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Scots Who Made A Difference

In 1835, David Lewis MacPherson joined the long list of Scots whose emigration to Canada helped so much in the development of that country. Amassing a large fortune in shipbuilding at Montreal, which helped enormously with the growth of that city's economy. MacPherson was able to secure the contract to build the Montreal to Toronto railroad. He then entered politics as member of the provincial legislative council in 1864.

When the Dominion of Canada was created in 1867, MacPherson joined the Senate; he became speaker in 1880. Three years later, the railway builder and politician became minister of the interior.

In 1760 James MacPherson, from Ruthven, Inverness, published his Fragments of Ancient Poetry...Translated from the Gallic or Erse Language. This was followed by Fingal (1762) and Temora (1763). The books caused a sensation in literary circles in Britain where Welshmen Theophilus Evans, Edward Lhuyd, Lewis Morris and Edward Williams had re-awakened interest in druids, ancient British history and the treasures to be found in old Celtic poetry. Not to be outdone, MacPherson, whose earlier work The Highlander (1758) got nowhere, brought forward his Fragments, claiming that they were based on a third century Scots Gaelic poet, Ossian.

Poets and philosophers, including the Scot David Hume and the Englishman Thomas Gray took sides in the issue of authenticity, for no Gaelic manuscript before the 10th century was known to exist. The work was scurrilously attacked by Dr. Samuel Johnson, Englishman of letters as being a total fraud and its author an impostor. Perhaps Johnson was too harsh, for MacPherson had travelled extensively through the Highlands collecting oral poetry and genuine Gaelic manuscripts.

Later in life, MacPherson gave up his literary career. He was employed by the government to state its case against the upstart American colonies, producing The Rights of Great Britain asserted against the Claims of the Colonies (1776), but it is not studied today. He was even elected to the House of Commons as member for Camelford. Without the furor of the Ossian controversy, perhaps poor James MacPherson might have made a genuine contribution to Scottish (especially Gaelic) literature, instead of fading into obscurity, remembered mainly for his forgery.

Born in London, but of a Scots family, Jay MacPherson emigrated to Canada in 1940. As a faculty member at the University of Toronto, she made her name as a leading contemporary poet, specializing in serious religious and philosophical themes. Her interest in classical myths is shown in Four Ages of Man (1962) designed for children, but her other works show the influence of a whole range of English literature, from Anglo-Saxon verse, old English ballads, Elizabethan songs and the modern critical theories of Northrup Frye and Robert Graves. Jay's imaginative, lyric poetry is found in her Nineteen Poems (1952); O Earth Return (1954) and The Boatman and Other Poems (1957 but re-issued in 1968 with other poems added).

Following service with the British army in North America, Europe, the West Indies and India, Lachlan MacQuarie from Ulva, Argyll was appointed Governor of New South Wales, Australia in 1809, replacing notorious William Bligh who had been overthrown by the New South Wales Corps. Concerned with the rights of convicts, MacQuarie immediately began a program of public works construction and town planning, working closely with the Emancipists (freed convicts) whose cause he took up.

The enlightened governor wrote building codes to transform Sydney from a bunch of shacks into a properly planned town, with its Georgian hospital and other public brick buildings. He also arrested the leaders of the Rum Rebellion, appointed conscientious officials and did his best to turn New South Wales from a nothing more than a huge jail into a proper colony of the Crown.

MacQuarie's belief in development based on emancipist agriculture eventually led to his downfall at the hands of the colony's large land owners and he was recalled in 1821, retiring to the Island of Mull in the Hebrides. As governor, he had helped establish the first bank in the colony, introduced its own currency and replaced an informal traffic in rum. He was particularly interested in encouraging expansion of settlement, but not at the cost of the Aborigines towards whom he showed liberal policies. He was also the only Australian governor to have convicts returned to England to testify in court against a ship's captain accused of murdering unarmed convicts.

In 1819, interested in the plight of the unfortunate women convicts who seemed to have no rights whatsoever and who were treated as little more than cattle. MacQuarie had an ex-convict architect build a new Female Factory where inmates were sorted into three classes, and which became the colony's main marriage market. The liberal governor also unsuccessfully tried to get some of the Aborigines, who were being killed off as useless beings, to be trained as farmers. All his work, however, seemed only to make him unpopular with the establishment, eager to capitalize on convict labor.

MAINE, SIR HENRY (1822-88)
From Kelso, Roxburgh, Henry Maine pioneered studies of comparative law, especially primitive law and anthropological jurisprudence. Many of his studies helped to place comparative jurisprudence on a sound historical footing. Maine's theories were put into practice when, as a member of the council of the governor general of India, he was instrumental in the codifying of the vast conglomeration of ancient customs that comprised the law of that sub-continent.

Maine put together his Ancient Law: Its Connection with the Early History of Society and Its Relation to Modern Ideas (1861), based on his lectures at the Inns of Court, London. (It was revised in 1960). His other works include Early History of Institutions (1875). A sequel to his Ancient Law, this collection of lectures was also influential in the study of political theory and anthropology.

MAITLAND, JOHN (1545-93)
John Maitland was also known as Mailtand of Thurdlestane (Berwick). As Baron of Thirlestane, Maitland had great influence in pushing forward his policies of a Scottish alliance with England, and his sponsorship of the Goden Act of 1592 sanctioned the Presbyterian hierarchy of church courts.

