With a population of just over 5 million, the Scots are a rare bunch graced with endless innovation, The source of numerous genius inventions, the fun doesn’t end with Irn-Bru, whisky, Burns Suppers and deep-fried Mars Bars! Our small nation has lead the world ion so many ways here is a small reminder of what we have achieved
Penicillin, The Steam Engine, TV. The first powered boat, The bicycle, Electromagnetics, The Telephone, The Sticky Plaster, Sherlock Holmes, The Carronade, Tubular Steel, The Threshing Machine, The Tunnocks Tea Cake, Telegraph cables, Insulin, The Higgs Boson, Modern Macadamised Roads, The Kelvin Scale, The Kaleidoscope, Tunnocks Caramel Wafers, The Steam Hammer, Cordite, The Decimal Point, Logarithms, Haemoglobin, Peter Pan, Refrigeration, The Forth Rail Bridge, Electric Clocks, Statistics, Proper Whisky, Surgery, Curling, The Toaster, The Wealth of Nations, The Bank of England, The Bank of France, The Seismometer, A cure for malaria, Golf, The Tractor Beam, Long John Silver, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Tire, Dolly the sheep, The Raincoat, Marmalade, the list goes on and on, and we have even achieved great things in the arts, exploration, sport, human rights and we continue to do so even today.
Alexander Graham Bell (1847 – 1922)
Alexander Graham Bell was an inventor born in Edinburgh. He would study there and in London, but he eventually emigrated to Canada with his family. Some of his inventions include the iron lung, phonographs, and hydrofoils, but one of them is more famous than others… In 1876, he was trying to invent a device to telegraphically transmit sounds for deaf people. Instead, he accidentally discovered the telephone – one of the most important inventions of the last 200 years. Could you imagine life without a mobile phone?
Robert Stevenson (1772 – 1850)
Born in Glasgow. Stevenson was a civil engineer and designer. He was noted for his innovative and effective construction of lighthouses on inaccessible places, such as the Bell Rock Lighthouse.
Bill Shankly (1913 – 1981)
Born Glenbuck, Ayrshire, – Football player who represented Scotland five times, but most famous as the manager of Liverpool F.C. 1959-74 and for his great one liners
Williamina Fleming (1857 – 1911)
This Dundee-born astronomer emigrated to Boston when she was twenty-one years old. There, she worked first as a maid and then in an observatory, cataloguing the stars. In 1888, Williamina Fleming discovered the Horsehead Nebula. This is a distinctive pattern made up of gas clouds in space that can be seen near Orion’s Belt, part of a larger constellation.
Lord MacBeth (c.1005 – 1057)
Last Gaelic King of Scotland. Immortalized (although totally inaccurately) in Shakespeare’s play ‘MacBeth’. He was the commander-in-chief of King Duncan’s army and killed the King in 1040, succeeding him to the throne where he ruled until he was killed in battle in 1057.
James Chalmers (1782 – 1853)
Born in Dundee, Chalmers was a bookseller and newspaper publisher. He proposed reforms to speed up mail from Edinburgh to London and was recognised as the inventor of the adhesive postage stamp
Alexander Fleming (1881 – 1955)
Nowadays, if you get sick from an infection, you can be treated with antibiotics. But did you know that before 1928, it would have been much more dangerous, and you might have died however Fleming, a famous physician and microbiologist from Ayrshire, discovered penicillin, the first treatment for many serious illnesses such as pneumonia or rheumatic fever. It’s saved millions of lives in the time since.
James Keir Hardie (1856 – 1915)
Born in Lanarkshire. James was born into a poor family, but had a strong desire for self-improvement and education. He went on to become a miner and a socialist, who fought fiercely for the rights of many socialist groups. He eventually became a founding member of the British Labour Party, and was elected as their leader in 1906.
Margaret McDonald (1864-1933)
Artist Margaret Macdonald can easily get lost behind her famous architect husband, Charles Rennie Macintosh. But without her influence, he may not have been so successful. A student at Glasgow School of Art at the end of the 19th century, she studied embroidery, textiles, watercolour and metalwork. Macintosh acknowledged her as a huge influence on his work and believed that he had talent but she had genius. Many of the motifs we associate with him – murals, decorative metalwork, printed fabric panels – came from Macdonald.
John Witherspoon (1723 – 1794)
He was born in Gifford in East Lothian. Where he joined the clergy, becoming an ordained minister in 1745. He emigrated to the USA in 1786. Helped to draft the Declaration of Independence he was also the only clergyman to sign it, but 21 of the 56 signatories were of Scottish descent.
Sir Thomas Lipton (1850 – 1931)
Built the huge Lipton tea empire and also won fame as a yachtsman. To supply his retail shops on the most favourable terms, Lipton purchased extensive tea, coffee, and cocoa plantations in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and provided his own packinghouse for hogs in Chicago. He also acquired fruit farms, jam factories, bakeries, and bacon-curing establishments in England. In 1898 his business was organized into Lipton, Ltd. He was knighted in the same year and in 1902 was created a baronet. A keen yachtsman, Lipton raced his Shamrock yachts five times unsuccessfully for the America’s Cup between 1899 and 1930. Hailed as “the best of all losers,” he was awarded a special cup for his repeated failures, and the publicity of his attempts helped his tea gain popularity in the States.
