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Table of Contents
Great Scots Scottish Borders
1) Academics and Learned Men
a) John Duns Scotus (1265 – 1308) b Duns?
Philosopher and Royal Adviser. The name ‘Dunce’ comes from him, as his ideas and theories were generally regarded quite odd and outlandish.
a) Anne Redpath (1895 – 1965) b. Galashiels.
Renowned for her still lifes. After 1945, she travelled extensively in Spain, France and Italy, and she became well known for her rich world scenes of church interiors. In 1952, she became the first female painter to be elected to the Royal Scottish Academy.
a) Thomas the Rhymer (c.1270) b. Ercildoune (today Earlston)
Seer and poet – his prophesies,published in 1602,included the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314,and the accession to the English Throne of a Scottish King,namely James V1 and 1 in 1603.
b) James Hogg (1770 – 1835) b. Ettrick Hall
The Ettrick Shepherd. Great Border writer and fiddler – was offered a Knighthood by King George 1V in 1835, but turned it down. He taught himself to read and write, and he furnished Sir Walter Scott, with whom he became a great friend, with a lot of local material.
c) John Buchan (1875 – 1940) b. Perth.
Spent most of his days in Peeblesshire, hence why I have included him in the Borders section. 1st Lord Tweedsmuir, best known for his spy novel The 39 Steps published in 1915. He became War Correspondent for the Times, Director of Reuters, British Intelligence in World War 1, and later Governor General of Canada.
a) John Turnbull Thomson (1923-2010) b. Hawick
In 1841, appointed Government Surveyor in Singapore and in 1844, became Superintendent of Roads and Public Works, with a responsibility for the design and construction of many engineering works, including the topographical survey of the Island, the Marine survey of the straits and east coast of Johore and Penang. His outstanding construction was the Horsburgh Lighthouse. Later fm 1876 – 79, he became Surveyor General of New Zealand, and a region of Otago became known as the Thomson Barnyard. He too planned the city of Invercargill.
a) Mungo Park (1771 – 1806) b. Foulshiels nr. Selkirk
Explorer – in 1795, he led an expedition to find the source of the River Nile. In 1801, he returned to Peebles, where he practised as a doctor. Prior to 1804, he returned to Africa, but was drowned in a further exploration of the Niger.
a) James Wilson b. Hawick 1805-1860
Scottish businessman, economist and politician, who founded the Economist Weekly and the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, which merged with the Standard Bank in 1969, and became the Standard Chartered Bank.
a) James Small b. Berwickshire
Returned to Scotland from Yorkshire in the mid 1760’s. He developed the curved cast-iron mould – board, still seen on a modern tractor plough.
b) Sir David Brewster (1781-1868) b. Jedburgh
Physicist – in 1816 he invented the Kaleidoscope – became Principal of St. Andrews University in 1838, and later Principal of Edinburgh University in 1859.
c) Robbie Douglas b. Selkirk?
As a baker, inventor of the Selkirk Bannock in 1859
a) William and Robert Chambers (1800 – 1883) b. Peebles
Produced the Chambers Encyclopaedia Dictionary.
b) Bill Maclaren CBE (1923 – 2010) b. Hawick
Quite simply ‘The Voice of Rugby’ and one of the truly great British TV commentators and journalists of the second half of the 20th century.
a) Patrick Logan (1791 – 1830) b. E. Renton, Berwickshire
Commandant of Moreton Bay Penal Colony. Had a reputation for extreme strictness, and was killed by either Aborigines or convicts. He discovered the area which became known as Ipswich, Queensland, and some consider him to be the founder of Queensland.
a) Sir Alec Douglas Home (1903 – 95) b. London but associated with Coldstream
Was British PM in 1963-4, and in doing so, remains the only one to resign from the House of Lords, as the Earl of Home, to contest a bi-election for Kinross, and was also the last PM to be personally chosen by the Monarch.
b) Catherine Helen Spence b. Melrose 1825/died in Adelaide 1910:
She emigrated to Australia with her family in 1839, settling in Adelaide.
Her father David was elected the city’s first Town Clerk, and her brother John Brodie making a name for himself as a banker and politician.
Initially Catherine Helen developed an interest in journalism,and wrote a novel about a woman in a tale of South Australia during the Gold fever.
