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Wallace, William
Watt, James
Wilkie, David
William, The Lion
Wilson, Alexander
Wilson, James
Wishart, George
Wyntoun, Andrew


Heroes & Famous Scots (W)


Wallace, Sir William (1270-1305)

Sir William Wallace, one of the most famous names in Scotland 's Bloody History with her nearest neighbour England . Wallace it is said was born in Elderslie, near to Paisley in Renfrewshire. He was the son of a lesser known knight.

He became world famous in 1995, when Wallace was introduced to the cinemas of the world, ‘Braveheart' the Hollywood Blockbuster, staring Mel Gibson, exploded on to the screen. Suddenly the name of Wallace was on everyone's lips. Historically the movie was a million miles from the truth, but it brought Scotland 's battle for independence to the fore.

William Wallace

Many people say that this is why in 1997 at the referendum Scotland voted to have its own parliament again after a period of three hundred years. A Scottish parliament which has no tax raising powers and everything has to be run through the real parliament in London , not the kind of thing that William Wallace would have accepted.

William Wallace was a freedom fighter of the highest calibre, and he was there when a new struggle for control of Scotland had begun at the death of Alexander III in 1286, leaving as heir his grandchild Margaret, the infant daughter of the King of Norway (The Maid of Norway). English King Edward, with his eye on the complete subjugation of Scotland suggested that Margaret should marry his son, a desire consummated at a treaty signed and sealed at Birgham. Under the terms, Scotland was to remain a separate and independent kingdom, though Edward was to keep English garrisons in a number of Scottish castles. When the young princess died, all plans changed: the succession was now open to many claimants, the strongest of whom were John Balliol and Robert Bruce.
After the decision had gone in favour of Balliol, he declared himself King of Scotland and declared that he would answer only to his own people; refusing to supply military service to Edward, who had supported his election. Overestimating his strength, he then concluded a treaty with France prior to planning an invasion of England . Baliol was defeated easily by Edward I at the battle of Dunbar in 1296 and surrendered his throne to the English King. Edward went to Scone and thought he stole the famous stone from there, legend has it that he in fact ended up with a door step from a church which he thought was the original stone. Another story was that Edward ordered a new throne to be built to accommodate the Stone of destiny beneath it for ceremonial purposes. When he got the Stone to London he actually cancelled the new throne when he realised that he had been hood winked and that in fact he had stolen a forgery. He could not be seen to have failed so the knowledge was suppressed for many years. Edward summoned the Scottish nobles to pay homage to him at Berwick where he had slaughtered the whole town and left the bodies to rot in the street. ‘The Rag Mans Roll' became the famous document that they signed.

Wallace in the mean time had been already declared an outlaw for the killing of a sheriff in Lanark. He decided to take the fight to the English and he did just that. He fought them several times but more as a guerrilla fighter than all out battle. However he did defeat them at the battle of Stirling Bridge , when he sent Surrey to scurry homewards. He was soundly beaten later at the battle of Falkirk because he had become over-confident. He went on to fight the hated English however in any way he could. He was eventually betrayed and captured in Glasgow at Robroyston. The English marched him to London and after a mock trial where he was accused and denied being a traitor, he was dragged six miles to Smithfield market where he was hung, drawn, and quartered and his various body pieces sent to the four corners of the country as a warning to others. It had the totally opposite effect on Scotland and it galvanised the Scots and in particular Robert the Bruce to fight for Scotland 's Pride. They did this and defeated a hugely superior English army on the twenty-fourth of June 1314 at the Famous Battle of Bannockburn, the day that Scotland was free once more from the English yoke. There is no doubt whatever that William Wallace was the finest example of Scottish Manhood that could ever be produced.

This year of 2005 the well known Scottish author David Ross, will walk the same route that Wallace did with his English guards. David wants to do this part of the Journey on his own, but would welcome company for the last six miles to where Wallace was murdered. There is more information about this in the Walk for Wallace page of the site.

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WATT, JAMES (1736-1819)

James Watt did not invent the steam engine as many people would like to think. What he did was to improve the efficiency of the already invented engines. Greenock-born Watt, a friend of the pioneering engineer John Smeaton, realised the necessity of removing the condensing of steam from the cylinder that had to be continually heated to hold steam for the power stroke and then cooled to condense the steam. In the year of 1765, Watt proposed that the steam should be condensed in a condenser outside the cylinder; it was one of the greatest advances in the development of industry; it revolutionized the steam engine and it transformed the world, if watt had not come up with this idea who knows how long we would have carried on with the older version of the engine.

