June 1st

  • On 1 June 1841 Sir David Wilkie, the Scottish painter, died. Noted for his portraits and genre subjects, his most famous works include “Chelsea Pensioners Reading the Gazette of the Battle of Waterloo”. Wilkie was born in Cults manse in Fife in 1785. His 1806 painting “The Village Politicians” was a great success and he then left to settle in London. In 1817, he painted Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford, which now hangs in the Scottish National Gallery. His painting is mainly in the Dutch style, although he later changed his style, choosing more historical subjects, like “The Preaching of John Knox before the Lords of Congregation, 10 June 1559″. In 1840, for health reasons, he took a tour of Egypt and the Holy Land, but sadly died on the voyage home.
  • On this day in 1679 the Battle of Drumclog was fought in Avondale Parish, Lanarkshire, between Covenanters attending a Conventicle and Royalist troops under Graham of Claverhouse. The Covenanters easily routed the government forces. However, the euphoria which followed this victory was short-lived, as the authorities brought in a large Royalist army, which defeated a largish Covenanter force at Bothwell Bridge, exactly three weeks later.
  • Today in 1872 James Gordon Bennett, the Scottish-born American journalist, died. Bennett was the founding editor of the ‘New York Herald’, the first newspaper to carry regular financial articles on Wall St. He was one of a core group of publishers and editors who transformed and modernized journalism in the mid-nineteenth century. James Gordon Bennett was born in Keith, to a Roman Catholic farming couple. After an unsuccesful time training for the priesthood, he renounced his faith. In May 1835 Bennett began publishing the New York Herald, which combined public-interest stories, sensational reports of crimes and disasters, and coverage of national and international news. In April 1836 the Herald shocked readers with front-page coverage of the murder of a prostitute, Helen Jewett. During this episode, Bennett is credited with conducting the first newspaper interview. That same year the Herald initiated a cash-in-advance policy for advertisers, which would soon become standard newspaper practice. By the end of the decade the Herald and the Sun were the two highest-circulation dailies in America, a distinction the Herald carried until Bennett’s retirement.

June 2nd

  • On this day in 1581 James Douglas, the Earl of Morton, died. Morton played a leading role in the overthrow of Mary, Queen of Scots, and then ruled the country as Regent for her young son, James VI, between the years 1572-78. His ruthless efficiency alienated many nobles, but his downfall came about after he refused to support Presbyterianism in its fight against the Episcopy. In 1581 he was forced out of office and belatedly accused of complicity in the assassination of Mary’s estranged husband, Henry, Lord Darnley. He was found guilty and executed. He was in the following year executed by being beheaded on the Maiden, ironically the form of guillotine which he himself had imported into Scotland from France.
  • On 2 June 1926 Sir William Leishman, the Scottish bacteriologist, died. Leishman discovered the protozoan parasite responsible for dumdum, or kala-azar, fever, now known as Leishmaniasis. He also developed the clinical technique known as the Leishman stain, which is still used today to detect protozoan parasites such as plasmodium (the cause of malaria). Leishman is also noted for his work with Sir Almroth Wright on the vaccine for typhoid.

