Scottish Borders Lives

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is the national record of people who’ve shaped British history, worldwide, from the Romans to the 21st century. The ODNB currently includes the life stories of over 60,000 men and women who died in or before 2016.

Of these 60,000 people, over 650 have close ties to the Scottish Borders—through families, education, work or residence. This includes 322 men & women with links to Berwickshire and a further 270 associated with Roxburghshire.

Sir Walter Scott

Here you’ll find some famous (and perhaps less–well–known) Borders faces, including the author Sir Walter Scott (above), and (below) the piper & VC recipient, Daniel Laidlaw, plus racing driver Jim Clark.

Click on the images below to read more. 

Mungo Park  Daniel Laidlaw Alec Home
Lady Grisell Baillie Jean Elliot Dame Isobel Baillie
Sir James Murray James Clark
John Leyden Anne Redpath Robert Chambers Mary Somerville

Who and how? in the Scottish Borders

As well as looking for people by name, you can also search by place, for example:

(NB: You'll need to be logged into your library's subscription for these searches.)

How do I search?

The Oxford DNB includes the life stories of more than 60,000 men and women. Online you can search 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”.

We also have more tips on using the ODNB for local and family history. Plus an online guide to Scottish people & places in the Oxford DNB.

What else does the Oxford DNB offer?

  • Free biography podcast: as well as 60,000 life stories, the ODNB publishes a twice monthly biography podcast featuring some popular entries from the collection. There are now over 250 episodes in the archive. Recent highlights include Roald Dahl, George Orwell, John Lennon, and Margaret Thatcher.
  • Follow us on Twitter for more historical figures in the news.
  • Don’t forget: the ODNB online is available free—anywhere, anytime—via Buckinghamshire libraries: just type your library membership number in the box here.

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