Famous Scots

Listed below are profiles of famous Scots who appear in the Wills and Testaments from 1902 to 1925.

To see the records in which they appear, just click the links at the end of each profile.

  • Samuel Rutherford Crockett (1859-1914), Minister and Novelist - Peebles/Kirkcudbrightshire
  • William Thomson, Lord Kelvin (1824-1907), Mathematician and Physicist - Kilmarnock/Glasgow
  • Nicol Smith, Footballer, (25 Dec 1873-6 January 1905) - Ayrshire and Glasgow
  • Sir William Arrol (1839-1913), Engineer - Ayr/Renfrewshire
  • George Coats, Baron Glentanar (1849-1918) - Aberdeen
  • Donald Alexander Smith, First Baron of Strathcona and Mount Royal (1820-1914) - Edinburgh
  • Alexander Mann (January 22, 1853 - January 26, 1908), Artist - Glasgow
  • Isabella Elder (1825-1905), Philanthropist - Glasgow
  • Thomas Millie Dow (28 October 1848 - 3 July 1919), Artist - Fife and Glasgow
  • Sir John Murray (1814-1914), Marine Scientist and Oceanographer - Edinburgh
  • Elsie Maud Inglis, Doctor (1864-1917) - Edinburgh
  • Grace Ross Cadell, Physician and Suffragist (1855-1918) - Edinburgh
  • Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), Industrialist and Philanthropist - Dunfermline and Edinburgh
  • James Keir Hardie (1856-1915), Politician and Founder of the Labour Party - Lanarkshire
  • Sir Hector Archibald MacDonald (Ross-shire)
  • George Armitstead, Baron Armitstead, Jute Entrepreneur, Liberal MP and Philanthropist (1824 to 1915) - Dundee and Angus

Samuel Rutherford Crockett (1859-1914), Minister and Novelist - Peebles/Kirkcudbrightshire

Biographical information

Samuel Rutherford Crockett was born on 24 September 1859 at Duchrae, Balmaghie, Kirkcudbrightshire. The illegitimate son of Annie Crocket and David Blaine Crocket, farmer, he was raised on his grandfather's Galloway farm, and graduated from Edinburgh University during 1879. He married Ruth Mary Milner on 10 March 1887 and they had four children together.

Samuel Crockett's first love was journalism and writing, but he entered New College, Edinburgh as a Free Church divinity student and became a Free Church minister for Penicuik in 1886. During that year he produced his first publication, Dulce Cor (Latin: Sweet Heart), a collection of verse. He eventually abandoned the Free Church ministry for novel-writing.

He found overnight success with The Stickit Minister in 1893. It was followed by a rapidly produced series of popular novels frequently featuring the history of Scotland or his native Galloway. Crockett made considerable sums of money from his writing and was a friend and correspondent of R. L. Stevenson. In total he wrote 63 books over 20 years.

Some details from the will of Samuel Rutherford Crockett

He died in Avignon, France on holiday, 16 April 1914. Value of his estate was put at £9734, 13s. 2d. In today's money, that would represent a a value of £720,000. The value of his royalties, copyright and other literary property was given as £1398.

(Ref: Inventory SC42/20/20 pp12-20)
copyright notice

RPI = £720,000

AE = £2.88 million


William Thomson, Lord Kelvin (1824-1907), Mathematician and Physicist - Kilmarnock/Glasgow

Biographical information

William Thomson was born 26 June 1824 at College Square East in Belfast in 1824. This location was later home to the first cinema in Belfast - 'the Kelvin'. He married his second cousin Margaret Crum in September 1852, she was ill throughout there marriage and died 17 June 1870 at the age of 43.

William's father became Professor of Mathematics at Glasgow University and he attended classes at Glasgow University from the age of 10. By 1839 William could have graduated from Glasgow with a BA but he planned to go to Cambridge University as an undergraduate. From 1841-1845 William attended Cambridge, where he wrote his first scientific paper under the pseudonym 'P.Q.R'. After graduating, William worked in a Paris laboratory with physics professor Victor Regnault.