Muriel Spark (1918 – 2006 )
Born in Edinburgh, Spark was a Scottish novelist, poet and author, her most famous work being The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Nan Shepherd (1893-1981)
Novelist and poet Nan Shepherd is best known as the face of the RBS fiver. She was chosen by the bank’s board as one of the first women to appear on their notes in 2016. There are quotes from two of her books on the other side. Her best-known work, The Living Mountain, was written during World War II. It wasn’t published until 1977, four years before her death. Her nature writing and descriptions of her beloved Cairngorms have won her new fans in the 21st century and the novel, now considered a classic, has sold thousands of copies.
Galgacus (Lived around 85AD)
Also known as Calgacus He was a Caledonian tribal leader in the north of Scotland who united the tribes and led the resistance against Roman armies who were pushing north into Scotland. His armies defeated the Romans in the Battle of Mons Graupius in the north of Scotland in 83 AD. It’s thought that Galgacus was the first Scot to be actually named in history.
Alexander Selkirk (1676 – 1721)
Born in Lower Largo, Fife. A Scottish sailor, he was the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’. Selkirk spent over 4 years (1704 – 1709) after being stranded on a tiny, unihabited tropical island in the Pacific.
John Logie Baird (1888 – 1946)
Baird was an inventor born in Helensburgh, and he would revolutionise the world as we know it with his most famous invention in 1926. During the First World War, Baird was classed as unfit for active duty and trained as an electrical engineer. Afterwards, he used what he had learned to begin work on the first television. The first demonstration in front of other people was of course in black and white. Nowadays, they’re found in family homes all over the world, but they were first invented by a great Scot!
Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832)
Born in Edinburgh. Scottish patriot and qualified lawyer, he was a very popular writer and poet of his time…. perhaps the most popular author of his day. Some of his best-known works include ‘Ivanhoe’, ‘Rob Roy’ and ‘The Lady of The Lake’. He also was involved in the business world, and became part owner of a printing and publishing company in 1806.
Isabella MacDuff – Countess of Buchan (c. 1286–1313)
MacDuff played a key role in Scottish Wars of Independence. When her husband sided with the English, she defied him and rode to Scone to crown Robert the Bruce.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868 – 1928)
Charles Rennie Mackintosh was an artist and architect who designed the inside and outside of the Willow Tearooms in Glasgow, including his famous high-back chairs. The Tearooms have recently been restored and renamed as ‘Mackintosh at the Willow’. His designs, including the immediately recognisable ‘Glasgow Rose’ are used in fabric, stained-glass, furniture, and jewellery.
Elsie Inglis (1864-1917)
A Scottish doctor, surgeon, teacher and suffragist, Elsie Inglis was born in India but later returned to Scotland and trained at the Edinburgh School of Medicine. When WWI broke out, Inglis tried to enlist and join the war efforts but was rejected. This led her to set up, independently run and fund the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service (SWH), which established 14 hospitals across Europe. In April 1916, she became the first woman to be awarded the Serbian Order of the White Eagle.
Earl Douglas Haig (1861 – 1928)
Was Commander of Allied troops on the Western Front during World War 11. Later he founded the Poppy fund giving work and raising funds for ex-servicemen.
Sean Connery (1930 – 2020)
Born in Edinburgh. Possibly best known for his role as James Bond, in fact he was the very first actor to play the role in the movie franchise. Had multiple jobs and did a stint in the Royal Navy before becoming an actor. He appeared in a handful of TV roles before being cast as 007 in Dr No. Sean played James Bond in seven movies between 1962 and 1983. He also appeared in a multitude of other movies including Murder on the Orient Express, The Man Who Would Be King, Highlander, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and many more.
Jean Redpath (1937-2014)
An internationally renowned folk singer, educator, and musician, Jean Redpath was for many the voice of Scots traditional song. Despite not having any formal training, her understanding led her to become a great ambassador for traditional Scottish music. In 1977, Royal Jubilee Year, she performed at a banquet at Edinburgh Castle for Queen Elizabeth II. From 1979 she was a lecturer at the University of Stirling, and she gave courses for ten years in Scottish Song at the Heritage of Scotland Summer School. In 1987 she was awarded an MBE for her services to music. Recognised with several honorary doctorates, she was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame in 2008
King William I “The Lion” (1143-1214)
Crowned a Scottish King in 1165, William reigned for almost 50 years. He was red-haired, brave and full of energy, and although that may have contributed to his nickname of ‘The Lion’, it is more likely to have developed because he adopted the heraldic symbol of the red lion rampant on a yellow background. That symbol is still seen on Scotland’s Lion Rampant flag today.
Lachlan Macquarrie (1762-1824)
Born on the Inner Hebrides. Became the Governor of New South Wales in 1810, when Australia was still a penal colony. His foresight and practices transformed Australia into a modern and thriving nation, for that reason he’s often called the ‘Father of Australia’ and is a national hero ‘down under’.
