February 2020

Scottish Bands-Music. The proclaimers.

Hi friends.

I don’t know if you have seen the musical film Sunshine on Leith if you haven’t, please do its a classic. These boys Craig and Charlie, came from Edinburgh and are still going strong.


Thank you for Sharing me.

Infamous Scots. Sir John Menteith.

Sir John Menteith of Ruskie and Knapdale (c. 1275 – c. 1329) was a Scottish nobleman during the Wars of Scottish Independence. He is known for his capture of Sir William Wallace in 1305 and later joined with King Robert I of Scotland and received large land grants in Knapdale and Kintyre for his service. He is described as “guardian” of the Earldom of Menteith, as his great-nephew Alan II, Earl of Menteith was a minor at the time of the death of Alan I, Earl of Menteith.


John was the younger son of Walter Bailloch Stewart, and Mary I, Countess of Menteith, the daughter of Muireadhach II, Earl of Menteith.  John possessed the land of Ruskie in Stirlingshire. John was a party to the Turnberry Bond with his father, Walter Stewart and the Bruces, which was signed at Turnberry Castle on 20 September 1286.

With his older brother Alexander, John was involved in the resistance against King Edward I of England and were both captured after the Battle of Dunbar on 27 April 1296. While Alexander was released after swearing fealty, John remained a prisoner at Nottingham Castle in England until August 1297, when Edward released John from prison, on his taking oath and giving security to serve with the king in the campaign of 1297 in Flanders.

Seal of John de Monteith (c.1297)

He was appointed the Constable of Lennox and was ravaging the lands of Edward’s partisans in Lennox in 1301. John was sent in 1303 to treat of peace with the English but refrained from pressing his mission. By 1303 John submitted and had been restored to Edward’s favour, for on 20 March 1304 John was appointed Warden of the castle, town, and sheriffdom of Dumbarton. Edward was keen to secure the fortification as a major access route into Scotland by sea. John, as sheriff of Dumbarton, captured Sir William Wallace in 1305 and handed him over to the English. For this John was labelled traitorous and was given the contemporary nickname Fause Menteith (“Menteith the treacherous, false”).

The little gargoyle head of the Fause Menteith on the 16th-century guardhouse at Dumbarton Castle

Wyntoun, whose Metrical Chronicle was written in 1418, says:

Schyre Jhon of Menteith in tha days
Tuk in Glasgow William Walays;
And sent hym until Ingland sune,
There was he quartayrd and undone.

The English chronicler Piers Langtoft states that Menteith discovered the retreat of Wallace through the treacherous information of Jack Short, Wallace’s servant and that he came under cover of night and seized him in bed. A passage in the Scalachronica, quoted by John Leland, notes, “William Walleys was taken of the Counte of Menteith, about Glasgow, and sent to King Edward, and after was hanged, drawn, and quartered at London.”

Menteith was nominated one of the representatives of the Scots barons in the parliament of both nations which assembled at London in September 1305 and was chosen upon the Scottish council, which was appointed to assist John of Brittany, the new Guardian of Scotland, in the English interest. John received on 1 June 1306 from Edward the Earldom of Lennox, while on 15 June he received the Warden of the castle, town, and sheriffdom of Dumbarton office for life. John returned to Scotland in October.

Edward appealed to John in December 1307 to join him in resisting the revolting Robert de Brus, however, John abandoned his earldom of Lennox, joining Brus’s side. King Robert I of Scotland, rewarded John with large grants in Knapdale and Kintyre. In March 1308, John was among the Scottish magnates who wrote to the King Philip IV of France on behalf of the nation and in 1309, he was sent with Sir Nigel Campbell to treat with Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, receiving a safe-conduct on 21 August, from King Edward II of England. John’s English lands were forfeited for his treason. In 1316 he was commissioned with Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray to treat on behalf of Robert Brus for a truce with the English. John remained closely attached to the royal court, as is shown by the numerous charters he attested and was at the Arbroath parliament in April 1320, and signed the Declaration of Arbroath sent by the barons of Scotland to Pope John XXII.

John was one of the negotiators of the thirteen years’ truce between Bruce and the English, signed on 30 May 1323 and was present at a Scottish council at Berwick in June. The last recorded grants to him are in 1329, during the minority of King David II of Scotland.

Thank you for Sharing me.

Kings-Queens of Scotland-Robert the bruce

Robert I (11 July 1274 – 7 June 1329), popularly known as Robert the Bruce (Medieval Gaelic: Roibert a Briuis; modern Scottish Gaelic: Raibeart Brus; Norman French: Robert de Brus or Robert de Bruys; Early Scots: Robert Brus; Latin: Robertus Brussius), was King of Scotland from 1306 until his death in 1329. Robert was one of the most famous warriors of his generation and eventually led Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence against England. He fought successfully during his reign to regain Scotland’s place as an independent country and is today revered in Scotland as a national hero.

architectural photography of brown and gray castle
Photo by Miquel Rosselló Calafell on Pexels.com

His paternal fourth great-grandfather was King David I. Robert’s grandfather, Robert de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandale, was one of the claimants to the Scottish throne during the “Great Cause”. As Earl of Carrick, Robert the Bruce supported his family’s claim to the Scottish throne and took part in William Wallace’s revolt against Edward I of England. Appointed in 1298 as a Guardian of Scotland alongside his chief rival for the throne, John III Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, and William Lamberton, Bishop of St Andrews, Robert later resigned in 1300 due to his quarrels with Comyn and the apparently imminent restoration of John Balliol to the Scottish throne. After submitting to Edward I in 1302 and returning to “the king’s peace”, Robert inherited his family’s claim to the Scottish throne upon his father’s death.

In February 1306, Bruce, having wounded Comyn, rushed from the church where they had met and encountered his attendants outside. He told them what had happened and said, “I must be off, for I doubt I have slain the Red Comyn.” “Doubt?”, Roger de Kirkpatrick of Closeburn answered. “I mak sikker,” (“I’ll make sure,” or “I make sure”). Kirkpatrick then rushed into the church and killed Comyn. For this, Bruce was then excommunicated by the Pope (although he received absolution from Robert Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow). Bruce moved quickly to seize the throne, and was crowned king of Scots on 25 March 1306. Edward I’s forces defeated Robert in battle, forcing him to flee into hiding before re-emerging in 1307 to defeat an English army at Loudoun Hill and wage a highly successful guerrilla war against the English. Bruce defeated his other Scots enemies, destroying their strongholds and devastating their lands, and in 1309 held his first parliament. A series of military victories between 1310 and 1314 won him control of much of Scotland, and at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, Robert defeated a much larger English army under Edward II of England, confirming the re-establishment of an independent Scottish kingdom. The battle marked a significant turning point, with Robert’s armies now free to launch devastating raids throughout northern England, while also extending his war against the English to Ireland by sending an army to invade there and by appealing to the Irish to rise against Edward II’s rule.

Despite Bannockburn and the capture of the final English stronghold at Berwick in 1318, Edward II refused to renounce his claim to the overlordship of Scotland. In 1320, the Scottish nobility submitted the Declaration of Arbroath to Pope John XXII, declaring Robert as their rightful monarch and asserting Scotland’s status as an independent kingdom. In 1324, the Pope recognised Robert I as king of an independent Scotland, and in 1326, the Franco-Scottish alliance was renewed in the Treaty of Corbeil. In 1327, the English deposed Edward II in favour of his son, Edward III, and peace was concluded between Scotland and England with the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton in 1328, by which Edward III renounced all claims to sovereignty over Scotland.

Robert died in June 1329. His body is buried in Dunfermline Abbey, while his heart was interred in Melrose Abbey and his internal organs embalmed and placed in St Serf’s Chapel, Dumbarton, site of the medieval Cardross Parish church.


Robert de Brus, 1st Lord of Annandale, the first of the Bruce (de Brus) line, arrived in Scotland with David I in 1124 and was given the lands of Annandale in Dumfries and Galloway. Several members of the Bruce family were called Robert, the future king was one of ten children, and the eldest son, of Robert de Brus, 6th Lord of Annandale, and Marjorie, Countess of Carrick, and claimed the Scottish throne as a fourth great-grandson of David I. His mother was by all accounts a formidable woman who, legend would have it, kept Robert Bruce’s father captive until he agreed to marry her. From his mother, he inherited the Earldom of Carrick, and through his father, a royal lineage that would give him a claim to the Scottish throne. The Bruces also held substantial estates in Aberdeenshire, County Antrim, County Durham, Essex, Middlesex and Yorkshire.

Birth and Early life (1274–1292)

Although Robert the Bruce’s date of birth is known,  his place of birth is less certain, although it is most likely to have been Turnberry Castle in Ayrshire, the head of his mother’s earldom.  However, there are claims that he may have been born in Lochmaben in Dumfriesshire, or Writtle in Essex.

Very little is known of his youth. He was probably brought up in a mixture of the Anglo-Norman culture of northern England and south-eastern Scotland, and the Gaelic culture of south-west Scotland and most of Scotland north of the River Forth. Annandale was thoroughly feudalised and the form of Northern Middle English that would later develop into the Scots language was spoken throughout the region. Carrick was historically an integral part of Galloway, and though the earls of Carrick had achieved some feudalisation, the society of Carrick at the end of the thirteenth century remained emphatically Celtic and Gaelic speaking.

Robert the Bruce would most probably have become trilingual at an early age. He would have been schooled to speak, read and possibly write in the Anglo-Norman language of his Scots-Norman peers and his father’s family. He would also have spoken both the Gaelic language of his Carrick birthplace and his mother’s family and the early Scots language.  As the heir to a considerable estate and a pious layman, Robert would also have been given working knowledge of Latin, the language of charter lordship, liturgy and prayer. This would have afforded Robert and his brothers access to basic education in the law, politics, scripture, saints’ Lives (vitae), philosophy, history and chivalric instruction and romance. Robert took personal pleasure in such learning and leisure is suggested in a number of ways. Barbour reported that Robert read aloud to his band of supporters in 1306, reciting from memory tales from a twelfth-century romance of Charlemagne, Fierabras, as well as relating examples from history such as Hannibal’s defiance of Rome.

As king, Robert certainly commissioned verse to commemorate Bannockburn and his subjects’ military deeds. Contemporary chroniclers Jean Le Bel and Thomas Grey would both assert that they had read a history of his reign ‘commissioned by King Robert himself.’ In his last years, Robert would pay for Dominican friars to tutor his son, David, for whom he would also purchase books.  A parliamentary briefing document of c.1364 would also assert that Robert ‘used continually to read, or have read in his presence, the histories of ancient kings and princes, and how they conducted themselves in their times, both in wartime and in peacetime; from these, he derived information about aspects of his own rule.’

Tutors for the young Robert and his brothers were most likely drawn from unbeneficed clergy or mendicant friars associated with the churches patronised by their family. However, as growing noble youths, outdoor pursuits and great events would also have held a strong fascination for Robert and his brothers. They would have had masters drawn from their parents’ household to school them in the arts of horsemanship, swordsmanship, the joust, hunting and perhaps aspects of courtly behaviour, including dress, protocol, speech, table etiquette, music and dance, some of which may have been learned before the age of ten while serving as pages in their father’s or grandfather’s household. As many of these personal and leadership skills were bound up within a code of chivalry, Robert’s chief tutor was surely a reputable, experienced knight, drawn from his grandfather’s crusade retinue. This grandfather, known to contemporaries as Robert the Noble, and to history as “Bruce the Competitor”, seems to have been an immense influence on the future king. Robert’s later performance in war certainly underlines his skills in tactics and single combat.

The family would have moved between the castles of their lordships—Lochmaben Castle, the main castle of the lordship of Annandale, and Turnberry and Loch Doon Castle, the castles of the earldom of Carrick. A significant and profound part of the childhood experience of Robert, Edward and possibly the other Bruce brothers (Neil, Thomas and Alexander), was also gained through the Gaelic tradition of being fostered to allied Gaelic kindreds—a traditional practice in Carrick, south-west and western Scotland, the Hebrides and Ireland. There were a number of Carrick, Ayrshire, Hebridean and Irish families and kindreds affiliated with the Bruces who might have performed such a service (Robert’s foster-brother is referred to by Barbour as sharing Robert’s precarious existence as an outlaw in Carrick in 1307–08). This Gaelic influence has been cited as a possible explanation for Robert the Bruce’s apparent affinity for “hobelar” warfare, using smaller sturdy ponies in mounted raids, as well as for sea-power, ranging from oared war-galleys (“birlinns”) to boats.

According to historians such as Barrow and Penman, it is also likely that when Robert and Edward Bruce reached the male age of consent of twelve and began training for full knighthood, they were sent to reside for a period with one or more allied English noble families, such as the de Clares of Gloucester, or perhaps even in the English royal household.  Sir Thomas Grey asserted in his Scalacronica that in about 1292, Robert the Bruce, then aged eighteen, was a “young bachelor of King Edward’s Chamber”.While there remains little firm evidence of Robert’s presence at Edward’s court, on 8 April 1296, both Robert and his father were pursued through the English Chancery for their private household debts of £60 by several merchants of Winchester. This raises the possibility that young Robert the Bruce was on occasion resident in a royal centre which Edward I himself would visit frequently during his reign.

Robert’s first appearance in history is on a witness list of a charter issued by Alexander Og MacDonald, Lord of Islay. His name appears in the company of the Bishop of Argyll, the vicar of Arran, a Kintyre clerk, his father, and a host of Gaelic notaries from Carrick. Robert Bruce, the king to be, was sixteen years of age when Margaret, Maid of Norway died in 1290. It is also around this time that Robert would have been knighted, and he began to appear on the political stage in the Bruce dynastic interest.

The “Great Cause”

Robert’s mother died early in 1292. In November of the same year, Edward I of England, on behalf of the Guardians of Scotland and following the Great Cause, awarded the vacant Crown of Scotland to his grandfather’s first cousin once removed, John Balliol. Almost immediately, Robert de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandale, resigned his lordship of Annandale and transferred his claim to the Scottish throne to his son, antedating this statement to 7 November. In turn, that son, Robert de Brus, 6th Lord of Annandale, resigned his earldom of Carrick to his eldest son, Robert, the future king, so as to protect the Bruce’s kingship claim while their middle lord (Robert the Bruce’s father) now held only English lands. While the Bruces’ bid for the throne had ended in failure, the Balliols’ triumph propelled the eighteen-year-old Robert the Bruce onto the political stage in his own right.

Earl of Carrick (1292–1306)

The Bruces regroup

Even after John’s accession, Edward still continued to assert his authority over Scotland and relations between the two kings soon began to deteriorate. The Bruces sided with King Edward against King John and his Comyn allies. Robert the Bruce and his father both considered John a usurper.  Against the objections of the Scots, Edward I agreed to hear appeals on cases ruled on by the court of the Guardians that had governed Scotland during the interregnum.[26] A further provocation came in a case brought by Macduff, son of Malcolm, Earl of Fife, in which Edward demanded that John appears in person before the English Parliament to answer the charges. This the Scottish king did, but the final straw was Edward’s demand that the Scottish magnates provide military service in England’s war against France. This was unacceptable; the Scots instead formed an alliance with France.

The Comyn-dominated council acting in the name of King John summoned the Scottish host to meet at Caddonlee on 11 March. The Bruces and the earls of Angus and March refused, and the Bruce family withdrew temporarily from Scotland, while the Comyns seized their estates in Annandale and Carrick, granting them to John Comyn, Earl of Buchan. Edward I thereupon provided a safe refuge for the Bruces, having appointed the Lord of Annandale to the command of Carlisle Castle in October 1295. At some point in early 1296, Robert married his first wife, Isabella of Mar, the daughter of Domhnall I, Earl of Mar and his wife Helen.

Beginning of the Wars of Independence.

Almost the first blow in the war between Scotland and England was a direct attack on the Bruces. On 26 March 1296, Easter Monday, seven Scottish earls made a surprise attack on the walled city of Carlisle, which was not so much an attack against England as the Comyn Earl of Buchan and their faction attacking their Bruce enemies. Both his father and grandfather were at one time Governors of the Castle, and following the loss of Annandale to Comyn in 1295, it was their principal residence. Robert Bruce would have gained first-hand knowledge of the city’s defences. The next time Carlisle was besieged, in 1315, Robert the Bruce would be leading the attack.

Edward, I responded to King John’s alliance with France and the attack on Carlisle by invading Scotland at the end of March 1296 and taking the town of Berwick in a particularly bloody attack upon the flimsy palisades. At the Battle of Dunbar, Scottish resistance was effectively crushed. Edward deposed King John, placed him in the Tower of London, and installed Englishmen to govern the country. The campaign had been very successful, but the English triumph would only be temporary.