In 1846, aged only 22, William Thomas returned to Glasgow to become Professor of Natural Philosophy. He remained in this post for 53 years. In this time he had a career of astonishing versatility. He brilliantly combined pure and applied science. In an early paper (1842) he solved important problems of electrostatics. He proposed the absolute, or Kelvin, temperature scale (1848), and simultaneously with Rudolf Clausius he established the second law of thermodynamics.

He was chief consultant on the laying of the first submarine Atlantic cable (1857-8) and he had the first joint telegraphic patent with Fleming Jenkins and by 1865 the partnership included telegraph engineer Cromwell Varley. This partnership enabled favourable financial terms the Atlantic telegraph companies-£7000 initially to the partners, with a guaranteed £2500 per annum for ten years thereafter. With this money he bought his yacht 'Lalla Rookh'.

Thomson developed many of his marine instruments on his yacht 'Lalla Rookh'. He invented instruments to improve marine navigation and safety, a tide predictor, harmonic analyser, a siphon recorder and numerous other devices. These inventions were manufactured by his company, Kelvin & White, which included a 400 strong work force.

William Thomas was created 1st Baron Kelvin of Largs in 1892; he received some thirty-two horary doctorates from universities world wide. He was made a Knight of the Prussian order of merit in 1884, appointed to the Order of Merit and sworn of the Privy Council in 1902.

Some details from the will of Lord Kelvin

He died on 17 December 1907 and buried beside Sir Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey. He left a personal fortune of £128,925 0s. 7d. Today, that would be worth £10.2 million. In his will he left £5,000 to the University of Glasgow to be applied by the senate of the University for promoting teaching and research in Physical Science in connection with Natural Philosophy Class.

(Ref: Inventory SC7/28/3 pp680-688)

(Ref: Will SC7/30/5 pp169-176)
copyright notice

RPI = £10.2 million

AE = £43.2 million


Nicol Smith, Footballer, (25 Dec 1873-6 January 1905) - Ayrshire and Glasgow

Biographical information

Nicol Smith was born on 25 December 1873 to Alexander Smith weaver and Margaret Smith in Darvel Ayrshire. He married Annie Lochore in the parish of Londoun, Ayrshire on 13 April 1894 and they had 4 children James, Nicol, John and Jeanie, all living with their grandmother Margaret Smith after the death of both parents in 1904-1905.

Nicol Smith played football for Rangers from 1893. Smith was part of Rangers first ever Scottish Cup win, playing all 6 games, including 2-1 win against Celtic in 1894. Smith made 12 international appearances for Scotland, leading two games as Captain. He also worked as a lace weaver and fruit merchant.

Some details from the will of Nicol Smith

In January 1905, aged 31, Smith died from typhoid fever, an illness which also caused his wife's simultaneous death. He died intestate leaving an estate worth £1049 15s 2d. Today that would be an estate valued at £87,900 much more modest than the football players of today are worth.

(Ref: Inventory SC7/28/2 pp208-210)
copyright notice

RPI = £87,900

AE = £354,000


Sir William Arrol (1839-1913), Engineer - Ayr/Renfrewshire

Biographical information

William Arrol was an Engineer and leading railway contractor. He was born on 13 February 1839 in Houston (Renfrewshire), the son of a spinner. He started work in a cotton mill at the age of only 9, but by 1863 had joined a company of bridge manufacturers in Glasgow. By 1872 he had his own business, the Dalmarnock Iron Works in the east end of the city.

He married his first wife Elizabeth Patison on 18 July 1864 both aged 25 and they were married for almost 40 years before her death on 7 April 1904. At the age of 66 he married his first cousin Janet Hodgart on 8 March 1905; she died on 2 January 1910. At the age of 71 he married his third wife Elsie Robertson aged just 35 on 16 November of 1910.

William Arrol was the contractor responsible for building the Forth Rail Bridge (1890) and the replacement Tay Rail Bridge (1887) which were the two most substantial bridges in the world of their time and remain in constant use today. He was also responsible for Tower Bridge in London (1894), bridges over the Nile at Cairo (1908) and multi-span bridges over the River Clyde at Bothwell and the River South Esk at Montrose. His company also built the Bankside Power Station in London, which now forms the Tate Modern Art Gallery.

