August 1st

  • On this day in 1724 Sir Patrick Hume, Lord Marchmont, the Scottish statesman, died. Imprisoned for his opposition to James II’s policies against Scottish Presbyterians, he later escaped to Europe where he became one of William of Orange’s chief lieutenants. Following the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688, he was appointed Lord Chancellor of Scotland, and played a vital role in securing William’s rule in Scotland.
  • On 1 August 1545 Andrew Melville, the Church reformer, founder of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, Principal of Glasgow University and St Mary’s College, St Andrews, was born. Melville is viewed as the successor to John Knox as the leader of Scottish Protestanism. His work, the ‘Second Book of Discipline’, advocated Presbyterian, rather than Episcopal government, which brought him into conflict with his monarch, James VI, who sought to control the Scottish Church through his bishops. Melville was also a keen advocate of education in Scotland, and is credited with helping to reform Scottish universities through the introduction of European teaching methods.

August 2nd

  • On 2 August 1922 Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, died. Although he is best known for this invention Bell was also well known for his work on deafness, including teaching a young Helen Keller. His work in this field was a continuation of that which had been begun by his father, Alexander Melville Bell, who developed Visible Speech, a method of teaching speech to the deaf. Bell also invented an air-cooling system, a way of desalinating sea-water and a sorting machine for punch-coded census cards. Later in life he also became interested in aeronautics, inventing several large kites capable of carrying the weight of a human and producing a hydrofoil craft in 1919 that managed to reach the speed of 70 mph.
  • Today in 1910 Roger MacDougall, the Scottish playwright and film screenwriter, was born. MacDougall was the author of the classic comedy play “The Man in the White Coat”, which he also wrote the film script for as an Ealing Comedy. He also wrote the scripts for the Ealing comedies, “A Touch of Larceny” and “The Mouse That Roared”. His other plays include, “Escapade” and “To Dorothy a Son” bopth adapted as films. MacDougall also treated himself when diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, changing his diet and making a substantial recovery from the disease.

August 3rd

  • On this day in 1460, King James II was killed during the siege of Roxburgh Castle. James was regarded as one of the better Scottish monarchs of the period, ending the feud between the Livingstons and Crichtons, and finally defeating the rebellious Douglases. He also established many trade links on the continent and through his wife, Mary of Gueldres, and the marriages of his sisters obtained many valuable political alliances. However, James took too close an interest in the new military invention, the cannon, and met his end, at the age of only thirty, when a Scottish cannon burst its casing killing the young king outright.
  • On 3 August 1855 inventor George Johnstone was born at West Linton near Edinburgh. A son of the manse, he trained as an engineer and, in 1894, became the first Scottish motorist driving an imported Daimler. By the following year he had invented his own car, ‘the Ghost Tram.’ In 1896, he became the first person in Britain to be convicted of a motoring offence when police in Glasgow stopped him in St. Enoch’s Square and he failed to convince the court that his car did not constitute a locomotive, and he incurred a fine.

August 4th

  • On 4 August 1870 Sir Harry Lauder, Scottish music hall comedian, was born in Portobello. The biggest Scottish entertainer of his age, his most popular songs included “I Love a Lassie” and “Roamin’ in the Gloamin’. Lauder was the first entertainer to perform for soldiers at the front line during the First World War and earned a knighthood in 1919 for this and for his work in recruiting Scots for the army, including paying for 100 pipers to march through Scotland as a recruitment drive. His signature tune was “Keep Right on to the End of the Road”, supposedly written after he lost his only son during the Great War.
  • Today in 1588 saw the death of Archibald Douglas, the 8th Earl of Angus, the Scottish aristocrat and soldier. Douglas became a formidable power in Scotland under the patronage of his uncle, the earl of Morton, the regent for young King James VI. However, after Morton’s death his fall from grace was just as rapid. In 1581, the vengeful king charged him with treason and he was forced to flee to England. Douglas was a fierce Presbyterian and came to lead (with covert assistance from the English Queen Elizabeth) the other Protestant Scottish exiles in England. He was reconciled with the king in 1584 and returned home, but his strong religious views excluded him any position of power and influence under James.
  • On this day in 1792 Edward Irving, the noted cleric, was born. Irving was expelled from the Church of Scotland for preaching the sinful side of Christ’s humanity, and His imminent Second Coming. He founded the ‘Holy Catholic Apostolic Church’, popularly known as the “Irvingites”. His friends and supporters included Charles Lamb, Thomas Carlyle and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