In 1872 she helped establish the Boarding-out society,aimed at helping destitute children, with fellow emigrant Caroline Emily Clark; this desire to help others continued till her death.
After more novels, by the end of the 1890s she entered the political sphere and in 1891 she joined the fight for female suffrage, becoming VP of the Women’s Suffrage League of South Australia. After South Australian women were enfranchised in 1894, she turned her attention to Victoria and New South Wales.
She became Australia’s first political candidate in 1897, and was a popular figure during her career. She transcended party politics and was held up as a symbol of what women could achieve in Australia.
On her death in 1910, she was mourned as “The grand old woman of Australia.”
There is a bronze statue and a building named for her at the University of South Australia, whilst a plaque was installed at the site of her Melrose home.
c) Sir David Steel/ Lord Steel of Aikwood (1938 – ) b.Kirkcaldy, but closely associated with the Borders, and has lived most of his life near Selkirk. He was the last leader of the Liberal Party in 1976, and sponsor of the Abortion Reform Bill. He helped form the Liberal Democrat Party, and was first presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament. He was also one of those responsible for drawing up UN Resolutions 224/336 with relevance to the Israeli/Palestinian problem.
a) Jean Kennedy Irvine (1877 – 1962) b. Hawick
She trained in Pharmaceuticals in her home town of Hawick, and was qualified in 1900.
Initially she assisted her husband running 2 pharmacies in Glasgow, but followed her husband Peter to London in 1914, when he was recruited to the army. She became the Superintendant of the South-Eastern Pricing Bureau, which was responsible for overseeing the prices of prescriptions in the region, and a position she held for over 30 years.
She was a member of the Insurance Committee, and due to her services, she received an MBE in 1928.
In 1932 she was elected as the President of the Insurance Committee Officers Association for England and Wales, the first female to be so elected. In addition she joined the Royal Pharmaceutical Society In 1937, and once again became its first female President in 1947, until 1948, remaining a member until 1952.
a) Eric Bogle (1944 – ) b. Peebles
Folk singer/writer – Emigrated to Australia in 1969. In 1987, appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his work as a singer/song-writer. In 2001 the Australian Performing Right Association, as part of the 75th Anniversary celebrations,named his song And the Band played Waltzing Matilda as one of the top 30 Australian songs of all time.
a) Mary Somerville (1780 – 1872 ) b. Jedburgh
She had an impressive ability to explain scientific theory in a comprehensive manner. An advocate for the rights of women, Somerville College, Oxford is named after her.
a) Jim Clark (1936 – 68) b. Kilmany, Fife but lived most of his life in Chirnside, Berwickshire
World Motor Racing Champion twice in 1963 and 1965, and in the process achieved 25 Grand Prix wins, beating the previous record of Fangio in the process.
b) Hughie Macleod b. Hawick
The iron man of Hawick – a truly great tight head prop for Scotland winning 40 caps between 1954-62 and touring twice with the British Lions.
c) Andrew Cowan (1936 – ) raised in Duns
One of the leading British rally drivers of his time, twice winning Scottish Rally Titles, the first 2 London-Sydney marathon rallies, 5 consecutive Southern Cross Rallies and winning the British Racing Driver’s Club John Cobb Trophy for a British driver of outstanding success.
d) Chay Blythe (1940 – ) b. Hawick.
Scottish yachtsman and rower – he was the first person to sail single-handed non-stop westwards around the world in 1971, on a 59 ft boat called British Steel.
e) Jim Telfer (1940 – ) b. Melrose
Won 21 caps for Scotland mainly as a no.8, but perhaps became more renowned as one of the leading rugby coaches in the World for both Scotland and the British Lions, he was especially well known for his tough discipline and passion.
f) Louise Aitken-Walker ( 1960 – ) b. Duns
The 1990 Ladies World Touring Car Champion, further enhancing Duns as an amazing town in producing world class racing drivers.
g) Roy Laidlaw (1953 – ) b. Jedburgh
47 rugby caps for Scotland as scrum half and British Lion in 1983.
h) John Rutherford (1955 – ) associated with Selkirk
Rutherford had 42 caps for Scotland as a stand off, and a British Lion in 1983.
i) John Jeffery (1959 – ) b. Kelso
The white shark had 40 caps for Scotland as a flanker, and a British Lion in 1989.