Tours, Travel & Resources
- Vacation Packages
- Virtual Tours
- UK Travel Directory
- Planning Resources
- London Guide
- Wales on Britannia
- Earth Mysteries
- Arts Directory
- Business Directory
- Ad Rates & Info.
History of Scotland
UK & London Hotels
Britain & England
Scots Who Made A Difference
MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS (1542-1587)
Mary, Queen of Scots is an enigma, to say the least. Her guilt or innocence in the murder of her husband has been debated for centuries. As many historians point out, every argument in favor of her innocence can be countered by one against. Most of the calumnies heaped against her in her own lifetime were the work of Scots scholar George Buchanan.
Mary was born at Linlithgow in 1542, the daughter of James V and Mary of Guise (who had been courted by Henry VIII of England). The princess became queen at the age of six days upon the death of her father. At age six, Mary was betrothed to Henry VIII's son, the ill-fated Edward, but with what results history will never disclose, the proposed union was nullified by a pro-French and Roman Catholic faction. The ire of the English king, exemplified in the period of invasions of his Scottish neigbours known as "the rough wooing," resulted in the defeat of the Scots at Pinkie (1547) and Mary's being sent to France .
In 1558, now a beautiful, blossoming 16 years of age, Mary married the heir to the French throne, the Dauphin Francis (who was only 14). She secretly agreed, if she were to die without a child, her Scottish kingdom would go the French monarch. At the premature death of Francis, one year after he had become King, the firm hand of Catharine de Medici took control of France. Despite a revolution in Scotland that had rejected the French alliance and the supremacy of the Pope, Mary returned to Scotland.
The plot then thickened. When Elizabeth I became queen, Mary became heir presumptive to the English throne as the grand-daughter of Margaret Tudor. Not only that, but Roman Catholics throughout Europe considered her to be a better claimant to the Crown of England than the queen herself, for they believed that Elizabeth's mother Ann Boleyn had been married illegally to King Henry.
Mary's reign started out well. Though she absolutely refused to recognize the Protestant Church, she took the advice of James Stuart, Earl of Moray and that of William Maitland in conceding recognition to the reformed church and the granting of a modest endowment while continuing her own Catholic worship in private. Mary might have forfeited her Scottish throne had her husband not died in 1560, but her return, despite her early caution, had raised Protestant fears..These fears were partly allayed when, though negotiations were afoot for her marriage to Catholic Philip II of Spain, she settled on her first cousin, Lord Darnley. The marriage turned out to be a grievous error.
Scottish Protestants greatly feared that even the marriage to Darnley would mean a resurgence of Catholicism. They were not prepared to stomach that reversal of fortune. The Reformation in Scotland had taken place partly because it seemed as if the country was rapidly becoming nothing more than an appendage of France: Protestantism represented, in a very real manner,.Scottish independence. The Darnley marriage ceremony was a Roman Catholic one. Moray raised a rebellion, easily crushed, but Protestants were further incensed when the Queen foolishly began to rely heavily upon non-Protestant, foreign courtiers, including her Italian secretary David Riccio, suspected of being a papal agent.
In 1566, Riccio was murdered by a group of Protestant lords; Darnley himself being implicated. In the same year, prince James was born (later to reign as James VI of Scotland and James I of England). Mary, tiring of Darnley, began to show affection to James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, whose guilt, in the murder of Darnley, along with that of Mary, is set out in the notorious Casket Letters, now considered a forgery.
Mary went ahead in a second disastrous marriage, this time to Bothwell, who had abducted her and divorced his wife. For the proud Scottish nobles, this was too much; they forced Mary to abdicate her throne in favor of her young son. A feeble attempt of Mary to regain the throne was defeated at Langside, following which the unfortunate (and some say, foolhardy) queen fled to England and to the protection of Elizabeth.
After the Bothwell marriage, the Queen's supporters had been placed at a decided disadvantage compared to those influenced by the ballad writer Robert Sempill, who attacked Mary as an adulterous whore, and thereby justified her forced abdication. Queen Elizabeth, in the meantime, made sure that Mary's shortcomings were made the only criteria of her fitness to rule, and Mary's reputation was consequently so besmirched that even Catholics found it difficult to support her.