August 5th

  • On 5 August 1704, the Act of Security was passed by the Scottish Parliament. The Act of Security, which allowed the Three Estates to choose another successor to Queen Anne than the choice made by the English Parliament, if Scottish conditions were not met, was approved by the Scottish Parliament. The English responded with the Alien Act (1705) which demanded that if the Scots did not accept the Hanoverian succession, or begin proceedings on a union of parliaments, then Scottish imports to England would be banned and Scots living in England would be treated as aliens.
  • On 5 August 1923 Scottish broadcaster, Eileen Mitchell, was born. Mitchell was the woman whose voice was known to millions through the phrase, “Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin”. She presented BBC Radio’s daily children’s series ‘Listen with Mother’, and also sang many of the nursery rhymes in the programme on which she appeared for about 15 years. When the programme spawned BBC TV’s “Watch With Mother”, she supplied one of the voices in ‘The Woodentops’.

August 6th

  • On 6 August 1881 Sir Alexander Fleming, the Nobel prize-winning bacteriologist, was born. Born near Darvel in rural Ayrshire, Fleming became a lecturer at St Mary’s Medical School in London. After seeing front line service in the Army Medical Corps throughout the Great War, he returned to St Mary’s and began his research into anti-bacterial substances. In 1928, whilst carrying out work on the influenza virus, he noticed that mould had accidentally developed on a staphylococcus culture plate and that the mould had created a bacteria-free circle around itself. This discovery fired Fleming’s work and he found that a mould culture prevented growth of staphylococci, even when diluted 800 times. He named the active substance penicillin.
  • On 6 August 1796 Scottish artist, David Allan, died. Allan was noted for his historical subjects and portraits and was nicknamed the “Scottish Hogarth”. In addition to his portraits, Allan provided illustrations for Allan Ramsay‘s ‘The Gentle Shepherd’ and for some of the poems of Robert Burns, including engravings of ‘Tam o’Shanter’ and ‘The Cotter’s Saturday Night’.

August 7th

  • On 7th August, 1914, Lord Kitchener, the war minister, began a mass recruiting campaign, three days after Britain declared war on Germany. Kitchener’s appeal called for men aged between 19 and 30 to join the British Army. At first an average of 33,000 men were joining up each day but this was still not enough, and three weeks later Kitchener raised the recruiting age to 35. By the middle of September over 500,000 men had volunteered their services. By the end of 1915 some two million men had volunteered their services, including the entire Hearts first team squad who joined en masse leading supporters to the recruiting office. By the war’s end a total of 147,609 Scots had been killed, a fifth of Britain’s dead from a country that made up only 10% of its population.

August 8th

  • Today in 1296 the Scottish Coronation Stone, the Stone of Destiny, was removed from Scone Abbey. The stone was taken on the orders of King Edward I of England, and was transported to Westminster Abbey, where it was used to crown English monarchs until it was returned to Scotland in 1996. The stone itself is a block of red sandstone, and was said to have been used by Jacob, father of the twelve tribes of Israel, as a pillow.
  • On 8 August 1503 King James IV of Scotland married Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII of England. The wedding was christened the Marriage of the Thistle and the Rose, and was designed to creata stable relations between the two feuding kingdoms. In the coming century it was also to form the basis from which the Stewarts made claim to the English crown.

August 9th

  • On 9th of August 1757 the famous engineer, Thomas Telford, was born in rural Dumfriesshire.
  • Telford went on to build many important works of engineering across Britain including the Menai Suspension Bridge and the Caledonian Canal. He was also responsible for the building of much of the road network in the Highlands, earning himself the nickname “The Colossus of Roads.”
  • On 9th of August 1913 Professor James Gordon, the Scottish industrial chemist and engineer, was born. Gordon was a pioneer of materials science, which sought to explain the gap between chemistry and structural mechanics. In 1968, he published his findings in the ground-breaking, The New Science of Strong Materials.

