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Table of Contents
Great Scots Fife
a) Henry Wardlaw (died 1440) b. Fife.
Churchman and Tutor to James VI, as Bishop of St Andrews, he helped form the St. Andrews University and was its first Chancellor.
2) Architects and Designers
a) Sir William Bruce (1630-1710) b. nr. Dunfermline
He rebuilt the Palace of Holyrood, Kinross House and Hopetoun House.
b) William Adam (1689-1748) b. Kirkcaldy
His four sons all became architects and joined the firm that he established. His buildings included Arniston House, Duff House, The House of Dun and the remodelling of Hopetoun House, which was completed by his sons John and Robert. As a contractor, his firm built many military fortifications, notably the masonry of Fort George after the 1745 rebellion, albeit built after his death.
c) John Adam (1721-1792) b. Kirkcaldy.
He designed the Royal Exchange in Edinburgh, now the City Chambers (1753-61), and Dumfries House (1754-59) with his brother Robert. His own simple style is best represented by Moffat House (1761) now a hotel. He was a partner in the Carron Ironworks, but his life was clouded by a series of financial misfortunes.
d) Robert Adam (1728-1792) b. Kirkcaldy.
He studied in Edinburgh and Rome and became the most famous of the family, establishing the neoclassical style in Britain, and is often regarded as the foremost British architect of his day. He spent much of his time in London, and was architect to George 111(1762-98), resigning to become MP for Kinrossshire. His finest buildings in Scotland include Charlotte Square, Register House and Old College, all in Edinburgh, Culzean Castle in Ayrshire and Mellerstain House in Berwickshire.
e) John Lessels (1808-1883) b. Kirkcaldy
He planned much of Edinburgh’s West End for the Walker Trust, and with David Cousin, replanted and rebuilt much of the Old Town of Edinburgh for the City Improvement Trust. His son of the same name, (b.Dawyck in 1833) was responsible for the entrance front of Hampton Court as it now exists.
3) Artists and Painters
a) Sir David Wilkie (1785-1841) b. Cults
Highly accomplished artist from his youth, he became one of the most influential artists of the early 19th century. He received instant recognition when his ” Village Politicians” was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1806. He was also an exceptional portraitist. Latterly he worked as a history painter and travelled extensively in Spain and the Middle East. His death at sea, near Malta, inspired hairs friend JMW Turner to paint ”Peace: Burial at Sea.”
b) Jack Vettriano (1951- ) b. Kirkcaldy.
A self – taught artist; his stylised, nostalgic paintings command high prices and are popular as prints and greetings cards.
4) Authors and Writers
a) King James VI (1566-1625) b. Edinburgh.
The reason I have included this in the FIFE section, is that the idea for the translation of the Bible into English took place in Burntisland.
b) Iain Banks (1954-2013) b. Dunfermline
Novelist – two prolific novelists in one man – one writer of prize winning science fiction, and another as a writer of numerous and sometimes cruel stories.
a) Adam Smith (1723-1790) b. Kirkcaldy.
‘The Father of Economics’ – political economist and moral philosopher, who in his mid 20’s became friends with members of the Edinburgh intelligentsia, including David Hume, John Home and William Robertson, and from 1751 he held the chair of logic at Glasgow, transferring to moral philosophy in 1755. His ”Theory of Moral Sentiments” (1759) argued for an innate sympathy with others as the basis of social morality. In 1776 he published “Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”, a brilliant synthesis of concepts such as the division of labour, labour mechanisms and credit structures. He endorsed freer trade and consumer sovereignty, but he believed in enlightened self-interest as well as moral sympathy. An 18th century man and socially conservative, he had to be reinterpreted to become the high priest of Victorian capitalism, and more recently of Thatcherite free- market economics.
A quite remarkable man who has influenced economic thinking in an enormous way, and another candidate for the greatest Scot of all time?
6) Explorers And Pioneers
a) Alexander Selkirk (1676-1721) b. Lower Largo
Probably the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe”. On a voyage in 1704, he quarrelled with his Captain William Dampier, and asked to be put ashore on the uninhibited island of Juan Fernandez. He was rescued after more than 3 years there by Thomas Dover.
b) John Macdoul Stewart (1815-66) b. Dysart
First man to cross the Australian continent in the mid 18th century, and the ‘Stewart Highway’, which runs from S-N is named after him.
c) Sandford Fleming 18th century man born in Kirkcaldy
A railway engineer/surveyor – Founder of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which was completed and opened on the 7th November 1885.
d) George Russell
A sheep farmer from Fife, who developed the Wine Industry in Victoria, Australia.
a) Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) b. Dunfermline.