He had a reputation for being ingenious and energetic. He was knighted in 1890 and was elected the Liberal Member of Parliament for South Ayrshire, serving between 1892 and 1906.

Some details from the will of Sir William Arrol

Arrol bought an estate at Seafield, near Ayr (1885), and built a house there, where he lived until his death. At his time of death he had amassed a personal fortune of £316,589.1s.2d which would be worth £19.7 million today. He left the majority of his money to his friends and extended family.

(Ref: Inventory SC6/44/74 pp958-963)

(Ref: Additional Inventory SC6/44/77 pp501-505)

(Ref: Will SC6/46/40 pp173-188)
copyright notice

RPI = £19.7 million

AE = £90.7 million

Source - http://www.scottish-places.info/people/famousfirst3.html


George Coats, Baron Glentanar (1849-1918) - Aberdeen

Biographical information

George Coats was born on 11 February 1849 the son of Thomas Coats (1809-1883) one of the founders of the Paisley Thread Industry. J. and P. Coats, thread manufacturers. George Coats married Margaret Lothian Black on 23 December 1880 and they had one child Thomas Coats born 4 December 1894. George Coats bought Glen Tanar estate in 1905 for £155,000. His was created baron 29 June 1916 and died on the 26 November 1918.

George Coats worked and had a successful career for the company his father help to found. J & P Coats amalgamated with Clark & Co its American Associates and other companies to become J&P Coats Ltd. By the early 20th century J & P Coats was one of the largest companies in the world with a market value of around £22 million. It had 21,000 employees throughout the world and employed 11,000 in the UK.

Some details from the will of George Coats

At the time of his death George Coats was one of the wealthiest men in Scotland with a gross estate value of £4,361,625 8s 4d in today's money he would be worth £166 million.

(Ref: Will SC1/37/140 pp345-356)

(Ref: First Inventory SC1/36/179 pp1466-1478)

(Ref: Corrective Inventory SC1/36/182 pp742-750A)

(Ref: Second Corrective Inventory SC1/36/185 pp813-819)

(Ref: Third Corrective Inventory SC1/36/188 pp1105-1109)
copyright notice


Donald Alexander Smith, First Baron of Strathcona and Mount Royal (1820-1914) - Edinburgh

Biographical information

Businessman and politician in Canada Donald Alexander Smith was born on 6 August 1820 at Forres, Moray, the second of three sons of Alexander Smith, a tradesman of Archieston, and his wife, Barbara, daughter of Donald Stuart of Leanchoil.

He joined the Hudson's Bay Company in Canada as a clerk in 1838, and he also carried out business as an independent financier. He began to build his fortune while employed in Labrador, investing his own and his colleagues' surplus earnings in outside enterprises, principally the Bank of Montreal.

In the early 1870s, already a wealthy man, he used his own funds and those of the trusts he purchased Hudson's Bay Company shares for himself. He became director of the company in 1883 and governor in 1889. Smith also played an important if shadowy role in the capitalization and construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, including the honour of driving the last spike in 1885. He was easily the wealthiest Canadian of his time, owning a number of large and ostentatious estates in both Canada and Britain.

Smith was knighted in 1886 and created Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal of Glencoe and Colonsay in 1897. He became a noted philanthropist and was particularly generous to McGill University in Montreal and Aberdeen University in Scotland; many other institutions of higher learning as well as hospitals also benefited from his generosity. At the outbreak of the Boer War, Lord Strathcona personally funded an entire mounted regiment, Strathcona's Horse, which distinguished itself in the conflict.

Some details from the will of Donald Alexander Smith

Lord Strathcona died of a stroke at 28 Grosvenor Square, London, on 21 January 1914, only a few months after the death of his wife. He was buried at Highgate cemetery. His gross personal and moveable estate calculated in his corrective inventory in 1916 was £4,656,268, 8d 1d, making him one of the wealthiest Scots of his time. Today he would be worth £246 million.

(Ref: Inventory: SC70/1/552 pp80-98)

(Ref: Corrective Inventory: SC70/1/584 pp251-256)
copyright notice

RPI = £246 million

AE = £1.23 billion


Alexander Mann (January 22, 1853 - January 26, 1908), Artist - Glasgow

Biographical information

Alexander Mann was born in Glasgow on 22 January 1853; he was the son of James Mann, merchant and collector. He took drawing classes from the age of 10 and was tutored by Robert Greenless, eventually attending evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art, where Greenless was headmaster.