August 10th

  • On August 10, 1784 artist, Allan Ramsay Jnr died. Son of the poet Allan Ramsay Snr, he was a leading portrait painter of his day. Some of his subjects included King George III, historian Edward Gibbon, philosopher David Hume and Jacobite heroine Flora MacDonald. However not all those who sat for him were overjoyed with the results as French philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau was reputed to be unimpressed by his portrait, although it did not prevent the two men from becoming friends.
  • On 10 August 1937, John Hodge, the Scottish Labour politician, died. Hodge became the first Labour minister serving as Minister of Labour in the second coalition government during the First World War. Hodge faced criticism from the left wing of the Labour Party for supporting the war, and for his harsh policies when dealing with striking workers during the war years.

August 11th

  • On 12 August 1332 the Battle of Dupplin Moor was fought. The battle was fought between the Scottish forces of King David II, led by the regent, the Earl of Mar, and English forces supporting the claim of Edward Balliol. Not for the last time in battles with the English, the Scots squandered their numerical advantage, and following a confused attack were routed with heavy losses by Edward Balliol’s army.
  • On 11 August 1892 poet Christopher Murray Grieve was born in Langholm. Grieve wrote under the pseudonym, Hugh MacDiarmid, and is considered the driving force behind Scottish Literary Renaissance which took shape during the 1920s. MacDiarmind viewed his mission as rescuing Scottish culture and modernising it to reflect 20th Century Scotland. He also tried to resurrect the Scots language as a vital part of maintaning an independent Scottish culture. His masterpiece, A Drunk Man Lokks at the Thistle, reflects his abhorrence at the way Scottish culture had developed. MacDiarmid remained a man of contradictions throughout his life being both a founder of the Naional Party of Scotland and a member of the Communist Party – although he was thrown out of both parties, but his influence as an artist can still be felt in today’s Scottish writing.
  • On this day in 1919 Andrew Carnegie, the Dunfermline-born steel industrialist and philanthropist, died. Throughout his later life Carnegie established a number of foundations for education and research such as the Carnegie Foundation and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Carnegie himself was devastated that his attempts to prevent global war had come to nothing. In his essay, ‘The Gospel of Wealth’, he argued that after making their fortunes wealthy men should distribute the surplus for the general welfare; a practice he followed.

August 12th

  • On 12 August 1990 Roy Williamson, the Scottish folk musician and songwriter, died. Williamson was one of the famous duo, the Corries, along with Ronnie Browne. It was Williamson who penned the song “Flower of Scotland”, now used by Scottish sporting teams as an anthem.

August 13th

  • On 13 August 1907 Scottish architect, Sir Basil Spence, was born. . Spence was actually born in India, but was educated and spent most of his adult life working in Edinburgh, initially working for Sir William Kininmonth at the practice of Rowand Anderson and Paul. With work ranging from private housing to commercial and public buildings Spenve became known as an architect who attracted controversy for his striking contemporary designs. Perhaps his best known works are the new Coventry Cathedral, and Knightsbridge barracks in London.
  • On 13 August 1867 Sir William Craigie, the Scottish lexicographer, was born. Craigie was regarded as the most eminent lexicographer of his day and spent from 1901-1933 as joint editor of the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’. His other passion was the Scots language, and he proposed a “Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue” as early as 1919. He began work on it later in life but had not managed to complete the work at his death.

August 14th

  • On August 14, 1863 Colin Campbell, Field Marshal Lord Clyde, the noted Scottish soldier, died. Campbell was born Colin MacIver in Glasgow, but was partly adopted by his uncle, Col John Campbell, and when recieving his commission in the army his name was registered as Campbell. It seems even that the young officer was advised to assume the name of Campbell as a means of advancement in his army career. Campbell fought in every major campaign the British army was involved in from the Napoleonic War to the Crimea, and rose quickly through the ranks. His crowning moment was as Commander-in-Chief of the British forces during the Indian Mutiny, 1857. He was fondly regarded by his troops, particularly by the Highlanders under his command and it was these soldiers who held the famous ‘Thin Red Line’ during the Battle of Balaclava.
  • On this day in 1337 King Robert III was born at Scone Palace. Robert was actually baptised as John, but in Scotland this was considered as an unlucky name for a monarch. However, the name does not seem to have helped him any, after his coronation on August 14, 1390, he was described as ‘feeble’, ‘timid’ and ‘unfit to rule.’ By the time he actually acceded to the throne, Robert was fifty-three and severely disabled thanks to injuries received from a horse’s kick. Real power during his reign was held by his younger brother, the Duke of Albany and his son, the Duke of Rothesay.