The most savage attacks on Mary''s character came from George Buchanan, who.sought, and very successfully, to completely undermine her right to rule by showing that her reckless and malicious behavior proved her to be unworthy of her title. In the long run, however, such attacks on Mary's immorality could only play second fiddle to the much more important question of her religion, of her threat to Protestantism through her claim to the English throne. In her supporters' eyes, too, Mary's so-called immorality was a minor issue compared to her steadfast Catholicism. Her character and career as Queen of Scots was defended by no less than John Leslie, Bishop of Ross, who also supported her particular claim to succeed Elizabeth as Queen of England.
After Mary's execution, finally ordered by Elizabeth following a series of ill-conceived plots against the English Queen, the accession of a Protestant sovereign finally brought to an end the hopes of a return to Catholicism that Mary had personified. It also ended the vitriolic attacks on the person of Mary herself. Even leading Protestant writers now began to depict her as an unfortunate queen whose downfall had been brought about more through the caprice of fortune than by defects in her morals. More than one historian has pointed out that Mary's modern resurgence as a handsome, brave, and proud woman, defeated through ill-circumstance and powerful enemies, seems to bear out her personal motto: "In my end is my beginning."
MAXTON, JAMES (1885-1946)
During the years between the two World Wars, Glasgow-born James Maxton became one of the leaders of left-wing Socialism in Britain. An early supporter of the Independent Labour Party, former teacher Maxton was elected to Parliament in 1922, remaining as an M.P until his death just after the Second World War. Maxton made his mark as a radical socialist, in opposition to the more moderate and conservative Labourites, a position which dismissed him (and two of his colleagues) from the official Labour Party. His skilful oratory had wide appeal to the working masses in Britain during the times of the great labor unrest in the 1920's.
MAXWELL, GAVIN (1914-69)
Painter, poet and novelist Gavin Maxwell's most well-known work is his best-selling Ring of Bright Water (1960) a story of this life with his two pet otters in the west Highlands. Born at Welrig, in Wigtown, Maxwell served with the Scots Guards in World War II, after which he bouth the little island of Soay in the Hebrides. His attempts to start a shark fishery there are found in his Harpoon at a Venture (1952). He then completed two works resulting from a prolonged stay in Sicily that documented the poor living conditions of people on the island. In 1958 hIs A Reed Shaken by the Wind , an account of the Marsh Arabs in Iraq, brought him the Heinemann award.
MAXWELL, JAMES CLERK (1831-79)
Often ranked next to the incomparable Sir Isaac Newton as one of the most outstanding scientists of all time is physicist James Clerk Maxwell, from Edinburgh whose supreme achievement is the formulation of electromagnetic theory.
After lecturing at the University of Edinburgh, Maxwell was appointed professor of natural philosophy at Marischal College Aberdeen in 1856 before moving to King's College, London in 1860. He later became the first highly prestigious Cavendish Professor of Physics at Cambridge. His interests in colour vision led to his publishing one of the first color photographs of Saturn's rings. The first to show that light is an electromagnetic wave, Maxwell also pioneered in mechanics and the kinetic theory of gases. In 1873 he published Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, followed by Theory of Heat in 1877.
In 1871, Maxwell came up with Maxwell's Demon, a hypothetical intelligent being for a functionally equivalent device capable of detecting and reacting to the motions of individual molecules. He had imagined it as a way to illustrate the limitations of the second law of thermodynamics. (the demons were not exorcised until the work of French physicist Leon Brillouin in the 1950's). Maxwell is also known for the Maxwell's equations: four equations that, together, form a aomplete description of the production and interrelation of electric and magnetic fields.
MCADAM, JOHN LOUDON (1756-1836)
Perhaps the name of John McAdam is as well-known throughout most of the world as any other Scot, for he was the inventor of the road surface named after him. After returning to Scotland in 1783 from New York City, where he had made a considerable fortune employed by a merchant uncle, McAdam became owner of an estate at Sauhrie, Ayrshire. As a road trustee in his district, he then decided to do something about the deplorable condition of the local highways and began experimenting in road making.
In 1798, McAdam went to live in Cornwall where a government appointment allowed him to continue his experiments. In 1815, he put his theories into practice as surveyor general of the Bristol roads. His solution was simple enough: roads should be raised above the adjacent ground for good drainage. They should be covered with large rocks and then smaller stones, the whole mass to be bound with fine gravel or slag (not too different a method from that used by the ancient Roman road builders in Britain). His success in transforming the old, rutted dirt tracks that passed for public highways vastly improved travel and communication throughout the country and led to his appointment as General Surveyor of roads in Great Britain.