Alexander Mann was among the first 'Glasgow Boys' to head to Paris to study in the late 1870's, under Carolus-Duran. Like other prominent Glasgow artists he was influenced by Jules Bastien-Lepage: His picture A Bead Stringer, Venice gained an honorable mention at the Salon in 1885 but after a public controversy over this painting when it was exhibited at the Royal Glasgow Institute, Mann settled in England. Here he married Catherine MacFarlane Gow.

Mann travelled extensively and lived with his family in Tangiers. In 1893 he travelled through Spain with John Lavery an active member of the 'Glasgow Boys'. Mann was mostly famous for painting landscapes, his works included By the Findhorn, Morayshire, Tangier and On the Berkshire Downs.

He was a member of the New English Art Club and Royal Institute of Painters. Alexander Mann was not an active member of the 'Glasgow Boys' but was lifelong friends with some, including Lavery and Millie Dowe.

Some details from the will of Alexander Mann

He died on 26 January 1908 leaving an estate valued at £54,895.15s.10 which would be worth around £4.47 million today.

(Ref: Inventory SC36/48/211 pp273-285)

(Ref: Will SC36/51/146 pp614-622)
copyright notice

RPI = £4.47 million

AE = £18.3 million


Isabella Elder (1825-1905), Philanthropist - Glasgow

Biographical information

Isabella Elder was born on 15 March 1828 in Hutchestown, Gorbals, Glasgow. She married John Elder, a marine engineer and shipbuilder on 31 March 1857. John Elder owned his own shipbuilding yard in Govan and on his death Isabella Elder became a very wealthy widow.

As Isabella and John Elder had no children, Isabella spent her life using her wealth to improve the lives, education and health of the people of Govan and Glasgow. During her life she was involved with the struggle for the higher education of women in Glasgow. She purchased North Park House and grounds and gave it rent free to Queen Margaret College for Woman. She provided bursaries for working lads from Govan to study marine engineering at Glasgow University and instituted scholarships for girls wishing to train as teachers and governesses.

In 1885 she gave Govan the 37 acre Elder Park, established and paid the expenses of a school for domestic economy, and built the Elder Free Library.

Some details from the will of Isabella Elder

Isabella Elder died at her home on 18 November 1905 leaving an estate worth £175,246.6s.6d, which today would be worth £47.7 million. In her will she bequeaths all her paintings valued at £8000-£13000 to the 'Glasgow Corporation' which is 'intended entirely for the benefit of the public in all time coming.' She also states that the 'corporation' cannot sell any of these paintings. It appears that all or the majority of the paintings are held by Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. She left the majority of her estate to charitable causes.

(Ref: Will SC36/51/140 pp167-184)

(Ref: Inventory SC36/48/199 pp30-46)

(Ref: List of paintings SC36/51/140 pp171-172)

(Ref: Value of paintings SC36/48/199 p40)
copyright notice

RPI = £14.7 million

AE = £59.1 million


Thomas Millie Dow (28 October 1848 - 3 July 1919), Artist - Fife and Glasgow

Biographical information

Thomas Dow was born 28 October 1848 at Dysart, Fife. His education was tailored towards a career in law and he was expected to follow his father and brother into the family law firm in Kirkcaldy. Dow had other plans and went to Paris in 1877 and enrolled in classes at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts and later studied under Rudophe Julien and Carolus Duran.

Dow painted in oils, watercolour and pastels. His subjects include flower studies, landscapes, portraits and decorative allegorical works. He painted landscapes in Scotland, north-eastern United States, Morocco, northern Italy and Cornwall.

He moved to Glasgow in 1880 at which point he became associated with the 'Glasgow Boys'. Dow was a celebrated artist in his own lifetime and his work remains popular today. His work includes The Kelp, A Vision of Spring, the triptych Eve and Sirens of the North.