August 15th

  • On this day in 1057 Scottish monarch, MacBeth, was killed at Lumphanan. MacBeth had siezed power by assassinating the incumbent king, Duncan, in August 1040. Duncan’s two infant sons fled, Malcolm to Cumberland, and Donal to the Western Isles. MacBeth appears to have ruled the country well, and is regarded as one of the more successful Scottish kings, however there were always uprisings by the supporters of Duncan, and, when Malcolm secured the support of Edward the Confessor of England and secured victory over Macbeth at the Battle of Dunsinane, Macbeth’s days were numbered.
  • On 15 August 1856 James Keir Hardie, the Labour statesman, was born. One of the founders of the Labour Party, he was the first Labour Parliamentary MP. Hardie stood as the Independent Labour MP for South West Ham between 1892 and 1895 and also as Labour MP for Merthyr between 1900 and 1915.
  • Today in 1771 Sir Walter Scott, poet and novelist, was born in Edinburgh. Scott’s first successes lay in the field of poetry, where his “The Lay of the Last Minstrel” brought him instant fame. However a series of bad business decisions, including those of buying a stake in both his printer and publisher. Both suffered during the crash of 1826 and Scott himself was bankrupted, and he died in 1832 having had to write furiously during the last years of his life to pay off his creditors.

August 16th

  • On 16 August 1766 Carolina Oliphant, Lady Nairne, was born in Gask, Perthshire. Although she remains little-known in Scotland today, Carolina Oliphant’s songs are second only in popularity to Burns, writing such classics as “Will Ye No Come Back Again”, “Charlie is my Darling” and “Wi 100 Pipers an’ a’”. She was born into a staunchly Jacobite family and much of her songwriting reflects the political climate of the time.
  • On 16 August 1864 Scottish suffragette, Elsie Inglis, was born at Naini Tal hill station in India. Inglis was a rare female medical graduate battling prejudice all the way, and founded a maternity hospital in Edinburgh, affectionately known as ‘Elsie’s’. However, she was not onlya reformer in the field of medecine, as, in 1906, she founded the Scottish Women’s Suffrage Federation. During the First World War this Suffragette Federation organised medical teams to go to France, Serbia and Salonica as well as Russia. Inglis went to Serbia herself, where her efforts to improve hygiene reduced the typhus and other epidemics which had been raging there. In 1915 she was captured and then repatriated, but returned to work in Russia. The climate and long hours she imposed on herself led to a break down in her health and she was forced to return home to recuperate, unfortunately she was to die the day after landing at Newcastle. However ‘Elsie’s’ stayed open as a hospital until 1988.

August 17th

  • On 17 August 1424 French and Scots troops suffer defeat at the Battle of Verneuil at the hands of English forces. The Franco-Scottish army was commanded by John, the Earl of Buchan, and Archibald, Earl of Douglas. the battle was final attempt to dislodge the English from Normandy, and took place about 50 miles west of Paris. The battle consisted of about 15,000 French and Scottish forces attacking the English army of 9,000 commanded by the Duke of Bedford. Repeated franco-Scottish charges were sharply cut down by English longbowmen. About half the of the army were lost; the rest retreated. The overall result of the battle was the removal of the Scots as a major aid to the French cause.
  • On 17 August 1876 James Drummond, Lord Perth, the Scottish statesman and diplomat, was born. Drummond is most notable as the First Secretary-General of the League of Nations, the abortive attempt to create an international arbriter after the First World War. Drummond served for fourteen years as Secretary-General between 1919and 1933. Drummond is credited with establishing an efficient international civil service of some 675 men and women, which ensured the smooth running of the League’s two other main organs, the Council and the Assembly. After leaving the League Drummond served as British Ambassador to Italy, until 1939 and after the war he served as deputy leader of the Liberal Party until his death.

