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Park, Mungo
Paterson, William
Philip, John
Phyfe, Duncan
Pringle, Sir John
Pringle , Thomas


Heroes & Famous Scots (P)


PARK, MUNGO (1771-1806)

Born at Fowlshields, near Selkirk , Mungo Park died in what is now known as Nigeria in Africa . His service on ships engaged in the East India trade enabled the surgeon-trained Scot to study and report on the plant and animal life of Sumatra . He was then asked by the African Association to look for the source of the River Niger, a task, which he began in the year of 1795.

Mungo Park
Park was to enter unknown territory severely unwell with a raging fever and other hardships; he was actually imprisonment by an Arab chief for several months before making good his escape, Park covered over 200 hard riding miles with very little food or water, all he possessed was an old horse and a rusty compass.
After reaching Segou, on the Niger , which is now in Mali , Park, was forced to travel on foot because his horse died, Park retraced his steps. After suffering a serious bout of fever, which nearly killed him off, he was assisted by a slave trader and reached Pisania in the year 1797. He returned to Scotland to practice medicine at Peebles, which is situated on the Scotland / England border, but was then asked to lead a second expedition to the Niger . He thought long and hard about another arduous trip into the Dark Continent , which was Africa in those days. He decided he would go and this time his party of 40 was reduced to 11 by disease but managed to charter much previously unexplored territory. Park and his final eight companions were never able to return to the coast, they were hopelessly lost forever in the dense jungle which surrounded them. News reached Scotland via the British settlement on The Gambia that the little group had been attacked by natives and Park had been drowned. Mungo park was a great Scottish surgeon and explorer.
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All people of Scottish decent are seen as hard working money conscious individuals who like to save. It could well be that the reason for this lies at the door of William Paterson, who was born near the border in the town of Dumfries which itself plays a huge part in Scottish history. William Paterson was a writer on economic issues, and a main backer of the disastrous scheme to settle Darien on the Isthmus of Panama , and founder of the Bank of England.

Bank of England
( Paterson accompanied the 1698 expedition to Darien , losing much of his financial investment in the ill-considered scheme.) The Darien Scheme was a means of making Scotland bankrupt to hasten the union of the Scottish, and English parliaments. The great Confidence trickster was, William III of Orange the usurper Dutch King, who sat on a throne which had been stolen from the famous Stuart Family of Scotland . It is not thought likely that Paterson was part of the great fraudulent scheme as he suffered as much as anyone else.
William Paterson was a successful London merchant, with experience gained from travel in Europe and the West Indies , Paterson organized the Bank of England in 1694, fulfilling the long-desired hopes of his fellow London merchants. After Darien , where his wife and child died and he himself was taken gravely ill, he tried unsuccessfully to organize further expeditions. There were no takers, and who could blame people after the last disastrous escapades. He also advocated the union of Scotland and England , seeing economic benefits for both nations. His influence remained strong, and in the year 1701, he recommended that the government employ the sinking-fund method of retiring the national debt, having deposits regularly put into a special fund for this purpose. The scheme came to fruition in the year 1816, when Prime Minister Robert Walpole's sinking fund was established. William Paterson was a brilliant man in finance but not so good at picking friends who were honest. The picture is of the Bank of England.
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PHILIP, JOHN (1775-1851)

John Philip, was a missionary, who came from Kirkcaldy in Fife . He was always fighting the corner of the indigenous people of South Africa against the arrogant white settlers manly from Europe who treated the native peoples like scum. A minister at Aberdeen , Philip was asked to go to Africa by the London Missionary Society in the year of 1818. Philip was sent to carry out inspections as to the conditions at his Church's various missions in Africa . What he found caused him to severely condemn the attitudes and practices of the white minority colonists, especially in their treatment of the defenceless Hottentots, for whom he devoted the rest of his life to try to secure better treatment. These people thought nothing of taking land that belonged to the natives and driving them off, not caring that maybe the families had stayed there for hundreds of years.

Nelson Mandela

They thought it was their god given right because they were white.
It goes without saying that Philip's work and his views were resented by the racist European settlers, who saw him as an interfering "do-gooder," however, they found a ready audience at home in Britain. He returned to Britain in the year1826 to lecture, all over the country, and published ‘Researches in South Africa ' in the year 1828. One of Philip's influential friends was William Wilberforce, the main force behind the British Empire 's abolition of the evil slave trade in human beings from Africa particularly. Together, they managed to get the government to enact an ordinance that gave equal rights to all natives in South Africa in the year of 1828. Unfortunately, the increasing demands of colonial expansion prevented Philip's hope of creating a series of native states separate from Cape Colony . Africa went on to suffer horrendous apartheid law until nearly the end of the twentieth century when Nelson Mandela was freed from prison to take his rightful place at the head of his country.

