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Scots Who Made A Difference
LAING, ALEXANDER GORDON (1793-1826)
Explorer of western Africa, in 1826 Alexander Laing became the first known European to reach Timbuktu. Prior to that discovery, Laing had been sent, as a member of the British Army, to help develop trade and try to prevent slave trading among the Mandingo tribesmen in Sierra Leone. Two days after reaching the ancient Tuareg capital (then known as Tombouctou, now in Mali), the Edinburgh-born adventurer was killed. A journal of his earlier explorations is Travels in the Timanee, Kooranko, and Soolima Countries in Western Africa (1825).
LAIRD, MACGREGOR (1808-61)
Another Scottish explorer was Greenock-born MacGregor Laird, also anxious to do his best to prevent the African slave trade. Like his predecessor Alexander Laing, Laird promoted legitimate trade in West Africa and contributed much information about the River Niger. A shipbuilder and merchant, as well as an explorer, Laird voyaged to the Niger Delta in a vessel of his own design, the first iron ship ever to make an ocean voyage. His second expedition penetrated deep into the Niger territory. Due to his leadership skills and aided by the new drug quinine, not a life was lost on the trip -- a landmark in the European development of West Africa.
Laird was a pioneer in the development of steamship routes. One of his company's ships, the Sirius earned its place in history in 1838 by being the very first ship to cross the Atlantic from Europe to the United States entirely under steam. The captain was forced to use spars and furniture to keep it going rather than switch to sail. It wasn't too long before the great age of sail was over.
Laird's account of his African adventures were published in 1837 as Narrative of an Expedition into the Interior of Africa by the River Niger in 1832, 1833, 1834.
LAUDER, SIR HARRY (1870-1950)
A music hall (vaudeville) comedian, singer and composer of Scottish songs, Harry Lauder was knighted in 1919 for his service to British entertainment. Lauder had gone to France during World War l to bring his songs and Scots-dialect patter to the weary, grateful troops. He toured North America many times, making his songs very popular, but perhaps creating an unfortunate image of the stage Scot, with his sporran and kilt, frugal disposition and simple, homespun humor.
LAUDERDALE, JOHN MAITLAND, Duke (1616-82)
Master of political intrigue and religious reformer, John Maitland was born in Lethington (now Lennoxlove), East Lothian. His career showed only too well the difficulties of choosing the right side in the political and religious controversies of the age. In 1638, Lauderdale signed the Solemn League and Covenant to protect Scottish Presbyterianism against the designs of King Charles l of England. In the civil war, he helped ally Scotland with the Parliamentarians, but later entered into a secret agreement with the king (captured by Parliament in 1647) who promised to impose Presbyterianism on England in exchange for military support.
Lauderdale was captured by Oliver Cromwell's forces while fighting on behalf of Charles II at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and imprisoned. Released when Charles was restored to the throne in 1660, the Duke then served as one of the king's chief administrators and was a member of the cabal, the secret cabinet. His widespread and ruthless suppression of the Covenanters who resisted the restoration of episcopacy in Scotland made his name feared throughout the land.<
LAW, BONAR (1858-1923)
It is tempting to think that many of the troubles in today's Northern Ireland may have been avoided only for the intransigence and stubborn imperialism of such as Bonar (Andrew) Law, Scotsman from New Brunswick, Canada. Descended from a prominent Ulster family, Law was violently opposed to Home Rule for Ireland just before the outbreak of World War l. He was the first Prime Minister of Britain to have come from an overseas possession. His Empire outlook as much as his family's Ulster background prevented him from seeing an independent Ireland.
Law had been educated in Scotland and entered the British Parliament as a Conservative in 1900. His close friend and political ally was another native of New Brunswick, the powerful newspaper magnate (and spokesman for the Empire) Lord Beaverbrook. During the War's coalition government, Law was leader of the Commons, a member of the war cabinet and chancellor of the exchequer. He was Prime Minister again for a short time in 1922-3.