August 18th

  • On 18 August 1746 Arthur Elphinstone, Lord Balmerino, the Jacobite noble, was executed. Balmerino was captured along with Lord Kilmarnock after the Battle of Culloden and the pair were tried for treason in London and beheaded in the Tower of London. Earl Kilmarnock was especially unfortunate as he was executed due to the mistaken belief by the Duke of Cumberland that Kilmarnock had issued the order that no quarter be given to the English at Culloden. Kilmarnock had only sided with the Jacobites as he was facing bankruptcy and had been promised French gold for his support, he admitted this at his trial, pleading that “for the two kings and their rights, I cared not a farthing which prevailed; but I was starving….”

August 19th

  • The 19 August 1646 saw the death of Alexander Henderson, the Scottish presbyterian cleric. Henderson played a pivotal role in the successful fight to preserve Presbyterianism as the national religion of Scotland. He was involved in the adoption of the National Covenant in 1638, when Scots leaders pledged themselves to oppose Charles I’s attempts to introduce a liturgy based on the English Prayer Book. In 1643, when the English parliament appealed for aid against Charles I, the price the Scots demanded, and won, was Parliament’s acceptance of the Church of Scotland as the northern kingdom’s official church.
  • On 19 August 1560 the Scottish scholar and poet, James Crichton, was born. The son of the Lord Advocate of Scotland, he achieved fame in Italy, where his fluency in classical and modern languages and skill as fencer, horseman and debater earned him renown, overcoming the scholars of Padua in a four hour debate. However, in Mantua he was attacked and killed by the son of the local Duke, one of his own pupils. Known as the “admirable Crichton”. Sir Thomas Urquhart’s account of Crichton “Discovery of a Most Exquisite Jewel” was the first to refer to him as the “Admirable Crichton” and he is the subject of several novels.
  • Today in 1808 James Nasmyth, the noted Scottish engineer, was born. Nasmyth was the son of the noted artist, Alexander Nasmyth, but achieved his fame in the field of engineering, designing and building the first steam hammer. The steam hammer allowed the efficient working of large pieces of metal, vital to the new age of ironclad ships and railways.

August 20th

  • On 20 August 1682 John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale, Scottish politician, died. King Charles II’s deputy in Scotland, he was notorious for his repressive rule. Originally a signatory of the National Covenant, Lauderdale became a Royalist during the Civil War and became the most powerful figure in Scotland after the Restoration. In the early years of his administration he was conciliatory towards the Presbyterians, but as time went on his attitude hardened. A combination of his unsuccessful attempts to suppress religious unrest and the corruption of his regime forced the king to remove him after the Battle of Bothwell Bridge, and Maitland retired to England where he lived out the remainder of his life.
  • On 20 August 1872, poet William Miller died. Known as ‘the laureate of the nursery’ Miller wrote mainly children’s verse. He is best remembered for the classic, “Wee Willie Winkie”. Miller never managed to make a career solely as a poet and worked as a cabinet-maker and wood turner for most of his life, dying penniless in Glasgow’s East End. However, his memory lingered and public subscription paid for a monument to him in Glasgow’s Necropolis.

August 21st

  • On thisa day in 1754 William Murdock, the Scottish engineer, was born. Murdock invented coal-gas lighting, the first new form of lighting in the Industrial Age, and which remained the principal form of illumination until Edison’s invention of electric lighting 100-years later. He was a close friend and associate of James Watt.
  • On 21 August 1937 Donald Dewar, the Scottish Labour statesman, was born. Dewar served as Secretary of State for Scotland from 1997-1999 and became the first leader of Scotland’s devolved Parliament in 1999, although he was to tragically die in office from a brain haemorhage.

August 22nd

  • On August 22, 1138 The Battle of the Standard was fought. The battle was fought as part of King David’s support for Matilda, a claimant of the English throne. David had already twice invaded England in support of Matilda, and had twice between repulsed by forces loyal to the English King Stephen. This time he was to be no more successful as local English militias halted his army’s progress in Yorkshire. These militia forces marched under the banners of the patron saints of their towns, known as standards, and these gave their name to the battle.
  • On 22 August 2001 Bobby Johnstone, Scottish footballer, died. Johnstone was one of the “famous five”, the Hibernian forward line of the early 1950s regarded as the finest ever seen in Scottish football. At the time Hibernian was among the foremost clubs in Britain, winning three Scottish titles between 1948-1952. Later, after moving to England he scored in two successive FA Cup finals for Manchester City. He played for Scotland 17 times and scored six goals.

