Talk:James Clerk Maxwell

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older entries[edit]

Upon arriving at Cambridge University, he was told there would be a compulsory 6am church service (now discontinued, fortunately!) He stroked his beard thoughtfully, and slowly pronounced, in a thick Scots Brogue?, "Aye, I suppose I could stay up that late""

I wish all the biographies could be as humanizing as this one!

I think it should be mentioned at least in the introductory paragraph that James c.Maxwell took the first permanent colour photo. Honestly i think that is at least worth a mention. It'd also be fantastic to actually have a replication of it on here, but hey..

Question about Thomas Sutton reference[edit]

I have a question about the reference to Thomas Sutton having made the photographs for Maxwell's 3-color photography demonstration. It has been several years since I read a transcript of Maxwell's report of the experiment, but I don't recall a mention of Sutton making the plates. I'm not challenging the accuracy of this; I just didn't recall it or didn't know it, and I would like to know the source of the Sutton information. It's actually of some consequence, because of questions about the color sensitivity of the plates (see my discussion at

Because this article's history is so long, and I've done very little editing on Wikipedia, I wasn't readily able to learn who submitted the Sutton reference. I would appreciate knowing the source of that information, if that's possible. Please contact me via (At some time, I do intend to add a few lines about the color sensitivity issue to this article.) Thanks, J. C. Adamson,_August_9,_1861 includes an account of the lecture and of Sutton's role as the photographer. Substantial treatments of the matter in photographic histories, e.g., E. J. Wall's classic History of Three-Color Photography (1925, reprinted by Focal Press in 1970), usually make at least passing mention of the fact that Sutton did the photography, but less scholarly reports tend to be sloppy and say that Maxwell "took" the "first color photograph". Photography was a messy, hands-on business in 1861. One didn't leave exposed plates -- flexible film had yet to be invented -- at the corner drug store ("the chemist's" to readers of the British persuasion) for developing and printing, and I have yet to encounter any evidence that Maxwell himself ever took a photograph of any kind.
It is not even certain that including this demonstration among the projected presentations at the lecture was Maxwell's idea. It is possible that Sutton had become enthused by learning of the thought-experiment Maxwell had included in his 1855 paper and was the one most interested in making a practical trial of it. The 1861 volume of Sutton's own publication Photographic Notes, which might shed light on that and other matters, is nearly inaccessible except in the form of the enlightening quotation from it included in the British Journal of Photography article (the mystifying mention of "the Notes" in that article is a reference to Sutton's periodical). AVarchaeologist (talk) 16:17, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

featured article candidate[edit]

Some things holding back this article from featured article status:

  • 1. It would appear from the title "Later years and afterwards" that the section would relate not only to the last years of Mr Maxwell's life, but also to his lasting legacy and events occurring after his death. Nevertheless, a mere sentence relating to his literary works concerning him appears. Thus, the "Later years and afterwards" section warrants expansion.
  • 2. In the "Early Years" section, the following sentence appears: "The family name Maxwell was adopted by the terms of a legal requirement made upon his father to inherit an estate." The sentence's structure is awkward; furthermore, it does not mention whose estate is to be inherited (an individual from Clerk's maternal family, perhaps?). I would suggest something such as: "When Clerk inherited the estate of name (his relation), he adopted the latter's surname, as was required by the will," or words to the same effect.
  • 3. The article uses single quotation marks instead of double quotation marks.
  • 4. The article contains many unexplained names and terms, such as "elastic solids," "oscillating electric charge," "the progressive condensation of a purely gaseous nebula," "temporary double refraction produced in viscous liquids by shearing stress," and so on. Such phrases are unintelligible to those not well-educated in science. At a minimum, links to articles on such topics should be placed, if not a minor explanation.
  • 5. Unlinked names, including "Herapth, Joule, and particularly Clausius," "Faraday," and several others, appear. Not only should links be provided, but also should one use full names for first references.
  • 6. Several passages appear opinionated (possibly being from the 1911 Britannica): for instance, "valuable papers," "original and powerful essay," "a man whose knowledge was co-extensive with his ingenuity," "most profound admiration and attention," "the ideas of that master," "great treatise," "admirable generalized co-ordinate system," "munificent founder," "distinguished alumni," "excellent elementary treatise" and "great contributions."

I do not ask that all of these be changed, but the level of subjectivity now present must definitely be reduced. -- Emsworth 01:48, Jul 5, 2004 (UTC)

quaternion equations[edit]

I looked at James Clerk Maxwell's "Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism" 1873 First Edition. I could not find the "linked set of twenty differential equations in quaternions". Where are these quaternions?

Please respond to:

James Clerk Maxwell ... a set of twenty differential equations in quaternions. ... Oliver Heaviside enormously reduced the complexity of Maxwell's forty quaternion equations ...

20 or 40 ? Need to go back to the book. It was 8.

--DavidCary 13:35, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)

There are eight original Maxwell's equations in his 1864 paper 'A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field'. They are numbered A to H and they are discussed in this article which includes web links to both Maxwell's 1861 paper and his 1864 paper. When people talk about twenty equations it is only because they are multiplying six of them by three in order to have a separate equation for each of the X, Y, and Z directions. David Tombe 4th February 2007 ( 10:30, 4 February 2007 (UTC))

Yes, there were eight equations. You can make it twenty if you like simply by splitting six of them into their three cartesian coordinates. But it's a bit like saying that Newton had nine laws of motion, ie. three laws in the X-direction, three laws in the Y-direction, and three laws in the Z-direction. ( 19:08, 19 February 2007 (UTC))

Featured Article candidacy comments (not promoted)[edit]

(Contested -- Jul 4) James Clerk Maxwell[edit]

Good article with a good deal of information on his life and discoveries.--Alsocal 20:11, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)

