April 2020

Scotland and its History. the Mackenzie Clan.

Clan Mackenzie (Scottish Gaelic: Clann Choinnich [ˈkʰl̪ˠãũn̪ˠ ˈxɤɲɪç]) is a Scottish clan, traditionally associated with Kintail and lands in Ross-shire in the Scottish Highlands. Traditional genealogies trace the ancestors of the Mackenzie chiefs to the 12th century. However, the earliest Mackenzie chief recorded by contemporary evidence is Alexander Mackenzie of Kintail who died some time after 1471. Traditionally, during the Wars of Scottish Independence, the Mackenzies supported Robert the Bruce, but feuded with the Earls of Ross in the latter part of the 14th century. During the 15th and 16th-centuries the Mackenzies feuded with the neighboring clans of Munro and MacDonald. In the 17th century the Mackenzie chief was made Earl of Seaforth in the peerage of Scotland. During the Scottish Civil War of the 17th century the Mackenzies largely supported the Royalists. During the Jacobite rising of 1715 the chief and clan of Mackenzie supported the Jacobite cause. However, during the Jacobite rising of 1745 the clan was divided with the chief, Kenneth Mackenzie, Lord Fortrose, supporting the British-Hanoverian Government and his relative, George Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie, supporting the Jacobites.

The surname Mackenzie in Scottish Gaelic is MacCoinneach which means son of the fair bright one. The Mackenzies are believed to have the same ancestry as the Clan Matheson and Clan Anrias. All three are said to be descended from Gilleoin of the Aird, a Gaelic dynast who lived in the early 12th century. Another theory is that all three are descended from the thirteenth century Kermac Macmaghan. The chiefs of the Clan Mackenzie are said to have been settled at their great stronghold on Eilean Donan by 1297.

All of the earliest traditional Clan Mackenzie histories claim descent from a Fitzgerald progenitor. These histories include those by John Mackenzie of Applecross (died c.1684/5), George Mackenzie first Earl of Cromarty (died 1714) and the unpublished Letterfearn, Ardintoul and Allangrange manuscripts. It is believed that all of these histories ultimately derive from a single manuscript created by William MacQueen, Parson of Assynt in 1576, now lost.  Alexander Mackenzie followed the Fitzgerald scheme for the first edition of his History of the Mackenzies in 1879, but abandoned it in his later 1894 edition based on the intervening publication of genealogies contained in MS 1467.  MS 1467 was compiled 200 years before the earliest surviving Mackenzie traditional history. The Mackenzie and Matheson genealogies in MS 1467, which end c.1400, both derive from a Gilleoin of the Aird, but make no mention of Fitzgerald. The genealogies in MS 1467 have been interpreted as in part a census of the military resources available to Domhnall lord of the Isles in a period when he was seeking to make good his wife’s claims to the earldom of Ross, culminating in the battle of Harlaw in 1411. Based on MS 1467 and a series of charters associated with Beauly Priory, it has been suggested that the Mackenzies and Mathesons were junior branches of the Del Ard family, heirs to Gilleoin of the Aird. The senior line of this family, prominent in the 13th and 14th centuries, terminated in the heiress Margaret del Ard, the Lady of Erchless, who married Alexander Chisolm of Cromer c.1350.

In the 14th century during the Wars of Scottish Independence the Clan Mackenzie is said to have been among the clans who fought on the side of Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Inverurie (1308) against the forces of the Clan Comyn who were rivals to the throne. Chief Iain Mac Coinnich is said to have led a force of five hundred Mackenzies at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 where the English were defeated.

Later in the 14th century the Mackenzies are said to have become involved in battles against their powerful neighbour the Earl of Ross and his allies. This resulted in the capture and subsequent execution of chief Kenneth Mackenzie in 1346. Soon after this it appears that his successor as chief of the clan Mackenzie was living in an island castle in Loch Kinellan near Strathpeffer in Easter Ross and it was from this base that the clan was to advance westward once again to Kintail.

Recorded origins

The earliest likeness of a Mackenzie – the effigy of Kenneth Mackenzie, 7th of Kintail (d. 1491/ 1492) located at Beauly Priory.

An early genealogy of the Mackenzies appears in MS 1467, but the earliest contemporary record of a living Mackenzie is of Alexander Mackenzie of Kintail (Alexandro McKennye de Kintaill) who appeared in two supplications for papal dispensation in 1465 and 1466 and was listed as a witness to a charter by John of Islay, Earl of Ross, and Lord of the Isles on 4 November 1471. The earliest known likeness of a Mackenzie is that of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie (d. 7 February 1491/1492), whose effigy can be seen at Beauly Priory. He is the first Mackenzie to be buried at Beauly Priory. There is no reliable evidence to support the traditional assertion that previous members of his family were buried at Iona.

15th century and clan conflicts

In 1452 a force of tribes loyal to Mackenzie of Kintail took hostage a relative of the Earl of Ross. This resulted in the Battle of Bealach nam Broig which was fought to the north-west of Ben Wyvis.  The Clan Munro and their septs the Dingwalls rescued the Ross hostage but won a hollow victory, with a great loss of their own men.

In 1488 the Clan Mackenzie fought at the Battle of Sauchieburn led by Hector Roy Mackenzie but after the defeat of the King’s forces there, Hector narrowly escaped, returning to Ross-shire where he took Redcastle from the Clan Rose, for the rebels.

In 1491 the Battle of Blar Na Pairce was fought between the Mackenzies and the MacDonalds. This was followed by the Raid on Ross also in 1491 when the Clan Mackenzie clashed with a number of clans including the Clan MacDonald of Lochalsh, Clan MacDonald of Clanranald, Clan Cameron and the Chattan Confederation of Clan Mackintosh.

In 1497 Alexander MacDonald of Lochalsh and his clan rebelled against the King. MacDonald invaded the fertile lands of Ross-shire where he was defeated in battle by the Mackenzies at the Battle of Drumchatt (1497), after which he was driven out of Ross-shire.

16th century and clan conflicts

During the Anglo-Scottish Wars John Mackenzie, 9th of Kintail led the clan at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. John was lucky enough to escape but many of his followers lost their lives. John Mackenzie also fought at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547 where he was captured by the English. However, his clan paid a ransom of cows for his release.

The growing importance of the Clan Mackenzie was vividly demonstrated in 1544 when the Earl of Huntly, the Lieutenant of the North, commanded chief John Mackenzie to raise his clan against Clan Ranald of Moidart. The Mackenzie chief refused and Huntly’s supporters, the Clan Grant, Clan Ross and Clan Mackintosh declined to attack the Mackenzies. From that time the Mackenzies were recognised as a separate and superior force in the north-west.

On 13 December 1545 at Dingwall, the Earl of Sutherland entered into a bond of manrent with John Mackenzie of Kintail for mutual defence against all enemies, reserving only their allegiance to the youthful Mary, Queen of Scots. At the Battle of Langside in 1568 the Mackenzies fought on the side of Mary, Queen of Scots, against the forces of her half-brother James Stewart, Earl of Moray. Their chief, Kenneth Mackenzie, 10th of Kintail died soon afterwards.

In 1570 a feud broke out with the Munros over the Castle Chanonry of Ross. Andrew Munro of Milntown defended it for 3 years against the Clan Mackenzie, at the expense of many lives on both sides. The feud was settled when the castle was handed over to the Mackenzies by an “Act of Pacification”. In 1597 the Battle of Logiebride took place between the Mackenzies and MacLeods of Rassay against the Munros and the Bain family of Tulloch Castle.

17th century and Civil War

Commemorative stone to the Mackenzies of Seaforth on the Isle of Lewis. The Mackenzie chief’s title of Earl of Seaforth took its name from Loch Seaforth between the Isles of Lewis and Harris

By the beginning of the 17th century, the territory of the Mackenzies extended from the Black Isle in the east to the Outer Hebrides in the west. They took over the Isle of Lewis from its former Clan MacLeod of Lewis rulers and also Loch Alsh from the MacDonells.The Battle of Morar in 1602 was fought between the Clan Mackenzie and Clan MacDonell of Glengarry.

In 1623, the clan chief Colin Mackenzie was made Earl of Seaforth, a title in the peerage of Scotland, taking his title from a sea loch on the Isle of Lewis.

In 1645, Lord Seaforth, fighting as a Covenanter, led a force against the royalist James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, at the Battle of Auldearn where the Covenanters were defeated. Montrose followed up his success by destroying many houses that belonged to people who had opposed the royalist cause, including that of Thomas Mackenzie of Pluscardine. Later in 1649 Thomas Mackenzie of Pluscardine adopted the royalist cause and led his own uprising in the Siege of Inverness (1649).

In 1672, the Mackenzies were granted a commission of “fire and sword” against the MacLeods of Assynt who were a branch of the Clan MacLeod of Lewis and were seated at Ardvreck Castle, which was attacked and captured by the Mackenzies, who took control of the lands of Assynt.

In 1688, Kenneth Mackenzie of Suddie was killed leading a government backed Independent Highland Company in support of Mackintosh of Mackintosh against the Clan MacDonald of Keppoch who were supported by the Clan Cameron at the Battle of Mulroy. During the Williamite War in Ireland the Clan Mackenzie (led by their chief Kenneth Mackenzie, 4th Earl of Seaforth) are believed to have supported King James at the Siege of Derry and the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

18th century and Jacobite Risings

During the Jacobite rising of 1715 chief William Mackenzie, 5th Earl of Seaforth led the Clan Mackenzie in support of the Jacobite rebels. However, during the Jacobite rising of 1745 the Clan Mackenzie was divided: The chief, Kenneth Mackenzie, Lord Fortrose, did not support the Jacobites and raised several Independent Highland Companies from the Clan Mackenzie to support the British Government. However, during the 1745 rising a large part of the Clan Mackenzie followed the chief’s cousin, George Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie who was a Jacobite.

1715 to 1719 Jacobite Rising

In what is known as the Skirmish of Alness in 1715 the Earl of Seaforth, chief of Mackenzie led a force of 3000 men that forced the retreat of a smaller force loyal to the British Government, which was commanded by the Earl of Sutherland and included the clans Sutherland, Munro, Ross and Mackay. Much of the Ross’s and Munro’s lands were ravaged, but they retaliated by raiding the Mackenzie lands in what is known as the Siege of Brahan.

The Siege of Inverness (1715) came to an end when the town, which was being held by the Mackenzies was surrendered to Simon Fraser of Lovat. Soon after this Colonel Sir Robert Munro, 6th Baronet of Foulis marched into the town of Inverness with 400 Munros and took over control as governor from Fraser. Government troops arrived in Inverness towards the end of February, and for some months the process of disarming the rebels went on, led by a Munro detachment under George Munro of Culcairn.

The clan rivalries which had erupted in rebellion were finding an outlet in local politics. The Mackenzie’s position as Earl of Seaforth came to an end in 1716, and it seems to have been arranged that while the Clan Ross held the county seat the Munros would represent the Tain Burghs. To secure the burghs, control of three out of the five was necessary. Ross ascendancy was secure in Tain, and from 1716 to 1745 the Munros controlled Dingwall.

The Clan Mackenzie fought at the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719 where they were defeated by Government forces and the Mackenzie chief was wounded, afterwards retreating to the Western Isles and from there to the Continent. In 1721 the Clan Mackenzie, led by Donald Murchison, defeated Government supporters from the Clan Ross at the Battle of Glen Affric. This was followed by the Battle of Coille Bhan where again, led by Donald Murchison and also his relative Kenneth Murchison, the Clan Mackenzie defeated Government forces. General Wade’s report on the Highlands in 1724, estimated the clan strength at 3,000 men.

1745 to 1746 Jacobite Rising

George Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie led the Jacobite Mackenzies at the Battle of Falkirk (1746) where they were victorious in helping to defeat British Government forces. The Mackenzies then went on to lay waste to the lands of the Munros who supported the government and burn down Foulis Castle. They also went on to lay waste to the lands of the Clan Sutherland and the Earl of Sutherland who also supported the government and captured Dunrobin Castle, although the Earl of Sutherland himself escaped through a back door. However soon after this as the Earl of Cromartie and his forces were travelling south to meet Charles Edward Stuart they were attacked by the Mackay and Sutherland Independent Highland Companies who supported the British Government in what became known as the Battle of Littleferry and the Jacobite Mackenzies were prevented from joining the Jacobite army at the Battle of Culloden. Soon after George Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie and his son were captured at Dunrobin Castle. The Earl of Cromartie’s titles were then forfeited.

Other Mackenzies took the side of the British Government: the chief, Kenneth Mackenzie, Lord Fortrose had in fact raised three Independent Highland Companies to support the British Government. In one of the Independent Highland Companies under Captain Colin Mackenzie, it is recorded at Shiramore in Badenoch in June 1746 and it included many of them from Kintail as well as more than sixty men from the Clan MacRae.

War, France, and India

A number of famous regiments have been raised from the Mackenzie clan, including the Highland Light Infantry (raised in 1777), the Seaforth Highlanders (raised in 1778), and the second battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders, known as the Ross-shire Buffs (raised in 1793). All those regiments wore the MacKenzie tartan. Born in 1754, Chief Francis Mackenzie, 1st Baron Seaforth, the last Lord Seaforth raised a regiment for the British Army in 1778, the 72nd, and the clan produced another the 78th in 1793. Both had distinguished records fighting against Napoleon and were later amalgamated into the Queen’s Own Highlanders.

The 78th Regiment, as it was first called, was raised in 1778 from men on the Seaforth and other Mackenzie estates. The Earl of Seaforth, having raised his men, sailed with them to India in 1781, but died there a few months later. During the Wars in India, Colin Mackenzie (1754–1821) was Surveyor General of India, and an art collector and orientalist. He produced many of the first accurate maps of India, and his research and collections contributed significantly to the field of Asian studies. In 1799, he was part of the British force at the Battle of Seringapatam. He also fought in the Napoleonic Wars.

Modern history

Clan Mackenzie tent at the 2005 Bellingham Highland Games

Throughout the 19th century Clan, Mackenzie was without a chief that was recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. In 1979, Roderick Grant Francis Blunt-Mackenzie, 4th Earl of Cromartie, legally changed his surname to Mackenzie and was widely recognised as Chief of the clan (for example by Clan Mackenzie Societies around the Commonwealth). Although not descended from a Mackenzie in the male line (his father was born a Blunt and later changed to Blunt-Mackenzie after marrying Sibell Lilian Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Countess of Cromartie) he inherited his titles and Mackenzie descent through his mother (even she only claims a Mackenzie descent as a great-great-great-great-granddaughter of George Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie). On his death in 1990 his son John Ruaridh Mackenzie, 5th Earl of Cromartie succeeded as chief of Clan Mackenzie. The Earl of Cromartie still owns lands in clan country however, the largest remaining Mackenzie landowner by some margin is Mackenzie of Gairloch, with an estate which extends to over 50,000 acres (like the clan chief, Mackenzie of Gairloch has inherited his clan name and lands through the female line). The current chief is a member of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs.

The current chief of Clan Mackenzie lives at Castle Leod, which is thought to date from the 16th century. The chief has leased the unoccupied old tower to the Clan Mackenzie Charitable Trust (CMCT) for 99 years. In 1991 it was announced that the castle was planned to be restored. The restoration was to include a clan genealogical centre that would be open to the public. During the 1990s there was extensive work done on the tower. In 2002 the Highland Buildings Preservation Trust (HBPT) was contacted, to carry out a feasibility study to investigate the potential for the re-use of the upper floor space of the tower, which deemed public funding to be sought to cover the costs of restoration. Because of concerns of physical and legal separation between the clan chief and the tower, the chief decided that the conditions of public funding were too onerous.

A romanticised Victorian-era illustration of a Clan Mackenzie clansman by R. R. McIan from The Clans of the Scottish Highlands published in 1845.


Main article: Chiefs of Clan Mackenzie

Clan chief: John Ruaridh Grant Mackenzie, 5th Earl of Cromartie (b. 1948), Viscount Tarbat of Tarbat, Baron Castlehaven, Baron MacLeod of Castle Leod, Chief of Clan Mackenzie. Chiefs of Clan Mackenzie are titled as Caberféidh (translation from Scottish Gaelic: “Deer’s antlers”). This Gaelic title is derived from the stag’s head charge on the former chief, the Earl of Seaforth’s Coat of Arms.


Castle owned by the Clan Mackenzie have included:

  • Eilean Donan Castle was long held by the Mackenzies of Kintail and it may have been given to them after they helped to defeat the Norsemen at the Battle of Largs in 1263. William Mackenzie, 5th Earl of Seaforth had the castle garrisoned with Spanish troops during the Jacobite rising of 1719, although the castle was battered into submission by three frigates, and it was then blown up from within with barrels of gunpowder. The ghost of one of the Spanish soldiers who was killed is said to haunt the castle. The castle was left very ruinous before being completely rebuilt in the twentieth century.
  • Brahan Castle, about three miles south-west of Dingwall has now been completely demolished except for one wall.It was held by the Mackenzies of Brahan who were patrons of the Brahan Seer.
  • Castle Leod which is a few miles west of Dingwall is an L-plan tower house that dates from the seventeenth century with later additions. The current Castle Leod was built by Sir Roderick Mackenzie of Coigach in about 1610. His descendant was George Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie who was forfeited for his part in the Jacobite rising of 1745 after being captured at Dunrobin Castle.
  • Ardvreck Castle was built by the MacLeods of Assynt but it later passed to the Mackenzies who sacked the castle in 1672.
  • Kilcoy Castle near Muir of Ord, Ross and Cromarty, is a Z-plan tower house that was held from 1618 by Alexander Mackenzie, son of the eleventh Baron of Kintail, chief of the clan. It was once ruinous but has now been restored and is still occupied.
  • Redcastle near Muir of Ord, near Ross and Cromarty, is a ruined L-plan tower house that was held by the Mackenzies from 1570 to 1790.It was burned in 1649 and later passed to the Ballies of Dochfour. The castle is now a shell.
  • Tarbat House was erected by John Mackenzie, Lord MacLeod with work starting in 1784. It was built on the site of a previous mansion which had been built for George Mackenzie, 1st Earl of Cromartie in the late 17th century, replacing Milntown Castle. When George Mackenzie bought the Milntown estate in 1656, he renamed it New Tarbat after Tarbat Castle, the family’s original seat near Portmahomack. Some of the remains of George Mackenzie’s mansion were incorporated into the new one. Concurrent with the construction of the new house, Lord MacLeod planted thousands of new forest and fir trees on the estate. Some of the final building work on the house was unfinished when he died in 1789 after a year-long illness. The remaining work was completed to his plans by his cousin and successor, Kenneth Mackenzie.


The Mackenzie dress tartan is a modern tartan.

The Mackenzie tartan, otherwise known as the regimental tartan of the Seaforth Highlanders.

Tartans associated with the name Mackenzie include :

  • Mackenzie.The tartan is the regimental tartan of the Seaforth Highlanders, which was raised in 1778 by the Earl of Seaforth. The tartan is recorded in the Collection of the Highland Society of London in 1816.The tartan is worn by members of the Royal Military College of Canada Pipes and Drums band.

  • Mackenzie dress.
  • Mackenzie hunting.
  • Mackenzie Millennium, also known as Mackenzie 78th Highlanders.This tartan, according to the Clan Mackenzie Society of Scotland and the UK website, was recently “discovered” and recreated for the “Millennium Gathering”. The society currently sells this tartan.
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Infamous Scots. Ewan MacPhee

Ewan (or Ewen) MacPhee lived from around 1785 to 1850. Born and brought up in Lochaber, he is remembered as Scotland’s last great outlaw, a man who lived beyond the reach of the authorities in Scotland for 40 years before finally being brought to justice.

MacPhee was born and brought up in the Glengarry area of Lochaber. Some time around 1807 he was conscripted into the British Army at the behest of the local laird, and against MacPhee’s own will. Initial training took place at Stirling Castle. During his stay there, riots broke out in the local coalfields and the army was called upon to help suppress them. MacPhee was amongst those stationed in Stirling who threatened to mutiny if ordered to use force against fellow Scots, and in the end troops stationed in Edinburgh were used instead.


MacPhee found himself in Spain during the Peninsula War against Napoleon’s French troops. He proved himself a highly effective soldier and had a particular role in liaising with Spanish guerillas. He rose to the rank of Sergeant, but being unable to read or write was unlikely ever to rise any further, despite suggestions he was told he would get a commission. After MacPhee was disciplined over money that went missing en route to fund guerilla activities (which he said he had hidden to avoid a French search), he killed his commanding officer and deserted his regiment: both crimes that would have seen him hung.

Fast forward a little, and MacPhee was able to make his way back to Scotland, still evading the authorities’ efforts to capture him. Soon after his return to Glengarry, MacPhee was arrested at his sister’s house by soldiers sent from Fort William for the purpose. He escaped from them as they were boarding a ship at Corpach and spent the following two years in the area around Loch Arkaig.

He then took possession of an island in Loch Quoich, which was later named after him (the island disappeared when the level of Loch Quoich was raised as a result of a hydro scheme in the 1900s). Finding island life a little quiet, he constructed a house and abducted a 14 year old girl to become his wife. They subsequently raised a family and lived as many other crofters across Scotland at the time.

MacPhee was a physically imposing man and never left his island unarmed: he also let it be known that he would never be taken alive by the authorities. The general response was to turn a blind eye and leave him be, still more so after the Inverness Chronicle ran a number of sympathetic stories abut him in the 1820s. By this time he was held in great respect and awe by many living in the area, and was regarded as something of a local seer, able to cast spells and cure sick animals.

In 1830 the Loch Quoich estate was sold to the English millionaire Edward Ellice. He took a close and positive interest in his estates and made the acquaintance of Ewan MacPhee when the latter marched into Glenquoich Lodge offering payment of ewe’s milk in lieu of rent and threatening to defend the island if this was not acceptable to Ellice. In the event Ellice and MacPhee coexisted harmoniously for some years.

In the latter part of the 1840s, however, MacPhee increasingly took to stealing sheep from neighbours, on one occasion leaving his tracks in the snow as clear evidence. Two sheriff’s officers who tried to row across to MacPhee’s island to investigate were shot at by his wife (MacPhee was away at the time). A week later the authorities returned in greater strength and arrested MacPhee after tallow and skins were discovered hidden on his island. MacPhee was imprisoned to await trial in Fort William where, shortly afterwards, he died.

Hello fellow bloggers.

As you all know I have a PUBLIC POETRY PAGE and share work WORLDWIDE. some famous poets, some friends work. I am asking the poet writers who visit my blog to allow me to post one of your poems on my page, this, of course, would be copy-written so your work would remain safe. If you allow me to post one of your poems I will advertise it on twitter, so the World can view your amazing work. I am asking anyone who writes poetry to leave your name and simply comment YES, in my comments box and then I will visit your site and pull a poem from it, then it will be posted.

There is so much talent out there, why not let the World see it… I look forward to hearing from you.

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Famous Scots Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle KStJ DL (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a British writer and medical doctor. He created the character Sherlock Holmes in 1887 when he published A Study in Scarlet, the first of four novels and more than fifty short stories about Holmes and Dr. Watson. The Sherlock Holmes stories are generally considered milestones in the field of crime fiction.

Doyle was a prolific writer; other than Holmes stories, his works include fantasy and science fiction stories about Professor Challenger and humorous stories about the Napoleonic soldier Brigadier Gerard, as well as plays, romances, poetry, non-fiction and historical novels. One of Doyle’s early short stories, “J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement” (1884), helped to popularise the mystery of the Mary Celeste.

Doyle is often referred to as “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle” or “Conan Doyle”, implying that “Conan” is part of a compound surname rather than a middle name. His baptism entry in the register of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, gives “Arthur Ignatius Conan” as his given names and “Doyle” as his surname. It also names Michael Conan as his godfather. The catalogues of the British Library and the Library of Congress treat “Doyle” alone as his surname.

Steven Doyle, the editor of The Baker Street Journal, wrote, “Conan was Arthur’s middle name. Shortly after he graduated from high school he began using Conan as a sort of surname. But technically his last name is simply ‘Doyle’.” When knighted, he was gazetted as Doyle, not under the compound Conan Doyle.

Early life.

Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 at 11 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, Scotland. His father, Charles Altamont Doyle, was born in England, of Irish Catholic descent, and his mother, Mary (née Foley), was Irish Catholic. His parents married in 1855. In 1864 the family dispersed because of Charles’s growing alcoholism, and the children were temporarily housed across Edinburgh. In 1867, the family came together again and lived in squalid tenement flats at 3 Sciennes Place. Doyle’s father would die in 1893, in the Crichton Royal, Dumfries, after many years of psychiatric illness. From his early ages throughout his life Doyle wrote letters to his mother, many of them remained.

Supported by wealthy uncles, Doyle was sent to England, at the Jesuit preparatory school Hodder Place, Stonyhurst in Lancashire at the age of nine (1868–70). He then went on to Stonyhurst College until 1875. While Doyle was not unhappy at Stonyhurst, he did not have any fond memories since the school was run on medieval principles, with subjects covering rudiments, rhetoric, Euclidean geometry, algebra and the classics. Doyle commented later in his life that the academic system could only be excused “on the plea that any exercise, however stupid in itself, forms a sort of mental dumbbell by which one can improve one’s mind.” He also found it harsh, citing that instead of compassion and warmth, it favoured the threat of corporal punishment and ritual humiliation.

From 1875 to 1876, he was educated at the Jesuit school Stella Matutina in Feldkirch, Austria. His family decided that he would spend a year there with the objective of perfecting his German and broadening his academic horizons. He later rejected the Catholic faith and became an agnostic A source attributed his drift away from religion to the time spent in the less strict Austrian school He also later became a spiritualist mystic.

Medical career

From 1876 to 1881, Doyle studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh Medical School, including periods working in Aston (then a town in Warwickshire, now part of Birmingham), Sheffield and Ruyton-XI-Towns, Shropshire. During that time, he studied practical botany at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.  While studying, Doyle began writing short stories. His earliest extant fiction, “The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe”, was unsuccessfully submitted to Blackwood’s Magazine. His first published piece, “The Mystery of Sasassa Valley”, a story set in South Africa, was printed in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal on 6 September 1879.  On 20 September 1879, he published his first academic article, “Gelsemium as a Poison” in the British Medical Journal  a study which The Daily Telegraph regarded as potentially useful in a 21st-century murder investigation.

Professor Challenger by Harry Rountree in the novella The Poison Belt published in The Strand Magazine

Doyle was the doctor on the Greenland whaler Hope of Peterhead in 1880. On 11 July 1880 John Gray’s Hope and David Gray’s Eclipse met up with the Eira and Leigh Smith. Photographer W.J.A. Grant took a photograph aboard the Eira of Doyle along with Smith, the Gray brothers, and ships surgeon William Neale. This was the Smith exploration of Franz Josef Land that on 18 August resulted in the naming of Cape Flora, Bell Island, Nightingale Sound, Gratton (“Uncle Joe”) Island, and Mabel Island.