LAWSON, ANDREW COWPER (1861-1952)
In 1906, a commission's study report of the California earthquake was the most complete ever made of a major earthquake. A landmark in its field, the study initiated the theory of the elastic rebound of shock waves. The head of the commission was Andrew Lawson, born in Anstruther, Fife, a geologist whose discoveries of Precambrian rock structures led to his revolutionary interpretations of these strata (published in 1881). For 38 years, Lawson was professor of mineralogy and petrography at the University of California where his courses in that relatively new study of geology brought great prestige to himself and to his department.
LESLIE, JOHN (1527-96)
From Inverness-shire, Leslie taught canon law at Aberdeen, where he held a diocesan administrative post. He became one of the chief advisors to Mary Stuart when she returned from France as Queen of Scotland in 1561. Intensely loyal to his queen, he defended Mary before Elizabeth I at York in 1568. The following year he was acquitted of complicity in a plot against Elizabeth. Soon after, however, he was deeply involved in a further conspiracy that was to include military support from Catholic Spain to depose Elizabeth in favor of Mary who was to be married to the Catholic Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk.
The plot fell apart with Leslie's confessions in 1571 that sent him to prison and Norfolk to be executed for treason. Upon Leslie's release in 1573, he once again tried to enlist support for Mary from the continent and once again he failed. Living in France for the rest of this life, in 1578 Leslie published a history of Scotland De origine, moribus et rebus gestis Scotoorum, in which his strongly Catholic viewpoint is seen as the main attribute.
LESLIE, SIR JOHN (1766-1832)
When we look at the dates of Sir John Leslie's life, it comes as a surprise to discover that he created artificial ice as early as the beginning of the 18th century. The physicist and mathematician was born in Largo, Fife. His explanation of capillary action in 1802 was startlingly modern as well as his An Experimental Inquiry into the Nature and Propagation of Heat, published in 1804. By using an air pump, Leslie froze water in 1810, five years after he had become chair of mathematics at Edinburgh University.
LEVEN, ALEXANDER LESLIE, 1st Earl (1580-1661)
Alexander Leslie, yet another Scottish military leader who found it necessary to do most of his fighting abroad, served in the forces of Sweden in the Thirty Years War (1618-48), becoming a Field Marshal under Gustavus II Adolphus. He distinguished himself with a successful defense of Stalsund against famed Wallenstein, in charge of the Imperial army.
Leslie returned to Scotland to help defend the Presbyterian religion against the machinations of Charles I to impose episcopacy. His skillful leadership of the Scottish army so impressed the English king that he made Leslie Earl of Leven and Lord Balgonie to try to win his support. Leslie, however, remained on the side of Parliament, playing a leading role in the successful war against the forces of the king, who surrendered to him at Newark in 1646.
After handing the recalcitrant king over to Parliament to await his fate, Leven retired from duty and returned to Scotland, but when Charles was executed, he returned to action to serve the Royalists under Charles ll. During the years 1650-51, Leven defended Scotland from the invading armies of Oliver Cromwell. He was captured and imprisoned, but spent the last few years of his life in peace.
LEYDEN, JOHN (1775-1811)
Many critics consider John Leyden, from Denholdm, Roxburghshire, as the equal of the much better-known Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Leyden's own reputation came from his work as an antiquarian, linguist, medical doctor, folk-song collector, editor and orientalist as well as a poet. Many of his poems, on Border themes had considerable influence on the poetry of Sir Walter Scott, with whom Leyden worked on their collection of ballads published as Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.
Leyden also researched the Ossianic legends, scouring the Highlands for information and published the first modern edition of The Complaynt of Scotland, a mid-16th century tract, adding to it a pioneer glossary of Scottish words. Much indispensable material about Border folk-music is contained in Leyden's Preliminary Dissertation to the Complaynt of Scotland. In addition, he also collected and preserved valuable 17th century Scottish musical manuscripts.