James Watt
Watt patented his idea in the year1769 and after a period working with John Roebuck of the Caron Ironworks, near Falkirk, then went into partnership with Matthew Boulton to found the Boulton Watt Foundry at the Soho Works in Birmingham . In 1774, at Bersham in North Wales , John Wilkinson invented a way of boring cylinders and thus found a way to produce the Watt engine in copious numbers. Beginning with a steam engine to power a flour mill, the factory produced over 350 highly efficient steam engines that made their present felt in all branches of British industry and transformed the nation. It was also a Boulton and Watt engine that powered Robert Fulton's S.S. Clermont on its historic journey up the Hudson in 1807.
Watt made many improvements such as the air pump, steam-jacketed cylinders, double acting engines, this was a new concept because the piston both pushed and pulled, the sun and planet rotary mechanism (thus adapting the steam engine for rotary motion), parallel motion and the governor for regulating an engine's speed. Truly a remarkable list of accomplishments, from the mind of an amazing engineer.. Many areas of Britain that had relied purely on water power could now use the Boulton and Watt engine; mills and foundries were now set up on or near the coalfields. It wasn't long before Richard Trevithick adapted the rotary engine to the idea of transporting men, goods, and machinery by rail. As a sideline, Watt was also responsible for introducing to Britain the use of chlorine as a bleaching agent, a French invention of tremendous benefit to the rapidly growing cotton industry. Watt was a tremendous inventor and great Scottish Engineer.
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WILKIE, SIR DAVID (1785-1841)

David Wilkie , was born and bred in Cults, on the coast of Fife . Wilkie was a Scottish painter and well known for his artistry, but in they days more emphasis was put on the production of buildings or engineering than on the arts.. Wilkie is credited with raising the level of genre painting in Great Britain to that usually accorded to historical painting. When his "Chelsea Pensioners Reading the Gazette of the Battle of Waterloo" was exhibited in the year of 1822, the huge crowd that had gathered to view it had to be controlled by barriers. After he visited Palestine in the year of 1840, Wilkie's religious paintings became a decisive influence on the work of pre-Raphaelite William Holman Hunt, whose "I am the Door" remains one of the most popular British paintings of all time. Wilkie may not have had the charisma of other Scottish people but he was undoubtedly a great painter and a fine example of Scottish manhood.

Sir David Wilkie
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WILLIAM I, THE LION (1143-1214)

King from 1165 to 1214, William obtained independence for Scotland . At King David's death in the year of 1153, the kingdom of Scotland had been extended to include the modern English counties of Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmoreland, territories that were in future to be held by the kings of Scotland . Alas, the accession of Henry II to the English throne in 1154 changed everything for ever as he wanted these back under English rule.

David had been succeeded by his grandson, Malcolm IV, an 11 year-old boy. He was no match for the powerful new King of England. At the Treaty of Chester, 1157 Henry's strength, "the authority of his might," forced Malcolm to give up the northern counties solely in return for the confirmation of his rights as Earl of Huntingdon, Henry II, had literally stolen the land from the boy King. The Scottish border was considerably shifted northwards. And there it remained until the rash adventures of William, who was Malcolm's' brother and successor, got him captured at Alnwick, imprisoned at Falaise in Normandy and forced to acknowledge Henry II as feudal superiority over himself and his Scottish kingdom. In addition, to add insult to injury, the strategic castles of Edinburgh , Stirling , Roxburgh, Jedburgh and Berwick were to be held by England with English garrisons at Scottish expense, this did not rest easy with the Scottish people.
The situation was drastically altered when Henry died in the year 1189. He was succeeded by Richard I, whose main concern was the Third Crusade to the holy land. Desperately needing money to finance his overseas adventures, Richard freed William from all "compacts" extorted by Henry II, and restored the castles of Berwick and Roxburgh for a sum of 10, 00 merks of silver. Thus the humiliation of the Falaise agreement was cancelled. Richard showed little interest in running his English kingdom, less interest in Scotland , and departed for the crusade in the year of 1189. Once again, this time more by default than by any heroic efforts of William , Scotland was a free and independent country. The picture depicts the Royal seal of William the Lion.

