The Member for Scotland

Life of Duncan McLaren

By Willis Pickard

Format: Paperback

The biography of Duncan McLaren, perhaps the most influential spokesman for Scotland in the 19th century. Based among the religious and political radicals of Edinburgh, he had to his credit saving the city from bankruptcy and establishing free schools. This book contributes to an understanding of how and why Scotland embraced Gladstonian Liberalism

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Birlinn Limited

Birlinn publishes mostly non-fiction books, ranging from biography to history, military history and Scottish interest. Their imprints, Polygon Books, Arena Sport Books and John Donald Books, publish a wide variety of genres including culture, literary fiction, poetry and sports.

Product Description


Duncan McLaren was a dominant (and at times domineering) figure in nineteenth-century Edinburgh and Scotland. Yet he has virtually disappeared from public view. 'The Member for Scotland' was the nickname given him at Westminster because he took up all manner of Scottish issues and initiated the campaign for a Scottish Secretary. McLaren's political base was among the religious and political radicals of Edinburgh. As a young councillor he saved the city from bankruptcy and established free schools for poor families. He challenged the Whig lawyers who controlled Edinburgh politics, became Lord Provost and successfully sued the Scotsman for libel. From his draper's business in the High Street he moved into railways, banking and the suburban property boom. Married to the sister of the free-trade liberal leader John Bright, he helped draft bills to reform the electoral system and voted for women's rights. Of his nine children, three became Liberal MPs. Yet he tried to frustrate one daughter's marriage hopes and another's ambitions to be a doctor. This biography is based on a wide range of political and family letters never previously used.

It opens a door on Victorian public and family life and contributes to an understanding of why Scotland so ardently embraced Gladstonian Liberalism.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Paperback
Imprint Birlinn Limited
Publication Date 6 Jun 2011
ISBN 9781906566418
Number of Pages 320

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