LINDSAY, MAURICE (b. 1918)
Maurice Lindsay, Glasgow-born and educated is well-known as a fervent promoter of Scottish literature. He has been editor of Poetry Scotland, Scottish Poetry, A Book of Scottish Verse and The Scottish Review. While serving in the Second World War, he was wounded, which brought an end to his planned career in music. After the War, he became a music critic and literary journalist with the BBC in Scotland and the journal, The Glasgow Bulletin. Lindsay's distinctive voice and varied themes are found in his Collected Poems 1940-1990 and his autobiographical To Catch the Wind.
LINDSAY, ROBERT (1520-65)
Robert Lindsay of Pittscottie, Fife, was one of the most influential Scottish historians of the 16th century. His Historie and Chronicles of Scotland, first published in 1778, is considered as the most important work of its kind to be written. It is considered by M. Lindsay (in Daiches) as still pleasurable reading. Famed historian Boece had been translated into English by Scot John Bellenden and Lindsay regarded his own work as a continuation of Boece's Historie. Lindsay gives us the colorful accounts of the vision appearing before James IV that warned him of Flodden and the death of James V.
LINKLATER, ERIC (ROBERT) (1899-1974)
Eric Linklater was born at Dounby, in the Orkney Islands. After first studying medicine, he switched to English literature to begin a career as a prolific novelist, poet and historical writer. During WW I, he served with the Scottish Black Watch Regiment of the British Army. After being severely wounded, he became a journalist. For two years (1925-27) he was assistant editor of the Times of India.
While he was teaching at Edinburgh, Linklater visited the US on a Commonwealth Fellowship that led to the first of his "innocent abroad" novels, Juan in America (1931) that gave us a foretaste of his elegance of wit as a writer and chronicler of his time. Following more military service in the Second World War, he became rector of Aberdeen University. A list of his books include White Man's Saga (1929), The Men of Ness (1932), Magnus Merriman (1934) and The Voyage of the Challenger (1972). Linklater also wrote lots of plays for radio and three volumes of autobiography including Fanfare for a Tin Hat (1970).
LINLITHGOW, VICTOR ALEXANDER, 2nd Marquis (1887-1952)
From Abercorn, in West Lothian, Victor Linlithgow became the longest serving Viceroy of India. With Indian independence finally coming in 1947, it is difficult to assess the proper role of this member of the old-political school of Empire-first, for he was adamantly opposed to it. Becoming Viceroy in 1936, he had helped provide a smooth transition to provincial government in India, but failed to gain the consent of the princes needed to establish the federal structure provided by the Government of India Act of 1935.
Linlithgow's troubles with the Indian Congress Party came to a head in the massive revolt and civil disobedience campaign of 1942, during the war in which India contributed a completely volunteer army of more than 2,000,000 men in their hopes for complete independence as a reward. One of Linlithgow's typical offensive acts towards the people of India had been his declaration of war on Germany in September 1939 without consulting the Indian political parties.
LIPTON, SIR THOMAS JOHNSTONE, 1st Baronet
There cannot be many in North America and the United Kingdom who have not heard of or not tried, Lipton Tea, perhaps the most heavily advertised brand of tea in the world. Born in Glasgow of Irish parents, Thomas Lipton came to the US in 1865 when he was 15, but returned to Scotland to open a small grocery shop after learning the methods of merchandising while employed in New York City.
In Glasgow, Lipton advertised his wares by having two fat pigs driven through the streets with "I'm going to Lipton's. The best shop in town for British bacon," painted on their freshly scrubbed sides. It was the beginning of a vast empire of retail shops supplied by the wily entrepreneur's purchase of tea and coffee plantations in Ceylon and packing houses in Chicago. In 1898, much expanded beyond tea, coffee and cocoa (the wide-scale drinking of which he helped to promote), he founded the Lipton Ltd. Company.
Another of Thomas Lipton's interests was yachting. His great ambition was to win the America's Cup for Great Britain and he spent huge sums of money on five unsuccessful attempts with his Shamrock yachts between 1899 and 1930.
LITHGOW, WILLIAM (1582-1645)
Much cultural and economic information about hitherto unknown countries came from the pen of Lanark-born William Lithgow, traveller and man of literature. Beginning his travels in the Orkney and Shetland Islands of his native Scotland, Lithgow soon went off to explore the Netherlands, Germany, Bohemia, France and Italy, all accomplished before 1609. He next went to Greece, the Near East, Egypt and Malta before having a look at Western Europe again and England. In Spain he survived torture by the Inquisition and later travelled throughout Scotland. Lithgow summed everything up in his major work The Total Discourse of the Rare Adventures and Painful Peregrinations of Long Nineteen Years Travayles (1632) which was reprinted in 1906.
LIVINGSTONE, DAVID (1813-73)
David Livingstone, born in Blantyre, Scotland and dying in Chtambo's village (in Zambia), was the most famous of all the Scottish missionary explorers who did so much to bring knowledge of Africa, the unknown continent, to the western world. What English-speaking child in what part of the world has not heard the words of Welshman Henry Morton Stanley, upon finding the Scot alive and well in the midst of "darkest Africa" after reports of his death had reached Europe and the Americas.
Regarded in his lifetime as a sainted figure, Livingstone is remembered as the first European to have gone to the heart of Africa and to have dispelled many erroneous notions as to the nature of the continent and of its inhabitants. In particular, his indictment of the slave trade did much to awaken the conscience of a nation and to demand the enforcement of anti-slavery laws. That the Scotsman left out of his reports facts which did not fit in with his purpose of attracting Christian traders to Africa and that he never acknowledged the help he had been given in his explorations, does not detract from his accomplishments. They simply make him more human, less saint-like.
Conditions were harsh on the Island of Ulva, where David spent his early years. He was later to state that the savagery of the Cape Caffres (Kaffirs) was similar to that of the Highlanders of his native region (The people of Ulva would drown a woman in a sack if she unintentionally killed a child). Working in a cotton mill from the age of 10, the young Scot earned some extra income by selling tea, travelling from farm to farm. An avid reader, the future missionary studied Latin and Greek on his own. After reading Dr. Thomas Dick's The Philosophy of a Future State which stated that science was not opposed to Christianity, and after he had heard the preaching of liberal Canadian theologian Henry Wilkes, he got over the fears instilled in him by his father that the sciences were directly opposed to the Word of God.
David then decided to become a missionary and underwent training at the London Missionary Society, specializing in medicine. He passed his exams at Glasgow and obtained his physician's license. He was ordained a missionary and left for South Africa in December 1840 on the steamer the George. His many expeditions from the missionary post he set up at Kuruman brought him fame as a surgeon and scientist over the next few years: his missionary efforts were not as successful. During his work, in which he sympathized with the plight of the indigenous peoples, he made many enemies among the white settlers, particularly the Boers, busy stealing land from the natives. It particularly galled many that the Scotsman learned the languages and the tribal customs of the people he hoped to help find salvation.
In 1853, Livingstone undertook a major expedition into the interior of the continent that lasted three years. During the arduous trip, he discovered Victoria Falls, a feat that led to his being feted in Britain upon his return in 1856. He did not discover Lake Victoria, however, the source of the Nile, which was found by English explorer John Speke in 1858. Livingstone then returned to Africa to organize an expedition to the Mambezi River but was recalled. His last expedition was a quest for the source of the Nile. It was begun in 1866. False reports of his death and an anxious public's need to know where the lost explorer was in Africa led to Stanley's mission to find him. It was Stanley who charted the course of the Congo.
For those interested in reading a work that debunks the Livingstone myth, an excellent account is found in Judith Listowel's Book, The Other Livingstone (1974).
LOCH, HENRY BROUGHAM LOCH, 1st Baron (1827-1900)
Another Scottish military leader and administrators staunchly committed to the defense of the British Empire, Henry Loch served in India, the Crimea and China before being sent to the Cape Colony in 1889 as Governor and High Commissioner of South Africa. When adventurer, imperialist and exploiter Cecil Rhodes became involved in the Matabele War in 1893, Loch unwillingly had to use British troops to support Rhodes' company. It was the beginning of a sad chapter for Britain as it later brought the might of its armed forces to bear against the valiant Boers, fighting for what they considered to be their God-given homeland.