Dow married Florence Pilcher nee Cox on the 7th October 1891 in Foggyley, Lochlee. Florence a widow had two children William and Elizabeth Pilcher from her previous marriage. Dow's own daughter Mary Rosamond was born 14 July 1892.

Some details from the will of Thomas Millie Dow

He died on 3 July 1919 at St Ives, Cornwall and is buried at Zennor. Dow left a modest fortune of £6,311.15s.1d which today would be worth £226,000.

Most of his estate is left to his wife with conditions for his child and step children. Most interesting about his testament is an amendment at the end providing for his stepson, William. In the event of William outliving both himself and his wife, William was to inherit a Cottage in Talland Road St Ives. The testament describes in detail plot of land and includes a sketch of the plot sketched by Dow himself.

(Ref: Will: SC70/4/535 pp503-523)

(Ref: Inventory: SC70/1/647 pp520-525)
copyright notice

RPI = £226,000

AE = £901,000


Sir John Murray (1814-1914), Marine Scientist and Oceanographer - Edinburgh

Biographical information

Sir John Murray was born at Cobourg, Ontario on 3 March 1841, the second son of Robert Murray, an accountant from Scotland and Elizabeth Macfarlane. He attended public school in London, Ontario, and later studied at Victoria College, Cobourg.

At seventeen he came to Scotland to complete his education and stayed with his maternal grandfather John Macfarlane in Stirlingshire. He attended Edinburgh University and studied medicine but did not graduate, instead he joined a whaling ship as ships surgeon.

He 1872 he joined Charles Wyville Thomson as an assistant on the Challenger expedition which was a four year expedition to explore the world oceans especially the physics, chemistry, geology and biology of the great ocean basins. On his return he spent 15 years editing and publishing the Scientific Results of the Voyage of HMS Challenger, which was published in 50 Volumes.

Murray went on and continued to be involved in many oceanic expeditions, in 1909 Murray visited Copenhagen and urged the International Council for Exploration of the Sea that there was a need for an oceanographic expedition to the North Atlantic. He wrote to the Norwegian government offering to pay all expenses for a four month expedition if they would loan the Michael Sars vessel and scientific staff for the expedition. The expedition was lead by Dr Johan Hjort. At this time it was the most ambitious oceanographic research cruise ever. The results of the expedition were published in The Depths of the Ocean by Murray and Hjort in 1912 and became a classic for marine naturalists and oceanographers.

Murray married Isabella Henderson in London 24 January 1899, they had 5 children, two boys John, Thomas and three girls, Margaret, Rhoda and Winifred. Interestingly he named his eldest son John Challenger Murray after the Challenger expedition of 1872 (p439 of Will).

Some details from the will of Sir John Murray

Murray was killed in a motor accident at Kirkliston, near Edinburgh, on 16 March 1914. His moveable estate at the time of his death was valued at £143,606.18s.9d which today would be worth in the region of £10.7 million.

(Ref: Inventory: SC70/1/550 pp335-337)

(Ref: Corrective Inventory: SC70/1/553 pp189-211)

(Ref: Will: SC70/4/457 pp439-460)
copyright notice

RPI = £10.7 million

AE = £42.4 million


Elsie Maud Inglis, Doctor (1864-1917) - Edinburgh

Biographical information

Elsie Inglis (16 August 1864 - 26 November 1917) was an innovative Scottish doctor and suffragist.

She was born in India, to John Forbes David Inglis who worked in the Indian civil service. She had the good fortune to have relatively enlightened parents who considered the education of a daughter as important as that of the son. After a private education her decision to study medicine was delayed by her mother's death in 1885. However, the next year the Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women was opened by Dr Sophia Jex-Blake and Inglis started her studies there. After founding her own breakaway medical college as a reaction to Jex-Blake's uncompromising ways, she completed her training under Sir William Macewen at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

She qualified as a licentiate of both the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Edinburgh, and the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in 1892. She was appalled by the general standard of care and lack of specialisation in the needs of female patients, but was able to obtain a post at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson's pioneering New Hospital for Women in London, and then at the Rotunda in Dublin, a leading maternity hospital.

