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Scots Who Made A Difference

MOFFAT, ROBERT (1795-1883)
From Ormiston, East Lothian, Robert Moffat was father-in-law to the famous missionary explorer David Livingstone, but his own efforts in Africa as bible translator and missionary deserve mention. Settling in South Africa, Robert lived for 49 years in the Kuruman region, southeast of the Kalahari Desert. There he built one of the most well known and best-organized Protestant missionary communities in the whole continent of Africa. It was also there that he translated the Bible into one of the local tribal tongues, Tswana in 1837. His other works are Missionary Labours and Scenes in Southern Africa (1842) and Rivers of Water in a Dry Place (1863). These works did much to spur missionary interest in "the Dark Continent."

Anxious to work with the indigenous tribes by improving their methods of agriculture and irrigation, Moffat helped raise the standard of living of many of "his African peoples." After he met David Livingstone in Scotland, he persuaded the soon-to-be-famous explorer to travel to Africa as a missionary to the region north of the Kalahari.

The fact that he was considered an eccentric in his time, known for his legendary sayings, whims and oddities should not detract from the contribution James Burnett made to the study of language and society. His main work, published in six volumes (1773-92) was Of the Origin and Progress of Language. In this vast body of information on the manners and customs of primitive peoples, the celebrated Edinburgh raconteur, jurist and anthropologist, born in Monboddo, Kincardineshire explored the origins of language and society. Believing that children are born with tails and comparing man to the orangutan, Monboddo traced his evolution (development) to a social state, thus anticipating some of the principles of Darwinian evolution.

Writing in Lowland Scots, poet Alexander Montgomerie was a personal favorite of King James V, but his pro-Catholic zeal to establish a Spanish garrison on a Scottish island brought him into disgrace. Montgomerie's most well known poem The Cherrie and the Slaye, was first printed in 1597. The title refers to the poet's dilemma of whether to struggle toward the noble cherry tree or to remain with the less noble sloe bush at his feet. It became especially popular during the 17th and 18th centuries and was reprinted many times. It was printed by Allan Ramsay in The Ever Green (1724) and revived by Robert Burns in The Jolly Beggars. Montgomerie was one of the last Scottish poetry makers (makaris) in the 16th century writing in the Lowland dialect.

James Graham was the 5th Earl and 1st Marquis of Montrose. He earns his place, not because of any lasting influence he had upon Scottish affairs, but because of his series of victories as leader of the Scots allied to the unfortunate Charles I of England, by which he may have turned the tide against the eventual regicide. Despite his signing a covenant promising to defend Presbyterianism against the king's belated attempts to re-impose episcopacy, Montrose remained at heart a royalist, loyal to his sovereign and strongly opposed to the Earl of Argyll, Archibald Campbell.

After being rewarded by King Charles with the title Marquis, Montrose raised an army of Highlanders who helped him win major victories in half a dozen battles with parliamentary forces. He was then made Lieutenant Governor and Captain General of Scotland. The catastrophic defeat of the king's forces at Naseby, in 1645, however, spelled doom for his armies in Scotland, who were routed at Philiphaugh the same year. Montrose had to flee to France, but returned with a small army in 1650 only to experience a second defeat at Carbisdale. Seeking protection with Neil MacLeod of Assynt, he was turned over to his enemies and hanged at Edinburgh.

MOORE, SIR JOHN (1761-1809)
Glasgow-born John Moore died at La Coruna, Spain, fighting against the armies of Napoleon in the Peninsular War. Moore had successfully avoided a trap set by Marshal Soult's French corps in northern Spain and managed to get his troops to the waiting ships by taking them over the snow-covered Cordillera Mountains and holding off the French attack. During the battle, Moore was fatally wounded, but he had delayed the Napoleonic conquest of Spain for one year. A true Scots hero, Moore had served in many areas where Britain had felt the need to send its armies. As a commander of a corps in Kent, England he had earned the respect of his men in his training methods. He turned an undisciplined rabble into a highly mobile, efficient fighting force that proved its worth in the harsh conditions of the Iberian peninsular.

MORAY, JAMES STEWART, Earl (1531-70)
After Mary, Queen of Scots abdicated, her half brother, James Stewart, Earl of Moray, became regent of the troubled nation during the infancy of James VI. Illegitimate son of King James V and husband to an heiress of James Stewart, Moray had been created Earl of Moray at the Queen's behest. Though he had supported the Protestant lords against Mary's mother, the queen regent, Moray sided with Queen Mary but then switched his allegiance, opposing her marriage to Lord Darnley and supporting the reformer John Knox.

