Scottish People Who Became Famous

The Scottish have contributed to almost every aspect of our lives. Many have become well known. Some were born in Scotland and others in the U.S. All have given us enjoyment, security, convenience, products, or information.

Actors & Actresses

“Bond, James Bond…”
Charleton Heston
  • Warren Beatty (MacLaine)
  • Ava Gardner
  • Judy Garland
  • Greer Garson
  • Katherine Hepburn
  • Alan Ladd
  • Robert Mitchum
Marilyn Monroe
John Wayne
Shirley MacLaine

Actors and poster images courtesy
  • Robert Redford
  • Cliff Robertson
  • Jayne Russell
  • George C. Scott
  • Jimmie Stewart
  • Elizabeth Taylor

Keifer Sutherland ~
image courtesy

Reese Witherspoon ~ image

Vin claims the Sinclair clan as his ancestors
At the 2003 MTV awards in Edinburgh,
Vin made international headlines
when wore a black leather kilt
Image courtesy

Great Scots in Africa

  • In 1770 James Bruce, a wine merchant from Stirlingshire, found the source of the Blue Nile River
  • In 1796 Mungo Park first European to see upper reaches of the Niger River in Gambia.
  • In 1823, Hugh Clapperton and the Englishman Dixon Denham first Europeans to cross the Sahara Desert
  • In 1826, Alexander Gordon Laing, of Edinburgh, was the first European to achieve Timbuktu. He was slain 2 days later
  • In 1862 James Grant & John Speke an Englishman, discovered and named Lake Victoria, the principal source of the Nile River
  • In the 1850’s, David Livingstone, discovered Victoria Falls, Zambesi River & Lake Nyasa

Athletes with Scottish Roots

  • American Baseball ~ Ty Cobb, Don Drysdale, Catfish Hunter, Harmon Killebrew, and Cy Young
  • Hockey ~ Bobbie Orr
  • Auto Racing ~ Jackie Stewart and David Coulthard

David Coulthard races for Team
McLaren Mercedes of the UK
Image courtesy

Lance Armstrong
Tour de France
7 time winner

Image courtesy

Scottish Authors

  • Robert Burns ~ one of history’s greatest poets
  • Michael Crichton ~ Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ~ Sherlock Holmes
  • Ian Fleming ~ James Bond series, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  • Kenneth Graham ~ The Wind In the Willows
  • Rudyard Kipling ~ Kim, Jungle Book

Sir James Barrie
Peter Pan
Tinker Bell
Captain Hook
The Lost Boys
Never Neverland
Image courtesy

  • J.K. Rawlings ~ the Harry Potter series
  • Sir Walter Scott ~ the Waverley novels
  • Robert Lewis Stevenson ~ Treasure Island, Kidnapped, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Brand Names

Well known companies founded by men of Scottish ancestry ~

  • Armour and Company ~ the largest meat packer in the world
  • Black and Decker Tools
  • Cannon towels
  • IBM
  • Lenox china

Keiller’s Marmalade ~ begun when a grocer bought a distressed cargo of Seville oranges in Dundee harbor in 1797. If you like ginger and haven’t tried their ginger marmalade, it’s wonderful.

  • Liggett-Rexall Drugs
  • Lipton Tea ~ the founder was born in Glasgow
  • Rose’s Lime Juice

  • Simmons Mattresses
  • McKesson and Robbins Pharmaceuticals
  • Thom McAn Shoes

all logo images courtesy

David Jack, a Scotsman who joined the California gold rush, has become a household word. He didn’t do so well in the gold fields, so he settled in Monterey and developed a cheese called Monterey Jack.


The Scottish are well known for their astute business sense.
  • In 1694, William Paterson founded the Bank of England.
  • Andrew Carnegie ~ steel magnate, the greatest philanthropist of all times, died the richest man in the world.
  • Dale Carnegie ~ author of How To Win Friends and Influence People.
  • Malcolm Forbes ~ founder of Forbes magazine.
  • John Kenneth Galbraith ~ economist and author.
  • J. Paul Getty ~ oilman. His mother’s ancestors fled Scotland after Culloden. The family founded Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
  • Malcolm McLean ~ inventor of containerized shipping and McLean Trucking.
  • Andrew Mellon ~ Gulf Oil and Alcoa.

Donald Trump
Scottish mother

The Apprentice
Trump Towers
Taj Mahal at
Atlantic City
Image courtesy

Educators whose Parents were Scottish

The Scottish contributed greatly to our education system.
  • William Holmes McGuffey (1800-1873) author of the McGuffey Readers, which improved the American education system.

    In use for over 120 years, only The Bible has outsold them. In their first 75 years they sold over 122,000,000 copies.

  • While less than one-half of 1% of the world’s population, 11% of all Nobel prizes have been awarded to Scotsmen.

  • The world’s first university faculty of engineering and technical science was in Glasgow.