She returned to Edinburgh in 1894 where she opened a maternity hospital (The Hospice) for poor women, which was a forerunner of the Elsie Inglis Memorial Hospital. A philanthropist, she often waived the fees owed to her and would pay for her patients to recuperate by the sea-side. Her dissatisfaction with the standard of medical care available to women led to her becoming politically active and playing an important role in the early years of the Scottish Federation of Women's Suffrage Societies.

Despite her already notable achievements it was her efforts during the First World War that brought her fame. She was instrumental in setting up the Scottish Women's Hospitals for Foreign Service Committee. The organisation was active in sending teams to France, Serbia and Russia. She herself went with the teams sent to Serbia. In 1915 she was captured and repatriated but upon reaching home she began organising funds for a Scottish Women's Hospital team in Russia. She headed the team when it left for Odessa, Russia in 1916 but lasted only a year before she was forced to return to the United Kingdom, suffering from cancer.

She died on 26 November 1917. Her funeral service at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh was "the occasion of an impressive public tribute", according to The Scotsman. Winston Churchill said of Inglis and her nurses "they will shine in history".

Some details from the will of Elsie Maud Inglis

Having never married or had children Elsie Inglis left all her moveable and heritable property to her niece Florence Elsie Inglis. The value of her moveable estate at the time of her death was £957.17s.2d which would have been a modest inheritance of £49,900 today.

(Ref: Inventory: SC70/1/612 p.112-114)

(Ref: Will: SC70/4/509 p299-300)
copyright notice

RPI = £49,900

AE = £223,000


Grace Ross Cadell, Physician and Suffragist (1855-1918) - Edinburgh

Biographical information

Grace Cadell was the daughter of Martha Fleming and George Philip Cadell, coalwork superintendent. Grace first studied medicine under Sophia Jex-Blake in Edinburgh but was dismissed for challenging Jex-Blake's authority. She instead enrolled in the alternative Medical College for Women set up by Elsie Inglis. She joined the staff at Elsie Inglis's High Street Centre, a hospice specialising in gynaecology and was running it in 1911.

Grace Cadell was also an active suffragette; she was president of the Leith Branch of the Women's Social and Political Union in 1907. In 1912 she protested about the withholding of the franchise by refusing to pay taxes. Her furniture was seized and sold under warrant at the Mercat Cross, Edinburgh to pay her outstanding tax debt.

She also was a novelist, writing about high society. She could earn up to £200 per novel. Her most successful publication was Diary Illustrative of the Times of George IV.

Some details from the will of Grace Ross Cadell

Although Grace did not marry she did acquire 4 foster children: Margaret Frances Clare Sydney, George Bell, Grace Emmeline Cadell and Maurice Philip Shaw. In her will she provides for them substantially including making provisions for their education, clothing and guardianship. She also provides substantially for her family and servants.

(Ref: Inventory: SC70/1/612 p410-423)

(Ref: Additional Inventory: SC70/1/676 p439-441)

(Ref: Will: SC70/4/510 p7-22)
copyright notice

RPI = £1.76 million

AE = £8.2 million


Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), Industrialist and Philanthropist - Dunfermline and Edinburgh

Biographical information

Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Fife to William Carnegie, weaver and Margaret Carnegie nee Morrison. The Carnegie family emigrated to Pennsylvania in the United States in 1848. Andrew's first job was a worker in a bobbin factory. Eventually he progressed up the ranks of a telegraph company. He built Pittsburgh's Carnegie Steel Company, which was later merged with Elbert H. Gary's Federal Steel Company and several smaller companies to create U.S. Steel. With the fortune he made from business, he later turned to philanthropy and interests in education, founding the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Carnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.

When the American Civil War erupted in 1861, Carnegie was made 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 had been cut by Confederate soldiers; following the Union defeat 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.

Carnegie donated most of his money to establish many libraries, schools, and universities in America, the UK and other countries, as well as a pension fund for former employees. The British, American and Canadian public library systems benefited greatly from his generosity - the numerous Carnegie library buildings are testament to this. He also set up a trust for the Scottish Universities.

Some details from the will of Andrew Carnegie

Carnegie died of bronchial pneumonia on 11 August 1919 in Lenox, Massachusetts. He had already given away $350,695,653 (approximately $4.3 billion, adjusted to current figures). He is often regarded as the second-richest man in history after John D. Rockefeller. At his death, his last $30 million was donated to charities and pensioners. He was buried at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in New York.

