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Scots Who Made A Difference

MACLAURIN, COLIN (1698-1746)
When the citizens of Edinburgh hastily threw up barricades and dug ditches to defend their city against the approaching Jacobite forces in 1745, one of the leaders was famed mathematician Colin MacLaurin, who had been born in Kilmodan, Argyllshire. MacLaurin, a close friend and defender of Isaac Newton, the brilliant English scientist, helped develop and extend the latter's work in calculus, geometry and gravitation.

A boy prodigy, MacLaurin was admitted to the University of Glasgow at age 11. At 19, he became a professor of mathematics (at Aberdeen) and two years later was admitted to the Royal Society of London. His most important work was Organic Geometry, with the Description of the Universal Linear Curves, published in 1720, in which he developed several theories similar to those in Newton's Principia. MacLaurin's active, inquiring mind can be discerned in his many books, including Account of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophical Discoveries; Treatise of Algebra and A Tract on the General Properties of Geometrical Lines.

From Keith, Banffshire, George MacLean's reputation as Governor of the colony of Cape Coast (modern Ghana, West Africa) from 1830-44 was damaged when his new wife, poetess and novelist Letitia Landon died in mysterious circumstances. Up until then MacLean had served ably as chief administrator of the Cape Coast, greatly increasing British power in the area as well as helping make the colony prosperous. He was criticized for failing to stop slavery in his province though he had made peace with the Ashanti kingdom and had established an informal protectorate over the coastal states.

Sorley MacLean was born in Rassay. His Gaelic name is Somhairle MacGill-Eain. In 1943 he published the first collection of Gaelic verse in the modern idiom, an event that marked a new voice in the production of Scots Gaelic literature. His poems spoke of the modern age with a modern voice, an essential bridge between the old verse and the new. His work is found in Dain do Eimhir agus Dain Eile (1943), Reothairt is Contraigh: Spring tine and Neap tide. Selected Poems 1932-72 (published in 1977) and O Choille gu Bearradh (1989). Essays on his work are found in Ross and Henry's Sorley MacLean: Critical Essays (1986).

A prominent figure in the world of classical dance, Glasgow born Donald MacLeary, became the youngest premier dancer of the Royal Ballet in 1959. Noted for his strong fitness and natural romanticism, MacLeary enjoyed a partnership with Svetlana Beriosova, in which he danced classical leads in some of the better known ballets. Their bravura showpiece is reckoned to be raymond a pas de deux, which the internationally known couple performed together in 1962.

First noticed at Covent Garden in 1959, McLeary has danced principal roles under the direction of some of the world's leading choreographers including Robbins, Ballanchine, Ashton and MacMillan. He has accompanied Fonteyn, Makarovea, Nerina, Park, Seymour, Siblye Wells and Collier; names that rank with the greatest of all the modern ballerinas. He retired in 1975 to become ballet master to the Royal Ballet where his experience and talents greatly influenced a new generation of dancers.

Diabetics the world over should bless the name of J.J.R. MacLeod, physiologist and chemist from Cluny, near Dunkel, Perth, discoverer of insulin, whom shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1923. MacLeod held positions at the London Hospital until 1902 when he accepted a post at Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, before moving to the University of Toronto in 1918. There he joined his Nobel Prize winning colleague Sir Frederick Bantin. It was there that, along with Charles H. Best, he achieved his breakthrough in the discovery of insulin. MacLeod published Practical Physiology (1902); Physiology and Biochemistry in Modern Medicine, first published in 1918, but re-issued in 1941 as Physiology in Modern Medicine.

MACLEOD, MARY (1615-1705)
Mary MacLeod was born in Rodel on the Island of Harris. Her Gaelic name was Mairi nighean Alasdair Ruaidh. Most of her poetry was composed in the service of the MacLeods of Dunvegan and consists of elegies or laments. One of the last of the classical Gaelic poets, she used the popular stressed metres, making the form acceptable and thus opening the way for the flowering of popular versification that occurred in the following century.

MACLURE, WILLIAM (1763-1840)
The very first true geological map of any part of North America and one of the earliest such maps compiled was the work of William MacLure. Born in the town of Ayr, MacLure made a brief visit to New York before returning to London where he became wealthy with an import-export firm. After another brief stay in the US where he became an American citizen, he returned to Europe to indulge his new love of geology, travelling throughout the continent to collect geological specimens and textbooks on the subject.

Upon his return, MacLure investigated the Appalachian Mountain range (at that time practically the Western frontier of the nation) publishing Observations on the Geology of the United States in 1809. He also helped found the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, which he generously endowed and in which his valuable library is now safely ensconced.

Born on the Isle of Arran, Daniel MacMillan, with his brother Alexander (1818-96) founded the bookshop of MacMillan and Company that rapidly grew into one of the largest book publishing firms in the world. Their first catalog appeared in 1844 at their shop in Cambridge, England, a year after the start of the company. Beginning with textbooks, the MacMillans published the enormously popular Charles Kingsley's Westward Ho! in 1855, but this success was soon eclipsed by the sales volume of Thomas Hughes's Tom Brown's School Days (1857) which appeared in five editions.

When Daniel died in 1857, Alexander expanded the company, founding the literary periodical MacMillan's Magazine (1859-1907) which helped the list of titles grow from about 40 annually to hundreds. He also founded the leading scientific journal, Nature (1869 to date). He published the works of such distinguished authors as Alfred Lord Tennyson, Thomas Henry Huxley, Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling and William Butler Yeats.

In addition to the above, as well as publishing other literary works, the company has specialized in textbooks, works of science and high-quality periodicals. In 1867, a branch office was established in the United States; the company then expanded to Canada, Australia and India -- in short, to all parts of the English-speaking world.

Although the first two-wheeled machine was exhibited in Paris in 1818, it was not until 1839 that the first self-propelled bicycle was produced for general use by Kirkpatrick MacMillan, a Dundee blacksmith, known as "Daft Pate" for his wild ideas. First introduced at Dumfries, with wheels rimmed with iron, the machine had a steerable front wheel and a driven rear wheel. It was propelled by the feet resting on two swinging cranks mounted at the front that moved a pair of rods liked to two levers, located on either side of the rear wheel.

MacMillan's bicycle made it possible for a person to travel under his own power faster than he could run. It successfully challenged a post carriage in a race in 1842 after the inventor had ridden over rough roads 68 miles to Glasgow. That same year, MacMillan was fined 5 shillings for knocking down a little girl with his "devil on wheels" travelling at about eight miles per hour. The contraption soon spurred flurried activity throughout Europe and the USA. The French "boneshaker," the velocipede, appeared in 1861 that had cranks and pedals attached directly to the front wheels.

In England, James K. Starley's improvements gave him the title of "the father of the bicycle industry." Coventry machinist Starley (with William Hillman) manufactured the first all-metal bicycle and the first with wire-spoked wheels in 1870. Great excitement followed the introduction of the "ordinary" in 1874, known in Britain as the "penny-farthing" with its huge front wheel and tiny rear wheel. Then, after H.J. Lawson had built a rear-drive machine with solid rubber tires, the modern bicycle was born with Dunlop's pneumatic tire. It is to MacMillan that the world owes the most efficient means yet, of converting human energy into propulsion.

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