Although the Bruces were by now back in possession of Annandale and Carrick, in August 1296 Robert Bruce, Lord of Annandale, and his son, Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick and future king, were among the more than 1,500 Scots at Berwick who swore an oath of fealty to King Edward I of England. When the Scottish revolt against Edward I broke out in July 1297, James Stewart, 5th High Steward of Scotland, led into rebellion a group of disaffected Scots, including Robert Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow, Macduff of Fife, and the young Robert Bruce.  The future king was now twenty-two, and in joining the rebels he seems to have been acting independently of his father, who took no part in the rebellion and appears to have abandoned Annandale once more for the safety of Carlisle. It appears that Robert Bruce had fallen under the influence of his grandfather’s friends, Wishart and Stewart, who had inspired him to resistance. With the outbreak of the revolt, Robert left Carlisle and made his way to Annandale, where he called together the knights of his ancestral lands and, according to the English chronicler Walter of Guisborough, addressed them thus:

No man holds his own flesh and blood in hatred and I am no exception. I must join my own people and the nation in which I was born. I ask that you please come with me and you will be my councillors and close comrades”

Urgent letters were sent ordering Bruce to support Edward’s commander, John de Warenne, 6th Earl of Surrey (to whom Bruce was related), in the summer of 1297; but instead of complying, Bruce continued to support the revolt against Edward I. That Bruce was in the forefront of inciting rebellion is shown in a letter written to Edward by Hugh Cressingham on 23 July 1292, which reports the opinion that “if you had the earl of Carrick, the Steward of Scotland and his brother…you would think your business done”. On 7 July, Bruce and his friends made terms with Edward by a treaty called the Capitulation of Irvine. The Scottish lords were not to serve beyond the sea against their will and were pardoned for their recent violence in return for swearing allegiance to King Edward. The Bishop of Glasgow, James the Steward, and Sir Alexander Lindsay became sureties for Bruce until he delivered his infant daughter Marjorie as a hostage, which he never did.

When King Edward returned to England after his victory at the Battle of Falkirk, the Bruce’s possessions were excepted from the Lordships and lands that Edward assigned to his followers. The reason for this is uncertain, though Fordun records Robert fighting for Edward, at Falkirk, under the command of Antony Bek, Bishop of Durham, Annandale and Carrick. This participation is contested as no Bruce appears on the Falkirk roll of nobles present in the English army, and two 19th Century antiquarians, Alexander Murison and George Chalmers, have stated Bruce did not participate and in the following month decided to lay waste Annandale and burn Ayr Castle, to prevent it being garrisoned by the English.


William Wallace resigned as Guardian of Scotland after his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk. He was succeeded by Robert Bruce and John Comyn as joint Guardians, but they could not see past their personal differences. As a nephew and supporter of King John, and as someone with a serious claim to the Scottish throne, Comyn was Bruce’s enemy. In 1299, William Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews, was appointed as a third, neutral Guardian to try to maintain order between Bruce and Comyn. The following year, Bruce finally resigned as joint Guardian and was replaced by Sir Gilbert de Umfraville, Earl of Angus. In May 1301, Umfraville, Comyn, and Lamberton also resigned as joint Guardians and were replaced by Sir John de Soules as sole Guardian. Soules was appointed largely because he was part of neither the Bruce nor the Comyn camps and was a patriot. He was an active Guardian and made renewed efforts to have King John returned to the Scottish throne.

In July 1301 King Edward I launched his sixth campaign into Scotland. Though he captured the castles of Bothwell and Turnberry, he did little to damage the Scots’ fighting ability, and in January 1302 he agreed to a nine-month truce. It was around this time that Robert the Bruce submitted to Edward, along with other nobles, even though he had been on the side of the Scots until then. There were rumours that John Balliol would return to regain the Scottish throne. Soules, who had probably been appointed by John, supported his return, as did most other nobles. But it was no more than a rumour and nothing came of it.

In March 1302, Bruce sent a letter to the monks at Melrose Abbey apologising for having called tenants of the monks to service in his army when there had been no national call-up. Bruce pledged that, henceforth, he would “never again” require the monks to serve unless it was to “the common army of the whole realm”, for national defence. Bruce also married his second wife that year, Elizabeth de Burgh, the daughter of Richard de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster. By Elizabeth he had four children: David II, John (died in childhood), Matilda (who married Thomas Isaac and died at Aberdeen 20 July 1353), and Margaret (who married William de Moravia, 5th Earl of Sutherland in 1345).

In 1303, Edward invaded again, reaching Edinburgh before marching to Perth. Edward stayed in Perth until July, then proceeded via Dundee, Brechin, and Montrose to Aberdeen, where he arrived in August. From there he marched through Moray to Badenoch before re-tracing his path back south to Dunfermline. With the country now under submission, all the leading Scots, except for William Wallace, surrendered to Edward in February 1304. John Comyn, who was by now Guardian again, submitted to Edward. The laws and liberties of Scotland were to be as they had been in the days of Alexander III, and any that needed alteration would be with the assent of King Edward and the advice of the Scots nobles.

On 11 June 1304, Bruce and William Lamberton made a pact that bound them, each to the other, in “friendship and alliance against all men.” If one should break the secret pact, he would forfeit to the other the sum of ten thousand pounds. The pact is often interpreted[by whom?] as a sign of their patriotism despite both having already surrendered to the English. Homage was again obtained from the nobles and the burghs, and a parliament was held to elect those who would meet later in the year with the English parliament to establish rules for the governance of Scotland. The Earl of Richmond, Edward’s nephew, was to head up the subordinate government of Scotland. While all this took place, William Wallace was finally captured near Glasgow, and he was hanged, drawn, and quartered in London on 23 August 1305.

In September 1305, Edward ordered Robert Bruce to put his castle at Kildrummy, “in the keeping of such a man as he himself will be willing to answer for,” suggesting that King Edward suspected Robert was not entirely trustworthy and may have been plotting behind his back. However, an identical phrase appears in an agreement between Edward and his lieutenant and lifelong friend, Aymer de Valence. A further sign of Edward’s distrust occurred on 10 October 1305, when Edward revoked his gift of Sir Gilbert de Umfraville’s lands to Bruce that he had made only six months before.

Robert Bruce as Earl of Carrick, and now 7th Lord of Annandale, held huge estates and property in Scotland and a barony and some minor properties in England, and a strong claim to the Scottish throne.

Murder of John Comyn

Bruce, like all his family, had a complete belief in his right to the throne. His ambition was further thwarted by John Comyn, who supported John Balliol. Comyn was the most powerful noble in Scotland and was related to many more powerful nobles both within Scotland and England, including relatives that held the earldoms of Buchan, Mar, Ross, Fife, Angus, Dunbar, and Strathearn; the Lordships of Kilbride, Kirkintilloch, Lenzie, Bedrule, and Scraesburgh; and sheriffdoms in Banff, Dingwall, Wigtown, and Aberdeen. He also had a powerful claim to the Scottish throne through his descent from Donald III on his father’s side and David I on his mother’s side. Comyn was the nephew of John Balliol.

According to Barbour and Fordoun, in the late summer of 1305, in a secret agreement sworn, signed, and sealed, John Comyn agreed to forfeit his claim to the Scottish throne in favour of Robert Bruce upon receipt of the Bruce lands in Scotland should an uprising occur led by Bruce.[41] Whether the details of the agreement with Comyn are correct or not, King Edward moved to arrest Bruce while Bruce was still at the English court. Ralph de Monthermer learned of Edward’s intention and warned Bruce by sending him twelve pence and a pair of spurs. Bruce took the hint, and he and a squire fled the English court during the night. They made their way quickly for Scotland.

According to Barbour, Comyn betrayed his agreement with Bruce to King Edward I, and when Bruce arranged a meeting for 10 February 1306 with Comyn in the Chapel of Greyfriars Monastery in Dumfries and accused him of treachery, they came to blows. Bruce stabbed Comyn before the high altar. The Scotichronicon says that on being told that Comyn had survived the attack and was being treated, two of Bruce’s supporters, Roger de Kirkpatrick (uttering the words “I mak siccar” (“I make sure”)) and John Lindsay, went back into the church and finished Bruce’s work. Barbour, however, tells no such story. The Flores Historiarum which was written c. 1307 says Bruce and Comyn disagreed and Bruce drew his sword and struck Comyn over the head. Bruce supporters then ran up and stabbed Comyn with their swords. Bruce asserted his claim to the Scottish crown and began his campaign by force for the independence of Scotland.

Bruce and his party then attacked Dumfries Castle where the English garrison surrendered. Bruce hurried from Dumfries to Glasgow, where his friend and supporter Bishop Robert Wishart granted him absolution and subsequently adjured the clergy throughout the land to rally to Bruce. Nonetheless, Bruce was excommunicated for this crime.

English records still in existence today tell a completely different story. They state that the Comyn murder was planned in an attempt to gain the throne of Scotland. For this reason, King Edward of England wrote to the Pope and asked for his ex-communication of Robert Bruce. No records have ever been found in England stating that King Edward had any knowledge of treachery by Robert Bruce before his acts against Comyn. They state that King Edward did not hear of the murder of John Comyn until several days after his death.

Early reign (1306–1314)

Six weeks after Comyn was killed in Dumfries, Bruce was crowned King of Scots by Bishop William de Lamberton at Scone, near Perth, on Palm Sunday  25 March 1306 with all formality and solemnity. The royal robes and vestments that Robert Wishart had hidden from the English were brought out by the bishop and set upon King Robert. The bishops of Moray and Glasgow were in attendance, as were the earls of Atholl, Menteith, Lennox, and Mar. The great banner of the kings of Scotland was planted behind Bruce’s throne.

Isabella MacDuff, Countess of Buchan and wife of John Comyn, 3rd Earl of Buchan (a cousin of the murdered John Comyn) arrived the next day, too late for the coronation. She claimed the right of her family, the MacDuff Earl of Fife, to crown the Scottish king for her brother, Donnchadh IV, Earl of Fife, who was not yet of age, and in English hands. So a second coronation was held and once more the crown was placed on the brow of Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, Lord of Annandale, King of the Scots.

In June 1306 Bruce was defeated at the Battle of Methven. His wife and daughters and other women of the party were sent to Kildrummy in August 1306 under the protection of Bruce’s brother, Neil Bruce, and the Earl of Atholl and most of his remaining men. Bruce fled with a small following of his most faithful men, including Sir James Douglas and Gilbert Hay, Bruce’s brothers Thomas, Alexander, and Edward, as well as Sir Neil Campbell and the Earl of Lennox.

A strong force under Edward, Prince of Wales, captured Kildrummy Castle on 13 September taking prisoner the King’s youngest brother, Nigel de Bruce, as well as Robert Boyd and Alexander Lindsay, and Sir Simon Fraser. Boyd managed to escape but both Nigel de Bruce and Lindsay were executed shortly after at Berwick following King Edward’s orders to execute all followers of Robert de Bruce. Fraser was taken to London to suffer the same fate. Shortly before the fall of Kildrummy Castle, the Earl of Athol made a desperate attempt to take Queen Elizabeth de Burgh, Margery de Bruce, as well as King Robert’s sisters and Isabella of Fife. They were betrayed a few days later and also fell into English hands, Atholl to be executed in London and the women to be held under the harshest possible circumstances. Edward, I marched north again in the spring. On his way, he granted the Scottish estates of Bruce and his adherents to his own followers and had published a bill excommunicating Bruce.

On 7 July 1307, King Edward I died, leaving Bruce opposed by the king’s son, Edward II.

Bruce reading stories to his followers; from a 19th-century Scottish history book

It is still uncertain where Bruce spent the winter of 1306–07. Most likely he spent it in the Hebrides, possibly sheltered by Christina of the Isles. The latter was married to a member of the Mar kindred, a family to which Bruce was related (not only was his first wife a member of this family but her brother, Gartnait, was married to a sister of Bruce). Ireland is also a serious possibility, and Orkney (under Norwegian rule at the time) or Norway proper (where his sister Isabel Bruce was queen dowager) are unlikely but not impossible. Bruce and his followers returned to the Scottish mainland in February in two groups. One, led by Bruce and his brother Edward, landed at Turnberry Castle and began a guerrilla war in south-west Scotland. The other, led by his brothers Thomas and Alexander, landed slightly further south in Loch Ryan, but they were soon captured and executed. In April, Bruce won a small victory over the English at the Battle of Glen Trool, before defeating Aymer de Valence, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, at the Battle of Loudoun Hill. At the same time, James Douglas made his first foray for Bruce into south-western Scotland, attacking and burning his own castle in Douglasdale. Leaving his brother Edward in command in Galloway, Bruce travelled north, capturing Inverlochy and Urquhart Castles, burning to the ground Inverness Castle and Nairn, then unsuccessfully threatening Elgin.

Transferring operations to Aberdeenshire in late 1307, he threatened Banff before falling seriously ill, probably owing to the hardships of the lengthy campaign. Recovering, leaving John Comyn, 3rd Earl of Buchan unsubdued at his rear, Bruce returned west to take Balvenie and Duffus Castles, then Tarradale Castle on the Black Isle. Looping back via the hinterlands of Inverness and a second failed attempt to take Elgin, Bruce finally achieved his landmark defeat of Comyn at the Battle of Inverurie in May 1308; he then overran Buchan and defeated the English garrison at Aberdeen. The Harrying of Buchan in 1308 was ordered by Bruce to make sure all Comyn family support was extinguished. Buchan had a very large population because it was the agricultural capital of northern Scotland, and much of its population was loyal to the Comyn family even after the defeat of the Earl of Buchan. Most of the Comyn castles in Moray, Aberdeen and Buchan were destroyed and their inhabitants killed. In less than a year Bruce had swept through the north and destroyed the power of the Comyns who had held vice-regal power in the north for nearly one hundred years. How this dramatic success was achieved, especially the taking of northern castles so quickly, is difficult to understand. Bruce lacked siege weapons and it’s unlikely his army had substantially greater numbers or was better armed than his opponents. The morale and leadership of the Comyns and their northern allies appeared to be inexplicably lacking in the face of their direst challenge. He then crossed to Argyll and defeated the isolated MacDougalls (allies of the Comyns) at the Battle of Pass of Brander and took Dunstaffnage Castle, the last major stronghold of the Comyns and their allies. Bruce then ordered harryings in Argyle and Kintyre, in the territories of Clan MacDougall

In March 1309, Bruce held his first parliament at St. Andrews and by August he controlled all of Scotland north of the River Tay. The following year, the clergy of Scotland recognised Bruce as king at a general council. The support given him by the church, in spite of his ex-communication, was of great political importance. On 1 October 1310 Bruce wrote Edward II of England from Kildrum in Cumbernauld Parish in an unsuccessful attempt to establish peace between Scotland and England. Over the next three years, one English-held castle or outpost after another was captured and reduced: Linlithgow in 1310, Dumbarton in 1311, and Perth, by Bruce himself, in January 1312. Bruce also made raids into northern England and, landing at Ramsey in the Isle of Man, laid siege to Castle Rushen in Castletown, capturing it on 21 June 1313 and denying the English the island’s strategic importance.

The eight years of exhausting but deliberate refusal to meet the English on even ground have caused many to consider Bruce one of the great guerrilla leaders of any age. This represented a transformation for one raised as a feudal knight.

Main article: Battle of Bannockburn

By 1314, Bruce had recaptured most of the castles in Scotland held by the English and was sending raiding parties into northern England as far as Carlisle.[54] In response, Edward II planned a major military campaign with the support of Lancaster and the barons, mustering a large army of between 15,000 and 20,000 men. In the spring of 1314, Edward Bruce laid siege to Stirling Castle, a key fortification in Scotland whose governor, Philip de Mowbray, agreed to surrender if not relieved before 24 June 1314. In March, James Douglas captured Roxburgh, and Randolph captured Edinburgh Castle, while in May, Bruce again raided England and subdued the Isle of Man. News of the agreement regarding Stirling Castle reached the English king in late May, and he decided to speed his march north from Berwick to relieve the castle. Robert, with between 5,500 and 6,500 troops, predominantly spearmen, prepared to prevent Edward’s forces from reaching Stirling.

The battle began on 23 June as the English army attempted to force its way across the high ground of the Bannock Burn, which was surrounded by marshland. Skirmishing between the two sides broke out, resulting in the death of Sir Henry de Bohun, whom Robert killed in personal combat. Edward continued his advance the following day and encountered the bulk of the Scottish army as they emerged from the woods of New Park. The English appear not to have expected the Scots to give battle here, and as a result had kept their forces in marching, rather than battle, order, with the archers − who would usually have been used to break up enemy spear formations − at the back, rather than the front, of the army. The English cavalry found it hard to operate in the cramped terrain and were crushed by Robert’s spearmen.  The English army was overwhelmed and its leaders were unable to regain control.

Edward II was dragged from the battlefield, hotly pursued by the Scottish forces, and only just escaped the heavy fighting. The historian Roy Haines describes the defeat as a “calamity of stunning proportions” for the English, whose losses were huge.  In the aftermath of the defeat, Edward retreated to Dunbar, then travelled by ship to Berwick, and then back to York; in his absence, Stirling Castle quickly fell.