In modern road building, McAdam's methods are supplemented by the use of oil or a bituminous binder. He documented his pioneering work in Remarks on the Present System of Road Making (1816) and Practical Essay on the Scientific Repair and Preservation of Roads (1819). His methods were quickly adopted in the United States and many other countries worldwide.
MCCULLOCH, SIR JAMES (1819-93)
James McCulloch was a Scot who did much to chart the course of Australian history. In 1853, the enterprising McCulloch left his native Glasgow to open a branch office in Melbourne for his mercantile firm. His success led him into Victoria politics as an Assemblyman in the Legislature on 1856 and Minister of Trade and Customs and Treasurer in 1859. From 1863-68, McCulloch served as Prime Minister of Victoria, a position in which he was successful in leading the fight for protective tariffs against the resistance of the Legislative Council. He served as Prime Minister on three subsequent occasions before returning to Great Britain in 1877.
MCCULLOCH, JOHN RAMSAY (1798-1864)
While the views of his contemporary economist David Ricardo are much better known, it was John McCulloch who made the former's work generally acceptable. Statistician McCulloch, a student of political economy was born in County Whithorn. He became well known through his articles for The Edinburgh Review from 1816-37. He also edited the influential liberal newspaper The Scotman for three years (1818-20). After a period teaching political economy at University College, London, McCulloch published his definitive work Dictionary of Practical, Theoretical, and Historical Commerce and Commercial Navigation (1832) later incorporated into his Statistical Account of the British Empire (1837).
In 1824, McCulloch had published his Discourse on the Rise, Progress, Peculiar Objects and Importance of Political Economy, which, although showing nothing in economy of words, is regarded as the first formal history of economic thought. His other pioneering works in economic historiography were his annotated editions of Adam Smith's monumental Wealth of Nations (1828) and his bibliographic work, The literature of Political Economy (1845).
MCGIBBON, WILLIAM (1695-1756)
Scotland's leading native composer in the first half of the 18th century was violinist and composer William McGibbon, born in Edinburgh. He was greatly influenced in his early career by the Italian maestro Archangelo Corelli; both becoming as famous for their playing as much as for their compositions. Many of McGibbon's folk tune setting showed that Scots folk and Italian baroque could be successfully combined and their individual flavors still retained. He was the leading violinist to the influential Edinburgh musical Society, thanks to which, many of his sonatas and folk music settings survive.
MCGILL, JAMES (1744-1813)
One of Canada's largest and greatest universities, known throughout the world for its achievements in chemistry, medicine and biology is McGill University. The private, non-denominational, English-language institution of higher education (in a largely French-speaking province) was founded in Montreal in 1821 by Glasgow-born James McGill, who went to Canada as fur-trader and merchant before entering politics. In the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada, McGill represented the westward of Montreal in 1792-96 and 1800-4. Loyal to Britain, he served as honorary colonel of the Montreal Infantry Volunteer Regiment in the War of 1812 between the US and Britain. Much of McGill's great fortune, amassed in the fur trade went to the university that took his name.
MCKAY, DONALD (1810-80)
Donald McKay was born in Nova Scotia, thus qualifying him for inclusion. He is a Scot, who certainly made a difference, for as naval architect and ship builder, he constructed the largest and fastest clipper ships of his time. After an apprenticeship in New York City, where he had gone in 1827, McKay began his famous shipyard at East Boston in Massachusetts. Here were built the great clipper ships that thrilled the world with their grace and speed. In 1850 the Stag Hound, began the series. It was followed by the Lightning, which reached a speed of 21 knots and established a long-standing world record of 436 nautical miles in a single day; the James Baines, which set an around-the-world record of 133 days and a transatlantic record of 12 days 6 hours from Boston to Liverpool and the Great Republic, at 4,555 tons the largest clipper ship ever built.