A prominent member of the Scottish nobility, Maitland at first supported the cause of Mary Stuart against the claims of the young King James VI, suffering imprisonment upon the defeat of Mary. Bowing to the winds of change and fortune, however, as Privy Councillor in 1583 and the King's principal adviser by 1586, Maitland must have had an enormous influence upon the Scottish King's decision to accept the English as James I in 1603 (upon the death of Elizabeth).

In 1828, the Maitland Club was founded to continue the important contributions made to Scotland's history and literature by "Manly Maitland," Robert Maitland, also called Lord Lethington. Maitland was a poet, lawyer and statesman who lived to the remarkable age of 90 years. He served in various positions under James V and Mary, Queen of Scots. Blind at the age of 61, he kept busy as a judge and with writing and collecting Scottish poetry. Maitland's valuable collection is known as the Maitland Folio MS, one of the earliest and most important collections of Scottish poetry. It contains not only much of his own work, reflecting the troubled conditions of his native country, but also works by William Dunbar, Gavin Douglas, Robert Henryson and other notable Scottish poets of the period.

Called Maitland of Lethington (now part of East Lothian), William Maitland was a staunch supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots, but often defied her wishes when they threatened to undermine her rule. Maitland failed in his overriding ambition to secure Mary's recognition as successor to Elizabeth as Queen of England. Though an ardent Catholic, he joined the Protestant lords in order to get rid of French influence in Scotland. He became Secretary of State in 1560, under Mary, but supported the murder of Rizzio, hated by the Protestant nobles. When Mary fled to England in 1568, Maitland did his best to restore her to power, breaking with the regent, the Earl of Moray, during the infancy of James VI. After years of intrigue, including imprisonment, Maitland unsuccessfully led Mary's supporters against those in favor of James: he died in prison.

Lord Mansfield, from Scone, Perthshire, the coronation site of the ancient Scottish kings was Chief Justice of the King's Bench from 1756 to 1788 and had a major influence upon the formation of Anglo-American commercial law. Due to his pioneering work in the field, he helped make the international law of commerce an integral part of the general law of Great Britain. The vast growth of international trade in the late 18th century had made the reform of Britain's laws absolutely essential. Not only did this former solicitor general, attorney general and acting leader of the House of Commons, shape the law of bills of exchange, promissory notes and the bank check, he also established the law of marine insurance, a new field of jurisprudence.

The first person to discover that the mosquito can be host to a developing parasite of human disease was Patrick Manson, from Meldrum, Aberdeen. His mosquito-malaria hypothesis was published in 1894 an astonishing discovery that helped found the field of tropical medicine. Along with that of Alphonse Laveran and Sir Ronald Ross, Manson discovered that mosquitoes were responsible for the transmission of malaria. Manson instituted the Medical School of Hong Kong and was one of the first men to introduce the western idea of vaccination to China. He then organized the London School of Tropical Medicine (that later became the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine).

MAR, JOHN ERSKINE, Earl (d. 1572)
One of the illustrious Scottish Erskine family that held the title of Earl of Mar from the mid-16th century, John played a major role in disposing Mary, Queen of Scots in favor of her infant son James VI, later King of Great Britain. As a moderate Protestant, Mar worked tirelessly to achieve a peaceful settlement between the Protestant nobles and the Catholic supporters of the regent, Mary of Lorraine (Mary's mother). His efforts got him elected to the Privy Council upon Mary's rule in 1561 and to the influential post of guardian to the infant James. He then worked on behalf of the young king against Mary, helping the nobles who banished Bothwell in 1587. They deposed Mary the same year and made James King of Scotland, with Mar as regent.

MAR, JOHN ERSKINE, Earl (1588-1634)
Son of the regent during the interregnum of James VI, John Erskine grew up with the young king at Stirling Castle and became guardian to the 12 year-old prince in 1578. Facing a challenge to his influence over the young king, Mar had James imprisoned at Ruthven, but upon his charge's escape, Mar was forced to flee to take refuge at the Court of Elizabeth in England. In 1585, he returned to Scotland to be reunited with his old friend, James, and was appointed as one of his royal ministers and guardian to his son, Prince Henry. When James succeeded Elizabeth as King of England, Mar continued to have considerable influence on Scottish affairs.

MAR, JOHN ERSKINE, Earl (1675-1732)
This successor to the noble Mar family had far less influence than his predecessors did. Known as "Bobbing John" for his frequent change of political allegiances, he supported the lost cause of James, the Old Pretender, son of the deposed King James II. In an uprising he led in the Highlands, his Jacobites were easily defeated at Sheriffmuir by John Campbell, Duke of Argyll in 1715 and the rebellion collapsed, sending the Earl and James back to France. Even then, however, Bobbing John 's intrigues cost him James' friendship and banishment from his court.

In her lifetime, Margaret, daughter of Eric II, King of Norway, had very little influence during her reign as Queen of Scotland from 1286-90. Her premature death, however, caused repercussions that have lasted throughout the history of her brave nation.

A new struggle for control of Scotland had begun at the death of Alexander III in 1286, leaving as heir his grandchild Margaret, the infant daughter of the King of Norway. English King Edward I with his eye on the complete subjugation of his northern neighbors, suggested that Margaret marry his son, a desire consummated at a treaty signed and sealed at Birgham.

M, continued

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