Famous Scottish Intellectuals & Academics

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 1 
Adam Smith
(18th Century Scottish Economist Who is Considered the Father of Modern Economics)
Adam Smith
16
Birthdate: June 5, 1723
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland
Died: July 17, 1790

Widely considered The Father of Economics, Adam Smith was a Scottish philosopher and economist. A pioneer of political economy, Adam Smith played a major role during the Scottish Enlightenment. His book The Wealth of Nations is regarded as the first modern work of economics and a forerunner of today's academic discipline of economics.

 2 
David Hume
(Best Known for His Highly Influential System of Philosophical Empiricism, Scepticism and Naturalism)
David Hume
6
Birthdate: April 26, 1711
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: August 25, 1776

Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, and economist, David Hume, is considered one of the most important philosophers to write in English. His book, A Treatise of Human Nature, is counted among the most influential works in the history of philosophy. His works have influenced numerous thinkers, including German philosopher Immanuel Kant and Christian philosopher Joseph Butler.

 3 
John Knox
(Religious Leader and Founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland)
John Knox
4
Birthdate: 1514 AD
Birthplace: Giffordgate, Haddington, Scotland
Died: November 24, 1572

John Knox was a Scottish minister, writer, and theologian. Knox, who played a major role in the Scottish Reformation, is also credited with founding the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Considered a major contributor to the field of theology, John Knox's statue stands tall at New College in the University of Edinburgh, UK.

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 4 
Walter Scott
(Novelist and Poet known for his Works Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, and The Lady of the Lake)
Walter Scott
4
Birthdate: August 15, 1771
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: September 21, 1832

Walter Scott was a Scottish novelist, poet, historian, and playwright. Scott's ability as a writer and his knowledge of history made him a pioneering figure in the formation of the historical novel genre. An influential writer, many of his works remain classics of Scottish as well as English-language literature. Scott was admired by other prominent writers like Letitia Elizabeth Landon.

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 5 
Duns Scotus
(Philosopher, Priest)
Duns Scotus
3
Birthdate: 1265 AD
Birthplace: Duns, Scotland
Died: December 8, 1308

Duns Scotus was a Scottish Franciscan friar, philosopher, theologian, and university professor. Widely regarded as one of the most prominent philosopher-theologians of the High Middle Ages, Scotus had a major influence on both secular and Catholic thought. In 1993, Duns Scotus was beatified by the Catholic Church. His life and work inspired a 2012 Italian film titled Blessed Duns Scotus.

 6 
Alex Salmond
(Scottish Politician and Economist Who Served as First Minister of Scotland from 2007 to 2014)
Alex Salmond
4
Birthdate: December 31, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Linlithgow
 7 
Neil Oliver
(Scottish TV Presenter, Archaeologist and Host of BBC Documentary Series 'A History of Scotland' and 'Vikings')
Neil Oliver
6
Birthdate: February 21, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Renfrew, Scotland

Neil Oliver is a Scottish author and television presenter best known for presenting many documentary series on history and archaeology, such as Coast, Vikings, and A History of Scotland. Oliver is also known for his association with the popular conservation organization National Trust for Scotland, where he served as the president from 2017 to 2020.

 8 
James Murray
(Lexicographer)
James Murray
6
Birthdate: February 7, 1837
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Denholm, Scotland
Died: July 26, 1915

James Murray was a Scottish philologist and lexicographer. He is best remembered as the main editor of the famous Oxford English Dictionary from 1879 until his demise in 1915. Murray's contribution to the dictionary and his collaboration with lexicographical researcher William Chester Minor inspired the 2019 film The Professor and the Madman, where the former was portrayed by Mel Gibson.

 9 
Mary Somerville
(Mathematician, Linguist, Translator, Astronomer, Scientist)
Mary Somerville
4
Birthdate: December 26, 1780
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jedburgh
Died: November 28, 1872

One of the two pioneering female honorary members of the Royal Astronomical Society, Mary Somerville was a 19th-century polymath and science writer. Though she specialized in math and astronomy, she was also well-versed in botany and geology. The Connection of the Physical Sciences remains her most notable work.

 10 
Thomas Carlyle
(Philosopher)
Thomas Carlyle
4
Birthdate: December 4, 1795
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
Died: February 5, 1881
Initially a math teacher, Thomas Carlyle later abandoned the profession when a sudden spiritual awakening led him to writing. His parents wanted him to become a clergy, but he ended up becoming one of the greatest Victorian essayists and authors ever, known for works such as Sartor Resartus.
 11 
John Witherspoon
(Scottish-American Presbyterian Minister, Educator and a Founding Father of the United States)
John Witherspoon
3
Birthdate: February 5, 1723
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Gifford, Scotland
Died: November 15, 1794

John Witherspoon was a Scottish American slaveholder, Presbyterian minister, and Founding Father of the United States. A signatory to the Declaration of Independence, Witherspoon also signed the Articles of Confederation. He also played a crucial role in shaping public policy in the United States of America.

 12 
John Law
(economist, banker, statistician)
John Law
3
Birthdate: April 21, 1671
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: March 21, 1729

John Law was a Scottish economist best remembered for his work as Controller General of Finances under the Regent of the Kingdom of France, Philippe II, Duke of Orléans. Law is credited with founding Banque Générale Privée, the first financial organization to pioneer the use of paper money. Law is also credited with originating ideas like the real bills doctrine.

 13 
Allan Octavian Hume
(Founder of Indian National Congress)
Allan Octavian Hume
3
Birthdate: June 4, 1829
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saint Mary Cray, Orpington, United Kingdom
Died: July 31, 1912

British civil servant A. O. Hume is remembered as the Father of the Indian National Congress, having co-founded the party. Apart from being an administrator, he was also an ornithologist and had written List of Birds in India. His vocal criticism of the British made his bosses distrust him.

 14 
James Mill
(Historian)
James Mill
3
Birthdate: April 6, 1773
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Angus, Scotland
Died: June 23, 1836

James Mill was a Scottish economist, historian, philosopher, and political theorist. Mill is credited with co-founding the Ricardian school of economics. He is also credited with writing The History of British India, which classifies Indian history into three parts: British, Muslim, and Hindu. The classification has played an influential role in the field of Indian historical studies.

 15 
Patrick Geddes
(Scottish Biologist, Sociologist and Pioneering Town Planner Who Coined the Term 'Conurbation')
Patrick Geddes
3
Birthdate: October 2, 1854
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ballater, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Died: April 17, 1932

Apart from being a sociologist and biologist, Patrick Geddes was known for his impeccable sense of town planning. While he initially taught botany in Dundee, he later turned to sociology and conducted studies in India, Mexico, and other countries. He was eventually knighted for his achievements.

 16 
Thomas Reid
(Philosopher)
Thomas Reid
3
Birthdate: May 7, 1710
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Strachan, Scotland, Great Britain
Died: October 7, 1796

Thomas Reid was a Scottish philosopher best remembered for founding the Scottish School of Common Sense. Reid, who played an important part in the Scottish Enlightenment, advocated common sense realism as opposed to his contemporary David Hume who advocated metaphysical naturalism. Thomas Reid is also credited with co-founding the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1783.

 17 
James Wilson
(Businessman)
James Wilson
2
Birthdate: June 3, 1805
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hawick, Roxburghshire, Scotland
Died: August 11, 1860

Born to a hat manufacturer, James Wilson initially wished to study law but later joined his father’s business. Over the years, he established what is now the Standard Chartered Bank. Sent to Kolkata by Queen Victoria to introduce tax reforms, he introduced paper currency in the country, but died of dysentery.

 18 
Robert Morrison MacIver
2
Birthdate: April 17, 1882
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Stornoway, Scotland
Died: June 15, 1970
 19 
Blind Harry
(Scottish Poet and Historian)
Blind Harry
2
Birthdate: 1440 AD
Birthplace: Scotland
Died: 1492 AD

Harry The Minstrel, or Blind Harry, was a 15th-century Scottish poet, best known for his iconic poem The Wallace. He finds mention in a lot of literary works, such as The Lament for the Makaris by William Dunbar. Blind since birth, he mostly went around collecting legends about Scottish knight Sir William Wallace.

 20 
Mountstuart Elphinstone
2
Birthdate: October 6, 1779
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dumbarton, Dumbartonshire, Scotland
Died: November 20, 1859
 21 
W. D. Ross
(Philosopher)
W. D. Ross
3
Birthdate: April 15, 1877
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Thurso, Scotland
Died: May 5, 1971

W. D. Ross was a Scottish philosopher best remembered for his work in ethics. He is credited with developing a deontological form of intuitionism in response to his contemporary George Edward Moore's consequentialist form of intuitionist ethics. Ross is also credited with editing and translating several works of the popular Greek philosopher and polymath Aristotle.

 22 
Michael Scot
(Scholar)
Michael Scot
2
Birthdate: 1175 AD
Birthplace: Scotland
Died: 1232 AD

Michael Scot was a Scottish scholar and mathematician. Widely regarded as the greatest intellectual of the Middle Ages, Scot served as a court astrologer and science adviser to Emperor Frederick II. Michael Scot's life and work have inspired several literary works, including the 2019 novel A Matter of Interpretation by Elizabeth Mac Donald.