Emigrated with his family to Pittsburgh in 1848. Starting work aged 13, he made his fortune in railroads, iron and steel. He gave away over £70,000,000 on philanthropic initiatives, especially libraries and trusts, including the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, the Carnegie UK Trust (helping community development, especially rural initiatives and young people) and the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, for the benefit of its citizens. His home in Dunfermline is now a museum.
Another candidate surely for the greatest of Scots?
a) Sir George Bruce (died 1625 in Fife.)
Mine-owner who pioneered the under – sea mining of coal in Culross. He also developed salt- boiling and iron girdles for baking. He lived in the ”Palace” in Culross, which is still open to the public in that most fascinating of towns greatly influenced by the National Trust of Scotland.
b) Sir John Leslie (1766-1832) b. Largo
Physicist who became Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh University in 1805, and later of Natural Philosophy in 1819. He invented several a types of meter and in 1810, he succeeded in producing ice artificially, the first recorded instance of this.
c) Archibald Findlay (1841-1921) b. Markinch
Potato breeder extraordinaire who produced the first blight-resistant potato, making the food safe from disease, and his varieties fed the troops and Nation throughout 2 world wars, helping Britain to become self-sufficient in basic food requirements during these times.
What a legacy he did leave and another great Fifer!
9) Military Men
a) Sir John Wood (15th Century – buried in Largo Church)
Admiral of the Scots Fleet in 1489.
10) Musicians and Singers
a) Sir Jimmy Shand (1908-2000) b. East Wemyss
Accordionist and Scottish Country Dance leader – he left the mines to work in a music shop and became a professional player, gaining acclaim after appearing on programmes such as the White Heather Club. He toured the world and continued playing in his later years. He was knighted in 1999.
b) Joe Temperley (1929 -) b. Lochgelly
Jazz musician – his career as a saxophonist began in the late 1940’s with a succession of English bands, then in 1965 he moved to New York. He has been based in the US ever since, and has worked with many of the great names of the genre.
c) Barbara Dickson (1947- ) b. Dunfermline
Singer, songwriter and actress – started singing in folk clubs before with her talent moving on to a wider stage of musicals and pop.
11) Politicians and Statesmen
a) James Wilson (1742-89) b. Nr Ceres
Politician – moved to Philadelphia as a young man, where he campaigned for Independence. He signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. He became a conventional Federalist, who believed in the need for a stronger Central Government for the new US. He is seen as a co-author with James Madison of the American Constitution of 1787.
b) Jo Grimond (1913-93) b. St. Andrews
Politician – he was Liberal MP for Orkney and Shetland from 1950-1983. As leader of the Liberals from 1956-1967, he led the modernisation of the party and saw an improvement in their fortunes.
c) Gordon Brown (1951-) b. Edinburgh
Including him as a ‘Fifer’ because of his close professional association with the county. He became MP for Dunfermline East in 1983, moving his way up the Labour Party to Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1997 and then PM.
a) Old Tom Morris (1821-1908) b. St. Andrews
Golfer, who competed in every Open from the first at Prestwick in 1860 up to 1896. He won 4 times and the oldest winner at 46 in 1867.
b) Young Tom Morris (1851-75) b. St. Andrews
Golfer – he made the first hole in one at the Open in Prestwick in 1868. He won the Open for a record 4 times on the trot.
c) James Braid (1870-1950) b. Earlsferry
Golfer and famous Golf Course designer – an outstanding amateur player, turning pro in 1893. He won the Open 5 times a between 1901 and 1910.
d) Willie Auchterlonie (1872-1962) b. St. Andrews
Professional golfer and club maker. He won the Open in 1893.
e) Jim Baxter (1939-2001) b. Fife
Capped for Scotland 34 times, and with the right dedication would have become a truly world class player.
f) Ian Paxton (1957-) b. Fife.
Rugby player attaining 36 caps for Scotland as a No.8, and became a Lion in 1983.