June 3rd

  • On 3 June, 1774, Paisley poet, Robert Tannahill, was born. Author of such poems as ‘The Flower of Dunblane’ and ‘Gloomy Winter’s Noo Awa’, Tannahill was frail and shy. Despite having a deformed right leg, he was inspired by the countryside around Paisley, where he often went walking. Tannahill became friends with James Hogg, the Ettrick shepherd, after he appeared as a guest at Tannahill’s Paisley Burns club. A collection of his works was published in 1807 and they were well received, selling out within weeks. However, Tannahill was prone to depression and, when another group of poems was rejected by the Edinburgh publisher Archibald Constable, he consigned many of his writings to the flames. Tannahill committed suicide by drowning himself in a Paisley canal shortly after, in May 1810.
  • On this day in 1726 James Hutton, the chemist and geologist, was born. Hutton is regarded as a pioneer of modern geology. At the time of his research, people still widely accepted The Bible’s account that the world was only about 6,000 years old. Geologists believed that rock layers had been laid down during the Biblical floods. Hutton, however, refused to accept that one single event was responsible for the formation of the world as we know it. In his work, ‘Theory of the Earth’, he proposed that the Earth’s crust had been created through a continuous, gradual process called “uniformitarianism.”
  • On 3 June 1882 James Thomson, the Scottish poet who wrote under the pen-name, BV, died. Thomson’s most famous work is the Gothic epic ‘The City of Dreadful Night’. His pseudonym was used to distinguish him from another James Thomson who wrote “Rule Britannia”. “The City of Dreadful Night” is inspired by Thomson’s own experiences while living in London, where he was raised as an orphan in an asylum. Thomson became an army teacher in Ireland. However, he gave up his post and moved to London on the death of a friend’s daughter, with whom he was in love. Thomson’s life never recovered from this blow, and his time in in London was lonely and impoverished, where he suffered from insomnia, and battled alcoholism for the remainder of his life.

June 4th

  • The King’s Birthday riots happened in Edinburgh on 4th May 1792. The decade saw repeated outbreaks of civil unrest in Scotland, with the King’s Birthday riots being the most serious. Usually seen as a time of celebration, the King’s birthday became the main focus for discontent in the country. The riots were almost certainly planned well in advance of the date, with pamphlets attacking the Lord Advocate, Dundas, widely distributed throughout the country. An effigy of Dundas was burned in Edinburgh as the rioting reached its peak. The riots lasted for over three days and nights, with at least one rioter shot dead. One theory blamed rising food prices as the cause of the unrest, after the introduction of the unpopular 1791 Corn Law, which prohibited grain imports until prices reached a certain point.
  • On this day in 1977 Wembley Stadium was vandalised by jubilant Scottish fans after a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Auld Enemy. Following the match, Scottish supporters invaded the pitch and caused an estimated £15.49,000 worth of damage. One of those on the pitch was pop star Rod Stewart.

June 5th

  • On this day in 1723 the father of economics, Adam Smith, was born in Kirkcaldy. Author of the pioneering work, ‘An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of The Wealth of Nations’. In 1751 Smith was appointed professor of logic at Glasgow University, transferring in 1752 to the chair of moral philosophy. His lectures covered the field of ethics, rhetoric, jurisprudence and political economy, or “police and revenue.” Smith moved to London in 1776, where he published “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations,” which examined in detail the consequences of economic freedom. It covered such concepts as the role of self-interest, the division of labour and the function of markets. “Wealth of Nations” established economics as an autonomous subject and launched the economic doctrine of free enterprise.
  • On 5 June 1865, Sir John Richardson, Scottish navigator, explorer, surgeon and naturalist, died. Richardson took part in Sir John Franklin’s first two voyages to the Canadian Arctic in search of the north-west passage, and commanded an expedition to search for Franklin after he went missing in 1845. During these voyages Richardson surveyed more of the Canadian Arctic than any other explorer. Richardson was knighted in 1846, the year before leading the expedition to discover Franklin’s whereabouts.

June 6th

  • On 6 June 1987 Fulton Mackay, the well known Scottish actor, died. Fulton Mackay achieved huge popularity for his portrayal of Prison Officer Mr Mackay, in the highly successful television comedy series, Porridge, alongside Ronnie Barker. Mackay also appeared in the films Local Hero (1983), and Defence of the Realm (1985). He was also well-known for his numerous theatrical appearances, and made some forays into writing for the stage.
  • On 6 June 1838 Thomas Glover was born in Fraserburgh. A leading figure in the industrialisation of Japan, Glover was the first non-Japanese to be awarded the Order of the Rising Sun – one of the top honours of the country. It was he who brought the first steam train to Japan, and founded the fore-runner of the great Mitsubishi yard which dominates Nagasaki harbour today – also the main reason for the targeting of this city in the atomic bomb attack. Ironically, Glover’s main business was arms dealing and the selling of ships. Another claim to fame is that Glover’s Japanese wife Tsuru, whom he married in 1867, is said to have been the inspiration for “Madame Butterfly.”
  • Today in 1891, Sir John MacDonald, the Scottish-born Canadian statesman, died. MacDonald was considered to be the architect of the Confederation of Canada and served twice as the first Prime Minister of the unified Dominion, between 1867-73 and 1878-91. Already an experienced local politician, he helped form the 1854 coalition with Upper Canadian reformers and French Canadians, creating the Liberal-Conservative Party. Within this coalition government, Macdonald was promoted to be attorney-general, and later acted as co-premier between 1856 and 1862. In 1864, MacDonald accepted that constitutional change was necessary for Canada, and spent that summer preparing proposals for a Confederation. He was a leading delegate at all three Confederation conferences, and was knighted for his work towards union.

