Dewar Places & People

Clan Dewar People

Sir James Dewar (1842 – 1923)

Sir James Dewar

Scottish chemist and physicist. He was the youngest of six boys, and he lost his parents at the age of 15. He was born in Kincardine-on-Forth and was educated at Dollar Academy and the University of Edinburgh, where he graduated. Later he became professor at the University of Cambridge 1875 and was a member of the Royal Institution 1877. He developed a chemical formula for benzene and performed extensive work in spectroscopy for more than 25 years. In 1891 he discovered a process to produce liquid oxygen in industrial quantities. He developed an insulating bottle, Dewar flask, still named after him, to study low temperature gas phenomena. He also used this bottle to transport liquid gases like hydrogen 1898. In 1905 he observed that cold charcoal could produce a vacuum. This technique was quite useful for experiments in atomic physics. He is credited as the inventor of the vacuum flask.

Along with Sir Frederick Augustus Abel, developed the smokeless explosive whose common name is cordite. He died in London in 1823.

Sir Thomas Dewar (1864 – 1930)

British whisky distiller who, along with his brother John Dewar, built their family label, Dewars, into an international success. They blended their whisky to make it more appealing to the international palate and Sir Thomas demonstrated particular skills in marketing, travelling the world to find new markets and promote his product, exploiting romantic images of Scotland and tartan in his advertising.

He was raised to the peerage as Lord Dewar, but never married.

Donald Campbell Dewar (1937 – 2000)

Donald Dewar

Scottish politician and the first First Minister of Scotland after devolution in 1999. Born in Glasgow on 21 August 1937 to quite elderly parents, Dewar was an only child. He attended Glasgow Academy before studying at the University of Glasgow, where he gained both LLB and MA degrees. Here, he met his close friend John Smith—who would later become leader of the British Labour Party—through the debating society. In his time at university he also served as President of the Glasgow University Union and was a member of the Glasgow University Labour Club.

A member of the Labour Party at both Scottish and UK levels, Donald Dewar worked as a solicitor in Glasgow before being elected at the age of 28 in the 1966 general election to the Parliament of the United Kingdom at Westminster to represent the marginal constituency of Aberdeen South. In 1967 he was made Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Education Secretary Anthony Crosland, who Dewar confessed later to never really establishing a rapport with. He held that position until 1969 but was proposed in April 1968 for a Minister of State position by Roy Jenkins. Nothing came of this though.

After a political hiatus during the 1970s, Donald Dewar was returned to Westminster as the Member of Parliament for Glasgow Garscadden at a by-election in 1978 following the death of Labour MP William Small. He rose quickly through the ranks, becoming a member of the Shadow Cabinet in 1984. In 1992 John Smith made him Shadow Social Security Secretary. In 1995, Dewar was made a Chief Whip for the Labour Party by Tony Blair, and when the Labour Party was declared the majority party in the 1997 election, he was given the post of Secretary of State for Scotland.

By this stage, Dewar was in a position which the late John Smith would never have thought possible. He was able to start the devolution process, and worked endlessly on creating the Scotland Act, popularly known as Smith’s “unfinished business”. When ratified, this was to give Scotland its first Parliament for nearly 300 years.

When the first elections for the new Scottish parliament were held in 1999, Dewar was returned as the Member for Glasgow Anniesland, and subsequently elected First Minister for the governing Scottish Labour Party/Liberal Democrat coalition.

A man with endless enthusiasm, the strain of establishing the new Parliament would begin to take its toll, and Dewar underwent major open heart surgery in May 2000. He returned to his post as First Minister three months later. On 10 October that year, he suffered a massive brain haemorrhage which was triggered by the anticoagulant medication he was taking after the surgery. He died a day later, in Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital, at the age of 63. His funeral service was held at Glasgow Cathedral, amid scenes of mourning unknown for a politician in Scotland’s largest city. He was cremated and his ashes scattered at Lochgilphead.

Donald Dewar’s work for the Scottish Parliament has led him to be called the “Father of the Nation”.

James Dewar (1942- 2002)

James Dewar

Scottish bassist and vocalist for Robin Trower and Stone The Crows. Dewar’s career began with Lulu and the Luvvers in the early 1960s and reached its zenith with the Robin Trower Band, a British rock power trio.

Dewar made his mark as one of the greatest white soul singers, performing in front of sold-out stadiums and concert halls across the United States at the crest of the classic rock era of the 1970s. Deep, gritty, and resonating, his style shows the influence of Ray Charles and Otis Redding. Along with fellow Brits Paul Rodgers and Frankie Miller, his voice was particularly suited for blues and soul-inspired material.