Scottish Explorers

  • In 1812, the Oregon Trail, from Missouri to the Pacific Ocean, was first traversed by Robert Fulton.
  • In 1823, David Douglas traveled to the West Coast, where he discovered over 100 plants and 50 trees, one of which bears his name ~ the Douglas fir.
  • In 1831, Sir James Clark Ross discovered the Magnetic North Pole.
  • In 1848, James Wilson Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill, creating the California Gold Rush.
  • 1933 Douglas Douglas-Hamilton and David McIntyre were the first to fly over Mt Everest. David McIntyre later founded the national airlines of Iceland, Belgium, Greece, and Luxembourg.

William Forsyth
(1737 - 1804)
Scottish botanist
Royal head gardener
Founding member
Royal Horticultural Society
Forsythia named
in his honor
Image courtesy

Inventions by the Scottish

The men of Scotland and their Scottish American descendants were great inventors.
  • In 1497, the Scots invented the game of Golf, by adding the hole to stick-ball games.
  • John Napier (1550-1617) invented logarithms and the decimal notation.
  • Branch banking was attempted by The Bank of Scotland in the 1690’s and the 1730’s. The British Linen Company succeeded in 1746. The Bank of Scotland succeeded in the 1770’s.
  • A Scot invented suspenders.
Inventions of the American Revolution
  • James Watt started the Industrial Revolutions with the first efficient steam engine in 1769, which Robert Fulton needed to improve the Steamboat.
  • In 1776, Captain Patrick Ferguson invented the breech loading rifle.
Steamboats and The London Bridge Built by the Scottish
Robert Fulton
“Quick Silver Bob”
Inventor ~
In 1800 developed
first modern
submarine, “Nautilus”
exhibited on the
Seine River in Paris
for Napoleon
Image courtesy
  • In 1824, Scottish engineer John Rennie, designed the London Bridge.
Postage Stamps, Bicycles, and Morse Code
In 1837,
John Chalmers
Invented the
adhesive postage
Image courtesy
  • Around 1839, Kirkpatrick MacMillan invented the bicycle.
  • On May 24, 1844, Samuel Morse inventor of the Morse code, sent his first message, "What hath God wrought?"
Stirling Engines, Cable Cars, Seeds, and Fingerprints
  • In 1850, Robert Stirling invented the Stirling engine.
  • In 1873, Andrew Halladie introduced his San Francisco cable cars, which are a landmark of San Francisco.
In 1876
W. Altee Burpee
founded the Burpee
Seed Company
which is still in
business today
Image courtesy
  • In 1880, Henry Faulds pioneered the use of fingerprints for criminal identification.

Tires, Buicks, Television, and Penicillin
  • In 1887, John Dunlop, a veterinarian by training, invented the car tire.
In 1902
David Buick began
manufacturing the
Buick automobile
with an innovative
valve-in-head engine
His father, Alexander,
invented the process used
to bind white porcelain
to cast iron bathtubs
Image courtesy
  • In 1926, John Logie Baird invented the Television.

  • In 1945, Sir Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin.

Chewing Gum
In 1869, Santa Anna was living in exile in New Jersey. He told Thomas Adams about chicle from the sapodilla tree. Adams, an inventor, tried to make an imitation rubber and failed.

Having seen Santa Anna chewing on chicle, Adams added mint flavoring and tried chewing it. This became Adams Chewing Gum, with Black Jack and Clove becoming their most popular flavors. Today their fruit flavor is most popular.

Image courtesy


Eric Liddell ~
‘The Flying Scotsman’
A 1924 Olympic runner,
immortalized in the movie
Chariots of Fire.
Known for his refusal to
run on Sunday, in later life
he chose to referee Sunday
soccer matches for children
who were getting into trouble
on Sunday afternoons.
Born of missionary parents
in China, Eric returned to
China as a missionary.
He died in 1945, while
Interred in a Japanese
Prison camp.
The movie poster and
this scene from the
movie, were shot on the
beach at St. Andrew's
Golf Course in Scotland.
Images courtesy
  • Dr. Peter Marshall ~ introduced the ‘Kirking of the Tartans’ ceremony in 1941. He was Chaplain of the U.S. Senate from 1947 until his death in 1949.

    His wife, Catherine Marshall, is a well-known author. Though her maiden name was Wood, the fact that her father was a Presbyterian minister, implies she was also of Scottish extraction.

    Widowed at 35, Catherine began her writing career and authored 22 works. The best known are A Man Called Peter, a biography of her famous husband, and Christy, a novel about a schoolteacher in The Appalachia Mountains.

    Their son, Professor Peter Marshall, is a Presbyterian minister and college professor. He co-authored of The Light and The Glory and From Sea To Shining Sea.

    These non-fiction books chronicle the history of the United States from Columbus. Using historical letters and reports, the books tell of our country, it’s founding, and growth from a Christian perspective.

  • Reverend Billy Graham was born in 1918. He has preached to more people worldwide than an other evangelist, ever. Billy Graham is called America’s Pastor and has sworn in seven U.S. Presidents.


