburgh – Rugby
l) Yvonne Murray (1964 – ) b. Edinburgh – Athletics
m) Stephen Hendry (1969 – ) b. Edinburgh – Snooker
n) Catriona Matthew (1969 – ) b. Edinburgh – Golf
o) Gregor Townsend (1973 – ) b. Edinburgh – Rugby
p) Sandy Jardine (1947 – 2014) b. Edinburgh – Football