August 23rd

  • On this day in 1305 Sir William Wallace was executed in London. Wallace was captured after being betrayed by Sir John de Menteith and was transported to London. King Edward I had devised a new method of execution for one of his arch-enemies, and Wallace became the first person to endure the agonies of being hanged, drawn and quartered.
  • On 23 August 1813 Alexander Wilson, the Scottish poet and ornithologist, died. Born in Paisley, Wilson worked as a weaver in the town, but inspired by Burns, he quickly turned his attentions to poetry. However his attempts here were not overly successful and at the age of 27 he emigrated to the United States. In America, he became interested in ornithology and it was through this that he was to achieve immortality, his ‘American Ornithology’ being regarded as the founding work of the science in the new continent.

August 24th

  • On 24 August 1947 the first Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Drama opened. The festival was inspired by the arts festivals organised in Salzburg before the Second World War, but has grown to become the largest event of it’s kind in the world. It has also spawned a book festival, film festival and the festival fringe. The festival was also responsible for the creation of Scottish Opera and forced a greater amount of funding from the Arts Council to be given to Scotland.
  • On 24 August 1953 Scottish golfer Sam Torrance was born. After turning professional in 1970 Torrance became a regular member of the European Ryder Cup team, and gained golfing immortality when he hit the winning putt in 1985 Ryder Cup to win the trophy back for Europe after a break of 28-years.

August 25th

  • Today in 1776 David Hume, the Scottish philosopher, historian, economist and author, died. Hume is regarded as one of the most influential figures in British philosophy of the Eighteenth Century, and the leading light of the Scottish Enlightenment. He was the author of such works as ‘A Treatise of Human Nature’ and ‘An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding’. However, his atheistic and sceptical stance meant that he faced opposition when proposed to the Chair of Ethics and Pneumatical Philosophy at Edinburgh University, Hume was forced to stand down and was never to hold an academic post in his life.
  • On 25 August, 1930 the actor, Sean Connery, was born in the Fountainbridge area of Edinburgh. Connery achieved international success appearing in films as Ian Fleming’s suave secret agent, James Bond. Connery has also become well known in his homeland as a prominent supporter of Scottish Independence and the Scottish National Party.
  • On this day in 1330, Sir James Douglas, known as “The Black Douglas“, died. The champion of King Robert I, “the Bruce”, Douglas died in Spain fighting the Moors, whilst on a pilgrimage carrying the dead king’s heart to the Holy Land. This final act of loyalty to Bruce led to the appearance of a heart in the Douglas coat of arms.
  • On 25 August, 1923 Scottish novelist Dorothy Dunnett, was born. As the writer of intricate and meticulously researched historical novels she attracted a devoted following with her multi-volume sagas. Her novels included the million-word ‘Lymond Chronicles’, in six volumes, which covered 15-years in the life of a 16th Century Scottish aristocrat, Francis Crawford of Lymond. The first book, ‘The Game of Kings’, was published in 1960; the last, ‘Checkmate’, came 15 years later. Between her two epic series, Dunnett wrote ‘King Hereafter’, the single-volume novel that some considered her finest work. Disentangling the historical Scottish king Macbeth from Shakespeare’s play, the work was the product of years of research.

August 26th

  • On 26 August 1901 the Donibristle Mining Disaster occurred in the Fife coalfield. The disaster occurred when part of Mossmorran peat bog near Cowdenbeath collapsed on sixteen miners 360 feet underground. Four miners were lost, as was a four-strong rescue party. All the bodies were eventually recovered but some remained underground until the December of that year.

  • On 26 August 1745 Henry Mackenzie, the Scottish novelist and playright, was born. Mackenzie was known by the epithet ‘The Man of Feeling’ after the title of his first novel, published anonymously in 1771. Although many of his novels achieved great sucess he was less well renowned for his theatrical works with his “The Prince of Tunis” being his only work of note.