  • Grandma Moses, Anna Mary Robertson Moses ~ a painter of folkart rural scenes. Wife of a farmer, began her painting career at 76, when she had to give up embroidery.
  • Jackson Pollack (1912-1956), America’s most influential expressionist.
James Abbott
MacNeill Whistler
his famous portrait
of his mother
hangs in the
Louvre Art Museum
Image courtesy

American Scottish Philanthropists

In 1993, thirteen of the twenty-one largest charitable foundations in the U.S. had been started by Scottish Americans.
  • Andrew Carnegie ~ steel magnate
  • Doris Duke ~ daughter of James B. Duke
  • James Buchanan Duke ~ tobacco, hydroelectricity, textiles, Duke University
  • J. Paul Getty ~ oilman
  • W. K. Kellogg ~ of cereal fame.
  • John D. MacArthur ~ Bankers Life & Casualty
  • William L. McKnight ~ 3M Scotch Tape
  • Richard King Mellon ~ Pittsburgh banking
  • Charles Stewart Mott ~ General Motors
  • John Davison Rockefeller ~ oilman, mother a Davison
  • De Witt Wallace ~ Readers Digest
  • Lila Acheson Wallace ~ Readers Digest

Singers with Scottish Blood

  • Joan Baez ~ Mexican-Scots
  • The BeeGees & Andy Gibb
  • Glen Campbell
Johnnie Cash claimed that his
line came down from Ada of
Huntingdon, the sister of
Malcom IV and wife of Floris III,
Count of Holland, who was
descended from Dub of Scotland,
the first King of Scotland.
Image courtesty
  • Donovan
  • Sheena Easton
  • Judy Garland
  • Woodie Gutherie
  • Arlo Gutherie
  • Sir Harry Lauder ~ Vaudevillian
  • Don McLean
  • Bill Monroe
  • Anne Murray
Elvis Presley
the King

  • Rod Stewart
  • Dame Joan Sutherland ~ of Australian Scots ancestry. She sang in concerts, oratorios and broadcasts throughout Australia.
  • James Taylor

Song Writers

  • Hoagie Carmichael ~ Stardust, Georgia On My Mind
  • Johnnie Mercer ~ Moon River, Blues in the Night, That Old Black Magic, Autumn Leaves

Scottish Statesmen

  • Thomas Blake Glover ~ one of the founding fathers of modern Japan.
  • Major General Lachlan MacQuarie ~ known as the Father of Australia.
  • Winston Churchhill, Charles deGaulle, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, the leaders of the Allied Forces in World War II, all had Scottish ancestors.


Scottish American Women
  • Elizabeth Arden ~ a Canadian Scot who built an empire in women’s cosmetics from her first salon, opened in New York City in 1907.
  • Julia Child ~ famous television chef whose programs brought French cuisine to the American masses.
  • Martha Graham ~ dancer and choreographer, Modern American Dance.
Princess Victoria Kaiulani
heir-apparent to
the throne of Hawaii,
her life was spent
being groomed to be
the future Queen of
Her father was a Scot.
Image courtesy
  • Juliette Gordon Low ~ founder of the Girl Scouts in the United States.
  • Mary Lyon ~ began teaching school in 1814, became the first woman principal in America.
  • Martha Bulloch Roosevelt ~ wife of President Teddy Roosevelt.
  • Elizabeth Wallace Truman ~ wife of President Harry Truman.
Sharon Christa
Corrigan McAuliffe
1948 –1986)
Chosen from 11,000
applicants, she was
the first teacher in space
Died in the Space Shuttle
“Challenger” disaster.
Of Scots-Ulster
Image courtesy

The Mary’s of Scotland
Mary of Guise ~ the Queen Consort of James V of Scotland and regent for her daughter, Mary Queen of Scots.

Mary Queen of Scots ~ whose life was one of the great tragedies of history.
Image courtesy

The Four Marys ~ young ladies, closely connected with the Royal House of Stewart, who were chosen by Mary of Guise to be companions to her daughter, Mary, the future Queen of Scotland.

Mary Seton ~ the only one of the Maries not to marry, she remained in service to the queen and shared her captivity in England for 15 years.

Mary Beaton ~ called Beaton because it rhymed with Seton.

Mary Fleming ~ along with Mary Queen of Scots, the granddaughter of James IV.

Mary Livingstone ~ a very robust and athletic girl, whome the others called Lust. Her father was one of Mary Stuart's guardians and sailed with her to France.

Scottish Women
Rhona Martin ~
team leader of
Scotland's gold
medal Curling team
at the Salt Lake City
Winter Olympics
Image courtesy

  • Lady MacBeth
  • Winifred Maxwell, Countess of Nithsdale, who followed her husband, James II into exile, then delivered him from the Tower of London in 1716.
  • Elizabeth Mure, the first wife, but not the queen, of Robert II.
  • Euphemia Ross, the second wife and only queen of Robert II.
  • Mary Fairfax Greig Sommerville ~ one of the leading minds in mathematics and physical science.
  • Margaret Tudor ~ first daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. She married James IV of Scotland on 8 August, 1503, at Holyrood House.

To Return to Clan Tartans, just close this page

Leave Famous Scotsmen and Return to
Scottish Wedding Dreams Home Page