Click below to find other Heroes & Famous Scots

Baillie, Robert
Baird, John Logie
Balfour, Sir James
Barbour, John
Balliol. Edward De
Balnaves, Henry
Bell , Alexander Graham
Black Watch, The
Bruce, James
Bruce, Robert
Burns, Robert


Heroes & Famous Scots (B)


Baillie, Robert (1634-1684)

Robert Baillie was definitely a Scottish patriot and Nationalist. He was well known for his political views which were all pro Scottish independence. He was a charismatic figure and a great speaker which brought converts to his cause without too much effort. As Scotland attempted to tear off the shackles of England many martyrs were produced and Baillie became one of them. He had been allegedly involved in the plot to murder Charles the second and he paid with his life for this crime of which he had been found guilty.


In his time he was better known as Baillie of Jarviswood. Baillie in his capacity as a religious leader was to become involved with another Scottish Patriot named James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, and also Lord William Russell. The trio who were all true to the Scottish independence cause, became involved in the attempts to free the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, from the influence and pressure exerted by the Anglican Church of England, which was championed by no less a person than the King himself.

As an example to his fellow Scottish patriots and freedom fighters, Robert Baillie, was hung, drawn, and quartered by the brutal English King.

The picture depicts ways of torture for covenanters like Robert Baillie

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Baird, John Logie (1888-1946)

What Scot has never heard of this great inventor? Baird is the man who gave us Coronation Street and Scotsport. Baird was born in the seaside town of Helensburgh , in 1888.

Baird was given the credit for sending televised pictures for the first time, this was about 1924. Baird used the surplus supplies that had been left over from the First World War to put together his amazing project. He managed to transmit a Maltese cross shape several yards across a room. The first ever television star was named William Taynton, and when Baird swapped places with him, he became the second.

Old Television

He went on to be the first person ever to broadcast an image across the vast Atlantic Ocean . On the ninth of February 1928 , Baird sent an image from London to New York . Later that same year the first commercial models were ready for sale and the at the national Radio Exhibition a popular singer of that time named Peggy O'Neil sang and told stories on the small screen.

Soon after this screening, the B.B.C. began tentative broadcasting which led to television as we know it today.


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Balfour, Sir James (1525-1583)

Sir James Balfour was a great champion of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland . He was born in a place called Pittendreich in the year 1528.Balfour was a priest of the Roman Catholic Church who changed and became a convert to the Calvinistic Protestant church in Scotland .

Balfour was alleged to have been involved in the assassination of Cardinal Beaton at Saint Andrews on the Eastern Coast of Scotland in the year 1546.

James Balfour was to spend a few years as a galley slave on a French ship when he was captured. Balfour eventually was released from his bondage when he renounced the Protestant faith. He was then to assist the mother of Mary Queen of Scots; her name was Mary of Lorraine. He took her side against the Protestant Nobles and was the Catholic Regents spy.

Sir James Balfour

Balfour went on to serve the Stuarts when he became advisor to Mary Queen of Scots, it is thought possible that although he was a Judge, he was involved in the murder of Mary's husband Lord Darnley. Balfour made another strategic change of religion and became involved with the Protestant Lords of Scotland against Queen Mary, and james, Earl of Bothwell. He again turned his coat and became a protestant spy for the Scottish Lords against his former friends, giving them battle details which helped to depose Mary as Queen of Scots. For his efforts he was appointed President of the Court of Session and played his part in the trial and execution of James Douglas for his part in the murder of Lord Darnley.

Balfour's acts of treachery helped lay the foundation stones for the supremacy of the Protestant Lords of Scotland.

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Barbour, John (1325-1395)

John Barbour was born in the North eastern Scottish city of Aberdeen , in the year 1325. He was a writer and was the person who penned the amazing books which depict the life of Scotland 's great freedom fighter and King, Robert the Bruce. Barbour tells the story with a no holds barred approach. This mammoth epic tale was to become one of the first Scottish Literary pieces. When John Barbour was Deacon of his home city Aberdeen , he was granted safe custody by Edward the third to study at Oxford University . While he was there he used his time to gain the release of King David the second who was the son of King Robert the Bruce. David had been captured at Neville's crossing in the year 1346.


There were twenty volumes to his huge book and he did not complete it until the year 1376. The book would be named: “ The Acts and Life of the Most Victorious Conqueror, Robert the Bruce King of Scotland” The book covers the time period between the death of the great King Alexander the third in 1286 to the death of the legendary Bruce, and the burial of his heart in 1332.

Barbour's work is in praise of the Scots leaders as fighters with huge bravery, idealism, and chivalry. The book is mostly about the great Scottish patriots and freedom fighters James Douglas and King Robert the Bruce. The piece also covers in its entirety the Battle of Bannockburn when Bruce had his finest hour. The 24 th of June 1314 will live in the hearts of the Scottish people for ever more. Barbour describes the true horror of war using Bannockburn to prove his points of view. He also points out how Edward of England, who had a superior number of men, was humiliated and destroyed by the smaller Scots army.

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Balliol. Edward De (d 1364)

This family and particularly Edward played a huge part in the very changing and often violent history of Scotland . Edward was the son of John Balliol who was King of Scotland in the years 1292-1296, Edward of England supported Edward Balliol's claim to the Scottish throne which had been taken from his father by the famous King Robert the Bruce.

John Balliol

The Bruce had now been succeeded by his son David the second who was just a very young man at this time. Edward Balliol gathered a group of English Nobles round him. These people had been dispossessed of their Scottish lands when Bruce became King of Scotland. They invaded Scotland , and there was a battle at Duplin Moor, and the Scottish army commanded by the Earl of Mar for the inexperienced King David were defeated. Edward Balliol then declared himself King of Scotland, but this act stirred the Nationalists of Scotland to a fighting frenzy and he was defeated at the battle of Annan. However soon after that the Scots were again defeated at the battle of Halidon Hill and their leader, Douglas, was killed.

The Balliol people were a great influence on the lowlanders of Scotland and the language changed dramatically in their time. The old language gave way to English being the number one tongue. The Scottish lowlands were gifted to Edward of England when Edward Balliol resigned in the year 1356. There was constant fighting in the lowlands of Scotland because of this one act from the Balliol family. Scottish Nationalists loyal to King David the second would not let things rest and continued a running battle with English forces. The lowlands of Scotland would never be a settled place for hundreds of years to come.

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Balnaves, Henry (1512-1579)

Henry Balnaves was, born in the Fife town of Kirkcaldy in the year 1512; he became a very influential person in the cause of Protestantism in Scotland . Once he had converted from Catholicism he made it his lives work to covert as many Scots as possible. He started out working to establish his faith in the Protestant religion, and also to unite an Anglo-Scottish alliance to reform the church. He also wanted to have a vernacular bible which everyone could use. Balnaves was to suffer the torture of imprisonment by the Earl of Arran who had readopted the catholic faith. After a period of interment he was freed by an English army and then became a paid agent for England . He was again to suffer imprisonment when he was captured by a French force that had invaded and attacked Saint Andrews in the year of 1547. He was transported to his gaol in Rouen where he spent his time writing his book: The Confession of Faith . This work would not be published until after his death.

Mary Queen of Scots Images

After he was released he spent the years that he had left in his native homeland of Scotland . He was a staunch supporter of the Protestant lords of Scotland who fought against Catholicism and which in turn led to the downfall of Mary Stuart Queen of Scots, and the subsequent turmoil that was to follow in Scottish history.

He was also a Judge at the murder trial relating to Lord Darnley. The postcard depicts a scene from the time which condemns Mary Stuart Queen of Scots for her part in the murder. The mermaid was said to represent a prostitute and the hare showed Bothwell's family crest.

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Bell , Alexander Graham (1847-1922)

Alexander Graham Bell was a truly remarkable Scotsman. When he invented the telephone he didn't realise the amazing effect it would have on the world of communications. Bell had been born at 16 Charlotte Street in Scotland's Capital City , Edinburgh in the year 1847. Alexander Bells father Melivell was a teacher of speech, and had in fact written a book called ‘Standard Elocutionists' as well as several other publications on similar subjects.

Alexander Bell could not have known the debit that society as a whole would owe to him due to his incredible invention, which he patented in 1876.

In the year of 1861 Alexander bell had taken up a position to teach at the famous Sarah Fullers School for the Deaf in the city of Boston . This school would later become the Horace Mann institute. Alexander accepted a position at Boston University and there began to experiment in electricity with his friend who was an expert in the subject. His friend was Thomas A. Watson, and with the backing from Gardiner Hubbard and Tom Sanders they formed the Bell Patent Association in 1873. In the summer months of 1874 Bell realised that the transmitting of the human voice using electrical impulses was possible.

It was not long after this that Bell sent the first telephone message which said: Mr Watson I want you . In October of 1876 the first two way conversation took place and started a revolutionary new way for humans to communicate.

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Black Watch, The (1729-2006)
The Black Watch, a name made famous in Scotland's checkered history by exploits of daring and resolve. Many people ask how the Regiment came by its name. The Gaelic is ‘Am Frekeadan Dubh' the name came from the colours of the kilts worn by the recruits to the new Regiment.

Six companies of Highlanders were raised, which, from forming distinct corps unconnected with each other, and were treated as independent companies in their own right Three of these companies called large companies because they had100 men each. Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochnell, Lord Lovat, and Colonel Grant who was from Ballindalloch, were appointed captains of their individual companies. The three smaller companies, were only to the strength of 75 men, and were commanded by Colonel John Campbell of Carrick, Alexander Campbell and George Munro of Culcairn, under the commission of captain-lieutenants. To each of the six companies were attached two lieutenants and one ensign. These soldiers had to be different form ordinary recruits so they were issued with Red Coats, breeches and waistcoats, and were called ‘Saighdearan Dearg', or Red Soldiers; the independent companies, who were attired in tartan consisting mostly of black, green, and blue, were designated , The Black Watch, from the sombre, dark appearance of their dress.

This regiment was different from any other in the land. These were not your ordinary soldiers but were in fact maybe sons of landowners and gentry, but enlisted as privates in this new regiment. The purpose of this regiment was to enforce the Disarmament Act in Scotland . One way a young man could legally wear his tartan and bear arms was to join the Regiment. If any went against this and tried to carry weapons or wear tartan they would be arrested and tried. More recruits and different branches were added at later dates until the Regiment reached its full potential. It is a Regiment which has won many honours off and on the field of battle. The Regiment now faces its greatest fight yet, that being the one for survival as government cutbacks threaten the end to Scottish individual regiments.
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Bruce, James (1730-1794)

James Bruce was born in the Stirlingshire town of Larbert in the year 1730. Bruce was a great adventurer and was known for his love of Africa . He reported to a very sceptical British nation that he had indeed found the Headstream of the Blue Nile , which was considered to be the source of the great Nile .

Blue Nile
In the year of 1790 he published a book named ‘Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile ' When other expeditions reached the places Bruce had spoken of they immediately reported that what Bruce had said was amazingly accurate. Bruce continued to write epic tales of adventure into the Dark Continent and in doing so inspired many others to take the plunge and explore Africa 's wilderness for themselves. The Great and famous David Livingston was an avid reader of his exploits and perhaps Bruce was the inspiration for his fellow Scot. The graphic shown here is the Blue Nile.
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Bruce, Robert (1274-1329)
What passion the very name of Bruce stirs in the Scottish people. He was the person who brought Scotland freedom from the tyrannical rule of England . His struggle has been passed down from generation to generation, and the story about Bruce and the spider are still told as bairns sit on their mother's knee. Robert the Bruce was born in the year 1274 at Turnberry Castle Scotland . The Bruce was of Norman and Celtic ancestry, and was brought up in and around the English Court .

Bruce was much more refined than that other patriotic Scottish freedom fighter Sir William Wallace, where Wallace would race in with all his armour at full charge, Bruce played more of a waiting game. He decided when the time would be right to rid Scotland of the hated English yoke. Bruce waited until midsummer's day in 1314 when on the 24 th of June he took on and defeated King Edward the second of England at the field of Bannockburn , near the town of Stirling in Central Scotland . The English army boasted that they were the mightiest army in Christendom, but the Scots were not in awe of this claim and struck a deadly blow to the their troops. The English were superior in numbers and equipment, but the shrewd Bruce used all the tricks at his disposal to upset and humiliate the enemy sending them running for the safety of the border. Once they were gone Bruce was indeed fully King of Scotland.

Robert The Bruce
In the year 1320 the Declaration of Arbroath was written, and signed by the Bruce and other Scottish Patriots. This was a letter to the Pope at the time asking for the excommunication of Scotland to be lifted. This was granted. The Declaration of Arbroath actually forms the basis for the American declaration of Independence.
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Burns, Robert (1759-1796)
Few Scots are better known than the famous poet Robert Burns of Ayrshire fame. He was born in Alloway in 1759. Burns was known as a man of the people and was more relaxed in common company than in noble. His writing was very influenced by that of Blind Harry's ‘Wallace' He also enjoyed the works of people like Robert Fergusson and Allan Ramsay.

Robert Burns had been an excise man at one time and used his travelling experience to good use in his poems. His first work was published in the year 1786, and it was in this very volume that the much loved ode ‘To a Mouse' is first seen. If it had not been for the success of this book Scotland would have lost Burns as he was contemplating emigrating to Jamaica with his family. The book was snapped up by a literature starved audience at a price they could afford.

Robert Burns
It was happening all over the world at this time, ( America and France ) ordinary people were beginning to see that they too had rights. Burns was known for his liking for strong drink and loose women, and could often be seen intoxicated. His poetry spoke about common goodness and freedom for all men no matter their colour or creed. Robert Burns died very early in life and with him went the glorious poetry. His most famous poem or song is undoubtedly “Auld Land Syne” and there could be no more fitting tribute to the Scottish Bard.

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© Crann Tara 2006