Perhaps, in the climate of the times, Loch could not have prevented the so-called Boer War. We do not know if he promised British support to the Uitlanders in the Transvaal against the Boers or not (he was forced to defend his actions in the House of Lords), but we do know that it has taken South Africa until the 1990's to be able to come to grips with the solutions of its many racial, religious and ethnic problems.
LOCKHART, JOHN GIBSON (1794-1854)
Many of us who studied English literature, in whatever country we were educated, have been made very aware of the contribution of Scotsman Jemes Boswell to the art of biography. Far fewer know of the work of critic, novelist and biographer John Lockhart of Wishaw, Lanarkshire, who produced one of the great biographies in the English language, his Life of Sir Walter Scott (1837-38 and enlarged in 1839).
Trained as a lawyer, Lockhart began his literary career with the influential Blackwood's Magazine at its founding in 1817. In it, the young critic attacked many of the popular English poets of his day, including Keats and Shelley as well as the essayist William Hazlitt. In 1818, Lockhart met Sir Walter Scott whose daughter he subsequently married. He then became editor of Quarterly Review before starting work on his monumental biography of his father-in-law. With the Review, he contributed much sound literary criticism, dealing with works by Wordworth, Coleridge, Shelley and Byron.
Lockhart also produced a sympathetic biography of Robert Burns, Life of Robert Burns, continuously in print from its first publication in 1828; a commentary on the Scottish scene, Peter's Letters to His Kinkfolk (1828); Adam Blair (1822); and his verse translations, Ancient Spanish Ballads (1832). Lockhart's novel of guilty, illicit love is his Adam Blair, based on a true story from the chronicle of ministers of the Church of Scotland.
LYELL, SIR CHARLES (1797-1875)
The leading geologist of Victorian Britain, when so much came to be written that shocked (and changed) the world's thinking forever was Charles Lyell of Kinnordy. Lyell was chiefly responsible for general acceptance of the then-startling view (and still unaccepted by those who interpret the Bible's story of creation literally) that the surface features and rock constituents of the Earth can be interpreted as the result of the long and inexorable action of physical, chemical and biological processes.
Lyell thus popularized the work of fellow Scot and pioneer in geological studies, James Hutton that was to be known as uniformitarianism, often summarized in the statement "the present is the key to the past." Lyell's interest in geology soon surpassed that of law; his observations on many expeditions in Britain, Europe and North America, particularly focused on geologic formations and their associated fossils convinced him that the formation of the earth had taken thousands of millions of years.
At first tentatively accepting Darwin's theories of evolution, Lyell later fully adopted and supported the findings of the great English naturalist. His published works include Principles of Geology (3 volumes: 1830-33); Elements of Geology (1838) and Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man (1863). Perhaps it is these outstanding works that make Lyell, not Hutton, deserving of the title of the father of modern geology.
LYNDSAY, SIR DAVID (1490-1555)
One of the company of courtly poets known as Makaris, flourishing in the golden age of Scottish literature, David Lyndsay satirized not only the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church but also the machinations of contemporary government. Known as Lyndsay of the Mount, he effectively utilized a combination of moralizing sermons and ribald humor. His works include The Dreme (1528) an allegory of the condition of Scotland a mixture of satire and comic moral instruction.
Lyndsay followed with a personal letter to the King (who had escaped the clutches of the powerful Douglas family) that purports to have been written by the King's dying parrot, dispensing advice to his sovereign. He also wrote poems that employed the Celtic "flyting" (poetic abuse) and one morality play, Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaits. In one poem, his use of a dog, the King's Auld Hound callit Bagsche, to satirize court life was a device later revived by Robert Burns.
Lindsay had begun his career as an attendant and courtly companion to the infant son of the King of Scotland, James IV returning to court when the prince became James V. He represented the king on numerous diplomatic missions to many European kings, including Henry VIII of England.
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