His estate in Scotland was modest compared to that recorded in New York. The value of his estate totalled £67,541.8s.2d adjusted today would be worth £2.4 million. What is interesting is that his inventory is almost entirely made up of lists of people who pay feu duties to him as feudal superior of properties they owned on such as Skibo estate and lists of tenants and rent payable on these estates. In his will there are long lists of people and the value of legacy. For all labourers on payroll at Skibo who served more than 2 years would be given $50 and those 5 years over $100. All crofters were also to be remitted 2 years rent if of good standing, also a 3rd years rent would be paid to all crofters for improvements to their homes (pp263-264).

(Ref: Will SC70/4/541 pp246-329)

(Ref: Inventory SC70/1/654 pp464-480)
copyright notice

RPI = £2.4 million

AE = £9.64 million


James Keir Hardie (1856-1915), Politician and Founder of the Labour Party - Lanarkshire

Biographical information

James Keir Hardie was born 15 August 1856 in Legbrannock Lanarkshire illegitimately to Mary Kerr. In a paternity case heard on 14 October 1856 at Lanark Sheriff Court the father was found to be William Aitken, miner. The name of the James's father was added later to the birth certificate along with an amendment note concerning the action of paternity in court.

Hardie was a working class boy, he had no formal education and worked down the mines as a 'trapper' from the age of 11. He worked down the mines for 11 years witnessing many things including the pit disaster at Blantyre in October 1877. During this time he educated himself reading widely with particular interest in history and literature; he attended night school and taught himself Pitman's shorthand. He left mining to pursue a career initially as a journalist, trade union activist and eventually a politician.

James met his wife Lilias (Lilly) Balfour Wilson the daughter of a Hamilton publican while working has a trade union activist in Hamilton and where he was active as a lay preacher and crusader for temperance. They married on 3 August 1880 they had 4 children, James, Duncan, Agnes and Sarah. It was this period in early to mid 1880s that Hardie was most prominent in trade union activities striving to build up the organisation of the Ayrshire miners.

By the mid 1880s Hardie was moving more towards the world of politics. In 1888 he stood as the first independent labour candidate in the Mid-Lanark by-election, he only received 617 votes and came last but it was the start of distinct political career. In 1892 he won a seat for West Ham as an Independent Labour Candidate. He lost this seat in 1895, after an attack on the royal family in the House of Commons.

After this Hardie spent the next five years building up the labour movement, he started up the Labour Leader a weekly publication which became a platform for his political views. In 1893 he set up a meeting in Bradford that saw the birth of the Independent Labour Party. His main strategic goal was to set up a 'labour alliance' between the trade unions and socialist societies. In 1899 the TUC's narrowly voted in favour of this and the Labour Representative Committee (LCR) was created chaired by Hardie, by 1906 it became known as the Labour Party.

By this time, he also wanted a parliamentary seat and in 1900 he got his chance sitting for Methyr Tydfil and keeping this seat for the rest of his life. In 1903 a deal was struck with Ramsay MacDonald and Herbert Gladstone, known as the 'lib-lab' pack; the liberals would not stand against at least 30 labour constituents in the next general election, in order to avoid splitting the anti-conservative vote. The next general election, liberals came to power and labour won a record number of seats.

By 1908 Hardie resigned as labour leader, concentrating on his international role as chairman of the British section of the Socialist International. He also became increasing involved in promoting the causes of women's suffrage. He was a strong pacifist and pushed internationally for a principle of worldwide workers' strike against war. When the War erupted in Europe in 1914 Hardie led anti-war campaigns, his health suffered being attacked as an anti-war traitor and he died in Glasgow on 25 September 1915.

Some details from the will of James Keir Hardie

At the time of his death he left an estate worth £705.1s.3d which today would be valued at £44,100. The estate was mostly made up from the value of household furniture, instalment due from parliament as a Member of Parliament.