Chrystal Macmillan (1872-1937)
Chrystal Macmillan was a barrister, politician, suffragist, pacifist, and the first female science graduate from the University of Edinburgh – a towering figure and a pioneer in education and law. In 1908, she became the first woman to plead a case before the House of Lords. One of the founders of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, she has been widely recognised for her work as a peace campaigner. She also campaigned for the right of women to vote. The Chrystal Macmillan Building at the University of Edinburgh was named in her honour
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894)
Born in Edinburgh. Studied engineering and law, but instead became a talented author and poet. His most famous works include “Treasure Island” published in 1882 and ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ and ‘Kidnapped’ published in 1886
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 – 1930)
Born in Edinburgh. His family was interested and involved in creative works including sketching, illustration, languages and literature. He was the creator of the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, (Charles was a doctor and the character of Sherlock Holmes was in part based on one of his medical school teachers). He was Knighted in 1902
Deborah Kerr (1921 – 2007)
Born in Glasgow. And a celebrated actress during the golden age of films. She started out in theatre, appearing in walk on parts and minor roles. She then graduated to film and appeared in iconic movies such as King Solomon’s Mines, The King and I, From Here to Eternity, An Affair to Remember and Perfect Strangers. She also had a role as a Bond girl in Casino Royale in 1967. After the 1960’s she left movies and returned to theatre work with the occasional TV roles.
Kenneth MacAlpin (834 – 858)
The first Scottish King. Crowned as the first King of ‘Alba’ uniting both the Picts and the Scots for the first time in 843 AD. Considered to be the ‘Founder of Scotland’
Robbie Coltrane (1950 – 2022
Born in a Glasgow suburb with the surname McMillan. Studied art at university. A hugely popular stand-up comedian and a member of Edinburgh’s Traverse Theater. Appeared in some TV series including The Lost Tribe, Tutti Frutti, Nuns on the Run, and possibly his most famous role as a criminal psychologist in Cracker. Movies include Flash Gordon, Death Watch, Absolute Beginners, plus James Bond movies Golden Eye and The World is Not Enough. Of course, you’re most likely to recognize Robbie in his role as Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies.
Maggie Keswick Jencks (1941-1995)
A writer, gardener and designer, Maggie Keswick Jencks designed the blueprint for the “Maggie’s Centres” – notable for their architecture and landscape setting, they provide a caring and patient-oriented environment for cancer patients. Now about to number 20, these centres have spread beyond Scotland to the rest of the UK and abroad. Her concern for others and her determination drove her as a generous donor to many charitable causes, but an equally persuasive fund-raiser; with her father, she founded the Holywood Trust (south-west Scotland) and the Keswick Foundation (Hong Kong). Her extraordinary creativity led to her book on Chinese Gardens – a classic on the subject – as well as extensive garden and interior design projects.
George Cleghorn (1716 – 1794)
Born in Granton just outside Edinburgh was a Doctor who speciality was anatomy but he helped discover Quinine as a cure for Malaria so saving many hundreds of lives
Will Fyffe (1885 – 1947)
Born in Dundee. Major entertainer, being a comedian, actor and singer and radio personality. He began in the Music Halls but went on to appear in pantomimes and movies. Perhaps best remembered for the popular song “I belong to Glasgow”, which he wrote and performed himself. Died from injuries sustained in a tragic accidental fall
Thomas Telford (1757–1834)
Born in Glendinning in Dumfriesshire, Civil engineer and stonemason. Telford was an innovative and prolific civil engineer, who helped build Menai suspension bridge, Telford’s most famous canal works include the 60-mile Caledonian Canal (1804-1822) and Ellesmere Canal and in the Highlands of Scotland, Telford was responsible or about 1,200 miles of new or improved roads. He was also responsible for a huge amount of bridges and was responsible for some 40 bridges in Shropshire alone.
Kirkpatrick Macmillan (1813 – 1878)
Born in Dumfries and Galloway and a brilliant blacksmith by trade he made the first bicycle the power bring provided by a horizontal reciprocating movement of the riders feet on the pedals
Sir James Dewar (1842 – 1923)
Born in Kincardine-on-Forth, Fife. Dewar was chemist and physicist. He invented the vacuum flask, which he used in the study of the liquidation of gases.
Isabella Elder (1828-1905)
Education was wealthy widow Isabella Elder’s lifelong passion. In the 1870s she supported the schools of civil engineering, architecture and medicine at Glasgow University and donated a building in the city’s west end to Queen Margaret College, the first one in Scotland to accept female students. But her support came with conditions and she used her leverage to improve standards of education for women. In 1885, she set up a School of Domestic Economy in Govan, teaching young women to manage a household on a limited budget. There’s a building named after her at Glasgow University.