After graduating as Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery (M.B. C.M.) from the University of Edinburgh in 1881, he was ship’s surgeon on the SS Mayumba during a voyage to the West African coast. He completed his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree (an advanced degree beyond the basic medical qualification in the UK) with a dissertation on tabes dorsalis in 1885.

In 1882, Doyle joined former classmate George Turnavine Budd as his partner at a medical practice in Plymouth, but their relationship proved difficult, and Doyle soon left to set up an independent practice.  Arriving in Portsmouth in June 1882, with less than £10 (£1000 today to his name, he set up a medical practice at 1 Bush Villas in Elm Grove, Southsea. The practice was not successful. While waiting for patients, Doyle returned to writing fiction.

Doyle was a staunch supporter of compulsory vaccination and wrote several articles advocating for the practice and denouncing the views of anti-vaccinators.

In early 1891, Doyle attempted the study of ophthalmology in Vienna. He had previously studied at the Portsmouth Eye Hospital to qualify to perform eye tests and prescribe glasses. Vienna was suggested by his friend Vernon Morris as a place to spend six months and train to be an eye surgeon. Doyle found it too difficult to understand the German medical terms at the classes in Vienna and quickly quit his studies there. For the rest of his two-month stay in Vienna, he pursued other activities, such as ice skating with his wife Louisa and drinking with Brinsley Richards of the London Times. He also wrote The Doings of Raffles Haw.

After visiting Venice and Milan, he spent a few days in Paris observing Edmund Landolt, an expert on diseases of the eye. Within three months of his departure for Vienna, Doyle returned to London. He opened a small office and consulting room at 2 Upper Wimpole Street, or 2 Devonshire Place as it was then. A Westminster City Council commemorative plaque is over the front door. He had no patients according to his autobiography and his efforts as an ophthalmologist were a failure.

Literary career

Sherlock Holmes

Doyle struggled to find a publisher for his work. His first work featuring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, A Study in Scarlet, was written in 3 weeks when he was 27 and taken by Ward Lock & Co on 20 November 1886, giving Doyle £25 (equivalent to £2,700 in 2019) for all rights to the story. The piece appeared one year later in the Beeton’s Christmas Annual and received good reviews in The Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald.

Holmes was partially modelled on his former university teacher Joseph Bell. In 1892, in a letter to Bell, Doyle wrote, “It is most certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes … round the centre of deduction and inference and observation which I have heard you inculcate I have tried to build up a man”, and in his 1924 autobiography he remarked, “It is no wonder that after the study of such a character [viz., Bell] I used and amplified his methods when in later life I tried to build up a scientific detective who solved cases on his own merits and not through the folly of the criminal.”  Robert Louis Stevenson was able, even in faraway Samoa, to recognise the strong similarity between Joseph Bell and Sherlock Holmes: “My compliments on your very ingenious and very interesting adventures of Sherlock Holmes. … can this be my old friend Joe Bell?” Other authors sometimes suggest additional influences—for instance, the famous Edgar Allan Poe character C. Auguste Dupin.  Dr. (John) Watson owes his surname, but not any other obvious characteristic, to a Portsmouth medical colleague of Doyle’s, Dr James Watson.

Sherlock Holmes statue in Edinburgh, erected opposite the birthplace of Doyle, which was demolished c. 1970

A sequel to A Study in Scarlet was commissioned, and The Sign of the Four appeared in Lippincott’s Magazine in February 1890, under agreement with the Ward Lock company. Doyle felt grievously exploited by Ward Lock as an author new to the publishing world and he left them. Short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes were published in the Strand Magazine. Doyle wrote the first five Holmes short stories from his office at 2 Upper Wimpole Street (then known as Devonshire Place), which is now marked by a memorial plaque.

Doyle’s attitude towards his most famous creation was ambivalent. In November 1891 he wrote to his mother: “I think of slaying Holmes, … and winding him up for good and all. He takes my mind from better things.” His mother responded, “You won’t! You can’t! You mustn’t!”  In an attempt to deflect publishers’ demands for more Holmes stories, he raised his price to a level intended to discourage them but found they were willing to pay even the large sums he asked.  As a result, he became one of the best-paid authors of his time.

In December 1893, to dedicate more of his time to his historical novels, Doyle had Holmes and Professor Moriarty plunge to their deaths together down the Reichenbach Falls in the story “The Final Problem”. Public outcry, however, led him to feature Holmes in 1901 in the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles. Holmes’ fictional connection with the Reichenbach Falls is celebrated in the nearby town of Meiringen.

In 1903, Doyle published his first Holmes short story in ten years, “The Adventure of the Empty House”, in which it was explained that only Moriarty had fallen, but since Holmes had other dangerous enemies—especially Colonel Sebastian Moran—he had arranged to also be perceived as dead. Holmes was ultimately featured in a total of 56 short stories—the last published in 1927—and four novels by Doyle, and has since appeared in many novels and stories by other authors.

Jane Stanford compares some of Moriarty’s characteristics to those of the Fenian John O’Connor Power. “The Final Problem” was published the year the Second Home Rule Bill passed through the House of Commons. “The Valley of Fear” was serialised in 1914, the year Home Rule, the Government of Ireland Act (18 September) was placed on the Statute Book.

Other works

Doyle’s first novels were The Mystery of Cloomber, not published until 1888, and the unfinished Narrative of John Smith, published only in 2011.  He amassed a portfolio of short stories including “The Captain of the Pole-Star” and “J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement”, both inspired by Doyle’s time at sea. The latter popularised the mystery of the Mary Celeste and added fictional details such as the perfect condition of the ship (which had actually taken on the water by the time it was discovered) and its boats remaining on board (the one boat was in fact missing) that have come to dominate popular accounts of the incident.  Doyle’s spelling of the ship’s name as Marie Celeste has become more common in everyday use than the original form.

From 1888 to 1906, Doyle wrote seven historical novels, which he and many critics regarded as his best work.  He also authored nine other novels, and later in his career (1912–29) five narratives, two of novel length, featuring the irascible scientist Professor Challenger. The Challenger stories include what is probably his best-known work after the Holmes oeuvre, The Lost World. His historical novels include Sir Nigel and its follow-up The White Company, set in the Middle Ages. He was a prolific author of short stories, including two collections set in Napoleonic times featuring the French character Brigadier Gerard.

Doyle’s stage works include Waterloo, the reminiscences of an English veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, the character of Gregory Brewster being written for Henry Irving; The House of Temperley, the plot of which reflects his abiding interest in boxing; The Speckled Band, after the short story “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”; and the 1893 collaboration with J.M. Barrie on the libretto of Jane Annie.

Sporting career

While living in Southsea, the seaside resort of Portsmouth, Doyle played football as a goalkeeper for Portsmouth Association Football Club, an amateur side, under the pseudonym A. C. Smith.

Doyle was a keen cricketer, and between 1899 and 1907 he played 10 first-class matches for the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). He also played for the amateur cricket teams the Allahakbarries and the Authors XI alongside fellow writers J. M. Barrie, P. G. Wodehouse and A. A. Milne.  His highest score, in 1902 against London County, was 43. He was an occasional bowler who took just one first-class wicket, although one of the highest pedigree as it was W. G. Grace.

Doyle was an amateur boxer. In 1909, he was invited to referee the James Jeffries–Jack Johnson heavyweight championship fight in Reno, Nevada. Doyle wrote, “I was much inclined to accept…though my friends pictured me as winding up with a revolver at one ear and a razor at the other. However, the distance and my engagements presented a final bar.”

Also a keen golfer, Doyle was elected captain of the Crowborough Beacon Golf Club in Sussex for 1910. He had moved to Little Windlesham house in Crowborough with Jean Leckie, his second wife, and resided there with his family from 1907 until his death in July 1930.

He entered the English Amateur billiards championship in 1913.

Family life

In 1885 Doyle married Louisa (sometimes called “Touie”) Hawkins (1857–1906). She was the youngest daughter of J. Hawkins, of Minsterworth, Gloucestershire, and the sister of one of Doyle’s patients. Louisa suffered from tuberculosis  In 1907 he married Jean Elizabeth Leckie (1874–1940), whom he had first met and fallen in love within 1897. He had maintained a platonic relationship with Jean while his first wife was still alive, out of loyalty to her. Jean died in London.

Doyle fathered five children. He had two with his first wife: Mary Louise (1889–1976) and Arthur Alleyne Kingsley, known as Kingsley (1892–1918). He had an additional three with his second wife: Denis Percy Stewart (1909–1955), second husband of Georgian Princess Nina Mdivani; Adrian Malcolm (1910–1970); and Jean Lena Annette (1912–1997). All of Doyle’s five children died without issue, leaving him with no grandchildren or direct descendants.

Political campaigning

Following the Second Boer War in South Africa at the turn of the 20th century and the condemnation from some quarters over the United Kingdom’s role, Doyle wrote a short work titled The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct, which argued that the UK’s role in the Boer War was justified, and which was widely translated. Doyle had served as a volunteer doctor in the Langman Field Hospital at Bloemfontein between March and June 1900. Doyle believed that this publication was responsible for his being knighted as a Knight Bachelor by King Edward VII in the 1902 Coronation Honours, (he received the accolade from the King in person at Buckingham Palace on 24 October that year). Also in 1900 he wrote another book on the war, The Great Boer War.

He stood for Parliament twice as a Liberal Unionist—in 1900 in Edinburgh Central and in 1906 in the Hawick Burghs—but although he received a respectable vote, he was not elected. Doyle was appointed a Knight of Grace of the Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem in 1903 and was a Deputy-Lieutenant of Surrey from 1902.

Doyle was a supporter of the campaign for the reform of the Congo Free State, led by the journalist E. D. Morel and diplomat Roger Casement. During 1909 he wrote The Crime of the Congo, a long pamphlet in which he denounced the horrors of that colony. He became acquainted with Morel and Casement, and it is possible that, together with Bertram Fletcher Robinson, they inspired several characters in the 1912 novel The Lost World. When Casement was found guilty of treason against the Crown after the Easter Rising, Doyle tried unsuccessfully to save him from facing the death penalty, arguing that Casement had been driven mad and could not be held responsible for his actions.

Justice advocate

Doyle was also a fervent advocate of justice and personally investigated two closed cases, which led to two men being exonerated of the crimes of which they were accused. The first case, in 1906, involved a shy half-British, half-Indian lawyer named George Edalji who had allegedly penned threatening letters and mutilated animals in Great Wyrley. Police were set on Edalji’s conviction, even though the mutilations continued after their suspect was jailed. Apart from helping George Edalji, Doyle’s work helped establish a way to correct other miscarriages of justice, as it was partially as a result of this case that the Court of Criminal Appeal was established in 1907.

The story of Doyle and Edalji was dramatised in an episode of the 1972 BBC television series, The Edwardians. In Nicholas Meyer’s pastiche The West End Horror (1976), Holmes manages to help clear the name of a shy Parsi Indian character wronged by the English justice system. Edalji was of Parsi heritage on his father’s side. The story was fictionalised in Julian Barnes’s 2005 novel Arthur and George, which was adapted into a three-part drama by ITV in 2015.

The second case, that of Oscar Slater, a Jew of German origin who operated a gambling-den, convicted of bludgeoning an 82-year-old woman in Glasgow in 1908, excited Doyle’s curiosity because of inconsistencies in the prosecution case and a general sense that Slater was not guilty. He ended up paying most of the costs for Slater’s successful appeal in 1928.

Spiritualism, Freemasonry

Doyle had a longstanding interest in mystical subjects. He was initiated as a Freemason (26 January 1887) at the Phoenix Lodge No. 257 in Southsea. He resigned from the Lodge in 1889, but returned to it in 1902, only to resign again in 1911.

Also in Southsea in 1887, influenced by a member of the Portsmouth Literary and Philosophical Society, Major-General Alfred Wilks Drayson, he began a series of psychic investigations. These included attending around 20 seances, experiments in telepathy and sittings with mediums. Writing to Spiritualist journal Light, that year, he declared himself to be a Spiritualist and spoke of one particular psychic event that had convinced him.

Though he later wavered, he remained fascinated by the paranormal. He was a founding member of the Hampshire Society for Psychical Research in 1889 and joined the London-based Society for Psychical Research in 1893. He joined Sir Sidney Scott and Frank Podmore on a poltergeist investigation in Devon in 1894. Nevertheless, during this period, he remained, in essence, a dilettante.

During 1916, at the height of World War I, a change came over Doyle’s beliefs prompted by the apparent psychic abilities of his children’s nanny, Lily Loder Symonds. This, combined with the deaths he saw around him, made him rationalise that Spiritualism was a “New Revelation” sent by God to bring solace to the bereaved. The New Revelation was the title of his first Spiritualist work, published two years later. In the intervening years, he wrote to Light magazine about his faith and lectured frequently on the truth of Spiritualism.

War-related deaths close to him certainly strengthened his long-held belief in life after death and spirit communication, though it is wrong to claim that the death of his son, Kingsley, turned him to Spiritualism, as is often stated. Doyle came out as a Spiritualist to the public in 1916, a full two years before his son’s death. It was on 28 October 1918 that Kingsley died from pneumonia contracted during his convalescence after being seriously wounded in the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Doyle’s brother Brigadier-general Innes Doyle died, also from pneumonia, in February 1919. His two brothers-in-law (one of whom was E. W. Hornung, creator of the literary character Raffles) and his two nephews also died shortly after the war. His second book on Spiritualism, The Vital Message, appeared in 1919.

Doyle found solace supporting spiritualism and its attempts to find proof of existence beyond the grave. In particular, according to some, he favoured Christian Spiritualism and encouraged the Spiritualists’ National Union to accept an eighth precept – that of following the teachings and example of Jesus of Nazareth. He was a member of the renowned supernatural organisation The Ghost Club.

In 1919 the magician P. T. Selbit staged a séance at his own flat in Bloomsbury, with Doyle in attendance. Some later commentators have stated that he declared the clairvoyance manifestations to be genuine. However, the contemporary report by the Sunday Express quotes Doyle as saying: “I should have to see it again before passing a definite opinion on it,” and: “I have my doubts about the whole thing”. In 1920, Doyle debated the claims of Spiritualism with the notable sceptic Joseph McCabe at Queen’s Hall in London. McCabe later published his evidence against the claims of Doyle and Spiritualism in a booklet entitled Is Spiritualism Based on Fraud? which claimed Doyle had been duped into believing Spiritualism by mediumship trickery.

Doyle believed that many cases of diagnosed mental illness were the result of spirit possession. He debated the psychiatrist Harold Dearden, who was diametrically opposed to Doyle’s views. He travelled to Australia and New Zealand on spiritualist missionary work in 1920, and continued his mission all the way up to his death, speaking about his spiritualist conviction in Britain, Europe, and the United States.

One of the five photographs of Frances Griffiths with the alleged fairies, taken by Elsie Wright in July 1917

Doyle was also inspired by his Spiritualist beliefs to write a novel on the subject, The Land of Mist, featuring the character Professor Challenger. He wrote many other non-fictional Spiritualist works; perhaps his most famous being The Coming of the Fairies (1922)  which reveals Doyle’s conviction in the veracity of the five Cottingley Fairies photographs. He reproduced them in the book, together with theories about the nature and existence of fairies and spirits. Initially suspected of being falsified, the photos were decades later determined to be faked (along with admissions from the photographers).

Doyle was friends for a time with Harry Houdini, the American magician who himself became a prominent opponent of the Spiritualist movement in the 1920s following the death of his beloved mother. Although Houdini insisted that Spiritualist mediums employed trickery (and consistently exposed them as frauds), Doyle became convinced that Houdini himself possessed supernatural powers—a view expressed in Doyle’s The Edge of the Unknown. Houdini was apparently unable to convince Doyle that his feats were simply illusions, leading to a bitter public falling out between the two.[84] A specific incident is recounted in memoirs by Houdini’s friend Bernard M. L. Ernst, in which Houdini performed an impressive trick at his home in the presence of Doyle. Houdini assured Doyle the trick was pure illusion and that he was attempting to prove a point about Doyle not “endorsing phenomena” simply because he had no explanation. According to Ernst, Doyle refused to believe it was a trick.[85][86]

In 1922, the psychical researcher Harry Price accused the spirit photographer William Hope of fraud. Doyle defended Hope, but further evidence of trickery was obtained from other researchers. Doyle threatened to have Price evicted from the National Laboratory of Psychical Research and claimed if he persisted to write “sewage” about spiritualists, he would meet the same fate as Harry Houdini.Price wrote “Arthur Conan Doyle and his friends abused me for years for exposing Hope.” Because of the exposure of Hope and other fraudulent spiritualists, Doyle led a mass resignation of eighty-four members of the Society for Psychical Research, as they believed the Society was opposed to spiritualism.

Doyle and spiritualist William Thomas Stead were duped into believing Julius and Agnes Zancig had genuine psychic powers, both claiming that the Zancigs used telepathy. In 1924 Julius and Agnes Zancig confessed that their mind reading act was a trick and published the secret code and all the details of the trick method they had used, under the title Our Secrets!! in a London newspaper.  Doyle praised the psychic phenomena and spirit materializations produced by Eusapia Palladino and Mina Crandon, who were both exposed as frauds.

Doyle’s two-volume book The History of Spiritualism was published in 1926. W. Leslie Curnow, a spiritualist, contributed much research to the book. In 1926, Robert John Tillyard wrote a predominantly supportive review of Doyle’s book The History of Spiritualism in the journal Nature. This caused controversy and several critics such as A. A. Campbell Swinton pointed to the evidence of fraud in mediumship and Doyle’s non-scientific approach to the subject. In 1927, Doyle spoke in a filmed interview about Sherlock Holmes and spiritualism.

Richard Milner, an American historian of science, has presented a case that Doyle may have been the perpetrator of the Piltdown Man hoax of 1912, creating the counterfeit hominid fossil that fooled the scientific world for over 40 years. Milner says that Doyle had a motive—namely, revenge on the scientific establishment for debunking one of his favourite psychics—and that The Lost World contains several encrypted clues regarding his involvement in the hoax. Samuel Rosenberg’s 1974 book Naked is the Best Disguise purports to explain how, throughout his writings, Doyle left open clues that related to hidden and suppressed aspects of his mentality.

In 2016, however, DNA evidence discovered by researchers at the Natural History Museum and Liverpool John Moores University puts the blame on the amateur archaeologist Charles Dawson who originally found the remains. He was initially not considered the perpetrator of the hoax because it was seen as too elaborate for him. DNA evidence, however, showed that the tooth discovered in 1915 by Charles Dawson at an entirely different site came from the same jaw as the original skull and jawbone of the Piltdown Man, suggesting he had planted them both. The tooth discovered in 1915 has also since been proven to be a hoax.

Dr Chris Stringer, an anthropologist from the Natural History Museum, was quoted as saying: “Conan Doyle was known to play golf at the Piltdown site and had even given Dawson a lift in his car to the area, but he was a public man and very busy and it is very unlikely that he would have had the time [to create the hoax]. So there are some coincidences, but I think they are just coincidences. When you look at the fossil evidence you can only associate Dawson with all the finds, and Dawson was known to be personally ambitious. He wanted professional recognition. He wanted to be a member of the Royal Society and he was after an MBE. He wanted people to stop seeing him as an amateur.”


Façade of Undershaw with Doyle’s children, Mary and Kingsley, on the drive

Doyle commissioned a newly-built home from Joseph Henry Ball, an architect friend, in 1895, and played an active part of the design process. He lived in Undershaw which is near Hindhead in Surrey from October 1897 to September 1907. It was a hotel and restaurant from 1924 until 2004, when it was bought by a developer and stood empty while conservationists and Doyle fans fought to preserve it. In 2012, the High Court in London ruled the redevelopment permission be quashed because proper procedure had not been followed, but it is now due to become part of the Stepping Stones school for children with disabilities and additional needs.

Doyle was staying at the Lyndhurst Grand Hotel during March 1912 and made his most ambitious foray into architecture: sketching the original designs for a third storey extension and altering the front facade to the building.[109] Work began later that year and the building was a near-perfect expression of Doyle’s plans. Superficial alterations have been subsequently made, but the essential structure is still clearly Doyle’s.

In 1914, on a family trip to the Jasper National Park in Canada, he designed a golf course and ancillary buildings for a hotel. The plans were realised in full, but neither the golf course nor the buildings have survived.

In 1926, Doyle laid the foundation stone for a Spiritualist temple in Camden, London. Of the building’s total £600 construction costs, he provided £500.

Honours and awards

 Knight Bachelor (1902)

 Knight of Grace of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (1903)

 Queen’s South Africa Medal (1901)

 Knight of the Order of the Crown of Italy (1895)

 Order of the Medjidie – 2nd Class (Ottoman Empire) (1907)


Doyle was found clutching his chest in the hall of Windlesham Manor, his house in Crowborough, East Sussex, on 7 July 1930. He died of a heart attack at the age of 71. His last words were directed toward his wife: “You are wonderful.”  At the time of his death, there was some controversy concerning his burial place, as he was avowedly not a Christian, considering himself a Spiritualist. He was first buried on 11 July 1930 in Windlesham rose garden.

He was later reinterred together with his wife in Minstead churchyard in the New Forest, Hampshire.  Carved wooden tablets to his memory and to the memory of his wife, originally from the church at Minstead, are on display as part of a Sherlock Holmes exhibition at Portsmouth Museum. The epitaph on his gravestone in the churchyard reads, in part: “Steel true/Blade straight/Arthur Conan Doyle/Knight/Patriot, Physician and man of letters”.

A statue honours Doyle at Crowborough Cross in Crowborough, where he lived for 23 years. There is a statue of Sherlock Holmes in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, close to the house where Doyle was born.

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Blog/Web Promotions.(Ingrid. D.)

Ingrid .D.

Hello folks, Promotions time, There are many travel blogs out there but I like the personal ones, the ones that give you many graphics and stories so I feel this Blog is worth a mention, plus Ingrid is lovely and visits Blogs regularly, so pop over and support her.

Here is a sample of Ingrids work, please note her photographs are copywritten.

There was a restaurant nearby where we bought delicious tuna sandwiches. That’s actually it: we worked on our tan, swam, admired the stunning views and ate. A lot.

In the evening, we had dinner in the same waterside restaurant. What a romantic setting!

Please visit Ingrids Blog here for more info, share the love.

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Famous Scots. Chic Murray.

This was one of the funniest Men alive , in his day, his Scottish humour was loved.

Charles Thomas McKinnon “Chic” Murray (6 November 1919 – 29 January 1985), was a Scottish comedian and actor. He appeared in various roles on British television and film, most notably in the 1967 version of Casino Royale, and portrayed Liverpool Football Club manager Bill Shankly in a musical. In 2005, he was named in The Comedian’s Comedian.

Life and career

Murray was born in Greenock, Inverclyde. He began his career as a musician in amateur groups such as “The Whinhillbillies” and “Chic and His Chicks” while an apprentice at the Kincaid shipyard, Inverclyde, in 1934. Maidie Dickson(1922-2010) was already a seasoned star in her own right (having worked since she was 3 with many of the great stars of the time), when she was playing the Greenock Empire. Chic’s mother was the welfare officer and put Maidie up in her home. Subsequently, Maidie gave Chic parts within her own act and he formed a double-act with her. Billed as “The Tall Droll with the Small Doll” (he was 6’3″ tall, she was 4’11”) and also as “Maidie and Murray”, their combination of jokes and songs made them popular on television and in theatres throughout the country. Their success peaked in 1956 when they were selected to appear in the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium, but, due to the Suez Crisis, the show was cancelled. Maidie and Chic had had much success at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London.

Later, working as a solo act, with a forbidding expression and omnipresent bunnet, Murray offered a comic vision of the world that was absurd and surreal. One example was his early-1970s BBC Scotland series Chic’s Chat, where his version of acting as DJ for the (occasional) records he played was unique. The show also featured surreal dialogues with a “man at the window” of his studio, played by Willie Joss, who invariably referred to Murray by the name of “Chips”. Another was his eccentrically decorated hotel in the Bruntsfield area of Edinburgh, which did not outlive the 1980s.

Murray acted in films such as Casino Royale and Gregory’s Girl, in which he played a Scottish secondary school headmaster. He also played former Liverpool Football Club manager Bill Shankly in the musical play You’ll Never Walk Alone. Just prior to the show opening, Murray claimed to have telephoned the switchboard at Anfield using his Shankly voice, causing the receptionist – who had worked there in the Shankly years – to burst into tears on hearing the great man’s voice once more. He also made cameo appearances as an itinerant poacher in a few episodes of STV’s soap Take The High Road (1984) and appeared alongside Judi Dench in Saigon: Year of the Cat (1983). He died in Edinburgh in 1985 at the age of sixty-five, next door to his former wife Maidie’s bedroom (they had divorced in the 1970s but remained on good terms). Maidie died peacefully at the home she had shared with Chic for many years on 10 May 2010; her family were with her.

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Famous Scots. Margaret Tudor.

Birthday: November 28, 1489. 

Nationality: Scottish

Famous: Empresses & Queens Scottish Women

Died At Age: 51

Sun Sign: Sagittarius

Born In: Westminster Palace, London, Middlesex, Kingdom Of England

Famous As: Queen Consort Of Scotland


Spouse/Ex-: 1St Lord Methven (M. 1528), Henry Stewart, 6Th Earl Of Angus (M. 1514; Div. 1527), Archibald Douglas, James Iv Of Scotland (M. 1503; D. 1513)

Father: Henry Vii Of England

Mother: Elizabeth Of York

Died On: October 18, 1541

Margaret Tudor was an English princess who later became the Queen Consort of Scotland through her marriage to James IV of Scotland. After his death, she served as the regent for their son, James V of Scotland. Known to be whimsical and passionate in nature, Margaret’s biggest concern, throughout her life, was her own survival. However, she also sought to bring a better understanding between her native kingdom and her adopted one. She was one of the daughters of Henry VII and his wife, Elizabeth of York. Her father arranged her marriage with James IV hoping that the union would end Scotland’s support for a pretender named Perkin Warbeck who had his eyes on the English throne. James IV and Margaret were subsequently married by proxy in January 1503 and met in person when Margaret came to Scotland later that year. After James IV’s death in 1513, Margaret assumed the role of a regent for her underage son. She played an instrumental role in the conflict between the pro-French and the pro-English factions in the Scottish court and often changed her allegiances in accordance with her financial interest. She married twice more and came to hate both of her husbands. Margaret eventually lost control over her son. Despite this, she spent the remainder of her life maintaining a prominent presence in the court.

Childhood & Early Life

Margaret Tudor was born on November 28, 1489, in Westminster Palace, to Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York. She was one of Henry VII’s eight legitimate children. She had four brothers: Arthur, Prince of Wales; Henry VIII, King of England; Edward; and Edmund; and three sisters: Mary, Queen of France; Elizabeth; and Katherine. Edward, Edmund, Elizabeth, and Katherine did not survive infancy.

Her parents named her after Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, who was her paternal grandmother. Her baptism took place at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster.

According to contemporary views, the daughters of kings were invaluable assets to be used for financial, political, diplomatic, and social gains for the family. Her father was considering a union between her and James IV even before she turned six.