In 1851, McKay's Flying Cloud (1,783 tons) set a new record by sailing from New York to San Francisco in just under 90 days. One year later, the Sovereign of the Seas showed the practical worth of a clipper ship at 2,421 tons. McKay's last sailing ship was the Glory of the Seas built in 1869 and was still active under sail 52 years later. When the days of sail were superseded by those of the iron ships, McKay built the warship Nausett for the US Navy. His glory days, however, rested on his success in building his mighty clipper ships, the sovereigns of the seas.
MCLACHLAN, ALEXANDER (1818-96)
From Johnstone, Renfrewshire, McLachlan left Glasgow for Canada in 1840 where his Scots dialect poetry gave him a reputation as "the Burns of Canada." A collected edition of his work, in which he deals with the homesickness of Scottish immigrants, is The Poetical Works of Alexander McLachlan (1900).
MCLENNAN, JOHN FERGUSON (1827-81)
From Inverness, John McLennan's writings on various subjects including cultural evolution, kinship and the origins of religion did much to stimulate and guide anthropological research. His theory of social evolution, in which he first used the terms exogamy (marriage outside the group) and endogamy (marriage within the group) stemmed from his interest in the survival of primitive cultures. McLennan's pioneering work on totems (as survivals of primitive worship of fetishes, plants, animals and anthropomorphic gods) had a great influence upon contemporary social scientists. They also provided a foundation for much of the speculations of Sigmund Freud. MacLennan's Primitive Marriage: An Enquiry into the Origin of the Form of Capture in Marriage Ceremonies (1865) was re-issued as Studies in Ancient History in 1896. He published The Patriarchal Theory in 1885.
MEIKLE, ANDREW (1719-1811)
From Houston Mill, near Dunbar where he spent most of his life as a millwright, Andrew Meikle helped change the face of agriculture forever. Since the beginning of time, man had separated the husks from grain by beating them by hand. In 1778, Meikle invented a threshing machine. Though this first attempt failed, by making improvements to a machine from Northumberland, Meikle constructed a thresher that used a strong drum to beat, rather than rub the grain. It worked, and Meikle took out a patent in 1788. He also devised a method of rapidly furling the sails of windmills to prevent storm damage.
MELVILLE, ANDREW (1545-1622)
Baldovie, Angus-born Andrew Melville succeeded John Knox as the leader of the Scottish Reformed Church, taking it one step further than the sword-wielding reformer by replacing its bishops with local presbyteries. .By the time of his early twenties, Andrew Melville had mastered Latin, Greek, Hebrew and philosophy before leaving to study the Protestant reformers on the Continent. When he returned to Scotland in 1574, he set out to reform its schools.
As principal of the University of Glasgow, later of St. Mary's College at St. Andrew's in Edinburgh, Melville was instrumental in introducing new educational methods from the Continent as well as attracting scholars from many different countries. At the death of John Knox in 1572, Melville continued to press for freedom from state control of the Reformed Church. For his book The Second Book of Discipline (1578), he was virtually banished during 1584 to 1585, but its contents later became incorporated in the act of religious settlement of 1595.
Melville continued to defend Church reform by opposing the efforts of James Vl to undermine them; his efforts led to his imprisonment. Summoned before James, who had become James I of England, Melville's continued defiance of the king, and his composing a satiric poem led him to the Tower of London for four years. He then accepted a chair in biblical theology at the University of Sedan, in France, remaining there for the rest of his life. His work on behalf of the Scottish Reformed Church, however, had not been in vain. The Presbyterian form of worship was to stay in Scotland and grow in strength.
MELVILLE, HENRY DUNDAS, 1st Viscount (1742-1811)
So powerful a figure was Henry Dundas Melville in late eighteenth-century Scottish politics that he was able to control the elections in thirty-six of the fifty-five Scottish constituencies. The son of Robert Dundas, Lord Arniston, President of the Court of Session, he was even referred to as "Harry the Ninth, uncrowned king of Scotland." Created Lord Advocate of Scotland by William Pitt, Dundas kept the majority of Scottish members loyal to the government at Westminster, being handsomely rewarded for his efforts, progressing from Lord Advocate, through President of the Board of Control for India, Treasurer of the Navy, to Home Secretary and Secretary of War. He was thus in a position of authority lasting some thirty years.
To his credit, Dundas attempted to put right some of the wrongs perpetuated upon his beloved Scotland in the past, especially those suffered by the Highlanders at the hands of the Hanoverians. His efforts led to the repeal of the nefarious Act of 1746 that had forbidden Highland dress as "the garb of sedition" and the playing of the pipes. In 1748, Dundas was able to have many of the forfeited Jacobite estates returned to their rightful owners.
MELVILLE, JAMES (1556-1614)
That we know so much about the work of the Scottish Church reformers in the revolution that took place during the mid-16th Century is mainly due to the work of James Melville, Presbyterian reformer and educator. As with Andrew Melville, James's opposition to the imposition of episcopal government in Scotland, ordered by James I, led to his activities being proscribed, but his The Diary of Mr. James Melville, (1556-1601) published in 1829 is a most valuable source on the growth of the Presbyterian movement in Britain.
MILL, HUGH ROBERT (1861-1950)
Hugh Mill was born in Thurso, Caithness. After his appointment in 1892, as librarian to the Royal Geographical Society, he described a pioneer geological survey in his influential The English Lakes (1895). He also published The Siege of the South Pole (1905), Hugh Robert Mill: An Autobiography (1951). The most influential work, however, of this geographer, meteorologist, and authority on oceanography and Antarctic exploration was his Realm of Nature (1891) which charted the course for the teaching of geography in the schools of Britain. As director of the British Rainfall Association for 18 years, Mill also made a significant contribution to the study of meteorology.
MILL, JAMES (1773-1836)
While the name of his son James Stuart Mill (London-born and educated and thus not eligible for inclusion in this list) has become more well-known, we should not overlook the significant contributions made to the study of philosophy, history and economics by James Mill, from Northwater Bridge, Forfarshire. As a Utilitarianist, or philosophical radical, James stressed the need for a scientific basis from philosophy and a humanist approach to politics and economics.
Utilitarianism had been founded by Jeremy Bentham in 1808. Its principles were quickly adopted by Mill, a close friend and supporter of the English philosopher. In fact, Mill did more than anyone living to make them accepted in the face of the burgeoning interest in Romanticism, which he strongly opposed. After being noted for his series of articles in British journals, his advice helped found London University in 1825. He wrote articles on law, politics, and education for the 4th, 5th, and 6th editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica., having considerable effect on public opinion in the 1820's that laid the groundwork for the first Reform Bill of 1832.
Mill's History of British India (1817) was the first full treatment of the British conquest of India; it was his major literary achievement. In the book Mill applied his own political theory to British administration in India, being severely critical of its policies that ignored native Hindu traditions. It helped bring about a change in the system of government in India that was eventually to lead to independence.
In the enigma that was British politics, Mill had equal effect. His writings helped bring about the general change of view that would emphasize the need for secure, good government and an extended franchise rather than the more romantic notions promulgated by the French Revolution of the absolute equality of men. In his Elements of Political Economy (1821), Mill summarized the views of the philosophical radicals, some of which were later adopted by Karl Marx. To summarize, in all his writings, Mill sought to apply the scientific attitude towards political affairs and morals, briefly, to make everyday use of the principles of Sir Isaac Newton.
MILLER, HUGH (1802-56)
From Ross and Cromarty, geologist Hugh Miller is considered one of the finest writers on geology in the 19th century and certainly one who was most influential in getting the public interested in geologic history. Miller's scientific writings completely outshone those he contributed, as a lay theologian, to The Witness, though the quality of his writing for that Edinburgh paper gave him a wide and appreciative reading audience.
Largely through Miller's writing, the Devonian period became known as the Age of Fishes. In his geological expeditions around Cromarty, Miller discovered fossils embedded in formations of the Devonian strata, one of the earliest known periods of the earth's history, and the accounts of his findings and other articles on geology were collected and published as the brilliant The Old Red Sandstone in 1841. A second book, Footprints of the Creator argued against the radical new theory of evolution; it recorded his reconstruction of many of the extinct fishes he had found and described in The Old Red Sandstone.
MITCHELL, SIR THOMAS LIVINGSTONE (1792-1855)
Surveyor General of New South Wales, Australia in 1828 was Scotsman Thomas Livingstone Mitchell. He undertook four expeditions into the unknown interior of the vast, dry continent of Australia from 1831-46. He also discovered the sources of the Barcoo River while looking for an overland route to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Copyright ©2001 Britannia.com, LLC
Design & Development