Lord John Boyd-Orr (1880 – 1971)
Born Kilmaurs, East Ayrshire, who was teacher, medical doctor and nutrition. In 1947 he was awarded the Nobel Peace prize, as Director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation
Donald Dewar (1937 – 2000)
Donald was a Scottish politician who served as the inaugural First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Labour Party in Scotland from 1999 until his death in 2000. He previously served as Secretary of State for Scotland from 1997 to 1999. He was Member of Parliament (MP) for the Glasgow Anniesland constituency(formerly Glasgow Garscadden) from 1978 to 2000. Donald Dewar was also Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the equivalent seat from 1999 to 2000 Sadly on 10 October 2000, Dewar sustained a fall and the following day he died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of only 63
Robert Watson Watt 1892-1973
Sir Robert Watson-Watt is considered by many to be the inventor of radar. Although initial development had started elsewhere, it greatly expanded when Watson-Watt became superintendant of a new department of the British Air Ministry in 1936. With war looming, Watson-Watt’s advances lead to the design and installation of aircraft detection and tracking stations.
James Clerk Maxwell 1831-1879
One of the most important physicists to have ever lived, James Clerk Maxwell unified electricity, magnetism, and light in a single theory. His theory is vital to the development of radio, optical technology and the emergence of special relativity. His impact on physics is regarded as important as those of Einstein and Newton. He also contributed heavily to our understanding of colour vision and the movement of gasses
Joseph Black (1728 – 1799)
Born in Bordeaux to Scottish mother and Irish father he moved to Scotland aged 18. Chemist best known for his discoveries of magnesium, latent heat, specific heat, and carbon dioxide. He was Professor of Anatomy and Chemistry at the University of Glasgow for 10 years from 1756, and then Professor of Medicine and Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh from 1766, teaching and lecturing there for more than 30 years. Regarded as the Father of Quantitative Chemistry.
Sir Harry Lauder (1870 – 1950)
Born in Edinburgh. ‘Harry’ was a popular singer and entertainer who toured the world, entertained troops during both World War I and World War II. Churchill called him ‘Scotland’s greatest ever ambassador’. He wrote and performed his own songs, and some of the best-known ones include ‘Roamin’ in the Gloamin’, ‘I love a Lassie’ and ‘A wee Doch an Dorus’. He was the first British entertainer to sell a million records. Knighted in 1919. When he died in 1950, both the Queen Mother and Mr & Mrs Winston Churchill sent wreaths to the funeral.
Linda Norgrove, 1974-2010
Born in Altnaharra before moving to the Isle of Lewis, Linda Norgrove combined her intellect with her compassion and love of adventure to become an environmental expert and aid worker. This ultimately led her to Afghanistan, where in 2010, she was kidnapped by associates of the Taliban and held hostage before being killed in a rescue mission. Following her death, a foundation educating and supporting Afghan woman and children was set up in her name and her work was rewarded posthumously with the Robert Burns Humanitarian award.
Sir John Sholto Douglas (8th Marquis of Queensberry) (1844 – 1900) Queensberry was a patron of sport and a noted boxing enthusiast. In 1866 he was one of the founders of the Amateur Athletic Club, the Club published a set of twelve rules for conducting boxing matches. The rules had firstly been drawn up by John Graham Chambers but appeared under Queensberry’s sponsorship and are universally known as the “Queensberry Rules”. These rules were eventually to govern the sport worldwide.
Mary McPherson (1821-1898)
When the Saltire Society asked Twitter to name an outstanding Scottish woman, they chose Skye-born poet and songwriter Mary MacPherson. In 1872, imprisoned for theft, she started writing poetry to protest her innocence. She composed the poems in Gaelic – her native language – but could not write them down. She remembered the verses until someone else could get them down on paper. She often referred to herself as Màiri Nighean Iain Bhàin (Mary, daughter of fair haired John), the name by which she would have been known in the Skye of her childhood. Land reform was a lifelong passion and her most famous poem, Incitement of the Gaels, urges Skye crofters to defy their landlords.
Andy Stewart (1933-1994)
Born in Glasgow. Comedian, singer/songwriter and TV personality who was popular on an international scale. He had several hit songs including ‘Donald where’s yer troosers?’, ‘A Scottish Soldier’ and ‘Come in-Come in’. Perhaps best known for his Scottish TV show “The White Heather Club” which hosted a New Year’s Eve party on TV each year
Mary Somerville (1780 – 1872)
Mary was a Scottish scientist, writer, and polymath. She studied mathematics and astronomy, and in 1835 she was elected as the first female Honorary Members of the Royal Astronomical Society. Somerville College, a college of the University of Oxford, is named after her, reflecting the virtues of liberalism and academic success which the college wished to embody. She is also featured on the front of the Royal Bank of Scotland polymer £10 note launched in 2017
Hugh MacDiarmid (1892 – 1978)
Christened Christopher Murray Grieve but best known by his pen name Hugh MacDiarmid was a Scottish poet, journalist, essayist and political figure. He is considered one of the principal forces behind the Scottish Renaissance and has had a lasting impact on Scottish culture and politics. He was one of the founding members of the National Party of Scotland in 1928 but then sadly left in late 1933 due to his Marxist–Leninist views. He then subsequently joined the Communist Party the following year only to be expelled late in 1938 for strangely enough his nationalist sympathies. He then would subsequently stand as a parliamentary candidate for both the Scottish National Party (1945) and British Communist Party (1964). Some of Grieve’s earliest works, including Annals of the Five Senses, were written in English, but he is best known for his use of “synthetic Scots”, a literary version of the Scots language that he himself developed. He then moved on to the beautiful Shetland island of Whalsay in 1933 with his son Michael and second wife, Valda Trevlyn, MacDiarmid continued to write essays and poetry despite being cut off from mainland cultural developments for much of the 1930s He died at his cottage Brownsbank, near Biggar, in 1978 at the age of 86.