Moray was driven out of Scotland when he attempted to raise an army against the Queen. Pardoned, and allowed to return, he then became regent. When the Queen tried to reassert her authority, her forces were defeated by Moray at Langside (1558) and she was forced to flee to England. The Earl then tried to implement his pro-English, pro-Protestant policies, but was assassinated by Mary's supporters.

MORAY, THOMAS RANDOLPH, 1st Earl (d. 1332)
Created Earl of Moray by Robert Bruce in 1312, Thomas Randolph was the son of one of the illustrious Scottish king's sisters. At first, opposed to Bruce, siding with Edward I, Moray soon became a trusted advisor and commander, after his capture by James Douglas in 1308. In March 1513, he captured Edinburgh Castle from the English invaders and was one of the main commanders in the glorious Scottish victory at Bannockburn that gave their country independence and a place in Europe.

After his troops had taken Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1318 and inflicted further humiliating defeats upon English armies south of the border, Moray persuaded Pope John XXII to recognize the Scottish king. He later played a major part in the negotiation of the treaty by which the King of England recognized Robert as King of Scots. At Robert Bruce's death, Moray became regent to the young son and successor, David II.

MORISON, JAMES (1816-93)
Four years after James Morison's death, the Evangelical Union and the Scottish Congregationalists united as the Congregational Union of Scotland. Morison had founded the Evangelical Union the church of the Morisonians in 1843 after the famous evangelist had been removed from the United Secession Church because of his beliefs concerning Christ's atonement. Morison had the radical idea (contrary to those of the Westminster Confession) that Christ had come to save all men, and not just the believers, a very heretical viewpoint indeed in the Scotland of his day. Morison's views were published in The Nature of the Atonement (1841).

MUIR, EDWIN (1887-1959)
One of the chief Scottish poets of this century, writing in English was Edwin Muir, the son of a crofter from Deerness, Orkney. Edwin moved to London to write literary reviews and to write. His name as a poet became known after the publication of The Voyage (1946) and The Labrynth (1949). These were followed by Collected Poems in 1960. Like many of the Welsh poets of his day, Scots poet Muir was also concerned with the evil in contemporary society but unlike them, had high hopes for the possibility of regeneration.

In addition to his poetry, Muir's literary reviews were highly regarded, especially his appreciation of the work of D.H. Lawrence. With his wife, he also translated Kafka, bringing that writer's work to the attention of the British literary public. Muir's novel, The Marionette (1927) deals with the relationship of an idiot child and his father; it has many affinities with Kafka's own works. In 1954, Muir published his Autobiography.

MUIR, JOHN (1838-1914)
Visitors to such treasures as Sequoia and Yosemite who gaze in wonder at the splendors they encounter should pause in homage to the one who made America's National Parks possible; John Muir from Dunbar, East Lothian.

Naturalist Muir had emigrated in 1849 to Wisconsin, where he attended the university. After an industrial accident nearly cost him an eye, he abandoned his chosen profession of mechanical engineering and became a naturalist. Undertaking a walking journey from the Middle West to the Gulf of Mexico, he recorded his observations on the way. The journey whetted his appetite for more, and in 1868 he visited the Yosemite Valley in California, with visits to many western states and Alaska to study the forests, mountains and glaciers.

In 1876, Muir urged the federal government to adopt a forest conservation policy, and his influence and pressure led to the establishment of the Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks in late 1890. Through a series of magazine articles in June and August 1897, Muir's eloquence and obvious love of his adopted country helped persuade President Cleveland to set aside 13 national forests to be free from commercial exploitation despite congressional opposition. President Theodore Roosevelt, who went camping in Yosemite with Muir in 1903, also undertook large-scale conservation programs on the advice of the transplanted Scotsman.

In 1908, the government established the Muir Woods National Monument, in Marin County, California to preserve forever a virgin stand of magnificent redwoods. Edited by Linnie Marsh Wolfe, Muir's journals were published in 1938 as John of the Mountains and she published the great naturalist's biography, Son of the Wilderness in 1945.

The spectacular Murchison Falls on the lower Victoria Nile River in Uganda is one of the most famous waterfalls in Africa. It is named after geologist Roderick Impey Murchison, from Tarradale, Rosh-shire, who was the first to establish the geologic sequence of Early Paleozoic strata. Trained as a soldier, Murchison retired from active duty, turning to science on the advice of Sir Humphrey Davy the noted British chemist.