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Alexander Wilson was born and bred in Paisley , Renfrew, Renfrewshire, in Lowland Scotland. The founder of American ornithology and one of the foremost naturalists of his time emigrating to the US in the year of 1794, after becoming quite well known in Scotland for his poetry and dramatic ballads, as well as some attempts at writing. Wilson had also trained as a weaver, his satirical writings on the plight of others in his profession led to fines and imprisonment, because in those days there was no such a thing as free speech.

Alexander Wilson
Upon arrival in the United States of America , where he first worked as a teacher, Wilson then took up the study of North American birds. He also served as assistant editor of Rees's Cyclopaedia, publishing the first volume in the year 1808. It was the pioneering work of Wilson , expressed in his extensive collections of specimens that encouraged an acquaintance, John J. Audubon, to continue to paint bird life and to publish the results of his studies. He was a great man for things to do with nature and was also a great Scotsman.
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WILSON, JAMES (1742-1798)

James Wilson was from Carskerdy, in Fife, lawyer and political theorist James Wilson was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence in the year 1776, 11 years after he had arrived in the New World. Wilson had taught Greek and rhetoric in the College of Philadelphia before studying law under the able guidance of Delaware's famous John Dickinson, "penman of the revolution" and delegate to the First Continental Congress.
In 1774, Wilson published his influential treatise Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament, in which he proposed a scheme to give the American colonies dominion status.

James Wilson
It brought him fame and appointment as delegate to the Continental Congresses of 1774 and 1775-7. During the Revolutionary War against the English oppressors, he was appointed advocate general for France in its alliance with the American colonies. During his term as member of the Federal Congress from 1783 to 1786 he pressed for an amendment to the Articles of Confederation to permit Congress to levy a general tax.
In the year of 1787, as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia , James Wilson helped draft the US Constitution, leading the fight for ratification in the state of Pennsylvania . In 1790, he engineered the drafting of that state's new constitution. His lectures during that year are considered landmarks in the history of American jurisprudence.
In 1789-98, Wilson was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. His most notable decision was his affirmation that the people of the United States do form a nation (in the landmark Chisholm vs. Georgia ). Despite his fame and influence, Wilson died in poverty and ill health following failures in land speculation. The now famed document ‘The American Declaration of Independence ‘takes many of its concepts from the world famous ‘Declaration of Arbroath' James Wilson was a brilliant man and a fine example to emigrating Scots.
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WISHART, GEORGE (1513-1546)

George Wishart was born and bred in Pitarrow and burned at the stake for heresy in St. Andrew's by Roman Catholic Bishop Cardinal Beaton, thus becoming one of Scotland 's early Protestant martyrs. Wishart had been accused of heresy even as far back as when he was a teacher of Greek at the town of Montrose , but his studies at Cambridge in the year 1538, strengthened his beliefs when he came under the influence of Hugh Latimer, who was later himself executed for heresy in the year1555. After some time on the Continent where he visited Rome and Paris , Wishart returned to preach the Reformation in Scotland where he soon attracted the attention of and had a great influence upon John Knox.
Betrayed by the Earl of Bothwell in the year of 1546 and handed over to the brutal Cardinal Beaton, Wishart was tried, found guilty and burned all within the space of a few hours.

George Wishart
His martyrdom, however, inspired others, such as Knox, to take up the Holy cause. The young priest had accompanied Wishart upon his arrival from the continent to Scotland in the year 1544. In addition to his Bible, Knox managed to carry a huge, two-handed sword. The Protestants' revenge came two months later. The last words spoken by the Cardinal Beaton were "Fie, Fie, All is gone" as he was stabbed to death and his body thrown from a window of his castle at St. Andrews , the only decent thing Beaton did that day was to die. George Wishart was a brave a nd good young Scotsman murdered in his prime by a Brutal cardinal of the Church.
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WYNTOUN, ANDREW (1350-1423)

A prime historical source for the later fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, written in Middle Scots dialect, is the Orygynale Cronykil of Andrew Wyntoun, Canon of St. Andrew's. Drawn from ancient monastic records, Latin chronicles and other historical works, and written for Sir John Wemyss of Leuchars, Fife , the chronicle consists of nine books in octosyllabic couplets. It traces the history of mankind from the Creation up to the year of 1420, dealing especially with Scotland . Not only is the Cronykil valuable for its account of the death of Robert the Bruce, but Shakespeare used it for his scenes involving MacBeth and the weird sisters.

St Andrews

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