August 27th

  • On 27 August 1748 James Thomson, the Scottish poet, died. Thomson’s most famous works include the anthem, “Rule Britannia”, written as part of the masque, “Alfred”, composed by Thomas Arne, and ‘The Seasons’, the first British anthology on nature. Thomson has been cited as an influence on the Romantic poets who followed him, through his interest in the elements, Classical themes and his notions of mankind’s place within the natural world.

August 28th

  • The 28 August 1640 saw the Battle of Newburn on Tyne. The battle was fought between Leslie’s veteran Scottish army and a hastily assembled English force. The Scots had invaded northern England in response to the attempts of Charles I to impose an Anglican prayer book upon Scotland. The Scots bypassed the garrisoned towns of Newcastle and Berwick, instead intending to cross the Tyne at Newburn. The English chose not to defend from high ground and were decimated by Scottish gunfire until they fled the battlefield, leaving the Scots free to advance as far south as York.
  • On 28 August 1902 George Douglas, the Scottish novelist, died. Douglas wrote mostly under the penname of George Dougles Brown. His most successful work was ‘The House with the Green Shutters’ a tale of the pettiness of rural life in Victorian Scotland. Douglas is noted for his move away from the Kailyard style which was dominant in the Scottish literary scene at that time.

August 29th

  • On this day in 1930 the population of St Kilda were evacuated from the island. The island was evacuated on economic grounds at the islanders own request as the population had dwindled from 73 in 1920 to only 37 in 1928. The island had been populated since Bronze Age times, but from the latter part of the 19th Century, the islanders had began to lose their means of self-sufficiency and the fate of the resident population was sealed. The island was sold to the Marquess of Bute, a keen ornithologist, who bequeathed it to the National Trust for Scotland in 1957.
  • The 29 August 1999 saw the death of Lew Schwarz, the Scottish TV scriptwriter. Schwarz wrote for several of British TV’s smash comedy shows during the 1950-60s, including “The Army Game”, “Bootsie and Smudge”, “Great Scott – It’s Maynard!”, “The Charlie Drake Show”, and “The Worker”. Three years later Alan MacNaughtan, the Scottish stage, TV and film actor, died. MacNaughtan spent most of his life working on the English stage and appeared in numerous productions, including the world premiere of “Equus” at the National Theatre, London.

August 30th

  • On this day in 1991 Dundee runner, Liz McColgan, won the World 10,000 metres final by more than 20 secs. This was perhaps the crowning moment of a glittering athletics career for McColgan, which also brought her two Olympic silver medals. A former jute mill worker from a deprived housing estate in the city, McColgan rose from obscurity to become the leading Scottish athlete of her day, triumphing on home soil by winning gold at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.
  • On 30 August 1856 Admiral Sir John Ross, the Scottish Polar explorer, died. Ross is known as the man who discovered the North Magnetic Pole. Born in Wigtownshire, Ross served in the Royal Navy from the age of nine and fought during the Napoleonic wars. Ross led three expeditions in search of the North-West passage.
  • Today in 1820 James Wilson, the Strathaven Radical, was hanged and beheaded on Glasgow Green for his part in the 1820 Radical War. A crowd of 20,000 witnessed the execution, most sympathetic to Wilson. Wilson remarked on the crowd to the hangman Thomas Moore – “Did ye evir see sic a crowd, Tammas?”

August 31st

  • On this day in 1724 Sir Patrick Hume, Lord Marchmont, the Scottish statesman, died. Imprisoned for his opposition to James II’s policies against Scottish Presbyterians, he later escaped to Europe where he became one of William of Orange’s chief lieutenants. Following the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688, he was appointed Lord Chancellor of Scotland, and played a vital role in securing William’s rule in Scotland.
  • On 1 August 1545 Andrew Melville, the Church reformer, founder of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, Principal of Glasgow University and St Mary’s College, St Andrews, was born. Melville is viewed as the successor to John Knox as the leader of Scottish Protestanism. His work, the ‘Second Book of Discipline’, advocated Presbyterian, rather than Episcopal government, which brought him into conflict with his monarch, James VI, who sought to control the Scottish Church through his bishops. Melville was also a keen advocate of education in Scotland, and is credited with helping to reform Scottish universities through the introduction of European teaching methods.

And so ends August in Scottish History