After joining the Geological Society in London in 1825, Murchison undertook scientific journeys in Scotland, France and the Alps. He worked closely with the British geologists Adam Sedgwick and Charles Lyell. President of the Society in 1831, he then began his study of the Early Paleozoic rocks in South Wales, publishing his findings in The Silurian System (1839). With his colleagues he then founded the Devonian System based on geological formations in Devon, England and in the Rhineland of Germany. Following a trip to Russia, he co-authored The Geology of Russia in Europe and the Ural Mountains (1845).

In 1846, Murchison was appointed Director of the Royal School of Mines and in 1855, the Museum of Practical Geology, London. In 1871 he founded a chair of geology and mineralogy at the University of Edinburgh. He also provided for the annual Murchison Medal and Geological Fund to be awarded by the Geological Society.

MURDOCK, WILLIAM (1754-1839)
As a young boy, the author remembers the streets of his home town (in Wales) and many of its buildings, including his elementary school, being lit by gas lamps turned on in the evening and off in the morning by the official lamp-lighter. For over one hundred years, coal gas was the main source of fuel for illuminating the world's cities. It was the product of the inventive mind of William Murdock, from Auchinleck, Ayrshire.

Regarded as the first to make extensive use of coal gas for illumination, Murdock had worked in the pioneer engineering firm of Boulton and Watt at Birmingham, moving to Cornwall to supervise the company's steam engines. There he experimented with the distilling of coal, lighting his own office and cottage with the gas it produced. Back at Birmingham in 1799, he further experimented; finding practical methods to produce, store, purify and utilize coal gas.

By 1802, Murdock's gas illumination was used on the exterior of the Soho factory to celebrate the Peace of Amiens. A year later, the factory interior was lighted by gas. Other nearby factories quickly followed suit, and in 1808 the inventor was invited to read a paper on his discoveries by the Royal Society.

But coal gas illumination was not the only area in which Murdock made a significant contribution. He also pioneered the use of steam power, making important improvements in the steam engine. Murdock is generally credited with devising the sun and planet motion of the steam engine, which is a means of giving continuous revolving motion to a shaft provided with a flywheel (James Watt patented the motion in 1781). Murdock devised an oscillating engine, an unsuccessful steam carriage and the successful long D-slide valve. He also experimented with compressed air, constructing a steam gun in 1803.

From Huntingtower, Perthshire, George Murray fought bravely for Prince Charles Edward in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-6. Made Lieutenant General of the Scottish forces by the Bonnie Prince, Murray's skill won him an important victory over the English forces at Prestonpans in East Lothian (1745). When the Jacobite commanders, unsure of their support in England, made their decision to return to Scotland, it was Murray who greatly aided in their successful retreat from Derby. At Falkirk, Murray again defeated an English army. He opposed the decision of Charles Edward to make a stand at Culloden, a decision that cost the Jacobites and Highland Scotland dearly. When Charles Edward abandoned his shattered army, Murray was forced to escape to France. We are left to ponder what would have been the result had the Prince listened to the most able of his military commanders.

MURRAY, JAMES (1721-94)
Another stalwart from East Lothian and a soldier who distinguished himself in many areas of the world was James Murray. Murray served as a soldier in the West Indies and Europe before duty in North America in 1757. Under Lord Amherst, he commanded a brigade during the successful British siege of Louisbourg (Nova Scotia). Greatly aiding in Wolfe's spectacular capture of Quebec in 1759, Murray was appointed the first civil governor of the Canadian province after its formal cession to Britain in 1763.

As Governor, Murray opposed those who undertook repressive measures against the French-Canadian citizens of Quebec and it was this conciliatory policy that had him charged with partiality. Found innocent, Murray decided to leave Canada in 1l768, six years later becoming Governor of Minorca. He was acquitted at a court martial in England after his little island had surrendered to a French-Spanish force and was promoted to general.

From Denholm, Roxburgh, lexicographer and editor, James Murray undertook the awesome task of editing what was to become known as The Oxford English Dictionary, a vast collection that contains an inventory of words used in the English language since the 12th century and earlier. Murray had earlier been President of the Philological Society and had written an article on the English language for Encyclopedia Britannica that brought him great credit. Taking advantage of his unique organizing skills, Murray worked tirelessly on his appointed task and by the time of his death had completed about half the dictionary.

MURRAY, PHILIP (1886-1952)
Philip Murray was born in Blantyre, Lanark in the heart of Scotland's industrial region. He emigrated to the US at 16, years becoming a coalminer in Pennsylvania and joining the United Mine Workers of America. In 1912 he joined the union's international board and from 1940 to 1942 he served as vice-president. In 1936, President John L. Lewis appointed him to form an industry-wide steelworkers union. In 1942 became President of its successor the USWA. He replaced Lewis as president of the CIO in 1940.


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