Mid-reign (1314–1320)

Bruce addresses his troops, from Cassell’s History of England.

Further confrontation with England then the Irish conflict.

Main article: Bruce campaign in Ireland

Freed from English threats, Scotland’s armies could now invade northern England. Bruce also drove back a subsequent English expedition north of the border and launched raids into Yorkshire and Lancashire. Buoyed by his military successes, Bruce’s forces also invaded Ireland in 1315, in an attempt to free the country from English rule (having received a reply to offers of assistance from Domhnall Ó Néill, king of Tír Eoghain), and to open a second front in the continuing wars with England. Bruce was even crowned as High King of Ireland in 1316. Robert later went there with another army to assist his brother.

In conjunction with the invasion, Bruce popularised an ideological vision of a “Pan-Gaelic Greater Scotia” with his lineage ruling over both Ireland and Scotland. This propaganda campaign was aided by two factors. The first was his marriage alliance from 1302 with the de Burgh family of the Earldom of Ulster in Ireland; second, Bruce himself, on his mother’s side of Carrick, was descended from Gaelic royalty in Scotland as well as Ireland. Bruce’s Irish ancestors included Aoife of Leinster (d.1188), whose ancestors included Brian Boru of Munster and the kings of Leinster. Thus, lineally and geopolitically, Bruce attempted to support his anticipated notion of a pan-Gaelic alliance between Scottish-Irish Gaelic populations, under his kingship. This is revealed by a letter he sent to the Irish chiefs, where he calls the Scots and Irish collectively nostra nacio (our nation), stressing the common language, customs and heritage of the two peoples:

Whereas we and you and our people and your people, free since ancient times, share the same national ancestry and are urged to come together more eagerly and joyfully in friendship by a common language and by common custom, we have sent you ou beloved kinsman, the bearers of this letter, to negotiate with you in our name about permanently strengthening and maintaining inviolate the special friendship between us and you, so that with God’s will our nation (nostra nacio) may be able to recover her ancient liberty.

The diplomacy worked to a certain extent, at least in Ulster, where the Scots had some support. The Irish chief, Domhnall Ó Néill, for instance, later justified his support for the Scots to Pope John XXII by saying “the Kings of Lesser Scotia all trace their blood to our Greater Scotia and retain to some degree our language and customs.”

The Bruce campaign in Ireland was characterised by some initial military success. However, the Scots failed to win over the non-Ulster chiefs or to make any other significant gains in the south of the island, where people couldn’t see the difference between English and Scottish occupation. Eventually it was defeated when Edward Bruce was killed at the Battle of Faughart. The Irish Annals of the period described the defeat of the Bruces by the English as one of the greatest things ever done for the Irish nation due to the fact it brought an end to the famine and pillaging wrought upon the Irish by both the Scots and the English.

Later reign (1320–1329)

The reign of Robert Bruce also included some significant diplomatic achievements. The Declaration of Arbroath of 1320 strengthened his position, particularly in relation to the Papacy, and Pope John XXII eventually lifted Bruce’s ex-communication. In May 1328 King Edward III of England signed the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, which recognised Scotland as an independent kingdom, and Bruce as its king.

In 1325 Robert I exchanged lands at Cardross for those of Old Montrose in Angus with Sir David Graham. It was to be here that Robert would build the manor house that would serve as his favoured residence during the final years of his reign. The extant chamberlain’s accounts for 1328 detail a manor house at Cardross with king’s and queen’s chambers and glazed windows, a chapel, kitchens, bake- and brew-houses, falcon aviary, medicinal garden, gatehouse, protective moat and a hunting park. There was also a jetty and beaching area for the ‘king’s coble’ (for fishing) alongside the ‘king’s great ship’.

As most of mainland Scotland’s major royal castles had remained in their razed state since around 1313–14, Cardross manor was perhaps built as a modest residence sympathetic to Robert’s subjects’ privations through a long war, repeated famines and livestock pandemics. Before Cardross became habitable in 1327, Robert’s main residence had been Scone Abbey.

Robert had been suffering from a serious illness from at least 1327. The Lanercost Chronicle and Scalacronica state that the king was said to have contracted and died of leprosy. Jean Le Bel also stated that in 1327 the king was a victim of ‘la grosse maladie’, which is usually taken to mean leprosy. However, the ignorant use of the term ‘leprosy’ by fourteenth-century writers meant that almost any major skin disease might be called leprosy. The earliest mention of this illness is to be found in an original letter written by an eye-witness in Ulster at the time the king made a truce with Sir Henry Mandeville on 12 July 1327. The writer of this letter reported that Robert was so feeble and struck down by illness that he would not live, ‘for he can scarcely move anything but his tongue’.  Barbour writes of the king’s illness that ‘it began through a benumbing brought on by his cold lying’, during the months of wandering from 1306 to 1309. It has been proposed that, alternatively, he may have suffered from eczema, tuberculosis, syphilis, motor neurone disease, cancer or a series of strokes. There does not seem to be any evidence as to what the king himself or his physicians believed his illness to be. Nor is there any evidence of an attempt in his last years to segregate the king in any way from the company of friends, family, courtiers, or foreign diplomats.

In October 1328 the Pope finally lifted the interdict from Scotland and the ex-communication of Robert. The king’s last journey appears to have been a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Ninian at Whithorn; this was possibly in search of a miraculous cure, or to make his peace with God. With Moray by his side, Robert set off from his manor at Cardross for Tarbert on his ‘great ship’, thence to the Isle of Arran, where he celebrated Christmas of 1328 at the hall of Glenkill near Lamlash. Thence he sailed to the mainland to visit his son and his bride, both mere children, now installed at Turnberry Castle, the head of the earldom of Carrick and once his own main residence. He journeyed overland, being carried on a litter, to Inch in Wigtownshire: houses were built there and supplies brought to that place, as though the king’s condition had deteriorated. At the end of March 1329, he was staying at Glenluce Abbey and at Monreith, from where St Ninian’s cave was visited. Early in April, he arrived at the shrine of St Ninian at Whithorn. He fasted four or five days and prayed to the saint, before returning by sea to Cardross.

Barbour and other sources relate that Robert summoned his prelates and barons to his bedside for a final council at which he made copious gifts to religious houses, dispensed silver to religious foundations of various orders, so that they might pray for his soul, and repented of his failure to fulfil a vow to undertake a crusade to fight the ‘Saracens’ in the Holy Land. Robert’s final wish reflected conventional piety and was perhaps intended to perpetuate his memory. After his death his heart was to be removed from his body and, accompanied by a company of knights led by Sir James Douglas, taken on a pilgrimage to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, before being interred in Melrose Abbey upon its return from the Holy Land:

“I will that as soone as I am trespassed out of this worlde that ye take my harte owte of my body, and embawme it, and take of my treasoure as ye shall thynke sufficient for that enterprise, both for your selfe and suche company as ye wyll take with you, and present my hart to the holy Sepulchre whereas our Lorde laye, seyng my body can nat come there”.

Robert also arranged for perpetual soul masses to be funded at the chapel of Saint Serf, at Ayr and at the Dominican friary in Berwick, as well as at Dunfermline Abbey.

Death (1329)

Death and aftermath

King Robert, I is buried in Dunfermline Abbey

Robert died on 7 June 1329, at the Manor of Cardross, near Dumbarton. Apart from failing to fulfil a vow to undertake a crusade he died utterly fulfilled, in that the goal of his lifetime’s struggle—untrammelled recognition of the Bruce right to the crown—had been realised, and confident that he was leaving the kingdom of Scotland safely in the hands of his most trusted lieutenant, Moray until his infant son reached adulthood. Six days after his death, to complete his triumph still further, papal bulls were issued granting the privilege of unction at the coronation of future Kings of Scots.

It remains unclear just what caused the death of Robert, a month before his fifty-fifth birthday. Contemporary accusations that Robert suffered from leprosy, the “unclean sickness”—the present-day, treatable Hansen’s disease—derived from English and Hainault chroniclers. None of the Scottish accounts of his death hint at leprosy. Penman states that it is very difficult to accept the notion of Robert as a functioning king serving in the war, performing face-to-face acts of lordship, holding parliament and court, travelling widely and fathering several children, all while displaying the infectious symptoms of a leper. Along with suggestions of eczema, tuberculosis, syphilis, motor neurone disease, cancer or stroke, a diet of rich court food has also been suggested as a possible contributory factor in Robert’s death. His Milanese physician, Maino De Maineri, did criticise the king’s eating of eels as dangerous to his health in advancing years.

A team of researchers, headed by Professor Andrew Nelson from the University of Western Ontario have determined that Robert the Bruce did not have leprosy. They examined the original casting of the skull belonging to Robert the Bruce’s descendant Lord Andrew Douglas Alexander Thomas Bruce, and a foot bone that had not been re-interred. They determined that skull and foot bone showed no signs of leprosy, such as an eroded nasal spine and pencilling of the foot bone.


The king’s body was embalmed, and his sternum sawn open to allow extraction of the heart, which Sir James Douglas placed in a silver casket to be worn on a chain around his neck, with Sir Simon Locard holding the key. Robert’s viscera were interred in the chapel of Saint Serf (the ruins of which are located in the present-day Levengrove Park in Dumbarton), his regular place of worship and close to his manor house in the ancient Parish of Cardross The king’s body was carried east from Cardross by a carriage decked in black lawn cloth, with stops recorded at Dunipace and Cambuskenneth Abbey. The funeral was a grand affair, with 478 stone (3,040 kg) of wax having been purchased for the making of funerary candles. A file of mourners on foot, including Robert Stewart and a number of knights dressed in black gowns, accompanied the funeral party into Dunfermline Abbey. A canopy chapel or ‘hearse’ of imported Baltic wood was erected over the grave. Robert I’s body, in a wooden coffin, was then interred within a stone vault beneath the floor, underneath a box tomb of white Italian marble purchased in Paris by Thomas of Chartres after June 1328. A plinth of black fossiliferous limestone from Frosterley topped this structure, and atop this plinth was a white alabaster effigy of Robert I, painted and gilded. The following Latin epitaph was inscribed around the top of the tomb: Hic jacet invictus Robertus Rex benedictus qui sua gesta legit repetit quot bella peregit ad libertatem perduxit per probitatem regnum scottorum: nunc vivat in arce polorum (“Here lies the invincible blessed King Robert / Whoever reads about his feats will repeat the many battles he fought / By his integrity he guided to liberty the Kingdom of the Scots: May he now live in Heaven”). Ten alabaster fragments from the tomb are on display in the National Museum of Scotland and traces of gilding still remain on some of them. Robert had bequeathed sufficient funds to pay for thousands of obituary masses in Dunfermline Abbey and elsewhere, and his tomb would thus be the site of daily votive prayers

When a projected international crusade failed to materialise, Sir James Douglas and his company, escorting the casket containing Bruce’s heart, sailed to Spain where Alfonso XI of Castile was mounting a campaign against the Moorish kingdom of Granada. According to John Barbour, Douglas and his companions, including Sir William de Keith, Sir Kenneth Moir, Sir Simon Locard, Sir William de St. Clair and John de St. Clair of Rosslyn and the brother’s Sir Robert Logan of Restalrig and Sir Walter Logan, were welcomed cordially by King Alfonso. In August 1330 the Scots contingent formed part of the Castilian army besieging the frontier castle of Teba. Under circumstances which are still disputed, Sir James and most of his companions were killed. The sources all agree that outnumbered and separated from the main Christian army, a group of Scots knights led by Douglas was overwhelmed and wiped out. The surviving members including Sir Simon Locard of the company recovered Douglas’ body together with the casket containing Bruce’s heart. The heart, together with Douglas’ bones were brought back to Scotland.

In accordance with Bruce’s written request, the heart was buried at Melrose Abbey in Roxburghshire. In 1920, the heart was discovered by archaeologists and was reburied, but the location was not marked. In 1996, a casket was unearthed during construction work. A scientific study by AOC archaeologists in Edinburgh demonstrated that it did indeed contain human tissue and it was of appropriate age. It was reburied in Melrose Abbey in 1998, pursuant to the dying wishes of the King.

Thank you for Sharing me.

Famous Scots. Rona Anderson.

Rona Anderson (3 August 1926 – 23 July 2013) was a Scottish stage, film, and television actress. She appeared in TV series and on the stage and films throughout the 1950s. She appeared in the films Scrooge and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and on TV in Dr Finlay’s Casebook and Dixon of Dock Green.


Rona Anderson was born in Edinburgh to James and Evelyn (née Thomson) Anderson. She was educated in her home town and in briefly in Ottawa during the war. She trained for the stage at the Glover Turner-Robertson School in Edinburgh.

In 1951, she married fellow actor Gordon Jackson (OBE), with whom she had appeared in Floodtide (1949) and remained with him until his death from bone cancer on 15 January 1990. The couple had two sons, Graham and Roderick.

Stage work.

Anderson had an English accent despite being brought up in Scotland.  She made her first appearance on the stage at the Garrison Theatre in April 1945 in a production of Peg o’ My Heart. From 1945 through 1949, she played various parts with the Glasgow Citizens Theatre. At the 1950 Edinburgh Festival, Anderson played the role of Venus in a production of The Queen’s Comedy. She made her London debut in October 1951 at the Piccadilly Theatre. Anderson went on two tours in 1955. In March of that year, she toured as Sabrina in Sabrina Fair. In September 1955, she toured as Mary in All for Mary.

In October 1958, she played Mary Tufnell in Once a Rake at the Theatre Royal, Windsor. Anderson appeared in the premiere of Savages in 1973. She appeared at the Mermaid Theatre in their 1978 production of Whose Life Is It Anyway?, which transferred to the Savoy Theatre. In 1981, she played Frances Shand Kydd in the Ray Cooney comedy, Her Royal Highness at the Palace Theatre, London starring Marc Sinden.

Film career.

Rona Anderson posing with leading members of the NZ cricket team

Rona Anderson’s first major film was the drama Sleeping Car to Trieste (1948) directed by John Paddy Carstairs.  Anderson played the role of Alice (originally named “Belle” by Dickens) in Scrooge (1951), a film adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. She appeared alongside Lee Patterson in Man with a Gun (1958), directed by Montgomery Tully, while her last major film appearance was in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969). Following this film, she continued her work on the stage and in television series.

From 1953 through 1983, Anderson appeared in several British television programmes. She appeared in three episodes of The Human Jungle (1964–65) during its second season. Anderson played the role of Mary on the British sitcom Bachelor Father (1970–71). Anderson later appeared in an episode of the long-running crime series The Professionals entitled Cry Wolf, in which her husband, Gordon Jackson, played George Cowley.

Critical assessment.

Of her numerous roles in British B films in the 1950s, the film historians Steve Chibnall and Brian McFarlane say: “She was essentially crisp and wholesome, in her open Scots prettiness and brought a proper spirited resourcefulness to these assorted plucky heroines, making them a good deal more endearing and credible than the screenplays deserved.”


Anderson died on 23 July 2013, two weeks before her 87th birthday.

Thank you for Sharing me.

My Poetry. Flooding. when will it end?

 As we witness the weather, and even some snow
 People protecting Their homes and now have to go,
 Waters rising day by day
 Barriers useless failing to stay
 Boats to sail from one street to the another
 Shops are closed and too wet to bother.
 Millions of pounds of damage this Year
 As you watch in shock, a woman sheds a tear,
 Farmers land saturated and soaked
 Animals clambering too scared to be stroked.
 Washed out homes, sandbanks stacked
 All the residents rushing to get everything packed,
 Fear the water will rise once more
 Reaching the garden, now at the door.
 Nature has its way of telling us how
 The state of the planet is critical now.
 Climate is changing and not for the good
 As the farmers will tell you when they try to grow food.
 Storms aplenty, and more to come
 Faces all shattered and all looking glum,
 The need to be prepared is an emergency now
 Keep smiling people and weather that brow. 
Thank you for Sharing me.

famous scots. William Balfour baikie

Baikie was born at Kirkwall, Orkney, eldest son of Captain John Baikie, R.N. He studied medicine at Edinburgh, and, on obtaining his M.D. degree, joined the Royal Navy in 1848. He early attracted the notice of Sir Roderick Murchison, through whom he was appointed surgeon and naturalist to the Niger expedition sent out in 1854 by Macgregor Laird with government support. The death of the senior officer (Consul Beecroft) occurring at Fernando Po, Baikie succeeded to the command.