June 7th

  • On 7 June 1868 Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the celebrated architect, painter and designer, was born. Regarded as one of the foremost British figures in the art nouveau movement, and as the principal exponent of the ‘Glasgow Style’, Mackintosh was born in the Townhead area of the city. Famous for his fusion of traditional Scottish forms and simple Japanese styles, Mackintosh attended the city’s art school, later winning the commission to redesign the building. Some of his other notable works include the Willow tea rooms and the Hill House in Helensburgh, although he is equally renowned for his furniture designs, in particular his famous high-backed chairs.
  • On this day in 1329 Robert the Bruce died at Cardross Castle in Dunbartonshire. The cause of his death remains unclear, but there is a suspicion that Bruce suffered from leprosy for a long period and that this is what killed him in the end. He was buried in Dunfermline Abbey ,and in 1819 his tomb was discovered and opened. Bruce had always wanted to take part in the Crusades, and in death he got his wish. Bruce’s right hand man, the Black Douglas, took his embalmed heart to Spain to fight the Moors. After Douglas’s death, the cask containing the heart was returned to Melrose Abbey.

June 8th

  • On 8 June 1778 Robert Stevenson, the noted Scottish civil engineer, was born. Stevenson is best known as a builder of lighthouses, such as Bell Rock or Eddystone. He is credited with practically inventing the Scottish lighthouse system, and was the inventor of the intermittent and flashing-light system now universally used by modern lighthouses. Stevenson was also the grandfather of the novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • On this day in 1778 the Earl of Seaforth raised a regiment for the American War from the MacKenzies and MacRaes of Ross-shire and Sutherland. In 1961 the Seaforth Highlanders amalgamated with the Camerons to form the Queen’s Own Highlanders.

June 9th

  • On 9 June 597 St Columba died in Iona. Born in present-day Donegal, Columba moved to Scotland after victory over the Irish king Dermott at the battle of Cooldrevny in 561. His spritual father, St Molaisi, commanded that Columba perform the penance of bringing as many souls to the Church as he had caused to die. Two years later Columba founded a monastery on Iona which was to become one of the leading centres of Christianity in Western Europe, and the base from which Columba launched his successful mission to convert the Pictish nation.
  • On this day in 1573, William Maitland, Scottish statesman, died. Known as ‘Secretary Maitland’, he was Mary, Queen of Scots’ Secretary of State, and one of the country’s ablest administrators. He sought to bring about the union of England and Scotland through the recognition of Mary as Elizabeth I’s heir.

June 10th

  • On this day in 1688 James Edward Stuart, “the Old Pretender”, Anglo-Scottish prince, was born. James was the son of King James VII, and father of Charles Edward Stuart, “the Young Pretender”, popularly known as “Bonnie Prince Charlie”. James made repeated attempts to regain the throne for the Stuarts, failing to land in 1708 and being forced to concede defeat after a few weeks in 1715. In 1745 the Jacobite uprising, led by his son, succeeded in getting as far south as Derby, but its eventual defeat at Culloden signalled the end of Jacobite ambitions.
  • The 10 June 1719 saw the Battle of Glenshiel, the final act of a minor Jacobite rising. The Jacobite side, under the command of the 10th Earl Marischal, consisted of only 1,000 men. After some hours of engagement with a Hanovarian army under General Wightman, the Jacobite forces disbanded and the revolt was over.
  • On this day in 1858, Scottish botanist, Robert Brown, died. Brown had sailed on many early missions to Australia, and his work with the flora and fauna of the new continent had made him eminently respected in his field, becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Linnean Society. Brown is also famous for his death, as it led to a free date at the Linnean Society which was filled by Charles Darwin’s lecture on the theory of evolution.