Mary Burton (1819-1909)
Social and educational reformer and suffragist, Mary Burton was born in Aberdeen in 1819 before moving to Edinburgh in 1832. Burton was a supporter of the Edinburgh National Society for Women’s Suffrage and an advocate for improving access to education for women and working people. However, in 1868 Burton attended court where she unsuccessfully fought for the right to register to vote. The following year in 1869, she successfully campaigned for the Watt Institution and School of Arts (now Heriot-Watt University) to admit female students, 23 years before Scottish legislation was passed. Her niece, Ella Burton, was one of the early women students to benefit from this. Burton later became the institution’s first female director in 1874.
John Loudon McAdam (1756 – 1836)
Was a Scottish civil engineer and road-builder. He invented a new process, “macadamisation”, for building roads with a smooth hard surface, using controlled materials of mixed particle size and predetermined structure, that would be a more durable and less muddy than soil-based tracks. Modern road construction still reflects McAdam’s influence. Of subsequent improvements, the most significant was the introduction of tar (originally coal tar) to bind the road surface’s stones together, “tarmac” (for Tar Macadam.)
Lady Agnes Campbell
Move over William Wallace! Lady Agnes Campbell was a 16th century noblewoman, educated to a high level and not afraid to use that education. She spoke several languages, including Latin, and was raised on political intrigue and scheming. Her first marriage ended when her husband died while a prisoner in Ireland. Agnes went on to marry the successor to the Irish chief who had been her first husband’s captor, bringing with her an army of 1,200 Clansmen and commanding them on the battlefield herself. She led her troops against the English — and she did it very well indeed, earning considerable respect from friends and enemies alike.
Kenneth Grahame (1859 – 1932)
born in Edinburgh, A writer he is most famous for The Wind in the Willows (1908), a classic of children’s literature, as well as The Reluctant Dragon. Both books were later adapted for stage and film, of which A. A. Milne’s Toad of Toad Hall, based on part of The Wind in the Willows, was the first.
Isobel Wylie Hutchison ( 1889-1982 )
Isobel Wylie Hutchison was a Scottish Arctic traveller, filmmaker and botanist. Hutchison also published poetry, books describing her travels to Iceland, Greenland, Alaska, and the Aleutian Islands, as well as articles in National Geographic. She risked life and limb collecting plants for the Royal Botanic Gardens and Kew, and pioneered new routes across treacherous terrain, boarded ghost ships and captured some of the earliest documentary footage ever recorded.
Mairi Chisholm (1896 – 1981)
Mairi Chisholm, from Nairn, joined her friend Elsie Knocker to run a first aid post in Pervyse, a small Belgium village that found itself on the front lines of the First World War. When war broke out in August 1914, Elsie was 31 and Mairi just 18. One month later, the two were off to Belgium to help with the war effort, leaving behind their families and friends to join a small independent ambulance corps founded by a British doctor, Hector Munro. As well as their medical work, Mairi and Elsie were a constant presence on the frontline, often handing out hot cocoa and soup to the grateful Belgian soldiers. They were regularly mentioned in soldiers’ diaries, poems and songs, and were given presents too. Before long, the women were known as the Madonnas or Angels of Pervyse. In January 1915 Elsie and Mairi were awarded the Order of Leopold II, Knights Cross by King Albert I of Belgium, and in October 1917, the British Military Medal too.
Sir Hugh Munro 1856-1919
He was an avid hillwalker, and was a founder member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club in 1889 his list of 3,000-foot mountains 1891 was published in the 6th issue of the Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal in 1891. This list caused much surprise in mountaineering circles, as until his list was produced many thought that the number of mountains exceeding this height was around 30, rather than the nearly 300 that he listed. These mountains are now known as Munro’s and it is a popular hobby to attempt to climb them all. Such mountains are now known as the Munros.
Andrew Greig Barr (1872 – 1903)
Inventor of Scotland’s other national drink, Irn bru was born in Falkirk. Andrew’s father Robert was a cork cutter, supplying the town’s bottling trade, who moved into producing fizzy water and lemonade when the cork trade declined. In 887 Robert’s eldest son, also Robert, set up a branch of the fizzy drinks business in Glasgow, and was such a success that Robert Jr persuaded his brother Andrew to leave his bank job and come and help him run the company. In 1901 Andrew introduced his legendary Iron Brew, made from his own secret recipe, and A.G Barr took off. Sadly Andrew did not live to see his company grow into one of Britain’s biggest manufacturer of soft drinks. He died of pneumonia in 1903 aged just 31.