James IV (born March 17, 1473) was considerably older than her. However, England needed Scotland to cease backing Perkin Warbeck, who was pretending to be Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, one of the sons of Edward IV, and claiming that he was a legitimate heir to the English throne.

It was also possible that Henry VII was looking for a way to unite the English and Scottish crowns one day. On September 30, 1497, a truce was finally reached between the kingdoms and the marriage was being considered seriously once more.

Some among the English royalty questioned the match, fearing that it might one day lead to a Stewart being the king of England. Henry VII brushed aside such a notion, saying that if such a thing were to happen, England would not be absorbed by Scotland, but rather Scotland by England.

The Treaty of Perpetual Peace was concluded between the kingdoms on January 24, 1502, and the marriage treaty was signed the very day. Margaret and James IV were married by proxy precisely a year later, on January 25, 1503, at Richmond Palace.

The wedding was a lavish affair. The new queen of Scotland was allocated a large wardrobe of attire and James IV declared that a considerable amount of land and a number of houses would be transferred to her possession.

Accompanied by a large group of courtiers, Margaret entered Scotland in 1503. She met her husband and the rest of the Scottish court at Berwick upon Tweed on 1 August. A week later, on 8 August, their marriage was confirmed in person at Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh.

Margaret and James had six children together: James, Duke of Rothesay (February 21. 1507 – February 27, 1508); Unknown Daughter (died shortly after birth on July 15, 1508); Arthur Stewart, Duke of Rothesay (October 20, 1509 – July 14, 1510); James V (April 10, 1512 – December 14, 1542); Unknown Daughter (died shortly after birth in November 1512); and Alexander Stewart, Duke of Ross (April 30, 1514 – December 18, 1515). None of her children except for James V made it through infancy.

James IV was a very able king. He was also a true Renaissance royalty with a deep love for science and mechanics. Furthermore, he was highly-educated, a fluent polyglot, and according to various sources, a very handsome man. Not much is known about the relationship between him and Margaret but her father provided a scanty dowry for her which did not help in improving relations between Scotland and England.

Following the death of Henry VII in 1509, his son Henry VIII became the new king of England. He had neither his father’s patience nor intelligence and promptly started preparing for a war against France. The Treaty of Perpetual Peace did not last a decade since its conclusion as James IV was forced to attack England to honour the Auld Alliance. He was killed on September 9, 1513, at the Battle of Flodden.

Regent of Scotland

Margaret was very vocal in her opposition to the war but James IV still named her as the regent for their son. The only stipulation was that she had to remain a widow. The Battle of Flodden did not only cause the death of the king, but it was also an utter disaster for Scotland itself.

The Parliament was held at Stirling shortly after the king’s death and Margaret’s status as the regent was confirmed. Things were quite complicated for her. In addition to being the first woman to hold such power in Scotland, she was also the sister of an enemy king.

The Scottish court became divided into two clear factions. One group clearly favoured France’s influence on Scotland. They believed that John Stewart, 2nd Duke of Albany, should be the regent for the infant prince instead of Margaret. He was the closest male relative of the king. To the pro-French group among the nobles, he represented the very essence of the Auld Alliance.

Margaret, almost by default, became the leader of the pro-English faction. Initially, she demonstrated all the necessary skills needed to be a successful administrator. She managed to bring a temporary end to the conflict between the parties and successfully pursued tentative peace with England. However, she then undid all that good work by letting her emotion override her good sense when she became deeply attracted to Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus.

Margaret needed allies and so she became closer to the powerful House of Douglas. Angus did not have a great reputation. Even his uncle, the cleric and poet Gavin Douglas, dubbed him a “young witless fool”. Margaret and Angus married secretly on August 6, 1514, in the parish church of Kinnoull, near Perth.

The marriage ended up deteriorating an already strained relationship between Margaret and the Scottish nobility. Furthermore, as she did exactly what she was not supposed to do by the terms of the late king’s will, she lost the regency.

Albany was called back to Scotland and he officially was appointed as the regent in July 1515. Margaret attempted a minor rebellion by keeping James V and Alexander with her but this was unsuccessful. Albany took charge of the princes and Margaret, who was pregnant with Angus’ child at the time, went to live in Edinburgh. Their daughter, Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, was born on October 8, 1515.

Henry VIII had been intending to get involved in Scottish politics for a while. He wanted his sister to live in England with her children but Margaret refused several times, well aware of the possibility that such a measure might result in James V losing his crown. However, after her children had been taken away from her, she escaped from Scotland. Angus did not accompany her. Instead, he reached out to the regent to make peace.

Margaret was in England for about a year and returned to the north in 1517. She was allowed limited access to her children. While initially, she seemed to have mended her relationship with her estranged husband, it began to grow sour again.

She found out about his affairs and heavily hinted about a possible divorce in her correspondence to her brother. Henry VIII, however, was against the idea, as Angus had proved himself to be useful against the pro-French faction.

Moreover, the young Henry VIII was conservative and puritanical in his beliefs and was staunchly against the concept of divorce. Frustrated by this, Margaret sought to become an ally of the pro-French faction and joined others in requesting Albany to return from France as soon as possible to resume his duties as the regent. However, he had no intention of doing so and simply told her that she could act as the regent herself.

Her actions in the next few years caused much bewilderment. The bitter dispute between the husband and wife continued and it played a central role in Scottish politics. Albany’s hold on power was threatened by James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran. Margaret switched sides between them back and forth to suit her interests.

Albany returned to Scotland in November 1521 and was greeted by the Queen-Dowager. Albany soon started to bring about changes in a political system that was in complete disarray after years of infighting. He had the full support of Margaret, whose husband was sent into exile right after the regent landed in Scotland.

Soon enough, the rumours of a possible romantic relationship between Margaret and Albany began to spread. Angus and his allies were responsible for this. However, as the later events would show, their collaboration was driven purely by self-interest.

In the 1520s, Scotland was engaged in border wars with England that proved to be catastrophic for the country. Albany finally lost his grip on power in 1524 when Margaret led a successful coup d’état against him. Albany left for France and Margaret, supported by Arran and the Hamiltons, got her son back in Edinburgh. She had the people’s support as well.

In August 1524, the parliament formally ended the regency and the 12-year-old James V was handed the full kingly powers. However, others, including his mother, would continue to exercise control over him for years to come.

Margaret still had several issues that needed her attention. Her over-reliance on the Hamiltons displeased other nobles and her brother had let Angus come into Scotland once more. Instead of dealing with such urgent matters, she began a passionate relationship with Henry Stewart, one of the younger brothers of Lord Avondale.

Stewart received rapid promotions whereas her dispute with her husband further degraded into a murderous farce. On November 23, 1524, while Angus was trying to force his way into Edinburgh, Margaret used cannons to fire upon his forces.

Despite Margaret’s efforts, Angus was successful in getting into the city and securing a spot for himself in the council of regency in February 1525. In July 1526, Angus was entrusted with James V’s guardianship. He virtually held him prisoner and ruled in his stead.

Margaret had kept her correspondence with Albany despite the coup and he eventually helped her getting the approval for a divorce from Pope Clement VII in March 1527. She and Stewart married on March 3, 1528.

A few weeks after Margaret’s third marriage, James V managed to escape from Angus and went straight back to Margaret. Angus, after fortifying himself in Tantallon Castle for almost a year, fled to England once more.

In James V’s new administration, both Margaret and her husband held important positions. She continued her efforts to improve the relations between England and Scotland and even once tried to arrange a meeting between her brother and son but it did not eventually take place. James V was deeply suspicious of Henry VIII because of his continuous support for Angus. It frustrated Margaret who even divulged state secrets to Henry VIII.

Later Life & Death

In time, Margaret became frustrated with Stewart as well. She wanted another divorce but her son was opposed to it. She thought James V had been bribed by Stewart and tried to run off to England but was caught at the border.

She eventually reconciled with Stewart and developed a relationship of excellent understanding with her new daughter-in-law, Marie de Guise. She maintained a significant presence in the court throughout the rest of her life.

On October 18, 1541, Margaret passed away at Methven Castle, in Perthshire, after reportedly suffering from palsy. She was interred at the Carthusian Charterhouse in Perth. James V was not at her bedside when she died. He arrived later and confiscated all her properties.

Her father’s line, the Tudor dynasty, ended with her niece Elizabeth I of England. Later, her great-grandson, James VI of Scotland or James I of England unified the crowns.

In the BBC historical drama ‘The Tudors’ (2007-10), the character of Margaret Tudor was an amalgamation of Margaret and her sister, Mary. The producers did not want the viewers to confuse Princess Mary, sister of Henry VIII, with Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII. English actress Gabrielle Anwar portrayed the role.


James IV named a Scottish warship Margaret in her honour.

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Infamous Scots Sir James Wylie.

Sir James Wylie lived from 13 November 1768 to 2 March 1854. Born and brought up in Tulliallan, now effectively part of Kincardine on Forth, he was a doctor who rose to become the Russian imperial court surgeon. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.

James Wylie was the second of five children of the parish minister William Wylie and his wife Janet Meiklejohn. When he finished school he became an apprentice to a local doctor. He then studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh from 1786. What happened next is a little murky, but it seems likely that in 1790 Wylie fell foul of the authorities before completing his studies, possibly for stealing sheep, and found it expedient to leave Scotland in a hurry.

The ship on which Wylie left Leith was bound for Riga in Latvia, and once there Wylie signed up for service as a surgeon in the Eletsky Infantry Regiment of the Russian army. He took part in the Polish–Russian War of 1792 and in military operations against the Kościuszko Uprising, culminating in the Second Battle of Warsaw of 1794. It was during this period that Wylie first tried to improve the standard of medical services in the Russian army. Until then it had been the norm only to treat wounded officers, leaving other ranks to fend for themselves, which in practice meant they usually died.

In 1794 Wylie was awarded the degree of Doctor of Medicine from King’s College, Aberdeen. He left the Russian army and set up in practice as a doctor in Saint Petersburg. Here his reputation as a successful surgeon grew rapidly. One operation, on Count Ivan Kutaisov, the closest confidant of Tsar Paul I, resulted in Wylie’s appointment as surgeon to the court of the tsar. On 23 March 1801, Paul I was murdered by a group of army officers who wanted to replace him with his son, who became Alexander I as a result. Wylie agreed to sign a death certificate that incorrectly gave the cause of death as “apoplexy”.

In 1804 Alexander I invited Wylie back into military service as Medical Inspector of the Imperial Guard. On 2 December 1805 he accompanied the Tsar during the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1808 Wylie was elected President of the Imperial Medical and Surgical Academy in Saint Petersburg. He was appointed Inspector General for the Army Board of Health in 1806, and became Director of the Medical Department of the Imperial Ministry of War in 1812. During this period he succeeded in transforming the medical services in the Russian army, which he had found so inadequate during his first spell in military service. He also played an important personal role as a surgeon. It is said that at the Battle of Borodino on 7 September 1812 he performed some 80 operations in the field.

Wylie accompanied Tsar Alexander I on a visit to England in 1814, and at the Tsar’s request was knighted by the Prince Regent and created a baronet. Wylie was with Alexander I when he died at his summer palace in southern Russia on 1 December 1825. The tsar had long suffered from depression and it was rumoured at the time (and has been rumoured ever since) that Wylie faked the tsar’s death certificate in order to allow him to retreat to a life as a monk.

Whatever the truth of that, Wylie continued to serve the Russian court under Alexander’ successor and brother, Tsar Nicholas I. He also continued to play an active role in Russian’s military campaigns up to and including the the Russo-Turkish war of 1828/9, taking part in some 50 battles in all. Sir James Wylie died in Saint Petersburg on 2 March 1854 and was buried at the Volkovo Lutheran Cemetery in the city.


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My Poetry. Scottish Gossip.

Aye hen the bairn is oot
Caught this laddie full o soot
Ben the skullery wash yer nut
Efter yer dad has kicked yer butt.
Yer sister kens the lassie Betty
Her mans iy oot and awfy sweaty
Eyes like peeholes in the snaw
The Police came he shot the craw.
Dinny sniff yer granda’s soaks
Stinks awe fish and artichokes
Canny smell his nose is wasted
Like the chicken efter its basted.
The wee man sings his awfy song
Thank the lord he’ll no be long
Toneless deef and full o whiskey
Eyeing the women up and awfy frisky.
He’s no awa tae the bookies again
That auld chancer has gone insane
Bets his shirt on an auld lame hoarse
Canny run or finish the course.
Gonny put the kettle oooon
Invite auld aggie and cousin Joan
Talk eh knitting oot the back
Hae a bun and have a crack.

Good luck if you can understand this lol.
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Famous Scots Andrew Carnegie.

Andrew Carnegie (November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919) was a Scottish-American industrialist, and philanthropist. Carnegie led the expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century and became one of the richest Americans in history. He became a leading philanthropist in the United States and in the British Empire. During the last 18 years of his life, he gave away $350 million (conservatively $65 billion in 2019 dollars, based on percentage of GDP) to charities, foundations, and universities – almost 90 percent of his fortune. His 1889 article proclaiming “The Gospel of Wealth” called on the rich to use their wealth to improve society, and stimulated a wave of philanthropy.

Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, and immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1848 at age 12. Carnegie started work as a telegrapher, and by the 1860s had investments in railroads, railroad sleeping cars, bridges, and oil derricks. He accumulated further wealth as a bond salesman, raising money for American enterprise in Europe. He built Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Steel Company, which he sold to J. P. Morgan in 1901 for $303,450,000.[6] It became the U.S. Steel Corporation. After selling Carnegie Steel, he surpassed John D. Rockefeller as the richest American for the next several years.

Carnegie devoted the remainder of his life to large-scale philanthropy, with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education, and scientific research. With the fortune he made from business, he built Carnegie Hall in New York, NY, and the Peace Palace and founded the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Carnegie Hero Fund, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, among others.


Andrew Carnegie was born to Margaret Morrison Carnegie and William Carnegie in Dunfermline, Scotland, in a typical weaver’s cottage with only one main room, consisting of half the ground floor, which was shared with the neighbouring weaver’s family. The main room served as a living room, dining room and bedroom. He was named after his paternal grandfather. In 1836, the family moved to a larger house in Edgar Street (opposite Reid’s Park), following the demand for more heavy damask, from which his father benefited. He was educated at the Free School in Dunfermline, which had been a gift to the town by the philanthropist Adam Rolland of Gask.

Carnegie’s maternal uncle, George Lauder, Sr., a Scottish political leader, deeply influenced him as a boy by introducing him to the writings of Robert Burns and historical Scottish heroes such as Robert the Bruce, William Wallace, and Rob Roy. Lauder’s son, also named George Lauder, grew up with Carnegie and would become his business partner. When Carnegie was thirteen, his father had fallen on very hard times as a handloom weaver; making matters worse, the country was in starvation. His mother helped support the family by assisting her brother (a cobbler), and by selling potted meats at her “sweetie shop”, leaving her as the primary breadwinner. Struggling to make ends meet, the Carnegies then decided to borrow money from George Lauder, Sr and move to Allegheny, Pennsylvania, in the United States in 1848 for the prospect of a better life.  Carnegie’s migration to America would be his second journey outside Dunfermline – the first being an outing to Edinburgh to see Queen Victoria.

In September 1848, Carnegie arrived with his family at their new prosperous home. Allegheny was rapidly populating in the 1840s, growing from around 10,000 to 21,262 residents. The city was very industrial and produced many products including wool and cotton cloth. The “Made in Allegheny” label used on these and other diversified products was becoming more and more popular. For his father, the promising circumstances still did not provide him with any good fortune. Dealers were not interested in selling his product, and he himself struggled to sell it on his own. Eventually, the father and son both received job offers at the same Scottish-owned cotton mill, Anchor Cotton Mills. Carnegie’s first job in 1848 was as a bobbin boy, changing spools of thread in a cotton mill 12 hours a day, 6 days a week in a Pittsburgh cotton factory. His starting wage was $1.20 per week ($35 by 2019 inflation).

His father quit his position at the cotton mill soon after, returning to his loom and removing him as breadwinner once again. But Carnegie attracted the attention of John Hay, a Scottish manufacturer of bobbins, who offered him a job for $2.00 per week ($59 by 2019 inflation). In his autobiography, Carnegie speaks of his past hardships he had to endure with this new job.

Soon after this Mr John Hay, a fellow Scotch manufacturer of bobbins in Allegheny City needed a boy and asked whether I would not go into his service. I went and received two dollars per week, but at first, the work was even more irksome than the factory. I had to run a small steam-engine and to fire the boiler in the cellar of the bobbin factory. It was too much for me. I found myself night after night, sitting up in bed trying the steam gauges, fearing at one time that the steam was too low and that the workers above would complain that they had not power enough, and at another time that the steam was too high and that the boiler might burst.


In 1849, Carnegie became a telegraph messenger boy in the Pittsburgh Office of the Ohio Telegraph Company, at $2.50 per week ($77 by 2019 inflation) following the recommendation of his uncle. He was a hard worker and would memorize all of the locations of Pittsburgh’s businesses and the faces of important men. He made many connections this way. He also paid close attention to his work and quickly learned to distinguish the different sounds the incoming telegraph signals produced. He developed the ability to translate signals by ear, without using the paper slip, and within a year was promoted to the operator. Carnegie’s education and passion for reading was given a boost by Colonel James Anderson, who opened his personal library of 400 volumes to working boys each Saturday night. Carnegie was a consistent borrower and a “self-made man” in both his economic development and his intellectual and cultural development. He was so grateful to Colonel Anderson for the use of his library that he “resolved, if ever wealth came to me, [to see to it] that other poor boys might receive opportunities similar to those for which we were indebted to the nobleman”.His capacity, his willingness for hard work, his perseverance and his alertness soon brought him opportunities.

Starting in 1853, when Carnegie was around 18 years old, Thomas A. Scott of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company employed him as a secretary/telegraph operator at a salary of $4.00 per week ($123 by 2019 inflation). Carnegie accepted the job with the railroad as he saw more prospects for career growth and experience there than with the telegraph company. At age 24, Scott asked Carnegie if he could handle being superintendent of the Western Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. On December 1, 1859, Carnegie officially became superintendent of the Western Division. Carnegie then hired his sixteen-year-old brother, Tom, to be his personal secretary and telegraph operator. Not only did Carnegie hire his brother, but he also hired his cousin, Maria Hogan, who became the first female telegraph operator in the country. As superintendent Carnegie made a salary of fifteen hundred dollars a year ($43,000 by 2019 inflation). His employment by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company would be vital to his later success. The railroads were the first big businesses in America, and the Pennsylvania was one of the largest of them all. Carnegie learned much about management and cost control during these years, and from Scott in particular.

Scott also helped him with his first investments. Many of these were part of the corruption indulged in by Scott and the Pennsylvania’s president, John Edgar Thomson, which consisted of inside trading in companies that the railroad did business with, or payoffs made by contracting parties “as part of a quid pro quo”. In 1855, Scott made it possible for Carnegie to invest $500 in the Adams Express, which contracted with the Pennsylvania to carry its messengers. The money was secured by his mother’s placing of a $600 mortgage on the family’s $700 home, but the opportunity was available only because of Carnegie’s close relationship with Scott.  A few years later, he received a few shares in Theodore Tuttle Woodruff’s sleeping car company, as a reward for holding shares that Woodruff had given to Scott and Thomson, as a payoff. Reinvesting his returns in such inside investments in railroad-related industries: (iron, bridges, and rails), Carnegie slowly accumulated capital, the basis for his later success. Throughout his later career, he made use of his close connections to Thomson and Scott, as he established businesses that supplied rails and bridges to the railroad, offering the two men a stake in his enterprises.

1860–1865: The Civil War

Before the Civil War, Carnegie arranged a merger between Woodruff’s company and that of George Pullman, the inventor of the sleeping car for first-class travel, which facilitated business travel at distances over 500 miles (800 km). The investment proved a success and a source of profit for Woodruff and Carnegie. The young Carnegie continued to work for Pennsylvania’s Tom Scott and introduced several improvements in the service.

In spring 1861, Carnegie was appointed by Scott, who was now Assistant Secretary of War in charge of military transportation, as Superintendent of the Military Railways and the Union Government’s telegraph lines in the East. Carnegie helped open the rail lines into Washington D.C. that the rebels had cut; he rode the locomotive pulling the first brigade of Union troops to reach Washington D.C. Following the defeat of Union forces at Bull Run, he personally supervised the transportation of the defeated forces. Under his organization, the telegraph service rendered efficient service to the Union cause and significantly assisted in the eventual victory. Carnegie later joked that he was “the first casualty of the war” when he gained a scar on his cheek from freeing a trapped telegraph wire.

Defeat of the Confederacy required vast supplies of munitions, as well as railroads (and telegraph lines) to deliver the goods. The war demonstrated how integral the industries were to American success.

Keystone Bridge Company

In 1864, Carnegie was one of the early investors in the Columbia Oil Company in Venango County, Pennsylvania. In one year, the farm yielded over $1,000,000 in cash dividends, and petroleum from oil wells on the property sold profitably. The demand for iron products, such as armour for gunboats, cannons, and shells, as well as a hundred other industrial products, made Pittsburgh a centre of wartime production. Carnegie worked with others in establishing a steel rolling mill, and steel production and control of industry became the source of his fortune. Carnegie had some investments in the iron industry before the war.

After the war, Carnegie left the railroads to devote his energies to the ironworks trade. Carnegie worked to develop several ironworks, eventually forming the Keystone Bridge Works and the Union Ironworks, in Pittsburgh. Although he had left the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, he remained connected to its management, namely Thomas A. Scott and J. Edgar Thomson. He used his connection to the two men to acquire contracts for his Keystone Bridge Company and the rails produced by his ironworks. He also gave the stock to Scott and Thomson in his businesses, and Pennsylvania was his best customer. When he built his first steel plant, he made a point of naming it after Thomson. As well as having good business sense, Carnegie possessed charm and literary knowledge. He was invited to many important social functions, which Carnegie exploited to his advantage.

Carnegie, c. 1878

Carnegie believed in using his fortune for others and doing more than making money. He wrote:

I propose to take an income no greater than $50,000 per annum! Beyond this, I need ever earn, make no effort to increase my fortune, but spend the surplus each year for benevolent purposes! Let us cast aside business forever, except for others. Let us settle in Oxford and I shall get a thorough education, making the acquaintance of literary men. I figure that this will take three years’ active work. I shall pay especial attention to speaking in public. We can settle in London and I can purchase a controlling interest in some newspaper or live review and give the general management of it attention, taking part in public matters, especially those connected with education and improvement of the poorer classes. Man must have no idol and the amassing of wealth is one of the worst species of idolatry! No idol is more debasing than the worship of money! Whatever I engage in I must push inordinately; therefore should I be careful to choose that life which will be the most elevating in its character. To continue much longer overwhelmed by business cares and with most of my thoughts wholly upon the way to make more money in the shortest time must degrade me beyond hope of permanent recovery. I will resign business at thirty-five, but during these ensuing two years I wish to spend the afternoons in receiving instruction and in reading systematically!


1885–1900: Steel empire

Bessemer converter

Carnegie did not want to marry during his mother’s lifetime, instead choosing to take care of her in her illness towards the end of her life. After she died in 1886, the 51-year-old Carnegie married Louise Whitfield,  who was 21 years his junior.  In 1897,  the couple had their only child, a daughter, whom they named after Carnegie’s mother, Margaret.

Carnegie made his fortune in the steel industry, controlling the most extensive integrated iron and steel operations ever owned by an individual in the United States. One of his two great innovations was in the cheap and efficient mass production of steel by adopting and adapting the Bessemer process, which allowed the high carbon content of pig iron to be burnt away in a controlled and rapid way during steel production. Steel prices dropped as a result, and Bessemer steel was rapidly adopted for rails; however, it was not suitable for buildings and bridges.

The second was in his vertical integration of all suppliers of raw materials. In the late 1880s, Carnegie Steel was the largest manufacturer of pig iron, steel rails, and coke in the world, with a capacity to produce approximately 2,000 tons of pig metal per day. In 1883, Carnegie bought the rival Homestead Steel Works, which included an extensive plant served by tributary coal and iron fields, a 425-mile (684 km) long railway, and a line of lake steamships. Carnegie combined his assets and those of his associates in 1892 with the launching of the Carnegie Steel Company.

By 1889, the U.S. output of steel exceeded that of the UK, and Carnegie owned a large part of it. Carnegie’s empire grew to include the J. Edgar Thomson Steel Works in Braddock, (named for John Edgar Thomson, Carnegie’s former boss and president of the Pennsylvania Railroad), Pittsburgh Bessemer Steel Works, the Lucy Furnaces, the Union Iron Mills, the Union Mill (Wilson, Walker & County), the Keystone Bridge Works, the Hartman Steel Works, the Frick Coke Company, and the Scotia ore mines. Carnegie, through Keystone, supplied the steel for and owned shares in the landmark Eads Bridge project across the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri (completed 1874). This project was an important proof-of-concept for steel technology, which marked the opening of a new steel market.

1901: U.S. Steel

In 1901, Carnegie was 66 years of age and considering retirement. He reformed his enterprises into conventional joint stock corporations as preparation for this. John Pierpont Morgan was a banker and America’s most important financial deal maker. He had observed how efficiently Carnegie produced profits. He envisioned an integrated steel industry that would cut costs, lower prices to consumers, produce in greater quantities and raise wages to workers. To this end, he needed to buy out Carnegie and several other major producers and integrate them into one company, thereby eliminating duplication and waste. He concluded negotiations on March 2, 1901, and formed the United States Steel Corporation. It was the first corporation in the world with a market capitalization over $1 billion.

The buyout, secretly negotiated by Charles M. Schwab (no relation to Charles R. Schwab), was the largest such industrial takeover in United States history to date. The holdings were incorporated in the United States Steel Corporation, a trust organized by Morgan, and Carnegie retired from business.  His steel enterprises were bought out for $303,450,000.

Carnegie’s share of this amounted to $225.64 million (in 2019, $6.93 billion), which was paid to Carnegie in the form of 5%, 50-year gold bonds. The letter agreeing to sell his share was signed on February 26, 1901. On March 2, the circular formally filing the organization and capitalization (at $1.4 billion – 4 per cent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) at the time) of the United States Steel Corporation actually completed the contract. The bonds were to be delivered within two weeks to the Hudson Trust Company of Hoboken, New Jersey, in trust to Robert A. Franks, Carnegie’s business secretary. There, a special vault was built to house the physical bulk of nearly $230 million worth of bonds.

Scholar and activist


Carnegie continued his business career; some of his literary intentions were fulfilled. He befriended the English poet Matthew Arnold, the English philosopher Herbert Spencer, and the American humorist Mark Twain, as well as being in correspondence and acquaintance with most of the U.S. Presidents, statesmen, and notable writers.

Carnegie constructed commodious swimming-baths for the people of his hometown in Dunfermline in 1879. In the following year, Carnegie gave £8,000 for the establishment of a Dunfermline Carnegie Library in Scotland. In 1884, he gave $50,000 to Bellevue Hospital Medical College (now part of New York University Medical Center) to found a histological laboratory, now called the Carnegie Laboratory.

In 1881, Carnegie took his family, including his 70-year-old mother, on a trip to the United Kingdom. They toured Scotland by coach, and enjoyed several receptions en route. The highlight was a return to Dunfermline, where Carnegie’s mother laid the foundation stone of a Carnegie library which he funded. Carnegie’s criticism of British society did not mean dislike; on the contrary, one of Carnegie’s ambitions was to act as a catalyst for a close association between English-speaking peoples. To this end, in the early 1880s in partnership with Samuel Storey, he purchased numerous newspapers in England, all of which were to advocate the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of “the British Republic”. Carnegie’s charm, aided by his wealth, afforded him many British friends, including Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone.

In 1886, Carnegie’s younger brother Thomas died at age 43. While owning steel works, Carnegie had purchased at low cost the most valuable of the iron ore fields around Lake Superior. The same year Carnegie became a figure of controversy. Following his tour of the UK, he wrote about his experiences in a book entitled An American Four-in-hand in Britain.

Carnegie, right, with James Bryce, 1st Viscount Bryce in 1886

Although actively involved in running his many businesses, Carnegie had become a regular contributor to numerous magazines, most notably The Nineteenth Century, under the editorship of James Knowles, and the influential North American Review, led by editor Lloyd Bryce.

In 1886, Carnegie wrote his most radical work to date, entitled Triumphant Democracy. Liberal in its use of statistics to make its arguments, the book argued his view that the American republican system of government was superior to the British monarchical system. It gave a highly favorable and idealized view of American progress and criticized the British royal family. The cover depicted an upended royal crown and a broken scepter. The book created considerable controversy in the UK. The book made many Americans appreciate their country’s economic progress and sold over 40,000 copies, mostly in the US.

In 1889, Carnegie published “Wealth” in the June issue of the North American Review.  After reading it, Gladstone requested its publication in England, where it appeared as “The Gospel of Wealth” in the Pall Mall Gazette. Carnegie argued that the life of a wealthy industrialist should comprise two parts. The first part was the gathering and the accumulation of wealth. The second part was for the subsequent distribution of this wealth to benevolent causes. Philanthropy was key to making life worthwhile.

Carnegie was a well-regarded writer. He published three books on travel.


While Carnegie did not comment on British imperialism, he strongly opposed the idea of American colonies. He opposed the annexation of the Philippines almost to the point of supporting William Jennings Bryan against McKinley in 1900. In 1898, Carnegie tried to arrange for independence for the Philippines. As the end of the Spanish–American War neared, the United States bought the Philippines from Spain for $20 million. To counter what he perceived as imperialism on the part of the United States, Carnegie personally offered $20 million to the Philippines so that the Filipino people could buy their independence from the United States.  However, nothing came of the offer. In 1898 Carnegie joined the American Anti-Imperialist League, in opposition to the U.S. annexation of the Philippines. Its membership included former presidents of the United States Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison and literary figures like Mark Twain.

1901–1919: Philanthropist

Main articles: Carnegie library, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, Carnegie Hero Fund, Carnegie Mellon University, and Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

See also: Carnegie Hall, Tuskegee Institute, and Hooker telescope

Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy. Puck magazine cartoon by Louis Dalrymple, 1903

Carnegie spent his last years as a philanthropist. From 1901 forward, public attention was turned from the shrewd business acumen which had enabled Carnegie to accumulate such a fortune, to the public-spirited way in which he devoted himself to utilizing it on philanthropic projects. He had written about his views on social subjects and the responsibilities of great wealth in Triumphant Democracy (1886) and the Gospel of Wealth (1889). Carnegie bought Skibo Castle in Scotland and made his home partly there and partly in his New York mansion located at 2 East 91st Street at Fifth Avenue. The building was completed in late 1902, and he lived there until his death in 1919. His wife Louise continued to live there until her death in 1946.

The building is now used as the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution. The surrounding neighborhood on Manhattan’s Upper East Side has come to be called Carnegie Hill. The mansion was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966.

Carnegie devoted the rest of his life to providing capital for purposes of public interest and social and educational advancement. He saved letters of appreciation from those he helped in a desk drawer labeled “Gratitude and Sweet Words.”

Carnegie Hall, NY

He was a powerful supporter of the movement for spelling reform, as a means of promoting the spread of the English language.[28] His organization, the Simplified Spelling Board,[50] created the Handbook of Simplified Spelling, which was written wholly in reformed spelling.[51][52]

3,000 public libraries

Among his many philanthropic efforts, the establishment of public libraries throughout the United States, Britain, Canada and other English-speaking countries was especially prominent. In this special driving interest of his, Carnegie was inspired by meetings with philanthropist Enoch Pratt (1808–1896). The Enoch Pratt Free Library (1886) of Baltimore, Maryland, impressed Carnegie deeply; he said, “Pratt was my guide and inspiration.”

Carnegie turned over management of the library project by 1908 to his staff, led by James Bertram (1874–1934).[53] The first Carnegie library opened in 1883 in Dunfermline. His method was to provide funds to build and equip the library, but only on condition that the local authority matched that by providing the land and a budget for operation and maintenance.

To secure local interest, in 1885, he gave $500,000 to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a public library, and in 1886, he gave $250,000 to Allegheny City, Pennsylvania for a music hall and library; and $250,000 to Edinburgh for a free library. In total, Carnegie funded some 3,000 libraries, located in 47 US states, and also in Canada, Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the West Indies, and Fiji. He also donated £50,000 to help set up the University of Birmingham in 1899.

As Van Slyck (1991) showed, during the last years of the 19th century, there was the increasing adoption of the idea that free libraries should be available to the American public. But the design of such libraries was the subject of prolonged and heated debate. On one hand, the library profession called for designs that supported efficiency in administration and operation; on the other, wealthy philanthropists favoured buildings that reinforced the paternalistic metaphor and enhanced civic pride. Between 1886 and 1917, Carnegie reformed both library philanthropy and library design, encouraging a closer correspondence between the two.

Investing in education

Carnegie Mellon University

In 1900, Carnegie gave $2 million to start the Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT) at Pittsburgh and the same amount in 1902 to found the Carnegie Institution at Washington, D.C. He later contributed more to these and other schools.  CIT is now known as Carnegie Mellon University after it merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. Carnegie also served on the Boards of Cornell University and Stevens Institute of Technology.

In 1911, Carnegie became a sympathetic benefactor to George Ellery Hale, who was trying to build the 100-inch (2.5 m) Hooker Telescope at Mount Wilson, and donated an additional ten million dollars to the Carnegie Institution with the following suggestion to expedite the construction of the telescope: “I hope the work at Mount Wilson will be vigorously pushed because I am so anxious to hear the expected results from it. I should like to be satisfied before I depart, that we are going to repay to the old land some part of the debt we owe them by revealing more clearly than ever to them the new heavens.” The telescope saw first light on November 2, 1917, with Carnegie still alive.

Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline

In 1901, in Scotland, he gave $10 million to establish the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. It was created by a deed which he signed on June 7, 1901, and it was incorporated by Royal Charter on August 21, 1902. The establishing gift of $10 million was then an unprecedented sum: at the time, total government assistance to all four Scottish universities was about £50,000 a year. The aim of the Trust was to improve and extend the opportunities for scientific research in the Scottish universities and to enable the deserving and qualified youth of Scotland to attend a university. He was subsequently elected Lord Rector of University of St. Andrews in December 1901 and formally installed as such in October 1902,  serving until 1907. He also donated large sums of money to Dunfermline, the place of his birth. In addition to a library, Carnegie also bought the private estate which became Pittencrieff Park and opened it to all members of the public, establishing the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust to benefit the people of Dunfermline. A statue of him stands there today.

He gave a further $10 million in 1913 to endow the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, a grant-making foundation.  He transferred to the trust the charge of all his existing and future benefactions, other than university benefactions in the United Kingdom. He gave the trustees a wide discretion, and they inaugurated a policy of financing rural library schemes rather than erecting library buildings, and of assisting the musical education of the people rather than granting organs to churches.

Carnegie with African-American leader Booker T. Washington (front row, center) in 1906 while visiting Tuskegee Institute

In 1901, Carnegie also established large pension funds for his former employees at Homestead and, in 1905, for American college professors.  The latter fund evolved into TIAA-CREF. One critical requirement was that church-related schools had to sever their religious connections to get his money.

His interest in music led him to fund construction of 7,000 church organs. He built and owned Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Carnegie was a large benefactor of the Tuskegee Institute for African-American education under Booker T. Washington. He helped Washington create the National Negro Business League.

April 1905

In 1904, he founded the Carnegie Hero Fund for the United States and Canada (a few years later also established in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Germany) for the recognition of deeds of heroism. Carnegie contributed $1,500,000 in 1903 for the erection of the Peace Palace at The Hague; and he donated $150,000 for a Pan-American Palace in Washington as a home for the International Bureau of American Republics.

Carnegie was honored for his philanthropy and support of the arts by initiation as an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity on October 14, 1917, at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. The fraternity’s mission reflects Carnegie’s values by developing young men to share their talents to create harmony in the world.

By the standards of 19th century tycoons, Carnegie was not a particularly ruthless man but a humanitarian with enough acquisitiveness to go in the ruthless pursuit of money. “Maybe with the giving away of his money,” commented biographer Joseph Wall, “he would justify what he had done to get that money.”

To some, Carnegie represents the idea of the American dream. He was an immigrant from Scotland who came to America and became successful. He is not only known for his successes but his enormous amounts of philanthropist works, not only to charities but also to promote democracy and independence to colonized countries.


Carnegie died on August 11, 1919, in Lenox, Massachusetts, at his Shadow Brook estate, of bronchial pneumonia. He had already given away $350,695,653 (approximately $76.9 billion, adjusted to 2015 share of GDP figures) of his wealth. After his death, his last $30,000,000 was given to foundations, charities, and to pensioners.  He was buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York. The gravesite is located on the Arcadia Hebron plot of land at the corner of Summit Avenue and Dingle Road. Carnegie is buried only a few yards away from union organizer Samuel Gompers, another important figure of the industry in the Gilded Age.

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Scottish Towns-Cities. Edinburgh.

Hi friends.

I was able to visit family a few years back and took this video off my phone, I was on a ride on the Trams. These were just in the early stages when I lived there, but now complete. Hope you enjoy.

Edinburgh a Journey on the Trams.
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Blog/Web Promotions.(Dracul Van Helsing)

Dracul Van Helsing.

Hi friends, Another great blogger with fantastic stories definitely worth a visit, and all-round nice person who takes an interest in everyone’s work.

Here is a sample of CHRISTOPHER MILNER’s work.

The April Fool

The following poem was written by a friend of mine Father Jacob Boddicker SJ a Jesuit priest (a rare breed of Jesuit for these times – one who’s actually a Christian and not a Marxist) whose parish consists of serving several communities on the Lakota Sioux reservation in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

I first came to know Father Jacob (we’ve never met in person) when he was a young seminarian and noviciate in the Jesuit order when he had a blog at the Xanga blogging site back in 2009 where I also had my primary blog at the time.

When my dad died from cancer in June of 2010, every few days for the next year I’d get a message from Jacob asking me how I was doing.

We still keep in touch.

He was finally ordained a priest about 3 or 4 years ago.

And has been serving the people of the Lakota Sioux First Nation ever since where he was assigned after ordination.

This is his poem that he wrote today and posted on his Facebook page entitled The April Fool:

The April Fool 

By Father Jacob Boddicker SJ

“Tear down this temple,” the April Fool cried,
“And on the third-day shalt I raise it up.”
On an ass did he come, crowd-hailed then hied 
to a quiet place with his friends to sup.
“This bread is my Flesh; this wine is my Blood,” 
yet to all ’twas no change in look or taste.
Though claimed he divine, heeded not ill-brood 
of one there, silver-swayed, who’d lay him waste.
The Fool, who dared to trust, abandoned was to mock and spit, blood and bone, agony, 
then though innocent bore he his own cross 
‘fore enthroned a sad lord on Calvary.
“The jester king!” laughed they, those people cruel;
but on day three proved they the April fools.

Please visit Dracul Van Helsing here.

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Famous Scots. The Loch Ness Monster.

Hey folks, A great part of Scottish tradition is the famous Loch Ness Monster, fact or fiction, you decide, it certainly has driven millions of visitors to the great loch, and to be honest it is a beautiful part of Scotland.

Loch Ness monster


Alternative Title: Nessie

Loch Ness monster, byname Nessie, a large marine creature believed by some people to inhabit Loch Ness, Scotland. However, much of the alleged evidence supporting its existence has been discredited, and it is widely thought that the monster is a myth.

Loch Ness monster: “surgeon’s photograph”

Photograph that allegedly showed the Loch Ness monster, 1934. The image, known as the “surgeon’s photograph,” was later revealed to be a hoax.

Reports of a monster inhabiting Loch Ness date back to ancient times. Notably, local stone carvings by the Pict depict a mysterious beast with flippers. The first written account appears in a biography of St. Columba from 565 AD. According to that work, the monster bit a swimmer and was prepared to attack another man when Columba intervened, ordering the beast to “go back.” It obeyed, and over the centuries only occasional sightings were reported. Many of these alleged encounters seemed inspired by Scottish folklore, which abounds with mythical water creatures.

In 1933 the Loch Ness monster’s legend began to grow. At the time, a road adjacent to Loch Ness was finished, offering an unobstructed view of the lake. In April a couple saw an enormous animal—which they compared to a “dragon or prehistoric monster”—and after it crossed their car’s path, it disappeared into the water. The incident was reported in a Scottish newspaper, and numerous sightings followed. In December 1933 the Daily Mail commissioned Marmaduke Wetherell, a big-game hunter, to locate the sea serpent. Along the lake’s shores, he found large footprints that he believed belonged to “a very powerful soft-footed animal about 20 feet [6 metres] long.” However, upon closer inspection, zoologists at the Natural History Museum determined that the tracks were identical and made with an umbrella stand or ashtray that had a hippopotamus leg as a base; Wetherell’s role in the hoax was unclear.

The news only seemed to spur efforts to prove the monster’s existence. In 1934 English physician Robert Kenneth Wilson photographed the alleged creature. The iconic image—known as the “surgeon’s photograph”—appeared to show the monster’s small head and neck. The Daily Mail printed the photograph, sparking an international sensation. Many speculated that the creature was a plesiosaur, a marine reptile that went extinct some 65.5 million years ago.

The Loch Ness area attracted numerous monster hunters. Over the years, several sonar explorations (notably in 1987 and 2003) were undertaken to locate the creature, but none were successful. In addition, numerous photographs allegedly showed the beast, but most were discredited as fakes or as depicting other animals or objects. Notably, in 1994 it was revealed that Wilson’s photograph was a hoax spearheaded by a revenge-seeking Wetherell; the “monster” was actually a plastic-and-wooden head attached to a toy submarine. Despite the lack of conclusive evidence, the Loch Ness monster remained popular—and profitable. In the early 21st century, it was thought that it contributed nearly $80 million annually to Scotland’s economy.

Do you believe in the Loch Ness Monster?

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Infamous Scots Sir Robert Graham.

Sir Robert Graham of Kinpont (died 1437) was a Scottish landowner, and one of the key conspirators in the assassination of King James I of Scotland in 1437.


Robert Graham was the third son of Patrick Graham of Kincardine. He attended the University of Paris in the 1390s, potentially in preparation for entering the priesthood. In 1399 he married Marion Oliphant, daughter of John Oliphant of Aberdalgie.  Robert’s brother Sir Patrick Graham (died 1413) acquired the Earldom of Strathearn through his 1406 marriage to Euphemia Stewart, Countess of Strathearn. Robert became tutor to his nephew, Malise Graham. He is described as “a grete gentilman… a man of grete wit and eloquence, wounder suttilye willyd and expert in the lawe”.

The Grahams were supporters of Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, and his son Murdoch. When Murdoch and his two sons were executed by James I in 1425, Robert Graham was imprisoned in Dunbar Castle but was free by 1428.  Around 1425, James I deprived Malise Graham of the Earldom of Strathearn, on the pretext that he had inherited from his mother. At the time, Malise was a minor and was also being held hostage in England. Some say this action which turned Robert Graham against his King although others question such a motivation.  The earldom was granted to Walter Stewart, Earl of Atholl, the uncle of James I, and Robert appears to have continued in the service of the new Earl.

Walter was next in line to the throne, and, though a distant relation, Graham’s nephew – Malise – was the next in line after Walter. Walter and Robert both had further grievances against the King, and worked together to bring about his murder which was carried out by Graham.

The assassination of James I

 … Yitte dowte I nott but theat yee schulle see the daye and tyme that ye schulle pray for my sowle, for the grete good that I have done to yow, and to all this reume of Scotteland, that I have thus slayne and deliverde yow of so crewell a tyrant…

 … Yet I do not doubt but that you shall see the day and time that you shall pray for my soul, for the great good that I have done to you, and to all in this realm of Scotland, that I have thus slain and delivered you of so cruel a tyrant…

   — Sir Robert Graham

In 1436, after a disastrous military expedition to Roxburgh, Sir Robert denounced the monarch in Parliament and attempted to arrest him.  He was arrested and imprisoned, but escaped. A conspiracy was formed between Sir Robert, the Earl of Atholl, and Atholl’s grandson Robert Stewart.

On the night of 20 February 1437, James was lodging in the Dominican Friary in Perth. Robert Stewart allowed the conspirators, including Sir Robert Graham and his son Thomas, into the lodging. Although the King attempted to hide in a drain, he was discovered and stabbed to death. Sir Robert is said to have dealt the fatal blow. The assassins escaped, but without killing the Queen, Joan Beaufort, who quickly assumed power as regent for the young James II. There was no wider support for the conspiracy, and the King’s assassins were soon rounded up and brutally executed. Sir Robert was discovered in Perthshire and brought to Stirling, where he was executed in April.

In 17th-century litigation surrounding the Earl of Airth and his claim on the Earldom of Strathearn, it was argued by the Crown that to recognise the Earl of Airth’s claim would be a justification of Sir Robert Graham’s murder of the King.  However, more recent historians have doubted that the deprivation of Malise Graham was such a strong motivation for Sir Robert’s actions.

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Blog/Web Promotions.(Regina Castejón)

Regina Castejón

Hi friends.

When I switched over to WordPress from Blogger I had no idea the number of great blogs that were out there, so with a lot of searching I managed to find many and now I am friends with most of them.

Today I would like to promote the lovely Regina Castejón, Regina has a couple of websites but this particular one is fab because she shares her work in Poetry.

Here is a sample of her work.

I see behind the window
 The tears no longer matter I know
 that the sun illuminates,
 More I'm cold ... 
 Like  an ice floe

 I can understand
 Time has accompanied me;
 The reasons today are superfluous,
 They seem like hollow words ... Nonsense
 have to be

 Love ...
 plays everything or perhaps nothing.
 Today I just want
 you to hold me, to
 blur my soul.

 But I'm cold ... 
 Like  an ice floe.
 I remember when you said:
 "Our love is invincible"
 and I can't stop thinking ... 

Please visit Reginas Blog here and give her some support.

Reginas Blog.

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Infamous Scots Jamie Macpherson.

James Macpherson (1675–1700) was a Scottish outlaw, famed for his Lament or Rant, a version of which was rewritten by the Scottish poet, Robert Burns. The original version of the lament is alleged to have been written by Macpherson himself in prison on the eve of his execution.

Early life

Macpherson was the illegitimate son of a Highland laird, Macpherson of Invereshie, and a beautiful Tinker or gipsy girl that he met at a wedding. The gentleman acknowledged the child and had him reared in his house. After the death of his father, who was killed while attempting to recover a “spread” of cattle taken from Badenoch by reivers – the boy was reclaimed by his mother’s people. The gipsy woman frequently returned with him, to wait upon his relations and clansmen, who never failed to clothe him well, besides giving money to his mother. He grew up “in beauty, strength and stature rarely equaled.” Macpherson is reported as being a man of uncommon personal strength. He became an expert swordsman and a renowned fiddler, and eventually became the leader of the gipsy band. The tinker-Gypsies then lived by buying and selling horses and seem to have been quite popular with the ordinary country folk.

Outlaw career

Though his prowess was debased as the exploits of a freebooter (pirate), it is certain, says one writer, that no act of cruelty or robbery of the widow, the fatherless, or the distressed was ever perpetrated under his command. Indeed, it is alleged that a dispute with an aspiring and savage man of his tribe, who wished to rob a gentleman’s house while his wife and two children lay on the bier for interment, was the cause of his being betrayed to the vengeance of the law. Thus he was betrayed by a man of his own tribe and was the last person executed at Banff previous to the abolition of heritable jurisdictions.

Macpherson had incurred the enmity of the rich lairds and farmers of the low country of Banff and Aberdeenshire, and especially of Duff of Braco, who organised a posse to catch him. “After holding the counties of Aberdeen, Banff, and Moray in fear for some years”, says Chambers, “he was seized by Duff of Braco, ancestor of the Earl of Fife, and tried before the Sheriff of Banffshire (8 November 1700), along with certain Gypsies who had been taken in his company.

Before ultimately being brought to trial, Macpherson was captured several times but always escaped from his enemies. In Aberdeen, his cousin, Donald, and a gipsy named Peter Brown, aided by the populace, rescued him from prison. Shortly afterwards, he was again captured but was once more rescued, this time by the Laird of Grant.

Capture and trial.

Macpherson’s career of robbery had culminated in a “reign of terror” in the markets of Banff, Elgin and Forres. Apparently, under the protection of the Laird of Grant, he and his band of followers would come marching in with a piper at their head. Perhaps he became too powerful for comfort for he was hanged at Banff in 1700, for bearing arms at Keith market. At the Saint Rufus Fair in Keith Macpherson was attacked by Braco’s men, and was captured after a fierce fight in which one of Jamie’s crew was killed. According to the traditional account penned by Jamie himself, a woman dropped a blanket over him from a window, and he was disarmed before he could get free of it. Duff and a very strong escort then took him to Banff prison.

It was still at that time a criminal offence merely to be an Egyptian (Gypsy) in Scotland, and it was under this statute that Macpherson was tried in November 1700. Macpherson and three others were brought to trial at Banff before Sheriff Nicholas Dunbar, Sheriff of Banffshire (who allegedly was a close friend of Duff’s), on 8 November 1700, accused of: “Being ye mercats in yr ordinary manner of thieving and purse-cutting, or of the crimes of theft and masterful bangstree and oppression”, and they were found “Fyllen, culpable, and convick” and sentenced “For sae muckle, as you, James Macpherson, are found guilty of being Egyptians and vagabonds and oppressors of his free lieges. Therefore, I adjudge and decern you to be taken to the cross of Banff to be hanged by the neck to the death”.

The actual procès-verbal of his trial is still extant; the following is the text of the death sentence:

“Forasmeikle as you James Macpherson, pannal [accused] are found guilty by ane verdict of ane assyse, to be knoun, holden, and repute to be Egiptian and a wagabond, and oppressor of his Magesties free lieges in ane bangstrie manner, and going up and down the country armed, and keeping mercats in ane hostile manner, and that you are a thief, and that you are of pessimae famae. Therfor, the Sheriff-depute of Banff, and I in his name, adjudges and discernes you the said James Macpherson to be taken to the Cross of Banff, from the tolbooth thereof, where you now lye, and there upon ane gibbet to be erected, to be hanged by the neck to the death by the hand of the common executioner, upon Friday next, being the 16th day of November instant, being a public weekly mercat day, betwixt the hours of two and three in the afternoon…

Macpherson’s Lament

While under sentence of death in the jail, during the week between his trial and his execution, Macpherson is said to have composed the tune and the song now known as Macpherson’s Lament or Macpherson’s Rant. Sir Walter Scott says that Macpherson played it under the gallows, and, after playing the tune, he then offered his fiddle to anyone in his clan who would play it at his wake. When no one came forward to take the fiddle, he broke it – either across his knee or over the executioner’s head – and then threw it into the crowd with the remark, “No one else shall play Jamie Macpherson’s fiddle”. The broken fiddle now lies in the Macpherson Clan museum near Newtonmore, Inverness-shire. He then was hanged or, according to some accounts, threw himself from the ladder, to hang by his own will. This was allegedly the last capital sentence executed in Scotland under Heritable Jurisdiction, taking place on 16 November 1700.

The traditional accounts of Macpherson’s immense prowess seem justified by his bones, which were found not very many years ago, and were allowed by all who saw them to be much stronger than the bones of ordinary men.  He was assuredly no ordinary man, that he could so disport himself on the morning of his execution.

It is universally believed in the North-East of Scotland that a reprieve was on its way to Banff at the time of the execution. The legend has it that Duff of Braco saw a lone rider coming from Turriff and correctly assumed that he carried a pardon for Jamie from the Lord of Grant. As the story goes, he then set about turning the village clock 15 minutes ahead and so hanging Macpherson before the pardon arrived. The magistrates allegedly were punished for this and the town clock was kept 15 minutes before the correct time for many years. Even to this day, the town of Macduff has its west-facing town clock covered so the people of Banff can’t see the correct time!

A text (and there are many variations) of “Macpherson’s Lament or Rant” follows:

I've spent my life in rioting,
 Debauch'd my health and strength,
 I squander'd fast, as pillage came,
 And fell to shame at length.


 Sae rantingly, sae wantonly,
 Sae dauntingly gaed he;
 He play'd a tune, and danc'd it roon'
 Below the gallows-tree.
 My father was a gentleman,
 Of fame and honour high,
 Oh mother, would you ne'er had borne
 The son so doom'd to die.


 Ach, little did my mother think
 When first she cradled me
 That I would turn a roving boy
 And die on the gallows tree


 Farewell, yon dungeons dark and strong,
 The wretch's destinie!
 Macpherson's time will not be long
 On yonder gallows-tree.


 O what is Death but parting breath?
 On many a bloody plain
 I've dar'd his face, and in this place
 I'll scorn him yet again.


 But vengeance I never did wreak,
 When pow'r was in my hand,
 And you, dear friends, no vengeance seek,
 It is my last command.


 Forgive the man whose rage betray'd
 Macpherson's worthless life;
 When I am gone, be it not said,
 My legacy was strife.


 It was by a woman's treacherous hand
 That I was condemned tae dee
 Aboon a ledge at a windae she stood
 And a blanket she threw o'er me


 Untie these bands frae aff o' my hands
 And gie tae me my sword
 There's no a man in a' Scotland
 But I'll brave him at his word


 There's some come here tae see me hang
 And some tae buy my fiddle
 But afore that I dae part wi' her
 I'd brak' her through the middle


 He took his fiddle into both of his hands
 And he brak' it o'er a stone
 Said, Nae ither hands shall play on thee
 When I am deid and gane


 Now farewell light, thou sunshine bright, "
 And all beneath the sky!
 May coward shame distain his name,
 The wretch that dares not die!


 A reprieve was coming o'er the brig o' Banff
 Tae set Macpherson free,
 But they pit the clock a quarter afore
 And they hanged him from a tree.


 Sae rantingly, sae wantonly,
 Sae dauntingly gaed he;
 He play'd a tune, and danc'd it roon'
 And they hanged him from a tree. 
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