Ascending the Benue about 250 miles beyond the point reached by former explorers, the little steamer Pleiad returned and reached the mouth of the Niger, after a voyage of 118 days, without the loss of a single man. The expedition had been instructed to endeavour to afford assistance to Heinrich Barth, who had in 1851 crossed the Benue in its upper course, but Baikie was unable to gain any trustworthy information concerning him. Returning to the UK, Baikie gave an account of his work in his Narrative of an Exploring Voyage up the Rivers Kwora and Binue (1856)

In March 1857, Baikie—with the rank of British consul—started on another expedition in the Pleiad. After two years exploring the Niger, the navigating vessel was wrecked passing through some of the rapids of the river, and Baikie was unable to keep his party together. The expedition survivors were not rescued from Africa for a year. The botanist, Charles Barter, who trained at Kew Gardens and was foreman of Regent’s Park of the Royal Botanic Society, London from 1851–1857, caught dysentery and died at Rabba, Nigeria in 1859. He is commemorated by the genus Barteria Hook. f. in the Passifloraceae.

Baikie determined to carry out the purposes of the expedition. He first considered establishing a British Consular Agency at Kabba, but faced opposition from the local king – possibly because Baikie was against the slave trade, which still provided a generous income for some tribal leaders.

Landing from a small boat, with one or two native followers, at the confluence of the Niger and Benue, he instead chose Lokoja as the base of his future operations, it being the site of the model farm established by the Niger expedition of 1841, and abandoned on the death of most of the white settlers (see Capt. W. Allen, R.N., and T. R. H. Thomson, M.D., A Narrative of the Expedition . . . to the River Niger in 1841, (1848)).

After purchasing the site, and concluding a treaty with the Fula emir of Nupe, he proceeded to clear the ground, build houses, form enclosures and pave the way for a future city. In less than five years he had opened up the navigation of the Niger, made roads, and established a market to which the native produce was brought for sale and barter. His settlement grew to include representatives of almost all the tribes of West-Central Africa, and more than 2,000 traders visited the town in its first three years. To the motley commonwealth thus formed he acted not merely as ruler, but also as a physician, teacher and priest. He collected vocabularies of nearly fifty African languages and translated portions of the Bible and prayer-book into Hausa and Arabic. Once only during his residence had he to employ armed force against the surrounding tribes. While on his way home, on leave of absence, he died at Sierra Leone.

Thank you for Sharing me.

Scottish Bands-Music. (band).

Hey folks, enjoyed the last presentation of music, here is more, enjoy.

Scotland is internationally known for its traditional music. Scottish music is a significant aspect of the nation’s culture. A famous traditional Scottish instrument is the Great Highland bagpipe. The clàrsach (harp), fiddle and accordion are also traditional Scottish instruments.

Beautiful Scottish Music and Song.
Thank you for Sharing me.

Famous Scots. Sir Sean Connery.

Sir Thomas Sean Connery CBE (born 25 August 1930) is a Scottish retired actor and producer, who has won an Academy Award, two BAFTA Awards (one being a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award), and three Golden Globes, including the Cecil B. DeMille Award and a Henrietta Award.

Connery was the first actor to portray the character James Bond in film, starring in seven Bond films (every film from Dr. No to You Only Live Twice, plus Diamonds Are Forever and Never Say Never Again), between 1962 and 1983. In 1988, Connery won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Untouchables. His films also include Marnie (1964), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), The Name of the Rose (1986), Highlander (1986), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Dragonheart (1996), The Rock (1996), and Finding Forrester (2000).

Connery has been polled in The Sunday Herald as “The Greatest Living Scot” and in a EuroMillions survey as “Scotland’s Greatest Living National Treasure”. He was voted by People magazine as both the “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1989 and the “Sexiest Man of the Century” in 1999. Connery was knighted in the 2000 New Year Honours for services to film drama.

Early life

Sean Connery plaque near the site of his birth in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh

Thomas Sean Connery, named Thomas after his grandfather, was born in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland on 25 August 1930. His mother, Euphemia “Effie” McBain McLean, was a cleaning woman. She was born the daughter of Neil McLean and Helen Forbes Ross, and named after her father’s mother ‘Euphemia McBain’, wife of John McLean and daughter of William McBain from Ceres in Fife. Connery’s father, Joseph Connery, was a factory worker and lorry driver.  His paternal grandfather’s parents emigrated to Scotland from Ireland in the mid-19th century. The remainder of his family was of Scottish descent, and his maternal great-grandparents were native Scottish Gaelic speakers from Fife (unusually, for a speaker of the language), and Uig on Skye. His father was a Roman Catholic, and his mother was a Protestant. He has a younger brother, Neil. Connery has said that he was called Sean, his middle name, long before becoming an actor, explaining that when he was young he had an Irish friend named Séamus and that those who knew them both had decided to call Connery by his middle name whenever both were present. He was generally referred to in his youth as “Tommy”. Although he was small in primary school, he grew rapidly around the age of 12, reaching his full adult height of 6 ft 2 in (188 cm) at 18. He was known during his teen years as “Big Tam”, and has stated that he lost his virginity to an adult woman in an ATS uniform at the age of 14.

An Edinburgh “Co-op milk cart” photographed in 1981

Connery’s first job was as a milkman in Edinburgh with St. Cuthbert’s Co-operative Society. In 2009, Connery recalled a conversation in a taxi:

When I took a taxi during a recent Edinburgh Film Festival, the driver was amazed that I could put a name to every street we passed. “How come?” he asked. “As a boy I used to deliver milk round here,” I said. “So what do you do now?” That was rather harder to answer.

Connery then joined the Royal Navy, during which time he acquired two tattoos, of which his official website says “unlike many tattoos, his were not frivolous—his tattoos reflect two of his lifelong commitments: his family and Scotland. … One tattoo is a tribute to his parents and reads ‘Mum and Dad,’ and the other is self-explanatory, ‘Scotland Forever.'”Connery was later discharged from the navy on medical grounds because of a duodenal ulcer, a condition that affected most of the males in previous generations of his family.  Afterwards, he returned to the co-op, then worked as, among other things, a lorry driver, a lifeguard at Portobello swimming baths, a labourer, an artist’s model for the Edinburgh College of Art, and after a suggestion by former Mr. Scotland, Archie Brennan,  a coffin polisher. The modelling earned him 15 shillings an hour. Artist Richard Demarco, at the time a student who painted several early pictures of Connery, described him as “very straight, slightly shy, too, too beautiful for words, a virtual Adonis”.

Connery began bodybuilding at the age of 18, and from 1951 trained heavily with Ellington, a former gym instructor in the British Army. While his official website claims he was third in the 1950 Mr Universe contest, most sources place him in the 1953 competition, either third in the Junior class or failing to place in the Tall Man classification. Connery stated that he was soon deterred from bodybuilding when he found that the Americans frequently beat him in competitions because of sheer muscle size and, unlike Connery, refused to participate in an athletic activity which could make them lose muscle mass.

Connery was a keen footballer, having played for Bonnyrigg Rose in his younger days. He was offered a trial with East Fife. While on tour with South Pacific, Connery played in a football match against a local team that Matt Busby, manager of Manchester United, happened to be scouting. According to reports, Busby was impressed with his physical prowess and offered Connery a contract worth £25 a week (equivalent to £703 in 2019) immediately after the game. Connery admits that he was tempted to accept, but he recalls, “I realised that a top-class footballer could be over the hill by the age of 30, and I was already 23. I decided to become an actor and it turned out to be one of my more intelligent moves.”



Looking to pick up some extra money, Connery helped out backstage at the King’s Theatre in late 1951. He became interested in the proceedings, and a career was launched. During a bodybuilding competition held in London in 1953, one of the competitors mentioned that auditions were being held for a production of South Pacific, and Connery landed a small part as one of the Seabees chorus boys. By the time the production reached Edinburgh, he had been given the part of Marine Cpl Hamilton Steeves and was understudying two of the juvenile leads, and his salary was raised from £12 to £14–10s a week. The production returned the following year out of popular demand, and Connery was promoted to the featured role of Lieutenant Buzz Adams, which Larry Hagman had portrayed in the West End.

While in Edinburgh, Connery was targeted by the Valdor gang, one of the most violent in the city. He was first approached by them in a billiard hall where he prevented them from stealing his jacket and was later followed by six gang members to a 15-foot-high balcony at the Palais.  There Connery launched an attack singlehandedly against the gang members, grabbing one by the throat and another by a biceps and cracked their heads together. From then on he was treated with great respect by the gang and gained a reputation as a “hard man”.

Connery first met Michael Caine at a party during the production of South Pacific in 1954, and the two later became close friends. During the production of South Pacific at the Opera House, Manchester over the Christmas period of 1954, Connery developed a serious interest in the theatre through American actor Robert Henderson who lent him copies of the Henrik Ibsen works Hedda GablerThe Wild Duck, and When We Dead Awaken, and later listed works by the likes of Marcel Proust, Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev, George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce and William Shakespeare for him to digest. Henderson urged him to take elocution lessons and got him parts at the Maida Vale Theatre in London. He had already begun a film career, having been an extra in Herbert Wilcox’s 1954 musical Lilacs in the Spring alongside Anna Neagle.

Although Connery had secured several roles as extras, he was struggling to make ends meet, and was forced to accept a part-time job as a babysitter for journalist Peter Noble and his actress wife Mary, which earned him 10 shillings a night. He met Hollywood actress Shelley Winters one night at Noble’s house, who described Connery as “one of the tallest and most charming and masculine Scotsmen” she’d ever seen, and later spent many evenings with the Connery brothers drinking beer. Around this time Connery was residing at TV presenter Llew Gardner’s house. Henderson landed Connery a role in a £6 a week Q Theatre production of Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution, during which he met and became friends with fellow-Scot Ian Bannen. This role was followed by Point of Departure and A Witch in Time at Kew, a role as Pentheus opposite Yvonne Mitchell in The Bacchae at the Oxford Playhouse, and a role opposite Jill Bennett in Eugene O’Neill’s production of Anna Christie.

During his time at the Oxford Theatre, Connery won a brief part as a boxer in the TV series The Square Ring, before being spotted by Canadian director Alvin Rakoff, who gave him multiple roles in The Condemned, shot on location in Dover in Kent. In 1956, Connery appeared in the theatrical production of Epitaph and played a minor role as a hoodlum in the “Ladies of the Manor” episode of the BBC Television police series Dixon of Dock Green. This was followed by small television parts in Sailor of Fortune and The Jack Benny Program.

In early 1957, Connery hired agent Richard Hatton who got him his first film role, as Spike, a minor gangster with a speech impediment in Montgomery Tully’s No Road Back alongside Skip Homeier, Paul Carpenter, Patricia Dainton and Norman Wooland. In April 1957, Rakoff—after being disappointed by Jack Palance—decided to give the young actor his first chance in a leading role, and cast Connery as Mountain McLintock in BBC Television’s production of Requiem For a Heavyweight, which also starred Warren Mitchell and Jacqueline Hill. He then played a rogue lorry driver, Johnny Yates, in Cy Endfield’s Hell Drivers (1957) alongside Stanley Baker, Herbert Lom, Peggy Cummins and Patrick McGoohan.  Later in 1957, Connery appeared in Terence Young’s poorly received MGM action picture Action of the Tiger opposite Van Johnson, Martine Carol, Herbert Lom and Gustavo Rojo; the film was shot on location in southern Spain. He also had a minor role in Gerald Thomas’s thriller Time Lock (1957) as a welder, appearing alongside Robert Beatty, Lee Patterson, Betty McDowall and Vincent Winter; this commenced filming on 1 December 1956 at Beaconsfield Studios.

Connery had a major role in the melodrama Another Time, Another Place (1958) as a British reporter named Mark Trevor, caught in a love affair opposite Lana Turner and Barry Sullivan. During filming, star Turner’s possessive gangster boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato, who was visiting from Los Angeles, believed she was having an affair with Connery.  Connery and Turner had attended West End shows and London restaurants together. Stompanato stormed onto the film set and pointed a gun at Connery, only to have Connery disarm him and knock him flat on his back. Stompanato was banned from the set. Two Scotland Yard detectives advised Stompanato to leave and escorted him to the airport, where he boarded a plane back to the US. Connery later recounted that he had to lie low for a while after receiving threats from men linked to Stompanato’s boss, Mickey Cohen.

In 1959, Connery landed a leading role in Robert Stevenson’s Walt Disney Productions film Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959) alongside Albert Sharpe, Janet Munro, and Jimmy O’Dea. The film is a tale about a wily Irishman and his battle of wits with leprechauns. Upon the film’s initial release, A. H. Weiler of The New York Times praised the cast (save Connery whom he described as “merely tall, dark, and handsome”) and thought the film an “overpoweringly charming concoction of standard Gaelic tall stories, fantasy and romance.”He also had prominent television roles in Rudolph Cartier’s 1961 productions of Adventure Story and Anna Karenina for BBC Television, in the latter of which he co-starred with Claire Bloom.

James Bond: 1962–1971, 1983

Connery’s breakthrough came in the role of British secret agent James Bond. He was reluctant to commit to a film series but understood that if the films succeeded, his career would greatly benefit. He played 007 in the first five Bond films: Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), and You Only Live Twice (1967) – then appeared again as Bond in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Never Say Never Again (1983). All seven films were commercially successful. James Bond, as portrayed by Connery, was selected as the third-greatest hero in cinema history by the American Film Institute.

Connery’s selection for the role of James Bond owed a lot to Dana Broccoli, wife of producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, who is reputed to have been instrumental in persuading her husband that Connery was the right man. James Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, originally doubted Connery’s casting, saying, “He’s not what I envisioned of James Bond looks”, and “I’m looking for Commander Bond and not an overgrown stunt-man”, adding that Connery (muscular, 6′ 2″, and a Scot) was unrefined. Fleming’s girlfriend Blanche Blackwell told him that Connery had the requisite sexual charisma, and Fleming changed his mind after the successful Dr. No première. He was so impressed, he wrote Connery’s heritage into the character. In his 1964 novel You Only Live Twice, Fleming wrote that Bond’s father was Scottish and from Glencoe.

Connery’s hands and footprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Hollywood

Connery’s portrayal of Bond owes much to stylistic tutelage from director Terence Young, which helped polish the actor while using his physical grace and presence for the action. Lois Maxwell, who played Miss Moneypenny, related that “Terence took Sean under his wing. He took him to dinner, showed him how to walk, how to talk, even how to eat.”The tutoring was successful; Connery received thousands of fan letters a week after Dr. No’s opening, and the actor became a major male sex symbol in film.

During the filming of Thunderball in 1965, Connery’s life was in danger in the sequence with the sharks in Emilio Largo’s pool. He had been concerned about this threat when he read the script. Connery insisted that Ken Adam build a special Plexiglas partition inside the pool, but this was not a fixed structure, and one of the sharks managed to pass through it. He had to abandon the pool immediately. In 2005, From Russia with Love was adapted by Electronic Arts into a video game, titled James Bond 007: From Russia with Love, which featured all-new voice work by Connery, recorded by Terry Manning in the Bahamas, as well as his likeness, and those of several of the film’s supporting cast.

Beyond Bond

Audrey Hepburn and Connery in Robin and Marian (1976)

Having played Bond six times, Connery’s global popularity was such that he shared a Golden Globe Henrietta Award with Charles Bronson for “World Film Favorite – Male” in 1972.[61] He appeared in John Huston’s The Man Who Would Be King (1975), starring opposite Michael Caine, with both actors regarding it as their favourite film.[62][63] The same year, he appeared in The Wind and the Lion, and in 1976 played Robin Hood in Robin and Marian where he starred opposite Audrey Hepburn who played Maid Marian. Film critic Roger Ebert – who had praised the double act of Connery and Caine in The Man Who Would Be King – praised Connery’s chemistry with Hepburn, writing, “Connery and Hepburn seem to have arrived at a tacit understanding between themselves about their characters. They glow. They really do seem in love.”[64] In the 1970s Connery was part of ensemble casts in films such as Murder on the Orient Express (1974) with Vanessa Redgrave and John Gielgud, and A Bridge Too Far (1977) co-starring Dirk Bogarde and Laurence Olivier.

While making the Bond films, Connery also starred in other films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964) and The Hill (1965). Connery was offered the lead role in Michaelangelo Antonioni’s film about “swinging London”, Blowup (1966), but turned it down because Antonioni would not show him the complete script: only a summary that was stored in a cigarette packet.

In 1981, Connery appeared in the film Time Bandits as Agamemnon. The casting choice derives from a joke Michael Palin included in the script, in which he describes the character removing his mask as being “Sean Connery — or someone of equal but cheaper stature”. When shown the script, Connery was happy to play the supporting role. In 1982, Connery narrated G’olé!, the official film of the 1982 FIFA World Cup.

After Connery sold his Marbella villa in 1999, Spanish authorities launched an investigation into alleged tax evasion by him and his wife, alleging that the Spanish treasury had been defrauded of £5.5 million. Connery was subsequently cleared by the Spanish officials but his wife and 16 others were charged with attempting to defraud the Spanish treasury

Bandits as Agamemnon. The casting choice derives from a joke Michael Palin included in the script, in which he describes the character removing his mask as being “Sean Connery — or someone of equal but cheaper stature”.When shown the script, Connery was happy to play the supporting role. In 1982, Connery narrated G’olé!, the official film of the 1982 FIFA World Cup.