William Spiers Bruce (1867 – 1921)
Born in London to Scottish father and Welsh mother, Bruce moved to Edinburgh where he organised polar exploration studies. He was one of Britain’s leader polar explorers and made several visits to the Antarctic
Madge Easton Anderson (1896-1982)
The first female Solicitor in Scotland. Later became the first woman to qualify to practise law in both England and Scotland and a partner in the first known law firm to be led entirely by women
Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1918)
Born in Dunfermline, Fife, Carnegie emigrated to the US aged 12. He became a very powerful U.S. steel magnate and later philanthropist
General Charles Gordon (1833 – 85}
During the second Opium War General Charles Gordon successfully defended Shaghai against the Taiping rebels, leading his troops into battle armed only with a walking stick.He gained a reputation for being incorruptible when he put down a mutiny sparked by his refusal to allow looting, and turned down a bribe from the Chinese emperor. He was later made Governor of Sudan, and in 1884 was ordered to conduct the evacuation of Europeans from Khartoum, which was under threat of attack from rebels led by the al-Mahdi. Having managed to get over 2,000 women, children and wounded out of the city, Gordon then held Khatroum against huge odds until 26 January 1885, when he and his troops were overwhelmed and massacred. A British relief force, which had been delayed by political wrangling in London, arrived three days later.
Eric Liddell (1902 – 1945)
Was born in China to Scottish missionary parents. Liddell represented Scotland both at Rugby Union and GB athletics. At the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, Liddell refused to run in the heats for his favoured 100 metres because they were being held on a Sunday. Instead he competed in the 400 metres held on a weekday, a race that he then won. He returned to China in 1925 to serve as a missionary teacher. Aside from two furloughs in Scotland, he remained in China until his death in a Japanese civilian internment camp in 1945. Liddell’s Olympic training and racing, and the religious convictions that influenced him, are depicted in the Oscar-winning 1981 film Chariots of Fire
James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)
Physicist, born Edinburgh. Maxwell made a significant contribution to understanding electromagnetism. His research in electricity and kinetics laid the foundation for quantum physics.
Robert Smith (1722 – 77)
Architect born in Dalkeith, Smith designed and built three of America’s most iconic buildings: Princeton University’s Nassau Hall, the largest stone building in American on its completion in 1756, Carpenter’s Hall, in Philadelphia, home of America’s oldest trade guild,. and site of the first Continental Congress of the United Colonies of North America, from 5 September to 26 October 1774, and Philadelphia’s eye-catching Christ Church steeple. He also built Benjamin Franklin’s house in Philadelphia.
Sir David Brewster (1781 – 1868) Born Jedburgh, Roxburghshire. Brewster was a physicist and inventor of the kaleidoscope. He also invented an improved stereoscope.
Robert William Thomson (1822 – 1873)
Born in Stonehaven. Thomson was a self-taught chemist, engineer and studied modern sciences. He invented the original vulcanised rubber pneumatic tyre. He also invented the fountain pen.
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (1836 – 1908)
Born in Glasgow Campbell-Bannerman was Liberal Prime Minister of Britain between 1906 and 1908. His government was noted for its social reforms, such as a new old aged pension.
John Boyd Dunlop (1840 – 1921)
Born in Dreghorn, North Ayrshire. Dunlop re-invented and improved the pneumatic tyre. He was a vet for nearly 10 years before inventing an improved pneumatic, inflatable tyre for his son’s tricycle.
Sir William MacEwan (1848 – 1924)
A pioneering surgeon, born in Rothsay, William MacEwan studied surgery at the University of Glasgow under Sir Joseph Lister, and further developed Lister’s techniques of antiseptics and sterilisation while working at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
Victoria Drummond 1894-1978
Victoria Drummond was born in Perthshire and was the first female marine engineer in the UK and the first female member of the Institute of Marine Engineers. Named after her Godmother, Queen Victoria, Drummond also served at sea as an engineering officer in the British Merchant Navy during World War II. She later received awards for bravery under enemy fire.
The Edinburgh Seven 1800s
These seven women were the first such to matriculate at a British university. Studying medicine at Edinburgh, they faced a mammoth task from the start, with elements of the university and, indeed, the wider city against them. Certain male professors whipped up hostility, and, in 1870, matters reached a physical head when the seven turned up for an anatomy exam, only to find their way blocked by a jeering and abusive crowd who threw rubbish and mud at them. They stood their ground in what became known as The Surgeon’s Hall Riot but, despite gaining support from other students and the press (and a certain Charles Darwin), they were eventually told they could not graduate. Their strength and decency under pressure went on to inspire many others, right up to the present day. An example of this is the fact that the Twitter account of the Medical Teaching Organisation of the University of Edinburgh’s Medical School is named after one of the seven, Edith Pechey. The others were Mary Anderson, Emily Bovell, Matilda Chaplin, Helen Evans, Sophia Jex-Blake and Isabel Thorne.
Alexander Buchan 1829 – 1907,
He was a Scottish meteorologist, oceanographer and botanist and is credited with establishing the weather map as the basis of modern weather forecasting. He was instrumental in establishing the Ben Nevis observatory. Buchan prepared meteorological and oceanographic reports for the Challenger Expedition.
Sheina Macalister Marshall 1896 – 1977
Sheina was a Scottish marine biologist who dedicated most of her life to the study of both plant and animal plankton. She worked at the Marine Biological Station at Millport, Cumbrae in Scotland from 1922-1964 studied the plankton and phytoplankton both in and around the river Clyde and Loch Striven. She also examined the effect of fertilizers on marine productivity at Loch Craiglin She became one of the first women to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
George Forrest (1873-1932)
In 1902, Falkirk-born Forrest met a professor from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh which led to a subsequent job offer in the herbarium. In 1904 he took part in a plant-collecting expedition to Yunnan province in China where he was caught up in the 1905 Tibetan Rebellion with a Naxi ‘king’ rescuing him from certain death. Forrest made a total of seven trips to Yunnan, collecting around 31,000 plant specimens and discovering numerous species.
Joseph Lister 1827 – 1912
He was a surgeon, medical scientist, experimental pathologist and a pioneer of antiseptic surgery and preventative medicine. From a technical viewpoint, Lister was not an exceptional surgeon, but his research into bacteriology and infection in wounds made surgery safer for patients, distinguishing him as the father of modern surgery He promoted the idea of sterile surgery while working as a surgeon at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary by successfully introducing phenol use before operating (then known as carbolic acid) to sterilise surgical instruments, the patient’s skin, sutures and the surgeon’s hands Lister’s work led to a reduction in post-operative infections and saving many lives
Anna MacGillivray Macleod 1917 – 2004
Was a Scottish biochemist and academic, and a world authority on brewing and distilling, she was also a professor at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. She was also the world’s first female Professor of Brewing and Biochemistry. In the late 1960s, she was awarded a Doctor of Science, from the University of Edinburgh, for a thesis on the germination of barley
Sir William Ramsay 1852 – 1916
Was a Scottish chemist who discovered the noble gases and received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1904 “in recognition of his services in the discovery of the inert gaseous elements in air” Ramsay investigated many other types of atmospheric gases. His hard work in isolating argon, helium, neon, krypton, and xenon led to the development of a new section of the periodic table.
Marjorie Ritchie 1948 – 2015
Was a Scottish animal researcher and animal surgeon known for her contribution as part of the pioneering team who cloned Dolly The Sheep. She grew up in Edinburgh and became interested in animals through visiting a relative who worked in animal breeding research at the Roslin Institute.Ritchie joined the Institute in 1966 at the age of 18, and retired in 2014 after 48 years of service
Sir James Young Simpson 1811 – 1870
Was a Scottish obstetrician and a significant figure in the history of medicine in the world. He was the first physician to demonstrate the anaesthetic properties of chloroform on humans and helped to popularise its use in medicine. Simpson’s was an early advocate of the use of midwives in the hospital environment. Many prominent women also consulted him for their gynaecological problems. His services as an early founder of gynaecology and proponent of hospital reform were rewarded with a knighthood and by 1847 he had been appointed as physician to the Queen in Scotland. His contribution to the understanding of the anaesthetic properties of chloroform had a major impact on surgery
Robert Fortune (1812-1880)
Fortune is best known for introducing tea to Britain – a daring and remarkable tale that involved him smuggling the plants out of China disguised as a Chinaman. He was sent there by the Royal Horticultural Society to collect plants and he is credited with introducing a number of new and exotic fruits, flowers and plants into Europe, including the kumquat and many varieties of peonies, azaleas and chrysanthemums.
Rita Cowan: 1896 – 1961
Kirkintilloch girl who became the mother of Japanese whisky The story of the award-winning, globally known Nikka Whisky brand all began in a small town near Glasgow After her father died in 1918 the family was forced to take in a lodger – an ambitious Japanese chemist named Taketsuru Masataka. The young couple married – against both families’ wishes – and left for a new life in Japan in 1920. While studying at Glasgow University, Masataka had travelled all around Scotland to follow his true passion: making Scotch whisky. By 1923, Shinjiro Torii – founder of the Suntory group – had heard of Masataka’s experience in Scotland and hired him to help build a whisky distillery in Yamazaki, Kyoto. Rita worked as a teacher and the couple were able to set up their own firm – now Nikka Whisky – in 1934 in Yoichi, where the main road is now named Rita Road.She died in 1961, but the strength of her legacy is told in a 150-episode television series about her life which aired in Japan in 2014/2015.
Alexander Cumming 1733 – 1814
Cumming was not exactly the creator of the first flushing toilet. That stroke of genius is mostly attributed to John Harington, the godson of Queen Elizabeth I. But he was the man who solved one of its chief problems. Cumming, a watchmaker and instrument inventor born in Edinburgh, worked out a way to prevent the foul smells from rising back into the room from the sewers. His answer was elegantly simple – and far less complex than most of his other inventions – the forerunner of the U-bend, an S-shaped pipe in which water would sit preventing the backflow of gases. Cumming also pioneered the microtome, a device for cutting ultra-fine slivers of wood for microscopic analysis. Clever, but not quite so revolutionary.
William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) 1824 – 1907
Developed the Kelvin scale of absolute temperature measurement (1848); also was a scientific adviser responsible for the laying of the successful transatlantic telegraph cable (1866)
John James Rickard Macleod 1876 – 1935
Discovers Insulin, and gives new life to the world’s diabetics, for which he and Frederick Banting received the 1923 Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine Awarding the prize to Macleod was controversial at the time, because according to Banting’s version of events, Macleod’s role in the discovery was negligible. It was not until decades after the events that an independent review acknowledged a far greater role than was attributed to him at first
Isabella ‘Ella’ Christie (1861-1949)
It is said of Ella Christie that, while she was waiting for a train one day at Dollar station, a fellow traveller enquired politely about her destination. Was she heading for Edinburgh? “No – Samarkand,” replied Ella, with typical directness. And she was telling the truth. In the early 1900s Miss Christie of Cowden Castle forged a reputation as a fearless and independent traveller: she was the first woman to travel from Samarkand to Khiva, and she was also the first western woman to meet the Dalai Lama. Carrying trunks of evening dresses in case a formal occasion presented itself, she was equally at ease dining with the Maharajah of Kashmir or camping in the snows of the Karakoram. Ella’s restless feet took her all over Asia and the Far East; she was later inspired to create an authentic Japanese garden in the grounds of her Clackmannanshire home.
Archibald Menzies (1754-1842)
In 1790, Menzies, who was born in Weem, Perthshire, was appointed naturalist for the round-the-world voyage on HMS Discovery, and in 1794, along with two others, made the first recorded ascent to the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Whilst in Chile, Menzies was served Chile pine seeds whilst dining with the country’s governor. He managed to stow some away and returned with five healthy plants. His name is commemorated in the Douglas Fir or Pseudotsuga menziesii.
John George Bartholomew (1860-1920)
In the nineteenth century, the idea of stepping off the map into new and uncharted territory was one of the thrills that spurred explorers towards new horizons. The excitement was felt also by the cartographers whose job it was to re-draw the maps, filling in the blank spaces with new names and topographical features. Edinburgh map-maker John George Bartholomew is credited with dreaming up the name ‘Antarctica’ for the continent that was slowly taking shape in the human mind, as successive teams of explorers disembarked from their ships to make an attempt on the South Pole. Although the word ‘Antarctic’, meaning ‘opposite to the Arctic’, had existed for centuries, ‘Antarctica’ as a name for the continent is thought to have first appeared on a copy of Bartholomew’s 1887 ‘Handy Reference Atlas’, and by the 1920s it was firmly established. Bartholomew was both a visionary and a well-connected businessman, passionate about the benefits of geographical knowledge. Together with Agnes Livingstone Bruce and Sir James Geikie, he was one of the co-founders of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.
Saint Andrew 5 A.D. – c.50
The Patron Saint of Scotland. There is more than one legend surrounding this famous Scot, but the most popular has it that Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross (known as the Saltire Cross). Around 370 AD some of his remains were brought to Scotland by Saint Rule on the strength of a vision he had experienced. In 832 AD the Pictish King Angus II had a vision of St. Andrew on the eve of his battle with the Anglo Saxon army. The morning of the battle itself he and his army were stunned to see a huge white Saltire cross shining against the background of a bright blue sky – they took this as an omen of impending victory… and were indeed victorious. The saltire cross then became the national emblem of Scotland and Andrew was declared the Patron Saint of Scotland. Saint Andrews Day is celebrated on the 30th November every year.
Carolina Oliphant, Lady Nairne 1766-1845
Born in Gask Perthshire. She was a very popular Scottish poet and songwriter. Because at this time it was unacceptable for women in her social position to write, much of her work was published under the ‘pen-name’ Mrs Bogan of Bogan. Some of her best-known works are “Will Ye No’ Come Back Again” and “Charlie is My Darling” and “Wi’ 100 Pipers An’ A'”. She made it her lifelong work to preserve, and collect, the traditional songs of Scotland.
George Forbes (1849-1936)
Forbes was involved in the manufacturing of carbon filaments and arc lamps. He also experimented in using carbon for the brushes in electrical motors, which advocated carbon as a collector for rotating electrical machines making it the universal choice in electricity generation to this day.
Robert Angus Smith (1817-1884)
Smith investigated a huge array of environmental issues, including air pollution. His seminal research in 1852 yielded the discovery of what came to be known as acid rain
Saint Mungo 520 – 612
Believed to have been born in Fife, the son of a pagan King, he was named Kentigern. ‘Mungo’ means ‘dear and became his nickname, eventually he was known as St. Mungo. He was a missionary and founded a monastery by the River Clyde, where the city of Glasgow stands today. He later became the Patron Saint of Glasgow. It’s said that he met both St. David (Patron Saint of Wales) and St. Columba and that he performed many miracles.