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Duncan, John (1794–1881), hand-loom weaver and botanist, was born on 19 December 1794 at Stonehaven, Kincardineshire, the illegitimate son of John Duncan, weaver and soldier, from Drumlithie, and Ann Caird (c.1773–c.1830), also of Drumlithie, who decided to support herself and her child by weaving stockings and harvesting at nearby ...

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John Duncan (1794–1881) by unknown engraver, c. 1865–6 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Foulis, Thomas (c. 1560–1628), goldsmith, financier, and mining entrepreneur, was a younger son of Henry Foulis of Colinton (d. 1571), an advocate, and his wife, Margaret Haldane (fl. 1545–1560). He became a goldsmith of Edinburgh in 1581, after an apprenticeship to the wealthy ...

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Ged, William (1684/5–1749), goldsmith and stereotype founder, was probably born in Dunfermline, son of William Ged, said to have been a member of the family of Ged of Baldridge in Fife. He was apprenticed to Robert Inglis, goldsmith, in Edinburgh in 1696, and his own mark was entered with the ...

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Kilburn, William (1745–1818), artist and calico printer, was born on 1 November 1745, at Capel Street, Dublin, the only son of Samuel Kilburn, architect of that city. He showed an early talent for drawing, and was apprenticed to John Lisson, an English calico printer with a large works at ...

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McGill, Alexander (c. 1680–1734), mason and architect, was the son of George McGill, minister of Arbirlot in Forfarshire (c.1641–1691×1702), and his wife, Margaret Guthrie. In 1697 he was apprenticed to Alexander Nisbet, an Edinburgh mason with strong professional connections in Forfarshire...

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Mealmaker, George (1768–1808), weaver and radical, was born on 10 February 1768, the son of John Mealmaker, weaver, of the Seagate, Dundee, and Alison Auchinleck. Of Mealmaker's early life and education there is no direct information. Similarly, it is possible only to speculate about the sources of his political radicalism. A description of him from 1793 as 'a common unlettered weaver' reflects more the patronizing assumptions of the writer than reality. ...

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Paterson, Robert [nicknamed Old Mortality] (bap. 1716, d. 1801), stonemason, was born at Haggisha, in the parish of Hawick, and baptized on 25 April 1716, the youngest son of Walter Paterson, farmer, and his wife, Margaret Scott. In his thirteenth year he served an apprenticeship under his brother ...

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Stewart, James Hope (1789–1856), factor and natural history illustrator, was born at Hillside, Dryfesdale, Dumfriesshire, on 2 August 1789, the son of William Stewart of Hillhead (1743/4–1822) and Margaret Graham (c.1767/8–1853), daughter of George Graham of Shaw. About 1816 Stewart married ...

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Wilson, Walter (1849–1917), milliner and department store owner, was born at Main Street, Gorbals, Glasgow, on 21 August 1849, the son of Arthur Wilson, a grocer, and his wife, Jane. He was educated at Mrs Alexander's school, Margaret Street, Glasgow (1854–9), and then at the ...

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Wright, John (1805–c. 1846), weaver and poet, was born on 1 September 1805 in the parish of Sorn, Ayrshire, the son of James Wright of Galston, coal-driver, and Grizzle Taylor (d. 1842). John, the fourth of seven children, grew up in ...