(Ref: Inventory: SC6/44/77 785-789)

(Ref: Will: SC6/46/42 pp749-751)
copyright notice

RPI = £44,100

AE = £203,000


Sir Hector Archibald MacDonald, General in the British Army (Ross-shire)

Biographical information

Hector Archibald MacDonald was born 3 March 1853 at Rootfield, Urquhuart in Ross-shire to William MacDonald a crofter and Ann Boyd. He left school at the age of 12 and worked has a stable boy and then a draper's apprentice. By the age of 17 in 1870 he enlisted with the 92nd Gordon Highlanders and saw service in India and Afghanistan. He was rapidly promoted from the ranks reaching colour sergeant in 1874 and Lieutenant by 1881.

He met and secretly married Christina McDonald Duncan in 1884 who was only 16 at the time; they had one child Hector Duncan who was born in 1887. It appears that he spent very little time with his wife during their 19 years of marriage.

MacDonald had a distinguished career; from 1885 he served in the Egyptian army and served with Kitchener in the Sudan campaign which ended in 1898. At the battle of Omdurman his tactical awareness prevented a dervish counter-attack on the Anglo-Egyptian army in its moment of victory.

From 1899-1900 Macdonald was a brigadier-general in India, commanding the Sirhind district in the Punjab with headquarters at Ambala; he became major-general on relinquishing the command. In 1901 he was knighted by King Edward VII. During the Boer War he commanded the Highland Brigade and in 1902 he became commander of the British forces in Ceylon. He shot and killed himself in room 105 of the Hotel Regina, rue du Rivoli in Paris on 25 March 1903 after the New York Times reported on the charges of homosexuality and 'inappropriate' activity with young boys.

His body was returned to Scotland and buried in Dean Cemetery. He was a national hero having raised himself through the ranks which was unusual in Victorian society. His admirers wanted a public funeral in Ross-shire but his wife insisted on a private funeral in Edinburgh. There was much public grief and some 30,000 mourners went to Dean Cemetery to pay their respects.

Some details from the will of Sir Hector Archibald MacDonald

He died leaving a personal estate worth £4402.11s.6d which today would be worth £369,000.

His testament is very interesting has a leaves a list of items that are to be kept as heirlooms for his son, Hector, including a portrait of Queen Victoria, and his sword Aide-de-Camp to the Queen as presented by the people of Ross and Cromarty. All medals and decorations and a mounted hoof from his charger horse Knowall. Interestingly at the time the testament is written in 1899 his horse is not dead. Poignantly, he states in section 8, 'My charger "Knowall" to be shot'.

(Ref: Will: SC70/4/349 p29-32)

(Ref: Inventory: SC70/1/425 pp315-324)
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George Armitstead, Baron Armitstead, Jute Entrepreneur, Liberal MP and Philanthropist (1824 to 1915) - Dundee and Angus

Biographical information

Born in Riga, Latvia, in 1824, George Armitstead was a jute/shipping merchant, Liberal MP and philanthropist who became a prominent Dundonian and earned the nickname, 'Lord Dundee'. He came to Dundee in 1843 (after a very brief spell in Hull), and established his flax and shipping business in the Cowgate area of the city.

In 1848, Armitstead married Jane Elizabeth Baxter, who was the daughter of Edward Baxter, a major player in the textile industry in Dundee. As his father-in-law's brother was the Liberal MP, William Edward Baxter, the marriage helped to open up the world of politics to him.

The newspapers of the time described Armitstead as an 'extreme liberal'. Back in the 1860s, this just meant he leaned towards the left (for there was no Labour Party back then). After failing to win a seat in the 1857 election, Armitstead became MP for Dundee on two occasions from 1868 to 1873, and 1880 to 1885. During his political career, he was a very close friend of PM William Gladstone.

Some details from the will of George Armitstead

In his adopted city, he became famous for his philanthropism. Indeed, many of the details in his will highlight the great range of his charitable work. For example, he left £10,000 to the Dundee Royal Infirmary, and £5,000 to University College Dundee, in the form of bursaries and scholarships. There are numerous bequests to many other charities and trusts in the city, including the Mars Training Ship, the city orphanage and the Institute for the Deaf.

Armitstead's will also highlights the many friendships he made during his political career, and William Gladstone's son, Henry Neville, is named as an executor of the will.

(Ref: Will: SC49/32/20 p489-549)
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