Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Maclaren, Charles

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MACLAREN, CHARLES (1782–1866), editor of the 'Scotsman,' son of a small farmer and cattle-dealer, was born at Ormiston, Haddingtonshire, 7 Oct. 1782, and received some education at Fala and Colinton, but was mainly self-taught. Removing to Edinburgh, where he served as clerk and bookkeeper to several firms, he joined the Philomathic Debating Society, where he made the acquaintance of John Ritchie, William Ritchie, and other persons of advanced whig views. In conjunction with William Ritchie and John M'Diarmid (1790–1852) [q. v.], and in the face of much opposition, he established the 'Scotsman,' 26 Jan. 1817, and was joint editor of the first few numbers, but on his obtaining, in the same year, a position as a clerk in the custom house, he yielded the editorial chair to John Ramsay M'Culloch [q. v.] In 1820 Maclaren resumed the editorship and held it till 1846, when he resigned it to Alexander Russel. The paper rapidly became the leading political journal of Scotland; its tone was throughout decidedly whiggish, and in church matters it advocated much freedom of opinion. In 1820 Archibald Constable employed Maclaren to edit the sixth edition of the 'Encyclopædia Britannica,' 1823, and to revise the historical and geographical articles. The editor contributed the articles 'America,' 'Europe,' 'Greece,' 'Physical Geography,' and 'Troy,' Maclaren interested himself in science and especially in geology. He was elected F.R.S. Edinburgh in 1837, F.G.S. London in 1846, and was president of the Geological Society of Edinburgh from 1864 to his death. He published 'A Sketch of the Geology of Fife and the Lothians,' 1839; 2nd edit. 1866; and 'A Dissertation on the Topography of the Plain of Troy' in 1822, which, after visiting the district, he reissued in 1863 as 'The Plains of Troy described.' He died at Moreland Cottaffe? Edinburgh, 10 Sept. 1866, and was buried in the Grange cemetery. He married, 27 Jan. 1842, Jean Veitch, daughter of Richard Somner of Somnerfield, East Lothian, and widow of David Hume [q. v.], the nephew of the philosopher. A bust was executed by William Brodie.

A copy by John Hutchinson is in the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh.

[Cox and Nicol's Select Writings of C. Maclaren, 2 vols. 1869, with portrait; Proceedings of Royal Soc. of Edinburgh, 1869, vi. 27; Gent. Mag. 1866, ii. 562; Irving's Book of Scotsmen, 1881, p. 310.]

G. C. B.