June 11th

  • 11 June 1560, Mary of Guise, Regent of Scotland, died. Mary was the wife of King James V and the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary replaced Arran as regent during her daughter’s infancy and arranged her betrothal to the French dauphin. Her main aim was the union of her native France and Scotland, under French leadership. This, coupled with her unswerving support for Cardinal Beaton’s repressive policies toward Scottish Protestants, made her a hugely unpopular figure within the country.
  • On June 11 1939, Formula One champion, Jackie Stewart, was born in Dumbartonshire. The winner of 27 Grand Prix and World Champion three times, Stewart remains one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport.
  • On this day in 1488 the Battle of Sauchieburn took place, where King James III and the Royalist army fought against his son and a collection of disgruntled nobles. James was wounded falling from his horse after fleeing the battle and was subsequently killed by one of the rebels who was pretending to be a priest.

June 12th

  • On 12 June 1843 Sir David Gill, Scottish astronomer, was born. Gill was noted for his measurements of solar and stellar parallaxes, which accurately revealed the distances of the Sun and other stars to Earth. He was also a pioneer in the use of photography to map the heavens.
  • On 12 June 2001 Thomas Wilson, the Scottish composer, died. His works include the three-act opera, “Confessions of a Justified Sinner”, which was commissioned by Scottish Opera. The libretto, by John Currie, is based upon James Hogg’s 1825 novel of the same name.

June 13th

  • On this day in 1831 James Clerk Maxwell was born in Edinburgh. Nicknamed “daftie” by his fellow pupils at Edinburgh Academy, he went on to predict the existence of radio waves in 1865, and is considered by many to be the father of the science of electronics.

June 14th

  • On 14 June 1946, Scottish inventor, John Logie Baird, died. Baird is remembered as the inventor of television. Born in Helensburgh, even as a child his talents were already apparent, creating a telephone exchange system, connecting his house with four neighbouring ones and, using a petrol generator in the garden, setting up a lighting system for the house – the first in Helensburgh to have electric light.
  • On this day in 1746 Colin MacLaurin, the Scottish mathematician, died. MacLaurin was a child prodigy who attained the position of professor of mathematics by the age of 19, and a close friend and associate of Isaac Newton. His masterwork is ‘Organic Geometry, with the Description of the Universal Linear Curves’.

June 15th

  • On 15 June 1996 Sir Fitzroy MacLean, the Scottish soldier, diplomat, politician and author, died. Prior to the outbreak of war, MacLean served as a diplomat in Moscow, but it is his service during the war for which he is most noted. MacLean was a founder member of the SAS, serving in North Africa before being sent into occupied Yugoslavia as the British representative to the Communist partisans. After the war he served as an MP, achieving ministerial rank as Undersecretary for War in the mid-1950s.
  • On the 15 June 1844 Thomas Campbell, the Scottish poet, died. Author of ‘The Pleasures of Hope’, Campbell helped found the University of London for students who were excluded from Oxford and Cambridge for religious or financial reasons.

June 16th

  • On this day in 1971 John, Lord Reith, the Scottish broadcasting executive, died. Reith is regarded as the founding father of public service broadcasting in Britain. He served as the first General Manager of the British Broadcasting Company between 1922-27, and as the first Director-General of the BBC from 1927-38. Reith was the inspiration behind using radio as an educational medium and as a tool for providing the nation, and world, with regular impartial news, “making the nation as one man,” as he described it.
  • On 16 June 1948 Henry McLeish, Scottish Labour politician, was born. McLeish began his working life as a footballer for East Fife, but soon entered the political arena, serving from 1987 as MP for Central Fife. His career reached its zenith with his appointment as First Minister of the Scottish Executive, succeeding Donald Dewar. He was forced to resign, however, after a financial scandal at his constituency.
  • On 16 June 1807 the Rev. John Skinner, poet, theologion and Episcopalian minister of Longside in Buchan, died. His song, ‘Tullochgorum’, was complemented by Robert Burns in a letter sent to Skinner as “the best Scotch song ever Scotland saw”.