Connery at the 1988 Academy Awards

Connery agreed to reprise Bond as an ageing agent 007 in Never Say Never Again, released in October 1983. The title, contributed by his wife, refers to his earlier statement that he would “never again” play Bond. Although the film performed well at the box office, it was plagued with production problems: strife between the director and producer, financial problems, the Fleming estate trustees’ attempts to halt the film, and Connery’s wrist being broken by fight choreographer, Steven Seagal. As a result of his negative experiences during filming, Connery became unhappy with the major studios and did not make any films for two years. Following the successful European production, The Name of the Rose (1986), for which he won a BAFTA award, Connery’s interest in more commercial material was revived. That same year, a supporting role in Highlander showcased his ability to play older mentors to younger leads, which became a recurring role in many of his later films. The following year, his acclaimed performance as a hard-nosed Irish-American cop in The Untouchables (1987) earned him his only Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

His subsequent box-office hits included Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), in which he played Henry Jones, Sr., the title character’s father, The Hunt for Red October (1990) (where he was reportedly called in at two weeks’ notice), The Russia House (1990), The Rock (1996), and Entrapment (1999). In 1996, he voiced the role of Draco the dragon in the film Dragonheart. In 1998, Connery received a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award.

Connery’s later films included several box office and critical disappointments such as First Knight (1995), Just Cause (1995), The Avengers (1998), and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003); he received positive reviews for his performance in Finding Forrester (2000). He also received a Crystal Globe for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema. In a 2003 poll conducted by Channel 4 Connery was ranked eighth on their list of the 100 Greatest Movie Stars. The failure of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was especially frustrating for Connery, who sensed during shooting that the production was “going off the rails” announced that the director, Stephen Norrington should be “locked up for insanity”, and spent considerable effort in trying to salvage the film through the editing process, ultimately deciding to retire from acting rather than go through such stress ever again.

Connery was offered the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings series but declined it, claiming he didn’t understand the script. Connery was reportedly offered $30 million along with 15 per cent of the worldwide box office receipts for the role, which—had he accepted—would have earned him $450 million.  Connery also turned down the opportunity to appear as the Architect in The Matrix trilogy for similar reasons.  Connery’s disillusionment with the “idiots now making films in Hollywood” was cited as a reason for his eventual decision to retire from film-making. In 2005 he recorded voiceovers for a new video game version of his Bond film From Russia with Love. In an interview on the game disc, Connery stated that he was very happy that the producers of the game (EA Games) had approached him to voice Bond.


When Connery received the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award on 8 June 2006, he confirmed his retirement from acting. On 7 June 2007, he denied rumours that he would appear in the fourth Indiana Jones film, stating that “retirement is just too much-damned fun”. In 2010, a bronze bust sculpture of Connery was placed in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Connery briefly came out of retirement in 2012 by voice acting the title character in the animated movie Sir Billi the Vet. Connery served as executive producer for an expanded 80-minute version.

Personal life

Connery’s former wife, Diane Cilento, 1954

During the production of South Pacific in the mid-1950s, Connery dated a “dark-haired beauty with a ballerina’s figure”, Carol Sopel, but was warned off by her Jewish family. He then dated Julie Hamilton, daughter of a documentary filmmaker and feminist Jill Craigie. Given Connery’s rugged appearance and rough charm, Hamilton initially thought he was an appalling person and was not attracted to him until she saw him in a kilt, declaring him to be the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen in her life. He also shared a mutual attraction with jazz singer Maxine Daniels, whom he met at the Empire Theatre. He made a pass at her, but she informed him that she was already happily married with a baby daughter.  Connery was married to actress Diane Cilento from 1962 to 1973. They had a son, actor Jason Connery. In her autobiography in 2006 she alleged that he had abused her mentally and physically during their relationship; Connery had been quoted as saying that occasionally hitting a woman was “no big deal”. Connery cancelled an appearance at the Scottish Parliament because of the controversy and said he had been misquoted and that any abuse of women was unacceptable.

Connery and his wife, Micheline Roquebrune, in 1983

Connery has been married to Moroccan-French painter Micheline Roquebrune (born 1929) since 1975. A keen golfer, Connery owned the Domaine de Terre Blanche in the South of France for twenty years (from 1979) where he planned to build his dream golf course on the 266 acres (108 ha) of land; the dream was realised when he sold it to German billionaire Dietmar Hopp in 1999. He has been awarded an honorary rank of Shodan (1st dan) in Kyokushin karate.

Connery was knighted by Elizabeth II at an investiture ceremony at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh on 5 July 2000. He had been nominated for a knighthood in 1997 and 1998, but these nominations were reported to have been vetoed by Donald Dewar due to Connery’s political views. Sean Connery has a villa in Kranidi, Greece. His neighbour is Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, with whom he shares a helicopter platform. Michael Caine (who co-starred with Connery in The Man Who Would Be King in 1975) is among Connery’s closest friends. Connery is a keen supporter of Scottish Premiership football club Rangers F.C., having changed his allegiance from Celtic.

Political opinions

Connery is a member of the Scottish National Party, a centre-left political party campaigning for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom, and has supported the party financially and through personal appearances. His funding of the SNP ceased in 2001, when the UK Parliament passed legislation that prohibited overseas funding of political activities in the UK.

Tax status

In response to accusations that he is a tax exile, Connery released documents in 2003 showing that he had paid £3.7 million in UK taxes between 1997/98 and 2002/03; critics pointed out that had he been continuously resident in the UK for tax purposes, his tax rate would have been far higher. In the run-up to the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, Connery’s brother Neil said that Connery would not come to Scotland to rally independence supporters since his tax exile status greatly limited the number of days he could spend in the country. After Connery sold his Marbella villa in 1999, Spanish authorities launched an investigation into alleged tax evasion by him and his wife, alleging that the Spanish treasury had been defrauded of £5.5 million. Connery was subsequently cleared by the Spanish officials but his wife and 16 others were charged with attempting to defraud the Spanish treasury

Thank you for Sharing me.

Famous Scots. Sir Robert Watson Watt.

Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt, KCB, FRs FRAeS (13 April 1892 – 5 December 1973) was a British pioneer of radio direction finding and radar technology.

Watt began his career in radio physics with a job at the Met Office, where he began looking for accurate ways to track thunderstorms using the radio signals given off by lightning. This led to the 1920s development of a system later known as huff-duff. Although well-publicized at the time, the system’s enormous military potential was not developed until the late 1930s. Huff-duff allowed operators to determine the location of an enemy radio in seconds and it became a major part of the network of systems that helped defeat the U-boat threat. It is estimated that huff-duff was used in about a quarter of all attacks on U-boats.

In 1935 Watt was asked to comment on reports of a German death ray based on radio. Watt and his assistant Arnold Frederic Wilkins quickly determined it was not possible, but Wilkins suggested using radio signals to locate aircraft at long distances. This led to a February 1935 demonstration where signals from a BBC short-wave transmitter were bounced off a Handley Page Heyford aircraft. Watt led the development of a practical version of this device, which entered service in 1938 under the code name Chain Home. This system provided the vital advance information that helped the Royal Air Force win the Battle of Britain, in WW2.

After the success of his invention, Watson-Watt was sent to the US in 1941 to advise on air defence after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. He returned and continued to lead radar development for the War Office and Ministry of Supply. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1941, was given a knighthood in 1942 and was awarded the US Medal for Merit in 1946.

Early years

Born in Brechin, Angus, Scotland, on 13 April 1892 Watson-Watt (the hyphenated name is used herein for consistency, although he did not adopt it until 1942)  was a descendant of James Watt, the famous engineer and inventor of the practical steam engine. After attending Damacre Primary School and Brechin High School, he was accepted to University College, Dundee (then part of the University of St Andrews but became the University of Dundee in 1967). Watson-Watt had a successful time as a student, winning the Carnelley Prize for Chemistry and a class medal for Ordinary Natural Philosophy in 1910.

He graduated with a BSc in engineering in 1912, and was offered an assistantship by Professor William Peddie,  the holder of the Chair of Physics at University College, Dundee from 1907 to 1942. It was Peddie who encouraged Watson-Watt to study radio, or “wireless telegraphy” as it was then known, and who took him through what was effectively a postgraduate class of one on the physics of radio frequency oscillators and wave propagation. At the start of the Great War Watson-Watt was working as an assistant in the College’s Engineering Department.

Early experiments

In 1916 Watson-Watt wanted a job with the War Office, but nothing obvious was available in communications. Instead he joined the Meteorological Office, which was interested in his ideas on the use of radio for the detection of thunderstorms. Lightning gives off a radio signal as it ionizes the air, and his goal was to detect this signal to warn pilots of approaching thunderstorms. The signal occurs across a wide range of frequencies and could be easily detected and amplified by naval longwave sets. In fact, lightning was a major problem for communications at these common wavelengths.

His early experiments were successful in detecting the signal and he quickly proved to be able to do so at ranges up to 2,500 km. Location was determined by rotating a loop antenna to maximise (or minimise) the signal, thus “pointing” to the storm. The strikes were so fleeting that it was very difficult to turn the antenna in time to positively locate one. Instead, the operator would listen to many strikes and develop a rough average location.

At first, he worked at the Wireless Station of Air Ministry Meteorological Office in Aldershot, Hampshire. In 1924 when the War Department gave notice that they wished to reclaim their Aldershot site, he moved to Ditton Park near Slough, Berkshire. The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) was already using this site and had two main devices that would prove pivotal to his work.

The first was an Adcock antenna, an arrangement of four masts that allowed the direction of a signal to be detected through phase differences. Using pairs of these antennas positioned at right angles, one could make a simultaneous measurement of the lightning’s direction on two axes. Displaying the fleeting signals was a problem. This was solved by the second device, the WE-224 oscilloscope, recently acquired from Bell Labs. By feeding the signals from the two antennas into the X and Y channels of the oscilloscope, a single strike caused the appearance of a line on the display, indicating the direction of the strike. The scope’s relatively “slow” phosphor allowed the signal to be read long after the strike had occurred. Watt’s new system was being used in 1926 and was the topic of an extensive paper by Watt and Herd.

The Met and NPL radio teams were amalgamated in 1927 to form the Radio Research Station with Watt as director. Continuing research throughout, the teams had become interested in the causes of “static” radio signals and found that much could be explained by distant signals located over the horizon being reflected off the upper atmosphere. This was the first direct indication of the reality of the Heaviside layer, proposed earlier but at this time largely dismissed by engineers. To determine the altitude of the layer, Watt, Appleton and others developed the ‘squegger’ to develop a ‘time base’ display, which would cause the oscilloscope’s dot to move smoothly across the display at very high speed. By timing the squegger so that the dot arrived at the far end of the display at the same time as expected signals reflected off the Heaviside layer, the altitude of the layer could be determined. This time base circuit was key to the development of radar.

After a further reorganization in 1933, Watt became Superintendent of the Radio Department of NPL in Teddington.


The air defence problem

During the First World War, the Germans had used Zeppelins as long-range bombers over London and other cities and defences had struggled to counter the threat. Since that time aircraft capabilities had improved considerably and the prospect of widespread aerial bombardment of civilian areas was causing the government anxiety. Heavy bombers were now able to approach at altitudes that anti-aircraft guns of the day were unable to reach. With enemy airfields across the English Channel potentially only 20 minutes’ flying time away, bombers would have dropped their bombs and be returning to base before any intercepting fighters could get to altitude. The only answer seemed to be to have standing patrols of fighters in the air at all times but, with the limited cruising time of a fighter, this would require a huge air force. An alternative solution was urgently needed and in 1934, the Air Ministry set up a committee, the CSSAD (Committee for the Scientific Survey of Air Defence), chaired by Sir Henry Tizard to find ways to improve air defence in the UK.

Rumours that Nazi Germany had developed a “death ray” that was capable of destroying towns, cities and people using radio waves were given attention in January 1935 by Harry Wimperis, Director of Scientific Research at the Air Ministry. He asked Watson-Watt about the possibility of building their version of a death-ray, specifically to be used against aircraft. Watson-Watt quickly returned a calculation carried out by his young colleague, Arnold Wilkins, showing that the device was impossible to construct, and fears of a Nazi version soon vanished. He also mentioned in the same report a suggestion that was originally made to him by Wilkins, who had recently heard of aircraft disturbing shortwave communications, that radio waves might be capable of detecting aircraft: “Meanwhile attention is being turned to the still difficult, but less unpromising, problem of radio detection and numerical considerations on the method of detection by reflected radio waves will be submitted when required.” Wilkins’s idea, checked by Watt, was promptly presented by Tizard to the CSSAD on 28 January.

Aircraft detection and location

Memorial at the Daventry site of the first successful RADAR experiments. 52.195982°N 1.050121°W

Closeup of a memorial plaque

The first workable radar unit constructed by Robert Watson Watt and his team

On 12 February 1935, Watson-Watt sent the secret memo of the proposed system to the Air Ministry, Detection and location of aircraft by radio methods. Although not as exciting as a death-ray, the concept clearly had potential but the Air Ministry, before giving funding, asked for a demonstration proving that radio waves could be reflected by an aircraft. This was ready by 26 February and consisted of two receiving antennas located about 6 miles (9.7 km) away from one of the BBC’s shortwave broadcast stations at Daventry. The two antennas were phased such that signals travelling directly from the station cancelled themselves out, but signals arriving from other angles were admitted, thereby deflecting the trace on a CRT indicator (passive radar). Such was the secrecy of this test that only three people witnessed it: Watson-Watt, his colleague Arnold Wilkins, and a single member of the committee, A. P. Rowe. The demonstration was a success; on several occasions, a clear signal was seen from a Handley Page Heyford bomber being flown around the site. The Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, was kept quietly informed of radar’s progress. On 2 April 1935, Watson-Watt received a patent on a radio device for detecting and locating an aircraft.

In mid-May 1935, Wilkins left the Radio Research Station with a small party, including Edward George Bowen, to start further research at Orford Ness, an isolated peninsula on the Suffolk coast of the North Sea. By June they were detecting aircraft at a distance of 16 miles (26 km), which was enough for scientists and engineers to stop all work on competing for sound-based detection systems. By the end of the year, the range was up to 60 miles (97 km), at which point plans were made in December to set up five stations covering the approaches to London.

One of these stations was to be located on the coast near Orford Ness, and Bawdsey Manor was selected to become the main centre for all radar research. In an effort to put a radar defence in place as quickly as possible, Watson-Watt and his team created devices using existing available components, rather than creating new components for the project, and the team did not take additional time to refine and improve the devices. So long as the prototype radars were in workable condition they were put into production. They soon conducted “full scale” tests of a fixed radar radio tower system that would soon be known as Chain Home, an early detection system that attempted to detect an incoming bomber by radio signals. The tests were a complete failure, with the fighter only seeing the bomber after it had passed its target. The problem was not the radar, but the flow of information from trackers from the Observer Corps to the fighters, which took many steps and was very slow. Henry Tizard with Patrick Blackett and Hugh Dowding immediately set to work on this problem, designing a ‘command and control air defence reporting system’ with several layers of reporting that were eventually sent to a single large room for mapping. Observers watching the maps would then tell the fighter groups what to do via direct communications.

Radar coverage along the UK coast, 1939–1940

By 1937 the first three stations were ready, and the associated system was put to the test. The results were encouraging, and an immediate order by the government to commission an additional 17 stations was given, resulting in a chain of fixed radar towers along the east and south coast of England. By the start of the Second World War, 19 were ready to play a key part in the Battle of Britain, and by the end of the war over 50 had been built. The Germans were aware of the construction of Chain Home but were not sure of its purpose. They tested their theories with a flight of the Zeppelin LZ 130, but concluded the stations were a new long-range naval communications system.

As early as 1936, it was realized that the Luftwaffe would turn to night bombing if the day campaign did not go well, and Watson-Watt had put another of the staff from the Radio Research Station, Edward Bowen, in charge of developing a radar that could be carried by a fighter. Night time visual detection of a bomber was good to about 300 m, and the existing Chain Home systems simply did not have the accuracy needed to get the fighters that close. Bowen decided that an airborne radar should not exceed 90 kg (200 lb) in weight or 8 ft³ (230 ) in volume, and should require no more than 500 watts of power. To reduce the drag of the antennas the operating wavelength could not be much greater than one metre, difficult for the day’s electronics. Airborne Interception (AI), was perfected by 1940, and was instrumental in eventually ending the Blitz of 1941.

Watson-Watt justified his choice of a non-optimal frequency for his radar, with his often-quoted “cult of the imperfect,” which he stated as “Give them the third-best to go on with; the second-best comes too late, [and] the best never comes.”

Civil Service trade union activities

Between 1934 and 1936, Watson-Watt was president of the Institution of Professional Civil Servants, now a part of Prospect, the “union for professionals”. The union speculates that at this time he was involved in campaigning for an improvement in pay for Air Ministry staff.

Contribution to the Second World War.

Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt, ca. 1944

In his English History 1914–1945, historian A. J. P. Taylor paid the highest of praise to Watson-Watt, Sir Henry Tizard and their associates who developed and put in place radar, crediting them with being fundamental to victory in the Second World War.

In July 1938, Watson-Watt left Bawdsey Manor and took up the post of Director of Communications Development (DCD-RAE). In 1939, Sir George Lee took over the job of DCD, and Watson-Watt became Scientific Advisor on Telecommunications (SAT) to the Ministry of Aircraft Production, travelling to the US in 1941 to advise them on the severe inadequacies of their air defence, illustrated by the Pearl Harbor attack. He was knighted by George VI in 1942 and received the US Medal for Merit in 1946.

Ten years after his knighthood, Watson-Watt was awarded £50,000 by the UK government for his contributions in the development of radar. He established a practice as a consulting engineer. In the 1950s, he moved to Canada and later he lived in the US, where he published Three Steps to Victory in 1958. Around 1958, he appeared as a mystery challenger on the American television programme To Tell The Truth.

Thank you for Sharing me.

Famous Scots William Adams.

William Adam (1689 – 24 June 1748) was a Scottish architect, mason, and entrepreneur. He was the foremost architect of his time in Scotland, designing and building numerous country houses and public buildings, and often acting as a contractor as well as an architect. Among his best known works are Hopetoun House near Edinburgh, and Duff House in Banff. His individual, exuberant style built on the Palladian style, but with Baroque details inspired by Vanbrugh and Continental architecture.

In the 18th century, Adam was considered Scotland’s “Universal Architect”. However, since the early 20th century, architectural critics have taken a more measured view, Colin McWilliam, for instance, finding the quality of his work “varied to an extreme degree”. As well as being an architect, Adam was involved in several industrial ventures and improvement schemes, including coal mining, salt panning, stone quarries and mills. In 1731 he began to build up his own estate in Kinross-shire, which he named Blair Adam. He was the father of three architects; John, Robert and James, the last two were the developers of the “Adam style”.

Early life

William Adam was born in Linktown of Abbotshall, now a neighbourhood of Kirkcaldy, Fife, and was baptised on 24 October 1689. He was the only surviving child of John Adam (d. c. 1710), a mason, and Helen Cranstoun, daughter of William Cranstoun, 3rd Lord Cranstoun. His paternal grandfather was Archibald Adam, a laird in Angus. Adam probably attended the grammar school in Kirkcaldy until 1704, when he turned 15, and thereafter learned the craft of masonry, possibly from his father. It is often suggested that Adam was apprenticed to Sir William Bruce at Kinross House, although the dates make this unlikely. John Fleming suggests that if Adam trained under Bruce at all, it must have been at Hopetoun House which Bruce was building from 1699–1703. By 1717 Adam was a fully qualified member of the Kirkcaldy masons’ guild, and before 1720 he travelled to France and the Low Countries, visiting country houses and viewing the canal at Ostend.

In 1714, Adam entered into a partnership with William Robertson of Gladney, a local laird, to set up a brickworks at Linktown. The venture was successful, and Adam has been credited with introducing the manufacture of Dutch pantiles into Scotland.  On 30 May 1716, Adam married Robertson’s daughter Mary, and the couple moved into his home, Gladney House, at Abbotshall.

East front of Hopetoun House, designed and built by William Adam over a period of over 20 years

Rise to fame.

It is not known how William Adam became a successful architect from these beginnings, but by 1721 he was engaged on major projects at Floors Castle, where he executed design by Vanbrugh and designing extensions to Hopetoun House. John Gifford links Adam’s rise with the retirement of James Smith, the most prominent architect of the early 18th century, who was in his 70s by this time. Like Smith, Adam was a trained mason, had social connections through his family, and had the financial backing of successful business ventures.  It was in 1721 that Adam became a Freemason being initiated in The Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel), No.1.

However, unlike the Episcopalians Smith and Bruce, Adam was a Presbyterian Whig, in a time of Whig domination of the British government. Scottish Episcopalians were associated with Jacobitism, and as such found little favour with the ruling Hanoverian regime. Sir William Bruce, for example, was imprisoned on at least three occasions between 1693 and his death in 1710, merely on account of his principles. Adam’s beliefs were much more acceptable, although he did manage to maintain relations with the exiled Jacobite, and amateur architect, John Erskine, Earl of Mar. Adam’s political stance allowed him to acquire influential patrons such as John Dalrymple, 2nd Earl of Stair, and Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, who, besides being his clients, attempted to secure government positions and contracts for him. For example, Sir John Clerk unsuccessfully proposed Adam for city architect under the “Town of Edinburgh Bill”, which would have seen him overseeing new public works in the capital. In 1727, Stair tried, again unsuccessfully, to have Adam appointed Surveyor of the King’s Works in Scotland, although the following year he acquired the lesser position of Clerk and Storekeeper of the King’s Works in Scotland, under the Master of Works Sir John Anstruther. In 1730 Adam was appointed principal Mason to the Board of Ordnance in North Britain.

Colen Campbell’s design for Wanstead House

In 1727 Adam and Sir John Clerk travelled to London, visiting a number of country seats along the way, including Cliveden, Wilton, and Wanstead House. In London, Adam attempted to make further political contacts, as well as seeking out an engraver for his projected book of architectural plans, which would eventually become Vitruvius Scoticus. Also while in London, he sat to William Aikman for his portrait.

Architect, entrepreneur, and laird

By 1728, Adam was firmly established as a successful architect with numerous ongoing business concerns, including coal mining, salt panning, quarrying and agricultural improvements, although in that year occurred the death of his partner and father-in-law William Robertson. For the same year, William Adam and Alexander McGill are called architects in the subscribers’ list to James Gibbs’s Book of Architecture. On 21 February 1728, Adam was made a burgess of Edinburgh and moved with his family to a property on the Cowgate, where he later built a large tenement.

His business activities continued to expand. Since the commission for Hopetoun in 1721, he had leased quarries near Queensferry which provided the stone for his building contracts. Starting in 1734, he leased lofts, granaries and warehouses in Leith, and leased coal mines and salt pans at Cockenzie, and later at nearby Pinkie he built a canal in 1742–44, to serve the mines.  Other engineering works included an aqueduct cut through a hill at Inveresk, and in 1741, an attempt to promote a Forth and Clyde canal, a project eventually realised by others some 30 years later. His main concern from 1731 became Blair Crambeth, the estate in Kinross-shire, near Kelty, which he purchased that year for £8,010 Scots. Renaming the estate Blair Adam, he set about expanding and improving it, planting trees, enclosing land, and setting up coal mines. He established the village of Maryburgh to house the miners, and built a small house, although he seldom visited for any length of time.


Realised designs for the south front (top) and north front of House of Dun, Angus

Later life

In 1741 Adam was forced to initiate legal proceedings against William, Lord Braco, to retrieve unpaid fees arising from his work at Duff House. There was no formal contract, and client and architect disagreed on costs for carved stonework. Adam sued for £5,796 12s 11⅓d, and the matter was initially resolved in his favour. However, Braco was a stubborn opponent and dragged out the proceedings, which were not resolved until just before Adam’s death.

After the Jacobite rising of 1745, Adam’s position as Mason to the Board of Ordnance brought him a number of large military contracts in the Highlands. In 1746, the position of Master Carpenter to the Board of Ordnance became vacant, and Adam was quick to put forward his son John’s name for consideration, although he was unsuccessful in securing him the post. His three eldest sons were all involved in the family business by 1746, James and John both leaving Edinburgh University early to join their father.

William Adam succumbed to illness in late 1747, dying the following summer. He was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh, where John Adam designed the family mausoleum built-in 1753. This was restored by Edinburgh City Council and Historic Scotland in 1997 to mark the 250th anniversary of his death.

Architectural works

Hamilton Old Parish Church, designed by Adam in 1735

Adam used a wide variety of sources for his designs and created an inventive personal style of decoration. His chief influences were from English Palladianism, and several of his houses have been likened to designs reproduced in Colen Campbell’s Vitruvius Britannicus, but Adam mixed these with English Baroque motifs from Gibbs and Vanbrugh. He relied greatly on a range of French, Italian and English pattern books, including Gibbs’ Book of Architecture, from which he borrowed freely with little regard for consistency of style. In addition, he took inspiration from earlier Scottish renaissance architecture, and from his predecessors Bruce and Smith. During his nearly 30-year career as an architect, Adam designed, extended or remodelled over 40 country houses, and undertook numerous public contracts. He also laid out landscape garden schemes, for instance at Newliston and Taymouth Castle.

Country houses

His first commission seems to have been for extensions to Hopetoun House, near Edinburgh, for Charles Hope, 1st Earl of Hopetoun. Hopetoun had been built only 20 years before by Sir William Bruce, and Adam was retained to rebuild the south-east wing. These works, completed in 1725, aimed to give the east front a bold new facade, stepping forward at the ends with curved sections. According to John Fleming, “nothing so ambitious or imaginative had ever before been attempted in Scotland”. Over the following years, Adam would return to Hopetoun, building the south colonnade from 1726, the north wing from 1728, and finally the pavilions from 1736. These were not finished until 1742, the year of the Earl’s death, and the completed scheme was finished by Adam’s sons after his own death. Adam also laid out the gardens, possibly to designs by Bruce, whose axial style they follow.

Craigdarroch in Dumfriesshire, a small house designed by Adam in 1729, for Alexander Fergusson

Other early designs included Drum House, which boasted Scotland’s first Venetian window, and Mavisbank, both near Edinburgh. Mavisbank House, constructed between 1723 and 1727, was the first Palladian villa in Scotland, a collaboration between Adam and the owner, amateur architect Sir John Clerk of Penicuik. The latter claimed much of the credit, and certainly criticised some of Adam’s suggestions, although evidence suggests Adam got his way on a number of points.  As at Hopetoun, here Adam enjoyed an unusually close relationship with his client, despite their differences of opinion. His most ambitious early work was the baroque, Vanbrugh-inspired house at Arniston, near Gorebridge. Built for Robert Dundas, a lawyer and politician linked to the Earl of Stair, Arniston includes extensive grounds laid out by Adam, with a parterre and cascade, and the main avenue centred on Arthur’s Seat to the north. The stucco work to the hall at Arniston is one of Adam’s finest Vanbrughian interiors.

Duff House, “a medieval castle in baroque dress”

Duff House, Adam’s major work of the 1730s, demonstrates his accretion of local and foreign influences, presenting itself as “a medieval castle in baroque dress”. Built between 1735 and 1739, Adam acted as contractor and architect to William, Lord Braco. James Gibbs had recently built another house for Lord Braco, but he declined the commission for Duff, recommending Adam for the job. The main facade of Duff House is remarkable for its height, and with the tall corner towers, the impression is of a highly vertical house. This style is related to the designs produced by the exiled Jacobite Earl of Mar, an amateur architect who collaborated with Adam at the House of Dun. Charles McKean compares Duff to the 17th century Drumlanrig Castle and places it within the Scottish architectural tradition. Like Drumlanrig and Heriot’s Hospital (the 1620s–1690s) in Edinburgh before it, Duff House has a double-pile block flanked by taller square corner towers. The “baroque dress” at Duff derives from Vanbrugh, and particularly Eastbury Park (1724–38) in Dorset. Designs for pavilions and quadrant wings were never executed due to Lord Braco’s dispute with Adam. Braco never occupied or fitted out the house for the same reason.

Chatelherault, the Duke of Hamilton’s hunting lodge, 1731–43

Adam’s other houses of the 1730s include House of Dun in Angus, Tinwald in Dumfriesshire, Lawyers House in Perthshire, and Haddo House in Aberdeenshire. His early, unexecuted design for House of Dun, a collaboration with the Earl of Mar, is interesting, as it appears to show a traditional tall Scottish tower house, complete with spiral stairs within the walls, but externally clad in neo-classical detailing; Adam clearly took some inspiration from the Scottish vernacular. Chatelherault, the Duke of Hamilton’s “Dogg Kennel” and hunting lodge near Hamilton, was completed in 1743. His redecoration of the Duke’s apartment in Holyroodhouse was Adam’s most important interior design commission. In the 1730s Adam extended Taymouth Castle and laid out gardens, although his work was largely demolished to make way for the present building in the 19th century. Adam’s approach here mirrored the work of Bruce at Balcaskie, extending a Scottish tower house to form a near-symmetrical architectural composition.

After 1740, Adam built only two houses, Cumbernauld House for the Earl of Wigton, and Cally House for Alexander Murray, which was not complete until 1763. From 1746, Adam was acting as “Intendant General” and contractor, overseeing the building of Inveraray Castle to a Gothic design by Roger Morris. His role was to correspond with the architect on behalf of the client, Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll, and Adam also offered Morris his own advice on detail design. He also provided an early draft for the layout of the new town at Inveraray. His last architectural work was for Lord Lovat in 1744, for a new house at Castle Dounie. The stone was supplied, but construction never started as Lord Lovat was “out” in the Jacobite rising of 1745, and his property was sacked by government troops.

Public buildings

William Adam’s Tay Bridge at Aberfeldy

Adam’s first public building commissions were in Aberdeen, where he built the townhouse, or town hall, from 1729–30, since demolished, and Robert Gordon’s Hospital from 1730–32, now an independent school. The original Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on Infirmary Street was an imposing building designed by Adam in 1738, although based on a standard Ordnance Board barrack block. One of the first infirmaries in the world, it was founded by physician Alexander Monro and was demolished in 1884. Remnants of the building can be found on various sites in the city. Also in Edinburgh, Adam built George Watson’s Hospital from 1738–41, demolished 2004, which in the 19th century was incorporated by David Bryce as part of the new Royal Infirmary. In 1745, work was completed on William Adam’s “New Library” for the University of Glasgow, also since demolished. Adam’s townhouse for Dundee has also been demolished; that of Haddington remains but is much altered. Adam built only one church, Hamilton Old Parish Church, in 1733 while working on nearby Chatelherault.

The last Jacobite rising occurred in 1745 when “Bonnie Prince Charlie” attempted to seize the British throne, aided by rebellious Scottish Highlanders. In the aftermath of this unsuccessful coup, the Highlands were extensively militarized by the government, and Adam’s Ordnance Board work consequently multiplied. He and his sons carried out works at Fort Augustus, Fort William, Carlisle, and the castles of Dumbarton, Stirling, Edinburgh, Blackness, and Duart. He was engaged in 1747 to provide the mason work and brickwork for Fort George near Inverness, although the project only began shortly before Adam’s death. Every summer until 1760, one of his sons spent the summer at Fort George, supervising the works under Colonel Skinner, the chief engineer for North Britain.

Robert Gordon’s Hospital, Aberdeen, now Robert Gordon’s College

Vitruvius Scoticus

In the 1720s Adam planned to publish a book of architectural drawings of Scottish houses, including his own work and that of others. His Vitruvius Scoticus was started and named in response to Colen Campbell’s Vitruvius Britannicus. He commissioned some engravings during his 1727 trip to London and had begun to collect subscriptions.[15] The further engraving was completed in Edinburgh in the 1730s by Richard Cooper. The project then stalled, possibly due to the lack of subscriptions (only 150 were collected, compared to over 700 for Vitruvius Britannicus), although it may have been revived around the time of Adam’s death. In 1766, John Adam attempted to restart the project and collect fresh subscriptions, although nothing came of this. The book was finally published in 1812 by John’s son William and contained 160 plates, including 100 of Adam’s own designs.

Thank you for Sharing me.

Infamous Scots. Rob Roy MacGregor.

Rob Roy was born at Glengyle, at the head of Loch Katrine, as recorded in the baptismal register of Buchanan, Stirling. His parents were Donald Glas MacGregor and Margaret Campbell. He was also descended from the Macdonalds of Keppoch through his paternal grandmother.

In January 1693, at Corrie Arklet farm near Inversnaid, he married Mary MacGregor of Comar (1671–1745), who was born at Leny Farm, Strathyre. The couple had four sons: James Mor MacGregor (1695–1754), Ranald (1706–1786), Coll (died 1735) and Robert (1715–1754—known as Robin Oig or Young Rob). It has been argued that they also adopted a cousin named Duncan, but this is not certain.

Along with many Highland clansmen, at the age of eighteen Rob Roy together with his father joined the Jacobite rising of 1689 led by John Graham, 1st Viscount Dundee, known as Bonnie Dundee, to support the Stuart King James II who had fled Britain during the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Although victorious in initial battles, Dundee was killed in 1689, deflating the rebellion. Rob’s father was taken to jail, where he was held on treason charges for two years. Rob’s mother Margaret’s health failed during Donald’s time in prison. By the time Donald was finally released, his wife was dead. The Gregor chief never returned to his former spirit or health.

In 1716 Rob Roy moved to Glen Shira for a short time and lived under the protection of John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, also known as Red John of the Battles, “Iain Ruaidh nan Cath.” Argyll negotiated an amnesty and protection for Rob and granted him permission to build a house in the Glen for the surrendering up of weapons. “Traditionally the story goes that Argyll only received a large cache of rusty old weapons.” A sporran and dirk handle which belonged to Rob Roy can still be seen at Inveraray Castle. Rob Roy only used this house occasionally for the next three or four years.

In July 1717, Rob Roy and the whole of the Clan Gregor were specifically excluded from the benefits of the Indemnity Act 1717 which had the effect of pardoning all others who took part in the Jacobite rising of 1715.

Despite many claims to the contrary, Rob Roy was not wounded at the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719, in which a British Government army with allied Highlanders defeated a force of Jacobite Scots supported by the Spanish. However, two of the Jacobite commanders, Lord George Murray and the 5th Earl of Seaforth, were badly wounded. Robert Roy MacGregor is claimed in many accounts to have been wounded, but the actual text of Ormonde’s account of the battle has the following: “Finding himself hard-pressed, Lord Seaforth sent for further support. A reinforcement under Rob Roy went to his aid, but before it reached him the greater part of his men had given way, and he himself had been severely wounded in the arm.” Note that this does not state that Rob Roy was wounded, but Seaforth. Sometime around 1720 and after the heat of Rob’s involvement at the Battle of Glen Shiel had died down, Rob moved to Monachyle Tuarach by Loch Doine and sometime before 1722 Rob finally moved to Inverlochlarig Beag on the Braes of Balquhidder.

Later life

Rob Roy became a respected cattleman—this was a time when cattle raiding and selling protection against theft were commonplace means of earning a living. Rob Roy borrowed a large sum to increase his own cattle herd, but owing to the disappearance of his chief herder, who was entrusted with the money to bring the cattle back, Rob Roy lost his money and cattle, and defaulted on his loan. As a result, he was branded an outlaw, and his wife and family were evicted from their house at Inversnaid, which was then burned down. After his principal creditor, James Graham, 1st Duke of Montrose, seized his lands, Rob Roy waged a private blood feud against the Duke until 1722, when he was forced to surrender. Later imprisoned, he was finally pardoned in 1727. He died in his house at Inverlochlarig Beg, Balquhidder, on 28 December 1734, aged 63.

Another version of this series of events states that Rob Roy’s estates of Craigrostan and Ardess were forfeited for his part in the rebellion of 1715. The Duke of Montrose acquired the property in 1720 by open purchase from the Commissioners of Enquiry. K. Macleay, M.D., in Historical Memoirs of Rob Roy and the Clan MacGregor quotes, “but he had taken the resolution of becoming a Roman Catholic, and he accordingly left the lonely residence we have described, and returning to Perthshire, went to a Mr. Alexander Drummond, an old priest of that faith, who resided at Drummond Castle.” Macleay takes the view that Rob did this out of sorrow for his crimes.


Glengyle House, on the shore of Loch Katrine, dates back to the early 18th century, with a porch dated to 1707, and is built on the site of the 17th century stone cottage where Rob Roy is said to have been born. Since the 1930s, the Category B-listed building had been in the hands of successive water authorities, but was identified as surplus to requirements and put up for auction in November 2004, despite objections from the Scottish National Party.

Descendants of Rob Roy settled around McGregor, Iowa, United States, and in 1849 it was reported that the original MacGregor seal and signet was owned by Alex McGregor of Iowa. The Scots Gaelic clan seal was inscribed “S’ Rioghal Mo Dhream ” (“Royal is my race”). The signet was a bloodstone from Loch Lomond, and was sketched by William Williams.

In 1878, the football club Kirkintilloch Rob Roy was founded and named in his memory.

In popular culture

Rob Roy on the Rock, a statue located on the spot where Rob Roy leapt across the Culter Burn, Peterculter, Aberdeen, while on the run from Montrose’s men

In 1894, a bartender at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City created the Rob Roy cocktail in honour of the premiere of Rob Roy, an operetta by composer Reginald De Koven and lyricist Harry B. Smith loosely based upon Robert Roy MacGregor.

In 2017, a new statue of Rob Roy was commissioned to be installed in Peterculter, Aberdeen. The sculptor appointed was David J. Mitchell, a graduate of Grays School of Art in Aberdeen.

Thank you for Sharing me.

Infamous Scots. Deacon Brodie.

William Brodie (28 September 1741 – 1 October 1788), often known by his title of Deacon Brodie, was a Scottish cabinet-maker, deacon of a trades guild, and Edinburgh city councillor, who maintained a secret life as a housebreaker, partly for the thrill, and partly to fund his gambling.


In 1774, Brodie’s mother is listed as the head of household in their home on Brodie’s Close on the Lawnmarket. The family (William and his brothers) are listed as “wrights and undertakers” on the Lawnmarket.By 1787 William Brodie is listed alone as a wright living at Brodie’s Close.The house was built towards the foot of the close in 1570, on the south east side of an open court, by Edinburgh magistrate William Little and the close was known as Little’s Close until the 18th century. With ‘improvements’ being made to Edinburgh, the mansion was demolished around 1835 and is now covered by Victoria Terrace (at a later date, Brodie’s workshops and woodyard, which were situated at the lower extremity of the close, made way for the foundations of the Free Library Central Library on George IV Bridge).

By day, Brodie was a respectable tradesman and deacon (president) of the Incorporation of Wrights, which locally controlled the craft of cabinetmaking; this made him a member of the town council. Part of his work as a cabinetmaker was to install and repair locks and other security mechanisms. He socialised with the gentry of Edinburgh and met the poet Robert Burns and the painter Henry Raeburn. He was a member of the Edinburgh Cape Club and was known by the pseudonym “Sir Llyud”.

At night, however, Brodie became a housebreaker and thief. He used his daytime work as a way to gain knowledge about the security mechanisms of his customers and to copy their keys using wax impressions. As the foremost locksmith of the city, Brodie was asked to work in the houses of many of the richest members of Edinburgh society. He used the money he made dishonestly to maintain his second life, which included a gambling habit and five children by two mistresses, who did not know of each other and were unknown in the city. He reputedly began his criminal career around 1768, when he copied keys to a bank door and stole £800, then enough to maintain a household for several years. In 1786 he recruited a gang of three thieves, John Brown, a thief on the run from a seven-year sentence of transportation, George Smith, a locksmith who ran a grocer’s shop in the Cowgate, and Andrew Ainslie, a shoemaker.

Capture and trial

Brodie’s Close. Deacon’s House Café.

The case that led to Brodie’s downfall began later in 1788 when he organised an armed raid on an excise office in Chessel’s Court on the Canongate. Brodie’s plan failed. On the same night, Brown approached the authorities to claim a King’s Pardon, which had been offered after a previous robbery, and gave up the names of Smith and Ainslie (initially saying nothing of Brodie’s involvement). Smith and Ainslie were arrested and the next day Brodie attempted to visit them in prison but was refused. Realising that he had to leave Edinburgh, Brodie escaped to London and then to the Netherlands intending to flee to the United States but was arrested in Amsterdam and shipped back to Edinburgh for trial.

The trial of Brodie and Smith started on 27 August 1788. At first there was no hard evidence against Brodie, although the tools of his criminal trade (copied keys, a disguise and pistols) were found in his house and workshops. But with Brown’s evidence and Ainslie being persuaded to turn King’s Evidence, added to the self-incriminating lines in the letters he had written while on the run, the jury found Brodie and Smith guilty.

Brodie and Smith were hanged at the Old Tolbooth in the High Street on 1 October 1788, before a crowd of 40,000. According to one tale, Brodie wore a steel collar and silver tube to prevent the hanging from being fatal. It was said that he had bribed the hangman to ignore it and arranged for his body to be removed quickly in the hope that he could later be revived. If so, the plan failed. Brodie was buried in an unmarked grave at St. Cuthbert’s Chapel of Ease in Chapel Street. However, rumours of his being seen in Paris circulated later and gave the story of his scheme to evade death further publicity.

Thank you for Sharing me.

Infamous Scots. Sawney Bean.


in Scotland in the 16th century who were reportedly executed for the mass murder and cannibalization of over 1000 people.

The story appears in The Newgate Calendar, a crime catalogue of Newgate Prison in London. While historians tend to believe Bean never existed or that his story has been greatly exaggerated, it has passed into local folklore and become part of the Edinburgh tourism circuit.


According to The Newgate Calendar, Alexander Bean was born in East Lothian during the 16th century.  His father was a ditch-digger and hedge-trimmer and Bean tried to take up the family trade, but quickly realized that he had little taste for honest labour.

He left home with a vicious woman named “Black” Agnes Douglas, who apparently shared his inclinations and was accused of being a witch. After some robbing and the cannibalization of one of their victims, the couple ended up at a coastal cave in Bennane Head between Girvan and Ballantrae where they lived undiscovered for some 25 years. The cave was 200 yards deep and the entrance was blocked by water during high tide.

Sawney and Agnes produced eight sons, six daughters, 18 grandsons and 14 granddaughters. Various grandchildren were products of incest between their children.

Lacking the inclination for regular labour, the Bean clan thrived by laying careful ambushes at night to rob and murder individuals or small groups. The bodies were brought back to the cave where they were dismembered and eaten. Leftovers were pickled in barrels and discarded body parts would sometimes wash up on nearby beaches as part of the clan’s way of making the people think a wild animal was responsible.

The body parts and disappearances did not go unnoticed by the local villagers, but the Bean clan stayed in their cave by day and took their victims at night. The Bean clan was so secretive that the villagers were unaware of the murderers living nearby.

As more significant notice was taken of the disappearances, several organized searches were launched to find the culprits. One search took note of the cave but the men refused to believe anything human could live in it. Frustrated and in a frenetic quest for justice, the townspeople lynched several innocents and the disappearances continued. Suspicion often fell on local innkeepers since they were the last known to have seen many of the missing people alive.

One fateful night, the Bean clan ambushed a married couple riding from a fayre on one horse, but the man was skilled in combat, thus he deftly held off the clan with sword and pistol. The Bean clan fatally mauled the wife when she fell to the ground in the conflict. Before they could take the resilient husband, a large group of fayre-goers appeared on the trail and the Beans fled. The fayre-goers took the survivor to the local magistrate who was informed of this experience.

With the Beans’ existence finally revealed, it was not long before the King (likely James VI of Scotland in tales linked to the 16th century, though other tales are from the 15th) heard of the atrocities and decided to lead a manhunt with a team of 400 men and several bloodhounds. They soon found the Bean clan’s previously overlooked cave in Bennane Head thanks to the bloodhounds. Upon entering the cave by torchlight, the searchers found the Bean clan surrounded by human remains with some body parts hanging from the wall, barrels filled with limbs, and piles of stolen heirlooms and jewellery.

There were two versions on what happened next:


The most common of the two is that the Bean clan was captured alive where they gave up without a fight. They were taken in chains to the Tolbooth Jail in Edinburgh, then transferred to Leith or Glasgow, where they were promptly executed without trial as they were seen as subhuman and unfit for one. Sawney and his fellow men had their genitalia cut off and thrown into the fires, their hands and feet severed, and were allowed to bleed to death, with Sawney shouting his dying words: “It isn’t over, it will never be over.” After watching the men die, Agnes, her fellow women, and the children were burned alive on the stakes from which they were tied to. This recalls, in essence, if not in detail, the punishments of hanging, drawing and quartering decreed for men convicted of treason, while women convicted of the same were burned. There was another claim that gunpowder was placed at the entrance of their cave where they faced the fate of suffocation.

The town of Girvan, located near the macabre scene of murder and debauchery, has another legend about the Bean clan. It is said that one of Bean’s daughters eventually left the clan and settled in Girvan where she planted a Dule tree that became known as “The Hairy Tree.” After her family’s capture and exposure, the daughter’s identity was revealed by angry locals who hanged her from the bough of the Hairy Tree.

Thank you for Sharing me.

Public Poetry. Robert Burns.

A red red rose.

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
   That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
   That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
   So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
   Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
   And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
   While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!
   And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
   Though it were ten thousand mile.

Thank you for Sharing me.

Scotland and its History. The Gaels.

The Gaels gave Scotland its name from ‘Scoti’, a racially derogatory term used by the Romans to describe the Gaelic-speaking ‘pirates’ who raided Britannia in the 3rd and 4th centuries. They called themselves ‘Goidi l’, modernised today as Gaels, and later called Scotland ‘Alba’.

For centuries historians have debated the Gaels’ origin. The earliest historical source we have comes from around the 10th century and held that the Gaels came from Ireland in around 500 AD, under King Fergus Mor, and conquered Argyll from the Picts.

Recently archaeologists have challenged this idea. If the Gaels did invade from Ireland then new objects and different types of building style could be expected to appear. What archaeologists point to is the continuity in building styles of crannogs and forts found in Argyll and Ireland, suggesting the Gaels had lived in Argyll for many centuries before Fergus Mor and shared a common Gaelic culture with Ireland.

At the heart of the Gaelic kingdom – Dál Riata – was a formidable hill fort. The rocky outcrop of Dunadd, Argyll, was far more than a defensive fortress, however. Dunadd was the location where Gaelic kings were inaugurated in a ceremony that symbolically married them to the land.

In its heyday, Dunadd would have been an impressive sight, a single rock outcrop set in the flat bottom of the Kilmartin Valley. On its upper slopes, Dunadd was surrounded by stone ramparts, the remains of which can still be seen, and entry was through a natural cleft in the rock sealed by wooden gates. Beyond the gate were houses and workshops for smelting iron and gold. An important trading centre, many goods flowed through it: gold from Ireland, wine from southern Europe, even rare minerals from the far east used by scribes to colour manuscripts.

From Dunadd kings like Aedan mac, Gabrann (574–608 AD) set out on campaign. A successful warlord, he extended the power of the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata from Orkney to the Isle of Man. In campaigns against Picts, Britons and fellow Gaels in Ireland, he triumphed until he was finally stopped by the Angles at the Battle of Degsastan in 603 AD.

What Aedan had achieved his grandson, Donald Brecc (Domnall Brecc, 629– 642), lost in a disastrous reign. He led the Gaels’ war band to successive defeats. He was forced to surrender Dál Riata’s Irish lands before he eventually suffered his final defeat at the hands of Owen of Dumbarton at the Battle of Strathcarron in 642 AD. Donald Brecc died on the field of battle with the bardic epitaph: ‘And crows pecked, at the head of Domnall Brecc.’

After Donald’s defeat, his kindred faced challenges for the kingship. Civil war raged between the rival factions until Fercher Fota (c697 AD) established a new royal line. They didn’t rule for long but it’s an interesting historical footnote that 450 years later Macbeth was supposed to be descended from Fercher Fota. The kin of Aedan and Donald Brecc went on to reassert their control of Dál Riata founding a line Scottish kingship that stretched to Bonnie Prince Charlie.

In the early 8th century, the Gaels were confronted with the rising power of the Picts. In 736 AD the Picts stormed Dunadd. Their leader, Unust, may have been of Gaelic parentage, but in 741 AD the annals record his ‘smiting of Dál Riata’. After his conquest, Dál Riata became a backwater with its kings subservient to the Picts.

It was from this background of decline that Kenneth MacAlpin emerged. In the mid 9th century he conquered the Pictish kingship and restored the Gaels’ fortunes as they moved east to take over Pictland.

Kenneth’s triumph was Dunadd’s end as ultimately the Kingdom Dál Riata vanished from history and the lands of Argyll fell under Norse control. However, along with Pictland, Dál Riata became the essential ingredient in the new Kingdom of Alba.

Thank you for Sharing me.

Infamous Scots. Gilbert Balfour.

Gilbert Balfour lived from about 1520 to 1576. He served as Sheriff of Orkney and is chiefly remembered for his building of Noltland Castle on Westray and his involvement in two notable murders, of Cardinal Beaton and of Mary Queen of Scots’ second husband, Lord Darnley. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.

Gilbert Balfour appears to have been born in Fife in around 1520. On 29 May 1546 he and two of his brothers were members of a group of “Protestant lairds” from Fife who entered St Andrews Castle pretending to be stonemasons. They dragged the unpopular Cardinal David Beaton out of his bedchamber, stabbed him to death, then mutilated him and hung his body from a castle window, in full view of the town of St Andrews. St Andrews Castle then became a gathering place for Protestants from all over the country, including John Knox, who held it in defiance of Marie de Guise’s troops. They had hoped for support from Henry VIII of England, but none came. Instead, French naval vessels arrived to bombard the castle, which surrendered on 31 July 1547. Many of those captured, including Gilbert Balfour and John Knox, became galley-slaves for the French navy: chained to benches and forced to row.

It is not clear when Balfour was released, though probably, like Knox, in 1549. In 1560 he was granted estates in Orkney by his brother in law, Adam Bothwell, the Bishop of Orkney. During the chaos of the Reformation, large amounts of church land up and down the country found its way into private hands. Gilbert Balfour’s slice included the islands of Shapinsay and Westray. Balfour was also appointed to the post of Sheriff of Orkney by Mary Queen of Scots and decided to secure his position by building Noltland Castle on Westray. Balfour was a man whose approach to politics earned him many mortal enemies and Noltland Castle was intended to cover all eventualities, setting what must be a record for the number of gunloops in a castle.

In February 1567 Balfour was implicated in the successful plot to kill Mary Queen of Scots’ second husband, Lord Darnley in Edinburgh. Amongst his co-conspirators was James, Earl of Bothwell whose marriage to Mary three months later led directly to her abdication. Balfour’s loyalty to Bothwell did not extend to giving him sanctuary when Bothwell turned up on Westray while fleeing to Denmark.

Balfour’s support for Mary’s claim to the Scottish throne over that of her son, James VI left him increasingly exposed. As a result, Balfour had to flee Orkney for Sweden in 1572 and Noltland Castle was taken by Robert Stewart, later to become Earl of Orkney, for James VI. The Balfour family regained possession of the castle in 1574, but Gilbert Balfour remained in Sweden until his habitual plotting led to his execution by the King of Sweden in 1576.

Thank you for Sharing me.

Infamous Scots. John Gow.

John Gow (c. 1698–11 June 1725)was a notorious pirate whose short career was immortalised by Charles Johnson in A General History of the Pyrates. Little is known of his life, except an account by Daniel Defoe, which is often considered unreliable, the report on his execution, and an account by Mr Alan Fea, a descendant of his captor, published in 1912, almost two centuries after his death.

Early life

Gow was probably born in Wick, Caithness, to William Gow, a merchant, and Margaret Calder.  He was raised in Stromness, Orkney, where he went to school and learned to sail a ship.


Prior to August 1724 he crewed a voyage from London to Lisbon and back, during which he plotted to seize control of the vessel. He failed to attract sufficient numbers, however, and the effort went nowhere. In London, word spread about the attempt, so Gow fled to Amsterdam, where he joined the Santa Cruz-bound Caroline as the second mate.

After several months’ layover in Santa Cruz, on 3 November 1724, the Caroline departed for Genoa, Italy, with a cargo of beeswax, leather, and woollens. The shipboard climate, however, was troubled. There were complaints about the food onboard the ship, and Freneau, the captain of the Caroline, was accused of treating the other crewmen of the vessel improperly. Grousing of short allowance, the crewmen of the Caroline started to disobey some of the captain’s orders. The captain, realising that his orders were being disobeyed, consulted his mate. The two men agreed to stash some small arms in the cabin so they could defend themselves in case of mutiny. Unfortunately for the captain, two of the conspirators on the upper deck overheard the conversation.

Not realising that Gow was the ring leader of the attempted mutiny, Freneau ordered Gow to prepare arms to defend the crew. Upon hearing this, the mutineers decided to act that night. At ten p.m., after half the ship’s company had retired following evening prayer, shots echoed across the deck. Told that someone had fallen overboard, Freneau ran to the rail, where he was stabbed in the neck and shot twice in the stomach by Gow, then thrown overboard by the other conspirators. Still alive, he managed to clutch a rope dangling from the side of the ship, but when the conspirators realised this, they cut the rope and he tumbled into the sea. The next morning, the remainder of the crew was given the option of following their captain or joining the mutineers. Accounts indicate that they all accepted their former position. The ship was renamed Revenge.

Over the next few weeks, the Revenge began attacking British ships in the area, starting with the Delight (12 November) and the Sarah (21 November). The crews were usually set adrift, though some deemed useful were given the option of joining Gow’s crew. Over the next few months, Gow attacked several other ships plying the region.


After a successful career as a pirate off the Iberian Peninsula, Gow decided to return to the Orkney Islands. He was running low on supplies, and the authorities were on his trail. Arriving in early 1725, he adopted the name Mr Smith for himself, and renamed his vessel the George, and passed as a wealthy trader, even courting a Miss Gordon. He was eventually recognised by a merchant passing through the islands, and his true identity was revealed. According to other accounts, some of his prisoners escaped there and notified the authorities. Rather than surrender, Gow and his men successfully raided the Hall of Clestrain on 10 February 1725, but when they attempted to attack another remote mansion, they ran aground on the Calf of Eday, where they were captured.


According to the Newgate Calendar, Gow was slow to die when he hanged. To relieve his pain, some of his friends pulled at his legs, but this just broke the rope, causing him to tumble to the ground, from where he was gathered up and hanged again.

After his death, his body (along with those of his crew) was left in the River Thames. The bodies were then tarred and suspended on the riverbank, as a warning to other would-be pirates.

He was tried alongside pirate Brigstock Weaver, whose crimes were unrelated to Gow’s. While Gow was hanged for his piracies, Weaver was reprieved and soon 

Thank you for Sharing me.

Scottish Battles. Bannockburn. 1314.

Bannockburn. If there is a fact every Scot knows, it is who won the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314; although it did not bring outright victory in the war, which lay 14 years in the future and would only be won at the negotiating table.

The victory was a combination of Bruce’s demand of 1313: that all of the remaining Balliol supporters acknowledge his kingship or forfeit their estates, and the imminent surrender of the English garrison encircled in Stirling castle – which spurred Edward II to invade Scotland.

He mobilised a massive military machine: summoning 2,000 horse and 25,000 infantry from England, Ireland and Wales. Although probably only half the infantry turned up, it was by far the largest English army ever to invade Scotland.

The Scots common army numbered around 6000, with a small contingent on horseback. It was divided into three “divisions” or schiltroms (massive spear formations), led by King Robert Bruce, his brother, Edward, and his nephew, Sir Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray. After eight years of successful guerrilla warfare and plundering the north of England for booty, the Scots had created an experienced battle-hardened army.

In June 1314, Edward II crossed the border only to find the road to Stirling blocked by the Scots army. Bruce had carefully chosen his ground to the south of the castle, where the road ran through the New Park, a royal hunting park.

To his east lay the natural obstacles of the Bannock and Pelstream burns, along with the soft, boggy ground. It seems Bruce planned only to risk a defensive encounter, digging pots (small hidden pits designed to break up a cavalry charge) along the roadway, and keeping the Torwood behind him for easier withdrawal.

The battle opened with one of the most celebrated individual contests in Scottish history. Sighting a group of Scots withdrawing into the wood, the English vanguard, made up of heavy cavalry, charged. As they clashed with the Scots, an English knight, Sir Henry de Bohun, spotted Robert Bruce.


If de Bohun had killed or captured Bruce, he would have become a chivalric hero. So, spurring his warhorse to the charge, he lowered his lance and bared down on the king. Bruce, an experienced warrior, didn’t panic, but mounted “ane palfray, litil and joly” and met the charge. Dodging the lance, he brought his battle axe down on de Bohun’s helmet, striking him dead. Elated, the Scots forced the English cavalry to withdraw.

Two of Edward’s experienced commanders, Sir Henry Beaumont and Sir Robert Clifford, attempted to outflank the Scots and cut off their escape route – very nearly surprising the Scots. At the last moment, however, Thomas Randolph’s schiltrom dashed out of the wood and caught the English cavalry by surprise.

A ferocious melee ensued. Without archers the cavalry found they were unable to get through the dense thicket of Scots spearmen, even resorting to throwing their swords and maces at them, until the Scots pushed them back and forced them into flight.

The Scots had won the first day. Their morale was high and Bruce’s new tactic of using the schiltroms offensively rather than statically, as Wallace had used them at Falkirk, appeared to be working. Yet Bruce must have been contemplating a strategic withdrawal before the set piece battle that would inevitably follow in the morning.

For the English the setbacks of the first day were disappointing. Fearing Bruce might mount a night attack, they encamped in the Carse of Balquhiderock. The following day they still hoped to draw Bruce into a full-scale, set-piece battle where their decisive Welsh longbowmen could be brought to bear rather than let Bruce return to guerrilla warfare.

At this critical moment, Sir Alexander Seton, a Scots noble in the English army, defected to Bruce bringing him vital intelligence of Edward’s army: its confined position and the low morale within the English camp. Bruce decided to risk all in the morning and face Edward in open battle.

At dawn the Scots ate their breakfast and advanced out of the wood to face the enemy. Medieval battles were seen as the judgement of God; it was important to have the saints on your side, and so, in the midst of the Scots schiltroms, Abbot Bernard of Arbroath carried their ancient lucky talisman, the Breccbennach (or Monymusk Relquary), which held the relics of St Columba.

Bruce himself made a speech invoking the power of St Andrew, John the Baptist and Thomas Beckett. Then, according to the chronicler Walter Bower: “At these words, the hammered horns resounded, and the standards of war were spread out in the golden dawn.”

Abbot Maurice of Inchaffrey walked out in front of the army, led mass and blessed the Scots as they knelt in prayer. On seeing this, Edward II is reputed to have said: “Yon folk are kneeling to ask mercy.” Sir Ingram de Umfraville, a Balliol supporter fighting for Edward, is said to have replied: “They ask for mercy, but not from you. They ask God for mercy for their sins. I’ll tell you something for a fact, that yon men will win all or die. None will flee for fear of death.” “So be it”, retorted Edward.

An archery duel followed, but the Scots schiltrom rapidly took the offensive in order to avoid its inevitable outcome. Edward Bruce’s schiltrom advanced on the English vanguard, felling the Earl of Gloucester and Sir Robert Clifford, while Randolph’s schiltrom closed up on their left.

The English knights now found themselves hemmed in between the Scots schiltroms and the mass of their own army and could bring few of their archers to bear. Some broke out on the Scots flank and rained arrows into the Scots ranks, but they were quickly dispersed by Sir Robert Keith’s Scots cavalry; the rest were badly deployed, their arrows falling into the backs of their own army.

In the centre of the field, there was ferocious hand to hand combat between knights and spearmen as the battle hung in the balance. At this crucial point, Bruce committed his own schiltrom, which included the Gaelic warriors of the Highlands and Islands. Under their fresh onslaught, the English began to give ground. The cry “On them! On them! They fail!”, arose as the English were driven back into the burn.

The battle’s momentum was obvious. A reluctant Edward II was escorted away. As his royal standard departed, panic set in. The Scots schiltroms hacked their way into the disintegrating English army. Those fleeing caused chaos in the massed infantry behind them. In the rout that followed hundreds of men and horses were drowned in the burn desperately trying to escape.

The battle was over. English casualties were heavy: thousands of infantry, a 100 knights and one earl lay dead on the field. Some escaped the confusion: the Earl of Pembroke and his Welsh infantry made it safely to Carlisle, but many more, including many knights and the Earl of Hereford, were captured as they fled through the south of Scotland. Edward II with 500 knights was pursued by Sir James “the Black” Douglas until they reached Dunbar and the safety of a ship home.

The capture of Edward would have meant instant English recognition of the Scots demands. As it was, they could absorb such a defeat and continue the war. For the Scots, it was a resounding victory. Bruce was left in total military control of Scotland, enabling him to transfer his campaign to the north of England.

Politically he had won Scotland’s de facto independence and consolidated his kingship – as former supporters of Balliol quickly changed sides. In exchange for Bruce’s noble captives, Edward was forced to release Bruce’s wife, daughter and the formidable Bishop Wishart, who had been held in English captivity since 1306. For the Scots soldiers, there was the wealth of booty left in the English baggage train and the exhilaration of victory.

Thank you for Sharing me.

Famous Scots. James Chalmers.

James Chalmers (2 February 1782, in Arbroath – 26 August 1853, in Dundee) was a Scotsman (buried on 1 September 1853 in plot 526 Dundee Howff) who it was claimed, by his son, was the inventor of the adhesive postage stamps.


He trained as a weaver before he moved to Dundee in 1809 on the recommendation of his brother. He established himself as a bookseller, printer and newspaper publisher on Castle Street. He is known to have been the publisher of “The Caledonian” as early as 1822. Later he served as a Burgh Councillor and became Convener of the Nine Incorporated Trades.

As such, he was described as a slayer of the “dragons which retard progress”, battling repeatedly in the cause of Burgh Reform, and fighting for the repeal of taxes on newspapers and newspaper advertisements, and the removal of the excise duty on paper.

Essay submitted by James Chalmers on 30 September 1839

Essay submitted by James Chalmers on 30 September 1839

His most burning enthusiasm, however, was postal reform, and from 1825 he campaigned the authorities to speed up the mail between Edinburgh and London by convincing them that this could be done without extra cost. After several years he managed to induce a time saving of nearly a day in each direction.

In December 1837, he sent a letter outlining his proposals to Robert Wallace, MP for Greenock. Furthermore, he submitted an essay for a proposal for an adhesive postage stamp and cancelling device which was dated 8 February 1838. This also contained illustrations of one penny and two-pence values. He did not favour the use of an envelope for a letter, as each additional sheet incurred an additional charge. Instead, he proposed that a “slip” or postage stamp could seal a letter.

James Chalmers's tombstone

James Chalmers’s tombstone

His son, Patrick Chalmers (born Dundee, 26 July 1819 – died Wimbledon, Surrey, 3 October 1891), wrote many articles that attempted to evince his father’s share in the work of postal reform and as the inventor of the adhesive postage stamp. His book Robert Wallace MP and James Chalmers, the Scottish Postal Reformers was published in 1890. Patrick Chalmers daughter, Leah Chalmers, wrote a book How the adhesive postage stamp was born which was published in 1939. In 1971 a further book was published about James Chalmers Inventor of the adhesive postage stamp. The co-author William J Smith was a director of David Winter & Sons Ltd (successor to the James Chalmers printing company). Charles Chalmers had succeeded his father James in the printing business in 1853. Charles took David Winter into partnership in 1868 and left him the business on his death in 1872. The printing company was renamed to David Winter & Son. All these books claim that James Chalmers first produced an essay for a stamp in August 1834 but no evidence for this is provided in any of the books.

Thank you for Sharing me.

Public Poetry. Mathew Arnold.

Worldly Place.

Even in a palace, life may be led well! 
So spake the imperial sage, purest of men, 
Marcus Aurelius. But the stifling den 
Of common life, where, crowded up pell-mell, 

Our freedom for a little bread we sell, 
And drudge under some foolish master's ken 
Who rates us if we peer outside our pen-- 
Match'd with a palace, is not this a hell? 

Even in a palace! On his truth sincere, 
Who spoke these words, no shadow ever came; 
And when my ill-school'd spirit is aflame 

Some nobler, ampler stage of life to win, 
I'll stop, and say: 'There were no succour here! 
The aids to noble life are all within.' 
Thank you for Sharing me.

Famous Scots . Alexander Bain.

Alexander Bain lived from October 1811 to 2 January 1877. He was an instrument maker, an inventor and a clockmaker best known for inventing the fax machine and the electric clock. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.

Bain was born in the Caithness village of Watten near Wick, one of thirteen children. Never a success at school, he moved to Wick as an apprentice clockmaker. Having completed his apprenticeship he moved to work in Edinburgh, and then, in 1837, to London. Here he worked as a clockmaker while studying and establishing his own workshops.

By 1840 Bain was working on an idea for an electric clock but had insufficient funds to develop it. He was introduced to the eminent scientist Sir Charles Wheatstone, who advised him that the idea was not worth pursuing. Three months later Wheatstone demonstrated an electric clock to the Royal Society, claiming it to be his own invention. Unfortunately for Wheatstone, Bain had already applied for a patent. The legal wrangle that followed caused great damage to Wheatstone’s reputation and led to a compensation payment to Bain large enough to securely set himself up in business.

Bain was granted a patent for the electric clock on 11 January 1841. His first clock used a pendulum kept moving by electromagnetic impulses and he later improved it by the addition of a battery. Bain’s second most important patent was granted in 1843 and covered the use of a clock to synchronise the movement of two pendulums so that a message could be scanned line by line, and printed remotely. In essence, he had invented the fax machine.

In 1846 Bain, by now living in Edinburgh, invented a “chemical telegraph” which improved dramatically on the speed of transmission of Samuel Morse telegraph technology. However, this became embroiled in a patent dispute with Morse and never took off.

In later life, Alexander Bain was granted a public pension in recognition of the importance of his inventions. He died in 1877 and was buried in Kirkintilloch. He is remembered in the name of a pub which stands close to where he served his apprenticeship in Wick, and in the name of British Telecom’s main building in Glasgow, Alexander Bain House.

Courtesy of.


Thank you for Sharing me.
%d bloggers like this: