The Oxford DNB includes life stories of more than 60,000 men and women who have shaped British history from the Romans to the early 21st century.
Among the collection are hundreds of people who were born or lived in Renfrewshire.
Writing and performing
- James Maxwell [pseud. Poet in Paisley] (1720–1800), writer
- William Sharp [pseud. Fiona MacLeod] (1855–1905), novelist and mystic
- William Cummings (1858–1919), runner
- Renée Houston (1902–1980), actress
- Fulton Mackay (1922–1987), actor
Retailers and manufacturers
- William Teacher (1810/11–1876), wine and spirit merchant [you may also like our Brewers of Britain feature]
- James Arthur (1819–1885), clothing retailer and manufacturer
- Abram Lyle (1820–1891), shipowner and sugar refiner
Engineering, science, and medicine
- James Watt (1736–1819), engineer and scientist
- John Thomson (1765–1846), physician and surgeon
- William Dunlop (1792–1848), surgeon and pioneer in Canada
- Archibald Barr (1855–1931), engineer and manufacturer of range-finders
- Dorothée Pullinger (1894–1986), automobile engineer
Campaigners and benefactors
- John Neilson (1778–1839), grocer and benefactor
- Jane Arthur (1827–1907), advocate of women's rights and benefactor
- Jean Mann (1889–1964), politician and housing reformer
- John Ross Campbell (1894–1969), political organizer
Read on for more Renfrewshire lives
Having read these biographies, you can also search the Oxford DNB for other historical figures with a local connection. Use the dictionary’s life event search to find individuals who were born, baptized, died, or buried in a particular place.
Within Renfrewshire you’ll find 84 people born in Paisley. And across the ODNB’s 70 million words, you’ll also find 27 references to Paisley Abbey, 12 to Bridge of Weir, and even 1 to St Mirren FC.
How do I search?
The Oxford DNB includes the life stories of over 60,000 men and women.You can search online for where they were born, baptized, lived, died, or were buried, by date range or location.
- The advanced search ‘life event’ feature can be used to find people near you—be they men and women baptised in Edinburgh (189), those born in Whitby (28), or those buried in Exeter (133). Used in this way the ODNB is an excellent resource for school projects or family history.
- Text searching across the Oxford DNB’s 68 million words, you can also make links between people and places: for example, we’ve 102 references to “Clapham Common”, 27 to the “River Trent”, and 51 to “Snowdonia”.
Topical history in the Oxford DNB
Topical slices of history are always available in the Oxford DNB. Try our: