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Friday, 21 March 2014

Sepia Saturday - Remembering Famous Men

Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history through photographs

Statues, monuments and plaques are a natural focus for my camera, so this prompt, showing a statue of Thomas Jefferson, was right up my street.    The presidential theme is continued in this selection from Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders, with a look also at some  leaders of men and sporting heroes.

This statue of Abraham Lincoln is  thought to be the only monument to the American Civil War outside the USA.  It   was erected in the Old Carlton Burial Ground. Edinburgh in 1898 in memory of the Scottish soldiers who fought  in the American Civil War on the side of the Union.   It features a freed slave and   one of Lincoln’s famous quotations "To preserve the jewel of liberty in the framework of freedom". A bronze shield bears the old US flag, and is wreathed in thistles to the left, and cotton to the right to signify the two countries. 

 President Franklin D. Roosevelt's maternal ancestors are  remembered in this plaque at the Murray Aisle in the Old Kirkyard, Selkirk in the Scottish Borders.  Roosevelt's mother was a Murray with Border connections.   

The plaque also pays tribute to Scottish patriot William Wallace.

This statue of the Duke of Wellington, victor against Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815  show him on his favourite horse Copenhagen. The statue was erected in 1852,   outside the building that houses  the National Records of Scotland at the east end of Edinburgh's Princes Street.

This  atmospheric photograph was taken at mid day in August as rain clouds loomed.  The obelisk dominates the Old Calton Burial Ground in Edinburgh   and commemorates Scotland's Political Martyrs. 

The five Political Martyrs were early campaigners for  universal suffrage  and were charged with treason and sedition for writing and publishing pamphlets on parliamentary reform and for corresponding with the French (at the time of the French Revolution) and with the rebel group United Irishmen in Ireland.

Thomas Muir, their leader, has since been described as the "Founder of Scottish Democracy"  He grew up  near Glasgow and  became an advocate at the young age of 22,  quickly acquiring a reputation as a man of principle.    In 1792 with  William Skirving, a Fife farmer, he founded the Scottish Association of the Friends of the People to campaign for parliamentary reform.   Over 150 delegates representing 150 societies from 35 towns and villages attended  the first convention,.

But  in the aftermath of the American and French Revolutions, Muir's activities. which included a visit to France,  were  increasingly regarded as a threat to public order.  The five men were accused of sedition in a series of trials, found guilty and transported  on the convict ship "Surprise" for the 13,000 mile journey to the penal colony at Botany Bay, Australia.

The ideals of the Political Martyrs lived on and the Reform Act of 1832 marked the first step towards universal suffrage.The men were pardoned in 1839 with the foundation stone of the 90 foot obelisk laid  on 21 August 1844, when  3,000 people gathered for the occasion.

From war and politics to three sporting heroes commemorated in  Hawick, in the Scottish Borders.

Motorcycle Racing Champion, Jimmy Guthrie (1897-1937( was called "Hawick's Racing Legend.  He was born in the town and achieved success after success, holding many world records and European championships.  His last race was at the German Grand Prix where he was killed on 8th August 1937.  The train carrying his body to the German frontier had a military escort and his funeral in Hawick was attended by thousands with a three mile  long cortege.  Public subscription resulted in a statue being erected in 1939 at Wilton Lodge Park, near to the Museum, where  an exhibition commemorates his life. 

Hizzy - Steve Hislop (1962-2003), born near Hawick  was a Scottish motorcycle racer, winning the Isle of Man TT eleven times, the British 250cc Championship and British Superbike Championship.  He died in a  helicopter crash near Hawick in 2003.  Every year motor cyclists gather for an annual run though the Borders,  visiting places connected with the biking legend.  This statue was unveiled in 2005 in Wilton Lodge Park, near his own biking hero - Jimmy Guthrie (above) - both rmembered in exhibitions at Hawick Museum.  

Known as the "Voice of Rugby", Bill McLaren (1923-2010) was born and brought up in Hawick.  He became a PE teacher and journalist, whose own rugby playing career had been halted by serious illness.   But he acchieved fame as a radio and TV commentator, known throughout the rugby world at home and abroad.  He was greatly respected for his distinctive tongue, his skill with words, his unbiased commentating,  his knowledge and meticulous preparation, compiling detailed anecdotes and notes on players, matches, and teams.   His archive is now housed at the Heritage Hub in Hawick.   Memorial busts to Bill McLaren have been unveiled in both Hawick and at Murrayfield, Scotland's international rugby ground in Edinburgh,.

Click HERE to find other Sepia Saturday contributions on this week's theme

Copyright © 2014 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved


  1. I had no idea there was a Civil War statue outside the US. Interesting!
    Those sports statues remind me a lot of what you see at major league sports stadiums today.

  2. Lovely Edinburgh. I remember the statue of Greyfriar's Bobby the most there.

  3. Like Wendy, I'm amazed by the Scottish-American monument...had no idea there would be one outside the USA!

  4. I find it quite amazing that the only statues we hear of being unveiled these days are ones of sportsman. Such a pity. I do enjoy a town with a few statues. It seems to give the town roots and stability. . But so often now they are shifting statues to widen roads or build high rises . I felt quite at home with your non-sporting statues but wasn;t familiar with . An interesting post.the other names.

  5. The Abraham Lincoln statue is interesting. What do you mean by 'the old US flag'?

  6. Good to see that Bill McLaren has been honoured with a statue. He had the type of voice you never forget.

  7. Nice post Susan. Enjoyable and informative.

  8. Another Lincoln photo - good work.

  9. I like your photo of the Lincoln statue in Edinburgh. The green patina makes it look quite colorful. I have a postcard of the Scottish statue on my website. There are other statues of Lincoln outside the U.S. but not so focused on the Civil War.

  10. Most interesting post...and a surprise at seeing motorcycle champion statues. I wonder if there are some around the US? I'll have to ask the Harley Davidson people who are in our community. My neighbor is about to ride across the US as a charitable fund raiser with other bikers from CA to FL (I think).

  11. How interesting, it's so interesting to see how folks are remembered and especially outside of their home land. I remember thinking all the signs and such outside of Minnesota regarding James. J. Hill was really something, but then when I thought about it, his great railroad went all across the United States, Much to learn through everyone's posts!

  12. A really interesting mix. I would not have guessed the sport for the two motorcycle racers. The first one seemed dressed as a jockey and the second as a paratrooper.

  13. You piqued my curiosity re: Thomas Muir & I looked him up online. He had quite a life after he was shipped off to Australia - escaping & finding his way to Monterey, Calif. only to be arrested by the Spanish & sent to Mexico City & thence to Cuba & finally finding his way to France where sadly he died before being pardoned. Trying to revise politics can be a rough road to travel. I'm glad he & fellow revolutionaries were given a lasting memorial.

  14. I had no idea there was a statue of Lincoln in Scotland. That would have been interesting to come upon it and think, "Ummm, what's he doing here?"

    The sports statues are fascinating. I know there is one to the baseball player Willie Mays outside the baseball stadium in San Francisco. It's quite nice and a fitting tribute to a nice man. That's what statues should do, remind us of the grand people who are gone. But I'm willing to bet there are some really nasties who've got statues.

  15. Someone else has already sort of mentioned this but it's a shame that the most 'statue-worthy' people these days are sports people.

  16. That first statue is very impressive. Even the surrounding location looks very interesting to explore. One day!

  17. Very interesting historical post, but it's a shame that the great majority of statues are of men, whether they be political figures, musicians, sportsmen or whatever. No one's posted a female statue so far as I've seen. Joan of Arc would feature in quite a few of course, including one outside the State Library of Victoria that I blogged about last week.

  18. A fine range of staues and memorials, some known to me and others not. It’s always good to learn more here. The Abraham Lincoln statue is certainly an unusual one.


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