John Philip was a great fighter for peoples rights and a truly great Scottish anti racist campaigner. The picture shown is of course Nelson Mandela, one of the worlds greatest freedom fighters. (if only he had been a Scot?)

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PHYFE, DUNCAN (1768-1854)

Duncan Phyfe was born near Loch Fannich, in Ross and Cromarty, he was to achieve fame in the City of New York , where his furniture designs had a lasting influence in the United States of America , and where he achieved his reputation as perhaps the greatest of all American cabinetmakers. After emigrating from his homeland in his teens and serving his apprenticeship at Albany , he moved to City of New York City in the year of 1792. Duncan was an amazingly good designer and his skills led to such a demand for his products that he eventually employed over 100 carvers and cabinetmakers. It was no longer necessary for the colonists to send to Great Britain for quality furniture, and because they were made on site they worked out cheaper than buying from anywhere else.

Phyfe Chair
After the American Revolution and England had been thrown out of the country Phyfe's workshops were the equal of any in the world. By the year of 1825, American fashion and taste dictated that he change his production from the Regency, Sheraton, and French Directoire styles to what is known as the Empire style. Strongly influenced by the great work of fellow-Scot Robert Adam, Phyfe satisfied and delighted the tastes of wealthy New York residents in a rapidly growing metropolis, especially the particular needs of multi-millionaire and highly influential John Jacob Astor. Phyfe himself became extremely wealthy, and never returned to his home country. Even though he never came back to these shores he was a great designer and a true Scotsman. The picture depicts a piece of Phyfe's work.
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PRINGLE, SIR JOHN (1707-1782)

Sir John Pringle, was born in Stitchel, Roxburgh, in the year of 1707, the same year that Scotland 's Nobles sold their country down the river for English gold. Pringle while working a s a surgeon with soldiers discovered the many causes of disease during surgery. This unique work in the cause of disease earned him the title of, ‘The father of modern military medicine' . Indeed, Pringle's suggestion, based on experience as a physician in the armed services, that military hospitals be treated as sanctuaries mutually protected by belligerents on both sides eventually led to the establishment of the Red Cross in 1864.

Sir John Pringle
This great organisation would go on to save millions of lives over the years since it were formed, never shirking its responsibility, and always being where the fighting was thickest.

John Pringle studied anatomy at Leiden , in the Netherlands . Graduating as M.D. in the year of 1730, he then lectured at Scotland 's Capital City in Edinburgh University before serving as personal physician to the Earl of Stair, Commander of British forces in Europe . This, in turn, led to his appointment as Surgeon General of the British forces in the Netherlands during the War of Austrian Succession from 1740 until 1748. He then became physician to the bloody Duke of Cumberland, the man who tried to commit genocide on the Scottish race in the year of1749 and King George III in 1774.
Pringle's studies as army physician convinced him of the role of ordinary putrefactive processes in the disease-forming process and he was able to apply his theories into practices in army camps and hospitals. He told how it was important to site the hospitals correctly and to make sure they had clean well maintained equipment. He was also the person who gave a name to a well known word in medicine, the word is; ‘ Influenza' He was a brilliant surgeon but it is a pity he marred this fame by being personal with Butcher Cumberland, the scourge of Scotland.
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PRINGLE , THOMAS (1789-1834)

Thomas Pringle, was born in the small town of Blaiklaw , Roxburgh. A graduate of Edinburgh University , he immigrated to South Africa in the year of 1820. He landed at the port of Cape Town , which was still a British colony at that period in time. Pringle published a magazine and a newspaper, but they were suppressed by the government because of his views on reform, so as usual if the English don't want to hear anything bad about themselves, then they would ban it from being printed. On his return to British soil, he settled in London , where he then spent the rest of his life in the anti-slavery movement. He could not imagine how people supposedly Christians, could treat the native people of Africa and other countries as if they were animals or some kind of sub-human species.

Thomas Pringle
Pringle's poems, in which he wrote of the natives of South Africa , the wildlife and the landscape, were published in ‘Ephemeredes' in the year 1828 and ‘African Sketches', followed six years later. He also published his autobiography, Narrative of a Residence in South Africa in the year 1835. He was a truly caring Scottish person who wanted what was right for the native people of these countries. He was totally anti-racist and was not liked by the majority of bigoted white instilled propaganda which was so prevalent at the time.

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© Crann Tara 2006