  • No vote, but the image needs source/licensing information (probably PD as he died before 1923). anthony (see warning)
    • It's a photo. No way it's not PD - David Gerard 21:36, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • I've marked the photo PD (can't not be) and have added several more - David Gerard 22:03, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • There are many ways this could not be PD, but whatever. anthony (see warning)
  • Can I second this having worked on it? If so, second. - David Gerard 21:36, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  • I oppose this nomination: 1. It would appear from the title "Later years and afterwards" that the section would relate not only to the last years of Mr Maxwell's life, but also to his lasting legacy and events occurring after his death. Nevertheless, a mere sentence relating to his literary works concerning him appears. Thus, the "Later years and afterwards" section warrants expansion. 2. In the "Early Years" section, the following sentence appears: "The family name Maxwell was adopted by the terms of a legal requirement made upon his father to inherit an estate." The sentence's structure is awkward; furthermore, it does not mention whose estate is to be inherited (an individual from Clerk's maternal family, perhaps?). I would suggest something such as: "When Clerk inherited the estate of name (his relation), he adopted the latter's surname, as was required by the will," or words to the same effect. 3. The article uses single quotation marks instead of double quotation marks. 4. The article contains many unexplained names and terms, such as "elastic solids," "oscillating electric charge," "the progressive condensation of a purely gaseous nebula," "temporary double refraction produced in viscous liquids by shearing stress," and so on. Such phrases are unintelligible to those not well-educated in science. At a minimum, links to articles on such topics should be placed, if not a minor explanation. 5. Unlinked names, including "Herapth, Joule, and particularly Clausius," "Faraday," and several others, appear. Not only should links be provided, but also should one use full names for first references. 6. Several passages appear opinionated (possibly being from the 1911 Britannica): for instance, "valuable papers," "original and powerful essay," "a man whose knowledge was co-extensive with his ingenuity," "most profound admiration and attention," "the ideas of that master," "great treatise," "admirable generalized co-ordinate system," "munificent founder," "distinguished alumni," "excellent elementary treatise" and "great contributions." I do not ask that all of these be changed, but the level of subjectivity now present must definitely be reduced. -- Emsworth 01:48, Jul 5, 2004 (UTC)

Controversy about what Maxwell actually did/discovered in electromagnetism[edit]

The great problem was that Maxwell produced his equations, then Hertz claimed to have confirmed Maxwell's prediction. When Planck and Bohr later showed that Maxwell's equations were definitely faulty, it was too late to re-examine the theory as the physics has already been dumped (Maxwell had a false aetherial gear cog and idler wheel 'displacement current' mechanism). So Maxwell's equations were labelled classical physics instead of being corrected.

from Nigel cooks website. Why is this not discussed on the page? --Light current 06:26, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

There is no controversy; the “spinning cell” (atom) / “idle wheels” (electrons) model was a conceptual mechanical-like model of how the electrical field lines, magnetic field lines, and currents could operated the way they do in terms of spins, centripetal force, pressures, and tensions. The model is quite ingenious, I must say. Read the following book:
Mahon, Basil (2003). The Man Who Changed Everything – the Life of James Clerk Maxwell. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. ISBN 0470861711. 
Adios:--Sadi Carnot 16:02, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

It's quite amazing the number of people who criticize Maxwell's cogwheel/idle wheel model, yet when cross questioned to elaborate, they expose the fact that they know absolutely nothing whatsoever about it. Often they will quote the famous Pierre Duhem error. But it was actually Pierre Duhem himself who made the error when he alleged that Maxwell cheated. Pierre Duhem alleged that at equation 132 in Maxwell's 1861 paper 'On Physical Lines of Force' ( ) that Maxwell should have introduced a factor of 1/2 inside the square root sign on the right hand side. Duhem alleged that this factor of 1/2 is needed to account for the dispersion of light. However, we know today that a ray of light is extremely coherent. It was Duhem himself that was in error, and not Maxwell.

If the Pierre Duhem error is the best criticism that can be mustered against Maxwell's 1861 paper after all these years, then there can't be much wrong with it. It is actually quite an ingenious piece of work and much neglected in modern physics. David Tombe 4th February 2007 ( 10:13, 4 February 2007 (UTC))

Repeated image[edit]

The main image is repeated further down the page. Would it be sensible to remove the second one or replace it?--MichaelMaggs 07:28, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

I've now removed it.--MichaelMaggs 12:52, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Cultural depictions of James Clerk Maxwell[edit]

I've started an approach that may apply to Wikipedia's Core Biography articles: creating a branching list page based on in popular culture information. I started that last year while I raised Joan of Arc to featured article when I created Cultural depictions of Joan of Arc, which has become a featured list. Recently I also created Cultural depictions of Alexander the Great out of material that had been deleted from the biography article. Since cultural references sometimes get deleted without discussion, I'd like to suggest this approach as a model for the editors here. Regards, Durova 15:44, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

Citation needed?[edit]

I don't think you need a citation for this line:

"His contributions to physics are considered by many to be of the same magnitude as those of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein."

This is common knowledge, and the next line goes like this:

"...Einstein described Maxwell's work as the "most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton.""

Featured article status[edit]

Hey Folks,

Having just finished this round of university exams, I have decided to take this article under my wing so to speak, and attempt to bring it to FA status. It is my hope that others will help in this pursuit. It is also not my intention to step on anyones toes with my sweeping changes (see WP:BOLD), so let me know if I am and we can collaborate together on a sandbox.

All the best! -|T 02:57, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Great! I'm glad to hear it. I'll try to help more at a later time, but for now, one quick suggestion: In the intro, it speaks of Maxwell being the first to describe electricity and magnetism in a unified and concise fashion. This is only half true. Maxwell's own equations were not particularly concise; the modern, greatly simplified form came later with the work of Josiah Willard Gibbs and Oliver Heaviside. We use Gibbs' notation today, although Heaviside achieved more or less the same result independently. See Bruce Hunt's The Maxwellians (among other sources), if you haven't already.--ragesoss 03:50, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
Thanks! I'll try and rewrite it a bit to make it correct. Best! --|T 04:04, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Biographical queries[edit]

Hello everyone. I've just looked at this article for the first time and done some style-tweaking. Having looked over the text I'm wondering if anyone could resolve the following queries.

(a) Are Perception of Colour and Colour-Blindness titles of monographs or areas of study? It's not clear from the way the article is written.
(b) How might studying at Edinburgh rather than Cambridge have improved JCM's prospects?
(c) Does 'in his eighteenth year' mean when JCM was seventeen or when he was eighteen? I only ask because this formulation is misused all the time.

That's it. Regards to all. Notreallydavid 04:18, 8 February 2007 (UTC)


What is the correct pronunciation of Mr. Maxwell's middle name? LorenzoB 22:00, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

Well, I did a Google search and didn't find too much; I did, however, get this, though it's probably not at all related to your question. I've been told that Maxwell's middle name is pronounced as if it were 'Clark'. Qwerty (talk) 09:21, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, it's definitely pronounced "Clark". That's because the word "clerk" in British English is routinely pronounced to rhyme with "dark", whereas in America it is pronounced to rhyme with "jerk". Jeepien (talk) 04:40, 20 February 2008 (UTC)
I was looking to see if this had been discussed, because I think maybe a pronuciation guide should be added, as this is not intuitive to Americans.
Of course you could argue that Americans ought to pronounce it the same way they pronounce the common noun clerk. You wouldn't expect them to affect a British accent just because they're talking about a British person. I'm not saying that's how I'd personally argue, just that it's a borderline case. --Trovatore (talk) 21:46, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
I don't think I've heard any literate Americans mispronounce it so, though I don't doubt it must happen sometimes. Some (less literate) ones have been known to misspell it as "Clark", however. Dicklyon (talk) 00:45, 5 August 2009 (UTC)
I'm an American and consider myself to be literate. I'm also reasonably knowledgeable with regard to physics (I wouldn't be considered more than a layman, however). Indeed, I've pronounced it such that it rhymes with "jerk" my entire life. It was only by hearing a reference to Maxwell during an episode of (the consistently accurate) television show: "The Big Bang Theory" that I had any indication that I was mispronouncing it. I wrote to the show's technical director to ask what I was missing and he kindly explained my pronunciation mistake to me. In my case, a correct pronunciation on this page would have helped. Super_C (talk) 18:21, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Color photography challenged[edit]

Apparently Maxwell's claim to color photography was rather more questionable than he realised, according to a recent blog post by Ctein on Michael Johnston's "The Online Photographer" blog. [1]

Ctein is a well-known expert on color printing and probably knows what he's talking about. Fundamentally, the position advanced in the post is that since Maxwell's photographic emulsion was not panchromatic and did not have sensitivity at all in the yellow and red ranges, it's impossible for it to have sensed anything in those ranges no matter what filters were used. Instead, Ctein argues, the red filter also passed near-ultraviolet, which the emulsion was also sensitive to, and as a fortunate coincidence the red dye used on the ribbon was also very reflective in the near-UV range.

In other words, Maxwell got the result he was expecting and thus did not question it. His emulsion's complete blindness to red light was unknown to him.

I've written to Ctein asking for his sources, since I'd rather work from the originals if I can get them. Matthew Brown (Morven) (T:C) 21:47, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

Just so as not to leave this dangling and sewing doubts among those who may come across it: Ctein, by his own admission, had not read the 1961 Scientific American article he was echoing at second or third hand. The contemporary published transcript of Maxwell's lecture makes it plain that he was well-aware of the shortcomings of the demonstration, although probably not of just how insensitive to red the collodion iodide wet plates used by Thomas Sutton (who did the actual photography) really were. The 1961 study itself involves at least one very debatable assumption and its findings are almost inevitably misreported in overly definitive terms, e.g., the ribbon was not available for analysis, so it was impossible to make the sort of definite statement about it which is found above. Blogs are not a reliable source for anything except the blogger's own perceptions and opinions, although they sometimes provide very valuable links or directions to more solid source material. AVarchaeologist (talk) 15:02, 13 April 2011 (UTC)


The sentence in the introduction "The majority of Maxwell's illustrious career took place at the University of Cambridge..." doesn't seem to be bourne out by the rest of the article. The history of Maxwell's life seems to be that he took his degree at Cambridge and didn't return to it again until he took up the Cavendish professorship eight years prior to his death, by which time virtually all of his major contributions had been made. Certainly his most famous discoveries, Maxwell's Equations and the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution were published while he was at Kings College, London.

It looks to me like this sentence is inaccurate and should be removed.--Robminchin 08:14, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

As nobody spoke up in a week, I have now done this --Robminchin 02:10, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

regarding 'formulated'[edit]

I changed 'formulated' to 'aggregated', as this is more accurate. While there may have been no mathematical equations for Faraday's work at the time, Gauss of course developed mathematical equations. --ElectronicsEnthusiast 09:03, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

The statement under Later Years that Maxwell was the first to make explicit use of dimensional analysis is incorrect. Please see Joseph Fourier's Analytical Theory of Heat published in 1822. In the English translation the relevant part is in Chap 2, section 9 in the Alexander Freeman translation published by GE Stechert.[A. David Wunsch] —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:46, 16 October 2007 (UTC)


Apparently Mr. Maxwell wasn't knighted. Is this true, and if so, why? LorenzoB 01:09, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Text Damage[edit]

In he section on Kinetic Energy, the section ends rather abruptly with the phrase: In the kinetic theory, temperatures and heat invol

I don't know of a way to search back versions based on specific text, so it's not easy to tell how long ago this truncation occurred, but I presume it must have made sense at one time. I mention it here and leave it in more capable hands. Jeepien (talk) 04:45, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for spotting this. It had been vandalised back on 31 January. I've restored it now. — BillC talk 19:03, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

FA collaboration[edit]

There seemed interest in driving this article forward to FA status. It certainly would be to Wikipedia's benefit: Maxwell is one of the most important scientists ever, and the state this article has been in does not credit the project.

As far as sources, I have access to (i.e. own copies of) Mahon's The Man Who Changed Everything, Tolstoy's James Clerk Maxwell, Glazebrook's James Clerk Maxwell and Modern Physics (1896, so clearly out of date, but useful for contemporary references) and Campbell's The Life of James Clerk Maxwell (excellent work, though Campbell was a lifetime friend of Maxwell, so its partiality should be treated with a little caution at times). I also have Britannia's 4000-word entry, the Hutchinson Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Harman's thoroughly detailed entry in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and an interesting 20-page piece on Maxwell's character that appeared in Mathematics Today in 2002. I also have more than a few electromagnetic textbooks around that can support that side of Maxwell's work, though I currently have very little on his mathematics, physical chemistry or control theory work. — BillC talk 21:26, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

The structure I've been working to was: a fairly lengthy biography section, dealing with Maxwell's major places of education or employment, followed by a major contributions section, dealing with his work on electromagnetism, physical chemistry, control theory, and statistical physics. A legacy/impact section would roll up the article. — BillC talk 22:01, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

regarding correlations between religious beliefs and scientific discovery[edit]

Hasn't Faraday's Glasite heritage been connected to his initial discoveries of magnetism in the form of circular fields? After all, the Glasite's considered circles as inherently sacred and spiritual. I believe the material can be found in Five Equations that Changed the World by Michael Guilen. If such a thing holds true, then it may be worth mentioning. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:21, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Such a view seems to be that of a very small minority. I can find no reference to that on the web, in Google Books, or Google Scholar, nor can I find a mention in the biographical Michael Faraday and the Electrical Century. But more importantly, this is an article about Maxwell, not Faraday. — BillC talk 23:14, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Merge proposal[edit]

Propose to merge the Great papers of james clerk maxwell into this article. Beagel (talk) 06:55, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

  • Support – It looks like an odd and orphaned article. I did fix its capitalization problem though. Dicklyon (talk) 07:13, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
  • Support – I frankly had never noticed the Great Papers article before today. It is too short to merit independent existence, and will be much more useful if merged with the Contributions section of this article. Dirac66 (talk) 16:25, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
  • Support - I agree with the above, and think it would be particularly good to have the Maxwell equations in the main article (cf. Newton's Laws of motion, for example). A.C. Norman (talk) 22:14, 20 April 2009 (UTC)
  • I certainly support bringing that material in here: but it does have problems. The four Maxwell's Laws, for example are written in the vector differential form. While this is the form in which they are familiar and are taught today, this is not the manner they were set out in Maxwell's papers, but were rather recast by Heaviside and Gibbs some years after Maxwell's death. —BillC talk 22:28, 20 April 2009 (UTC)
  • Actually the problem of historically anachronistic notation is a flaw in the Great Papers article, which could be rewritten to mention both the historical notation and the modern form, or perhaps refer the latter to the article on Maxwell's equations. This could be done whether or not that article is merged into this one. Note also that the problem is not unique to Maxwell's article; the article on Isaac Newton expresses Newton's laws in vector form, which Newton certainly did not use in the 17th century. Dirac66 (talk) 01:23, 21 April 2009 (UTC)
  • A late vote for support, but what to do with all of the text in "On Physical Lines of Force - 1861"? It would seem out of place in the article about Maxwell the person, and the Maxwell's equations article already seems comprehensive. (It also seems out of place in a section about Maxwell's 1861 paper, as noted above!) Maybe remove it entirely? Djr32 (talk) 21:58, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
Comment (I've already !voted above) - Right, there seems to be good consensus here, and this has been open for 3 months (!) - let's do it. A.C. Norman (talk) 19:57, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

Christianity section reads a little strangely[edit]

The section on Maxwell's belief seems rather odd - as if someone had claimed he was an atheist and the section is refuting it; I'd imagine that most people of mid-nineteenth century Britain were Christian - or am I missing something?! Apepper (talk) 18:30, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

Yes, it's quite whacky that way. I suggest you read the cited sources and fix it. Or look at the history to see when the sources were added, by whom, in support of what, and see if someone mangled it since then. Dicklyon (talk) 07:11, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
I'll start thinking about how it could be phrased; my first thought is to retitle the section "Religious Belief", essentially say he was brought up as a Christian and maintained his faith throughout his life - assuming the citations bear that out. Apepper (talk)
Yes, I would certainly welcome a rewrite. Maxwell was a devout Christian, and this is attested to by his various biographers. It does not seem to have intruded into his work. —BillC talk 17:38, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
Hmm... to say it did "not seem to have intruded into his work" is extremely misleading. His beliefs characterized his work, In his own words:I think Christians whose minds are scientific are bound to study science that their view of the glory of God may be as extensive as their being is capable of." (Campbell and Garnett, Life of Maxwell, 404–5.) - Logan
And on page 96 he is found explaining how Christianity alone seemed to afford the ability to scrutinise reality unhindered by the bounds of superstition. In other words, Christianity affords this since it specifically does not impose restrictions on investigations, rather than influences the directions or methods of investigation. That being said, he did address the concept of the "creation" of atoms as falling outside of the purview of science, though this is probably not a result of his theological beliefs but rather the knowledge of physics at that time.Ninahexan (talk) 05:50, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Christianity was not something merely incidental in Maxwell. His religious belief thus deserves more attention. The sophism seems to be this: Maxwell was a scientist of the absolutely highest order. Religion is something foreign to the scientific spirit. Therefore his religion is not important to his biography. This represents an intrusion of a prejudice. Another similar figure in this respect is Bernard Riemann. Absolutely important to the development of both science and mathematics in the twentieth and tweny-first centuries and a profoundly devout Christian. In both cases the religious aspect does belong to the biography. The question of whether and how religious faith influences the scientific work remains open.Cklc (talk) 16:04, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Merge from article[edit]

Sir James Clerk, 7th Bt seems to be an article about this person, which includes several references, that may be of help in information regarding religion. Can somebody knowledgeable take any relevant materials from that article and then propose it for deletion? Rigadoun (talk) 19:17, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

It's a textdump from here, and I've deleted it. If anyone wants to use that material to improve this article, do feel free, but it looks potentially quite polemic - I'd recommend confirming it against the quoted sources! Shimgray | talk | 23:11, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Marriage and children, etc.[edit]

He was a very important person to physics and the article lacks a great deal of his personal life. What kind of man was he? (talk) 16:00, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

According to an article in Physics World biography of Maxwell-I had to sign in with a free account to view it PhysicsWorld, his wife was very important to his work. She did most of the experimental work on viscosity. He died of pancreatic cancer and his wife had become and invalid. Einstein quoted when someone remarked, "You have done great things but you stand on Newton's shoulders." His reply was, "No, I stand on Maxwell's shoulders. Some sources claimed his religious beliefs had him opposing Darwin (I didn't trace the sources) and this would be a context to put the Christianity section into. There are sources out there that have bias and unsupported conclusion but a good reliable source would be quotations from Maxwell's notes/diary. Sorry this is as much time that I can spend on this. (talk) 16:19, 21 September 2009 (UTC)


Can we please stop people making stupid regionalist edits over famous people's nationality. Maxwell, born in Scotland was British, and therefore saying that his nationality was Scottish is misleading and technically incorrect. The compromise is calling him a scottish mathematician, but can his nationality still be british. (talk) 23:30, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

It seems obvious that Scottish is more precise than British. Do you have any evidence that Maxwell was not Scottish? --John (talk) 01:58, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Let's describe George W. Bush as 'Texan' then. It seems obvious that 'Texan' is more precise than 'American'. Do you have any evidence that he is not Texan? I thought not. Clever dick, Master 'John'. or as you might put it 'smart arse'. (talk) 18:19, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

I should like to see two questions resolved. 1. Can "Scottish" properly and accurately be termed a nationality in its own right? 2. What nationality do reliable sources specify for Maxwell? In the meantime it seems pointless for the term in the infobox to bounce back and forth; it's not worth edit warring about. It might also be helpful to know how Maxwell identified himself, if that information can be found. Hertz1888 (talk) 02:28, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Ref provided, per official Wikipedia policy WP:VERIFY:

Problem is: At the time, Scotland was not a sovereign nation and still continues not to be one, just as England isn't. Thus, his nationality should be "British". Also cf. Faraday is from England, but his nationality gives "British". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:25, 21 March 2010 (UTC) --Mais oui! (talk) 21:20, 24 February 2010 (UTC)

Listing both Nationality and Citizenship seems a little like overkill and it's not clear exactly how they differ in this case. Perhaps a compromise might be to leave `Scottish' in the introduction and list Nationality as British. In any case, his citizenship would be British not `United Kingdom'! While Scottish is more specific than British geographically, in the legal sense his nationality would be British --- Scottish, English, etc, having no legal meaning it terms of nationality --- and that seems to be the sense intended here. Potahto (talk) 13:33, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Scottish nationality; British citizenship - the difference is clear to anyone who can tell the simple difference between nationality and citizenship. What 'nationality' were the English and Scots before the Act of Union? Did the Union change these 'nationalities'? Are all states mono-national? Do all 'nations' have statehood? Ceartas (talk) 00:32, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
I think saying Scottish is appropriate. Although British, the vast majority of English scientists, nobles and entertainers are called English. As far as I know the common use of British and Briton to refer to anyone from the island is fairly recent, and may be pushed by the less sophisticated and/or native and/or desperate for whatever reasons. That Jame Clerk/Maxwell being Scottish, when he lived, was also British should still be obvious to most educated and cultured people around the world. (I enjoy both English and Scottish ancestry, btw.) DinDraithou (talk) 15:16, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
The terms British and Briton are not particularly recent. There are quotes in the OED dating from the 11th Century of this adjective and noun referring to people south of the Firth of Forth (and so including Edinburgh). But this is not my point. It is simply incorrect to list his nationality or citizenship as Scottish --- the nationality of anyone from the United Kingdom is British regardless of your political or nationalistic feeling on the matter. Using an adjective to describe someone (as in the introduction) is different to stating their nationality (as in the box). I'm not pushing any point of view, I'm just aiming for accuracy. Potahto (talk) 15:12, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
The term and ethnonym are indeed old, but originally referred to the Celtic speakers of Brythonic, most of whom lost their identity after the Norman invasion and reemerged undistinguishable from the Anglo-Saxons, except in Wales and Cornwall. In what is now southern Scotland the Strathclyde Britons were eventually absorbed by the Scoto-Picts. In general academia the original uses are still common. BUT WHATEVER. Why not simply also mention his ethnicity in the infobox? To do that we need to use Infobox person like Einstein has. I've done a preview and found it will allow both nationality and ethnicity, which Infobox scientist apparently will not. DinDraithou (talk) 15:35, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure listing ethnicity is relevant for most scientists, so I imagine that's why it's not in Infobox scientist. (Einstein perhaps is an exception given the period during which he was alive, although it remains irrelevant to his work.) I'm not proposing deleting the adjective Scottish from the introduction, but just modifying the box so his nationality is correctly stated as British (both in the language of Maxwell's lifetime and now). Perhaps this is not a term you are so used to (as mistakes seem common outside the UK), but it is widely used in Britain and the correct usage. Potahto (talk) 12:21, 15 May 2010 (UTC)
I do confess to being German in the direct line and thus something of a know-it-all. My Irish and French ancestry weaken my authority to speak on British matters even further. And worst of all, I'm American. So I'll back off. DinDraithou (talk) 17:26, 15 May 2010 (UTC)
Well, we all believe in free speech :). Changed as suggested. Potahto (talk) 17:00, 16 May 2010 (UTC)

The distinction between nationality and citizenship is very simple. A sovereign state can contain more than one nationality: think of the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia. The UK is similar: Maxwell's nationality was Scots, his citizenship British. There are many examples of other 'nations' which do not have statehood: English, Kurds, Bretons, Tibetans. Is Potahto saying that the Germans, Italians, Irish, Poles, Armenians, Georgians, etc., were not 'nations' before they achieved statehood? Ceartas (talk) 00:10, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

My understanding is there was no legal concept of British citizen until 1948. People were British subjects. See British Nationality Act 1948. Thincat (talk) 23:00, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

What did Maxwell think of himself? Surely, it is more accurate to say what nationality someone feels rather than what we now call them? For example, I was born in Bermuda, grew up in Africa/Caribbean and currently live in south east England. My family have done for generations. I have no sole connection with one part of the UK, so I feel British. I know people who are both British and Scottish. Is it not possible to have more than one nationality in this case? I am fairly sure Maxwell felt British too. Colwolyoung (talk) 14:51, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Agree with the assertion that people are being tiresomely regionalist.(Actually they are being crypto-separatist in this particular case)
In response to Ceartas on the alleged difference between "nationality" and "citizenship", what do *most speakers of the English language* think "nationality" means?
What would someone reasonable believe when they see a distinction made between "nationality" and "citizenship"?
Here is what they would believe: "Person A is from country X (their "nationality") but for some reason they hold "citizenship" of a completely different country, Y. Must be for reasons of parentage or something, or maybe it's to do with tax".
The simple fact is that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, and was part at all times during Maxwell's life.
Readers will misinterpret this distinction as being akin to the difference between German and Italian. This is why the distinction is wrong.

Japanscot (talk) 14:31, 2 February 2013 (UTC) Scottish is not a nationality. The nationality of all UK citizens is 'British'.

For the moment I will try changing 'Faraday' to see if that is reverted. If it we need an RfC on the subject to get consistency across WP. Martin Hogbin (talk) 13:47, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

Shouldn't this discussion be appended to and continue the previous "Nationality" section, above? Hertz1888 (talk) 14:02, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
Yes. Now done. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:10, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

I see no consensus above to use the fictional nationality 'Scottish'. Like others, I have no objection to using the description 'Scottish' in the text, if the majority of reliable sources describe him this way but we cannot put his nationality as Scottish in the info box, regardless of how he self-identified or is described, simply because such a thing does not exists. Citizens of the UK have British nationality. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:15, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

Getting a bit imperialist, aren't you? Adam Cuerden (talk) 09:42, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
I see you have started with a personal attack rather that tried to discuss the issue in question.
This has nothing to do with imperialism just with facts. 'Scottish' is not a nationality, just as 'English', 'Welsh', or 'Northern Irish' are not. These countries are all part of the sovereign state of the United Kingdom and their nationality is 'British'. People from these countries all have British passports and would have to state their nationality as 'British' on official documents, such as applications for visas.
I have no problem with describing Maxwell as Scottish, just as I would have no problem with describing a person as 'Texan' but the nationality of a Texan is US, whether they like it or not, and the nationality of someone from Scotland is 'British', whether or not they or you like it. Martin Hogbin (talk) 10:01, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom — Preceding unsigned comment added by FF-UK (talkcontribs) 09:55, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
See my comments on that article.
It is not WP policy but an essay. If you look on the talk page you will see that there is no consensus for what is written, in fact others have made exactly the same point that I have. A description of a person can be anything found in sources, for example: 'Scottish', 'English', 'Texan', or 'Londoner', but a nationality is a clearly and legally defined status which cannot be changed at whim. If you want to state that Maxwell's nationality is 'Scottish' then you need to find a source saying that just that. Martin Hogbin (talk) 13:05, 27 October 2014 (UTC)


A quick look above shows two editors in favour of 'Scottish' and four who would prefer 'British' (five including me). There is therefore a consensus to state the nationality of Maxwell as 'British'. I will change it to that until a reliable source is found that says that Maxwell's nationality was Scottish. Martin Hogbin (talk) 14:27, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

I don't see a need to rush into this. It has already flipped back and forth too many times over the years, the essay highlights the considerable flexibility available in such matters, and consensus is not based on voting. Allowing more time for discussion couldn't hurt, and meanwhile a RS for the longstanding existing version might be found. Hertz1888 (talk) 15:24, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
Have a look for a source if you like but there is no 'nationality' of Scottish and more than there is a nationality of 'Londoner' or 'Scouser'. I understand that there is indeed flexibility regarding the description of a person from the UK. Many people are very proud to describe themselves as 'English' or 'Welsh' and this is fine but nationality is a matter of fact. The current arrangement in which Maxwell's citizenship is described as 'British' and his nationality as 'Scottish' is absurd. You can see from the article British nationality lawthat 'British nationality law is the law of the United Kingdom that concerns citizenship and other categories of British nationality', in other words to have British citizenship you must be a British national.
The introductory sentence of the lead, 'James Clerk Maxwell FRS FRSE (13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879) was a Scottish[2][3] mathematical physicist.' may well be subject to discussion based in such things as how he identified himself, where he was born, where he lived and worked, and how sources describe him, but the infobox statement of nationality is just plain wrong.
I am willing to engage in serious discussion of the subject but if all the editor who reverted my change can come up with is 'Getting a bit imperialist, aren't you?', demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of the subject of nationality and of UK affairs, I will make the change. There certainly is no consensus for the current version. Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:08, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
Definition of Nationality: "The status of belonging to a particular nation"
Therefore, the status of belonging to the Nation of Scotland is clearly Scottish, and any suggestion to the contrary is clearly specious. FF-UK (talk) 20:14, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
There are many different definitions of nation but the one that is relevant in this case is that of an independent nation. The Scotland article starts, 'Scotland ... is a country that is part of the United Kingdom'. It is not an independent nation. No doubt it is sometimes referred to informally as a nation but in an infobox we would expect to refer to a formal and legal definition of 'nationality' and that is 'British'. The passport for a person from Scotland will be a British passport with the Nationality showing as 'British Citizen'. If you have one, take a look. Martin Hogbin (talk) 10:06, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
Martin Hogbin, by what authority do you claim to dismiss the idea that Scotland is a Nation? I suggest that you listen to the widely reported speech by Gordon Brown in which he, an avowed Unionist (as I am myself) declared that Scotland was a nation. If you were to wander the streets of Edinburgh you would come across many Scottish Institutions, most of them with official status, labelled as "Scottish National...." - nothing informal about that. You keep referring to citizenship, but that is not a subject in dispute, not all nations are independent, and long may the Scottish nation remain as part of the Union. Please keep your ignorant ideas about nationhood to yourself and back-off. FF-UK (talk) 12:28, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
This is not about the Union, this about the status of the term 'nationality' as it is likely to be understood by the majority of our readers when in an infobox.
Informally, Scotland and England, for example, may be called nations but they are not independent nations and are not recognised as separate nations from an international diplomatic perspective. People from all the countries in the UK will have British passports, be represented by the British Ambassador at the British embassy, or join the British armed forces. That is the level at which 'nationality' will be understood when in an infobox. It will answer the question as to which independent state the person belongs. It seems crazy to have an RfC on this subject when there is a clear majority 5:2 of editors here in favour of 'British' but if we must we must. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:41, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
Should we label William Rowan Hamilton and Oscar Wilde as British while we're at it? Ireland was part of the U.K. throughout their entire lives. Is Owain Glyndwr a British leader? Wales had already been united with Britain during his life. "British" has become very mixed up with "English", and, as such, attempts to co-opt it for Scottish and Welsh people is rather controversial, as it brings up a whole hot of cultural imperialism issues, where a larger culture uses its size to subsume and deny the existence of a smaller. Adam Cuerden (talk) 15:48, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
I do not see the relevance of William Rowan Hamilton and Oscar Wilde. The situation for Maxwell is much clearer; he was born of British parents in Britain and lived and worked in Britain all his life. Scotland was part of Britain when Maxwell was born and still is.
I do not dispute that there may be confusion of many people between Britain and England but that will not in any way be resolved by giving the nationality of Maxwell as the non-existent Scottish, in fact that is likely to increase the confusion. Note that I am only talking about the nationality in the info box. How Maxwell is described is another matter and that should depend on how he is described in reliable sources. In fact, describing Maxwell as Scottish with British nationality makes the true situation clearer, showing that Scotland is part of Britain. Giving his nationality in the infobox as 'Scottish' only serves to confuse and to give the impression that Scotland is some minor independent nation somewhere near England. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:00, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
You realise that Ireland only became independent from the United Kingdom in the 1920s, right? So the exact same coule be said about Hamilton or Wilde. Adam Cuerden (talk) 17:04, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
You clearly did not read, ' Scotland was part of Britain when Maxwell was born and still is. The same is not true for the the Republic of Ireland so there an argument for using present day nations in the infobox but that is all irrelevant here. We are talking about this page only. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:30, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
And Scotland used to not be part of the UK. If you're happy with using nationalities which, by your definition of nationality, didn't exist at the time, then I don't see how you can justify applying definitions of nationality that exclude Scotland. Your claim Scottish nationality doesn't exist seems to be based on a legal, "What it says in your passport" definition, but Irish didn't exist by that definition, but you're happy with it being used. But if we're not looking at a legal "what it says in your passport" citizenship definition, then we're looking at a definition of nationality that can easily accommodate Scottish.. Adam Cuerden (talk) 18:33, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
You are complicating something that is very simple by giving irrelevant examples. Scotland has been part of Britain from over a century before Maxwell was born until the present day. The question of Scotland's not being part of Britain simply does not arise in the case of Maxwell. Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:45, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
In that case, I take it that you don't consider "Bermudan" a nationality, and thinkt hey should be referred to as "British"? Adam Cuerden (talk) 19:24, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
That is just another irrelevant example. Bermuda is one of the British Overseas Territories, 'The fourteen British Overseas Territories are territories under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom. They do not, however, form part of it'. Scotland does form part of Great Britain and the United Kingdom. Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:16, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
I like how you're just ignoring the points. You haven't given a real example why historic Ireland is different other than "It just is", nnor how Bermuda is different other than "It just is." Bermudan citizens hold a British passport, and Ireland was part of the UK at the time. You don't seem to actually have an argument. Adam Cuerden (talk) 23:01, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
I have explained in detail with reference to relevant WP articles on the subject why Bermuda and Ireland are different. Martin Hogbin (talk) 23:06, 30 October 2014 (UTC)

I am persuaded, on the strength of the arguments presented here, that continued use of "Scottish" is appropriate, acceptable usage, and innocuous. Hertz1888 (talk) 16:51, 28 October 2014 (UTC)