June 17th

  • On 17 June 1567 Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned in Loch Leven castle. Mary was imprisoned in the castle on the island in the middle of the loch after the defeat of her forces at the battle of Carberry Hill. She was pregnant at the time and gave birth on the island, although what happened to the child is unknown. Shortly after this Mary was forced into signing her abdication papers in the castle, which made her half-brother, Moray, Regent. It was the spring of the following year before Mary made her escape from the castle, dressed as a servant girl.
  • The 17 June 2001 witnessed the death of Cardinal Winning, leader of Scotland’s Catholic community. Winning had served as Archbishop of Glasgow from 1974. He was only the third Scot to be appointed a Cardinal. Staunchly conservative, he made headlines for his traditional views toward abortion and homosexuality.

June 18th

  • On 18 June 1815 the Battle of Waterloo was fought in Belgium. Many Scottish regiments took part in the battle, which ended Napoleon’s ‘hundred days’. Perhaps the most prominent action involving the Scottish contingent was the combined charge of the Gordon Highlanders and the Scots Greys. A French column with over 4,000 men advanced on the Highlanders, while the Gordons, with only about 300 men, were under strict orders not to give way. As the situation reached its most critical moment, suddenly the Scots Greys appeared on the top of the hills. Both Gordons and Scots Greys in common charged the French column, shouting “Scotland Forever”, with the Gordons hanging on to the stirrups of the cavalry horses.
  • On 18 June 1970 the Scottish National Party celebrated their first General Election success, with Donald Stewart winning the Western Isles constituency from Labour. He was to hold on to the seat until his retiral in 1987.

June 19th

  • On this day in 1566 King James VI was born. The only son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Lord Darnley, James acceded to the throne at the age of one, after his mother was forced to abdicate. He was tutored by George Buchanan, a firm Protestant and one of the sharpest minds in Scotland. James was a master diplomat and courted favour in England until he emerged as the main challenger to inherit the English crown on Elizabeth’s death. After gaining the English kingdom, James left Edinburgh and only returned once to Scotland.
  • On 19 June, 1861 Earl Haig was born in Edinburgh. Haig spent a distinguished career in the military, rising through the ranks of the 7th Hussars until eventually becoming C-in-C of British forces in 1915. Haig’s tactics during the First World War have been called into question as being unimaginative and wasteful of soldiers’ lives, and Haig himself cited his own despair at the casualties lost as the main reason for his work in founding the British Legion and instituting the Poppy Day appeal.
  • On 19 June 1937 JM Barrie, the Scottish playwright and novelist, died. Although a prolific writer, Barrie is principally remembered today for his classic children’s story, ‘Peter Pan’. Other notable Barrie works include the prose work ‘A Window in Thrums’ and the play ‘The Admirable Crichton’.

June 20th

  • On this day in 1723, Dr. Adam Ferguson, Scottish historian and philosopher, was born. As Chair of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh University, he was a proponent of so-called ‘common-sense’ philosophy, a precursor to modern sociology. He used the lessons of history to inform his moral thinking, and his later works especially are thought to have influenced philosophers such as Marx and Hegel. Ferguson is also famous by association, as it was at his house in 1787 that a chance meeting occurred between two Scots literary giants, Robert Burns and a young Walter Scott.