 23 
Alexander Melville Bell
0
Birthdate: March 1, 1819
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: August 7, 1905
 24 
Alexander Bain - Philosopher
(Scottish philosopher)
Alexander Bain - Philosopher
2
Birthdate: June 11, 1818
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Aberdeen
Died: September 18, 1903

Alexander Bain was a Scottish philosopher. He was a prominent educationalist in the British school of empiricism. A respected figure in the fields of psychology, logic, linguistics, moral philosophy, and education reform, he founded Mind, the first-ever journal of psychology and analytical philosophy. He had an illustrious academic career at the University of Aberdeen. 

Richard Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane
2
Birthdate: July 30, 1856
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: August 19, 1928

Richard Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane was a British philosopher, lawyer, and politician. Between 1905 and 1912, he served as the Secretary of State for War and was instrumental in implementing a series of reforms of the British Army called The Haldane Reforms. He also served as the Lord Chancellor twice during his illustrious career. Richard was also an influential writer.

 26 
Thomas Gordon
(psychologist)
Thomas Gordon
2
Birthdate: March 11, 1918
Sun Sign: Pisces
Died: August 26, 2002
 27 
Thomas Chalmers
(Vice-President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh From 1835 to 1842)
Thomas Chalmers
2
Birthdate: March 17, 1780
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Anstruther, Fife, Scotland
Died: May 31, 1847

Scottish Presbyterian minister and political economist Thomas Chalmers has been immortalized by the town of Port Chalmers in New Zealand, named after him. An ordained minister, he was initially a math lecturer. He later became the Free Church of Scotland’s first moderator. He tried applying Christian ethics to economic problems.

 28 
Eric Linklater
(Scottish Poet, Fiction Writer, Military Historian, and Travel Writer)
Eric Linklater
2
Birthdate: March 8, 1899
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales
Died: November 7, 1974

Welsh-born Scottish author Eric Linklater is best remembered for his award-winning children’s book The Wind on the Moon. Initially a student of medicine, he later switched to English literature. He  had also been part pf the Scottish military and later also became a military historian.

 29 
Dugald Stewart
(Philosopher)
Dugald Stewart
2
Birthdate: November 22, 1753
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Edinburgh,Scotland
Died: June 11, 1828

Dugald Stewart was a Scottish mathematician and philosopher best remembered for his efforts to popularize the works of Adam Smith and Francis Hutcheson. Considered one of the most prominent personalities of the Scottish Enlightenment, Stewart played a major role in explaining the Scottish Common Sense Realism. Among his students were Sir Walter Scott, Sir Archibald Alison, and Sir James Mackintosh. 

 30 
Ivan T. Sanderson
(Biologist, Writer)
Ivan T. Sanderson
0
Birthdate: January 30, 1911
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: February 19, 1973
 31 
Edward Irving
(Scottish minister)
Edward Irving
2
Birthdate: August 4, 1792
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Annan, Scotland
Died: December 7, 1834
Sir William Hamilton, 9th Baronet
2
Birthdate: March 8, 1788
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Died: May 6, 1856

Sir William Hamilton, 9th Baronet, was a Scottish metaphysician and educator best remembered for his work in the field of logic. Hamilton, who made attempts to combine the views held by German philosopher Immanuel Kant with the Scottish philosophy of common sense, is credited with popularizing the works of Kant in the United Kingdom.

 33 
Robert Barclay
(Former Scottish Quaker, one of the most eminent writers belonging to the Religious Society of Friends)
Robert Barclay
2
Birthdate: December 23, 1648
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Moray, United Kingdom
Died: October 3, 1690

Scottish Quaker leader Robert Barclay is best remembered for his written work An Apology for the True Christian Divinity. His close friendship with James II, Duke of York, helped him secure the land of East Jersey for himself and his several Quaker friends who had been facing persecution back then.

 34 
James Burnett, Lord Monboddo
(Scottish Judge, Scholar of Linguistic Evolution, Philosopher and Deist)
James Burnett, Lord Monboddo
2
Birthdate: October 25, 1714
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Monboddo, Scotland
Died: May 26, 1799

James Burnett, Lord Monboddo was a Scottish philosopher, judge, deist, and scholar of linguistic evolution. Best remembered for contributing to the development of the concepts of biological evolution, James Burnett is often credited with theorizing the idea of natural selection. His theories were read and acknowledged by Erasmus Darwin, whose works were in turn read by his grandson Charles Darwin.

 35 
John Henry Mackay
2
Birthdate: February 6, 1864
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Greenock, Scotland
Died: May 16, 1933

John Henry Mackay was a writer, thinker, and egoist anarchist. Mackay, who spent most of his life in Germany, is best remembered for his work Die Anarchisten which was published in 1891. He is also remembered for his friendship with American anarchist Benjamin Tucker, who published his works in Liberty magazine in the United States of America.

William Robertson Smith
2
Birthdate: November 8, 1846
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Died: March 31, 1894
 37 
Nigel Tranter
2
Birthdate: November 23, 1909
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Died: January 9, 2000
 38 
James Croll
(Geographer, Geologist)
James Croll
0
Birthdate: January 2, 1821
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Little Whitefield, Perthshire, Scotland
Died: December 15, 1890
 39 
James Steuart
2
Birthdate: October 21, 1712
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: November 26, 1780

Credited with writing the first methodically written text on economics in English, James Steuart belonged to a noble family. His renowned work, An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy, was the first in English and the first by a Scottish economist to have “political economy” as part of its title.

 40 
Hugh Blair
(Scottish Minister of Religion, Author and Rhetorician Best Known for His Sermons)
Hugh Blair
2
Birthdate: April 7, 1718
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: December 27, 1800

Hugh Blair was a Scottish writer, rhetorician, and minister of religion. As a minister of religion, Blair had a major impact in both the secular and the spiritual realms. He also played an important role in the Scottish Enlightenment and is credited with co-founding the Royal Society of Edinburgh. From 1789 to 1796, he served as the academy's Literary President.

 41 
James Frederick Ferrier
2
Birthdate: June 16, 1808
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: June 11, 1864

James Frederick Ferrier was a Scottish metaphysical philosopher, writer, and professor. He is best remembered for authoring a series of articles titled An Introduction to the Philosophy of Consciousness, which were published in Blackwood's Magazine. As an educator, James Frederick Ferrier taught at several prestigious institutions like Edinburgh University and the University of St Andrews.

 42 
William Robertson
2
Birthdate: September 19, 1721
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Borthwick, Scotland
Died: June 11, 1793
 43 
Henry Home, Lord Kames
(Scottish Writer, Philosopher, Advocate, Judge, and Agricultural Improver Known for His Elements of Criticism)
Henry Home, Lord Kames
2
Birthdate: 1696 AD
Birthplace: Kames, Scotland
Died: December 27, 1782

Henry Home, Lord Kames was a Scottish philosopher, writer, agricultural improver, advocate, and judge. One of the most influential personalities in the Scottish Enlightenment, Home took an active part in an intellectual society of the 18th-century known as the Select Society. A founding member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Home acted as a patron to personalities like David Hume.

 44 
John Macquarrie
(Philosopher)
John Macquarrie
2
Birthdate: June 27, 1919
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Renfrew, Scotland
Died: May 28, 2007

John Macquarrie was a Scottish-born philosopher, theologian, and Anglican priest. One of the most celebrated systematic theologians of the 20th century, Macquarrie was presented with several prestigious honors during his illustrious career that spanned more than six decades. John Macquarrie is also remembered for his works, such as An Existentialist Theology, The Scope of Demythologizing, and Principles of Christian Theology.

 45 
James Crichton
(Polymath)
James Crichton
1
Birthdate: August 19, 1560
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dumfries, Scotland
Died: July 3, 1582
 46 
Hector Boece
(Scottish Philosopher and Historian)
Hector Boece
1
Birthdate: 1465 AD
Birthplace: Dundee, Scotland
Died: 1536 AD

Hector Boece was a Scottish historian and philosopher best remembered for his role as the first principal of King's College, a precursor of the University of Aberdeen, where he often delivered lectures on divinity and on medicine. He is also remembered for his books, History of the Scottish People and Lives of the Bishops of Murthlack and Aberdeen. 

 47 
Richard of Saint-Victor
1
Birthdate: 1110 AD
Birthplace: Scotland, England
Died: March 16, 1173

Richard of Saint-Victor was a Medieval Scottish theologian and philosopher. One of the most influential and prominent religious thinkers of his generation, Richard served as a prior of the Augustinian Abbey of Saint-Victor from 1162 to 1173. A prolific writer, Richard of Saint-Victor published several important books, including The Book of the Twelve Patriarchs.

 48 
John Richardson
(Surgeon and Explorer)
John Richardson
1
Birthdate: November 5, 1787
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dumfries, Scotland
Died: June 5, 1865

Apart from being a naval surgeon, John Richardson also made a named for himself as an explorer of the Canadian Arctic coast. He was also a talented author of natural history. His accurate surveys eventually got him knighted. Various species of reptiles and mammals have been named in his honor.

 49 
Angus Calder
(Writer)
Angus Calder
1
Birthdate: February 5, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: June 5, 2008

Angus Calder was a Scottish poet, historian, and writer. In addition to his literary works, Calder is also remembered for holding teaching positions in several universities. Also a prominent socialist, Angus Calder was often counted among the most important Scottish intellectuals during the '70s and '80s.

 50 
Alexander Dalrymple
(Geographer and hydrographer)
Alexander Dalrymple
1
Birthdate: July 24, 1737
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New Hailes, Scotland
Died: June 19, 1808