June 21st

  • On 21 June 1919, 72 warships of the German fleet were scuttled in Scapa Flow, Orkney. Scapa Flow formed an important northern base for the British fleets in both world wars. After the armistice, 74 ships of the German High Seas Fleet were ordered into Scapa Flow to be interned. They arrived in November 1918, and stayed there for 10 months. By June, Rear Admiral von Reuter, the German Officer in command at Scapa Flow, knew that Germany would have to accept surrender terms, and he gave the order for the fleet to be scuttled.
  • Today in 1946, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Scottish Conservative politician, was born. Rifkind was Foreign Secretary from 1995-97 in the John Major administration. He also held the posts of Defence Minister and Secretary of State for Scotland.

June 22nd

  • On this day in 1679 at the Battle of Bothwell, the Covenanters were defeated by royal troops led by the Duke of Monmouth. Ideological differences among the Covenanters factionalised them, and the resulting disorganisation contributed to the ease of the Royalists’ victory. Although deaths on the field were few, 200 were killed later. Of the 1400 captured or surrendered, another 258 were shipwrecked while being transported in The Crown of London.
  • Today in 1680, one year to the day after the disaster of Bothwell Bridge, the Rev. Richard Cameron, and his brother Michael, rode into the town of Sanquhar with 20 Covenanter horsemen, calling for an end to the reign of Charles II. The so-called Sanquhar Declaration, naturally, was viewed as an act of treason and the heads of all involved were declared forfeit to the Crown.
  • Sanquhar Richard Cameron’s head was valued at 5,000 merks, his brother’s at 3,000. One month later that bounty was collected at Aird’s Moss when both Cameron brothers were killed.

June 23rd

  • Today in 1314 Robert I, King of Scots, killed Henry de Bohun at the commencement of the Battle of Bannockburn. In retaliation for the defeat of English garrisons at Edinburgh and Roxburgh castles, Edward II led a massive invasion force into Scotland, where they met the Scots army at Bannockburn, near Stirling. The battle continued until the next day.
  • On this day in 1832 Sir James Hall, Scottish geologist, died. Founder of geochemistry, Hall demonstrated that if igneous rocks are allowed to cool slowly, they form crystalline rather than glassy rock. He also showed that limestone, when heated under pressure, does not decompose but becomes marble.

June 24th

  • Today in 1314 the Scottish army, under Robert I, defeated a far larger English army at the Battle of Bannockburn. Bruce had chosen his ground carefully, and won a tremendous victory over the vast English army. This was perhaps Bruce’s greatest hour, and his most enduring memory – fighting for his nation’s independence against a hugely superior English force, and winning.
  • 24 June 1777 saw the birth of Admiral Sir John Ross, Scottish Polar explorer. In 1818 he went in search of the Northwest Passage but turned back after exploring Baffin Bay. Financed by Sir Felix Booth, he commanded a second search expedition (1829–33), when he located the north magnetic pole on Boothia Peninsula, now called Prince of Wales Island.
  • Sir John Ross His last trip to the arctic regions was made in 1850–51, when he went to the Lancaster Sound region to search for Sir John Franklin. He wrote two books describing his quest for the Northwest Passage

June 25th

  • On this day in 1897, Margaret Oliphant, Scottish novelist, died. Born in East Lothian in 1828, Margaret spent most of her life living in Liverpool and Glasgow. Her novels are often subversive, using sharp wit to expose the hypocrisy and injustices of Victorian society. The mundane existence of women of the time, and the difficulties of relations within families, were themes she tackled with delicacy, humour and intelligence.
  • 25 June 1936 saw the birth of Roy Williamson, Scottish folk musician and songwriter. A founder member of the folk group, ‘The Corries’, for whom he wrote the song which has since become Scotland’s unofficial National Anthem, ‘Flower of Scotland’.

June 26th

  • On this day in 1695 the company which undertook the Darien Scheme was formed. The company came to ruin five years later through English obstruction, Spanish hostility and Scottish mismanagement. The image is of Darien House in Bristo Street in Edinburgh. Originally built as the headquarters for the ill-fated Company, it later became a lunatic asylum for paupers in the nearby workhouse.
  • 26 June 1824 saw the birth of William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, eminent Scottish physicist. He devised the Kelvin, or Absolute, scale of temperature. Thomson brought together disparate areas of physics – heat, thermodynamics, mechanics, hydrodynamics, magnetism, and electricity – and thus played a principal role in the final synthesis of 19th-century science.
  • His success as a synthesizer of theories about energy places him in the same position in 19th-century physics as Sir Isaac Newton has in 17th-century physics or Albert Einstein in 20th-century physics.

June 27th

  • On this day in 1937, Robin Hall, Scottish folk singer and musician, was born. Hall achieved national fame in partnership with fellow Scot, Jimmie MacGregor, on the BBC TV show, “Tonight”. His hits included “The Mingulay Boat Song” and “Ye Cannae Shove Yer Grannie Aff a Bus”.
  • Today in 1857 Daniel MacMillan, Scottish publisher, died. Born on the Isle of Arran, he was co-founder with his brother Alexander of the successful publishing house, MacMillan. His grandson became the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan.

June 28th

  • On 28 June 1790, the Forth and Clyde Canal opened. The 35 mile course from Bowling to Grangemouth is the longest of the Lowland canals. It was formally abandoned in 1962. Its re-opening in 2001 was part of the Millenium Link scheme, allowing waterway travel from Edinburgh to Glasgow by linking to the Union canal via the remarkable Falkirk Wheel boat lift.
  • Today in 1746, Flora MacDonald and Bonnie Prince Charlie set sail from Benbecula to Skye. After Culloden, the Prince had a high price on his head. He came to Benbecula, and Flora helped him escape to Skye by disguising him as her Irish maid, Betty Burke. The crossing was short but perilous, as the small boat weathered both storms and the bullets of redcoats from the shore. Yet they survived that, and the questioning of government men, thanks in no small part to the cool demeanour of Flora, and the Prince escaped to France, never to return.
  • She was arrested when her part in the escape became known, but the popular appeal of her courage and ingenuity meant she was well treated, and she was released after spending a few years in the Tower. She emigrated to America, but later returned to Kingsburgh on Skye, where she died in 1790.

June 29th

  • Today in 1928, Ian Bannen, Scottish actor, was born. Bannen appeared in more than 60 British and American films. These include “The Flight of the Phoenix” (1965) for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. On TV, he was probably best known for his parts in the BBC drama series, “Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy”, and the ITV medical drama, “Dr. Finlay”. In 1996, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from BAFTA. He died in 1999, aged 71.

June 30th

  • Today in 1857 marked the beginning of the trial of Madeleine Smith for murder. The daughter of a Glasgow architect, James Smith, this most eligible of society ladies was accused in 1857 of murdering her alleged former lover, Emile L’Angelier. Among the evidence were some explicit love letters: the resulting scandal turned public opinion against her. Learning of her engagement to the wealthy William Minnoch, L’Angelier had threatened to give the love letters to her father, superficially providing her with a strong motive. However the actual evidence against her was weak, and after a famously skilful defence by the Dean of Faculty, John Inglis, a verdict of ‘not proven’ was returned. Subsequent research suggests that L’Angelier, a known arsenic eater, may have been a victim of his own vengeful plot to frame Madeleine for his attempted murder. She moved to London, where she became a popular figure, marrying artist and publisher, George Wardle. After this marriage failed, she moved to New York, married again in her seventies, and lived to the age of 93.
  • On this day in 1931, James Loughran, Scottish conductor, was born in Glasgow. Loughran first came to notice when he won the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Conducting Competition in 1961, and soon became principal conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. In 1971, he was appointed successor to Barbirolli by the Hallé Orchestra, and in 1979-83 he was Principal Conductor of the Bamberger Symphoniker. During those years he made outstanding recordings of the Beethoven and Brahms Symphonies, and his recording of Holst’s “The Planets” won him a gold record. James Loughran has regularly conducted European orchestras, from Stockholm to Barcelona, as well as in the USA and Australia. In 1996 he comitted himself to Denmark’s Aarhus Symphony Orchestra as Chief Conductor.

And so ends June in Scottish History