I am very surprised that you want to state a non-existent nationality in an infobox and wonder how you think that will help our readers but I guess that makes it 5:3 for 'British' now. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:02, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
Martin Hogbin, Scottish could only be a non-existent nationality if Scotland were a non-existent nation, clearly that is not the case, so your statement is fallacious. You seem to think that there is merit in reinforcing the widespread ignorance of the complexities of the UK as a multi-nation state, but reinforcement of ignorance is not the function of an encyclopedia. FF-UK (talk) 16:46, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
We have been through this before. Scotland is a nation informally but it is not a member of the United Nations for example. It does not have a nationality in any formal sense of the word. Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:22, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
Martin Hogbin, you base all of this on your personal determination (OR?) that Scotland "does not have a nationality in any formal sense of the word" but you ignore the reality that this is simply untrue, as evidenced by the many institutions which proclaim Scottish Nationality, do you wish to tell these august bodies that they are merely informal? A small sample-

Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service

The National Archives of Scotland

Scottish National Gallery

Royal Scottish National Orchestra

National Trust for Scotland

Scottish National War Memorial

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra

National Museum of Scotland

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

National Library of Scotland

Scotland's National Nature Reserves

Scottish National Advanced Heart Failure Service

National Mining Museum Scotland

National Theatre of Scotland

Scottish National Dictionary

FF-UK (talk) 21:46, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

None of those have anything to do with nationality as it is likely to be understood by our readers From a global perspective Scotland is part of the UK not a separate nation. We have to ask ourselves what meaning our readers expect when they see the word 'nationality' in an infobox. Do they expect it to refer to the name of a country that is just part of a sovereign state or do they expect it to refer to the independent state to which the person belongs. Many countries have regions that were once independent states but Britain is unusual in that these are still referred to as countries. Power in Scotland is ultimately held by the UK parliament. Scottish people are represented in other countries by the British embassy and by the British delegation to the UN and they are defended by the British armed forces. Martin Hogbin (talk) 22:21, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
Actually, most powers are devolved, and this appears to be increasing over time. From Scottish Parliament: "The Scottish Parliament (Scottish Gaelic: Pàrlamaid na h-Alba; Scots: The Scots Pairlament)[2][3][4] is the devolved national, unicameral legislature of Scotland." Adam Cuerden (talk) 22:29, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
I wonder if there are any printed encyclopaedias that tackle this? Surely the National Library of Scotland can't? Guy (Help!) 07:47, 30 October 2014 (UTC)
I do not think we need a printed encyclopedia, there is plenty on British nationality in WP, British nationality law for a start. I can find no mention of Scottish nationality anywhere.
Adam, yes many powers are devolved but the ultimate power still rests with the UK parliament. Martin Hogbin (talk) 23:51, 30 October 2014 (UTC)
At the root of this problem remains Martin Hogbin's personal agenda to dismiss Scotland as not being a country or nation, this is evidenced in his remarks at the top of this sub-section when he attempts to equate Scottish with Londoner or Scouser, a clearly nonsensical idea. The list of names of institutions I provided above demonstrates clearly that Scotland is regarded in a formal sense as a Nation, and it is simply not credible to claim that someone belonging to that nation does not hold the nationality of that nation. FF-UK (talk) 17:26, 30 October 2014 (UTC)
Your personal remarks accusing me of having a personal agenda are unconstructive and do nothing to help your cause. Martin Hogbin (talk) 22:57, 30 October 2014 (UTC)
Martin Hogbin, perhaps you just cannot help it, it seems to be a sort of cultural blindness which is demonstrated, again, in your remark below where you seek to demean (either deliberately or through ignorance) the national institutions of Scotland: "and there are, mainly local, organisations bearing the name 'national'. FF-UK (talk) 18:01, 31 October 2014 (UTC)
Once again, I ask you not to make personal comments about me. I do not seek to demean anyone and do not suffer from any form of cultural blindness. The fact that many worthy Scottish institutions have the word 'national' in them does not make 'Scottish' a nationality. Martin Hogbin (talk) 20:05, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
Martin Hogbin, you have made it clear that such is your personal view, but it is not the view held in the nation under discussion, which is why the government and institutions of that nation have (over many years) adopted the terminology which they do. Unless you are able to convince the Scottish Government and the institutions which describe themselves as "Scottish National" that you are right and they are wrong then I suggest there is little point in continuing your campaign to deny the existence of Scottish nationality. FF-UK (talk) 13:15, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
It is not my personal view it is a view supported by four other editors above. Neither the Scottish goverment nor any Scottish institution has the power to create a Scottish nationality. Scotland is part of the Unied kingdom and its citizens are Britsh. Martin Hogbin (talk) 13:05, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

Martin Hogbin, since you chose to reopen this long dormant subject, and sought to gain consensus to change the Nationality of Clerk Maxwell, not one other editor has supported you. Therefore it is very clear that the consensus is for the Nationality to remain as Scottish. Time to desist. FF-UK (talk) 14:13, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

No, it is time for an RfC. Martin Hogbin (talk) 14:44, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

Maybe we are arguing about the wrong thing[edit]

Rather than arguing about whether Scottish is a nationality I think we should be arguing about what meaning of the term 'nationality' is appropriate for an infobox.

The past discussion gives the incorrect impression that some editors are anti-Scottish and others are pro-Scottish or that some editors are Scottish separatist and others are anti-separatist. From the discussions above I hope that we can all agree that this is not what the argument is about. That is certainly true for me. The question is simply, 'What is the appropriate definition of 'Nationality' for use in an onfobox.

In an infobox I think readers expect to see nationality at the highest level of independent state (please do not mention the EU, it has not happened yet!), as per passport, diplomatic representation, armed forces, overall leader and legislative body. They do not expect to see the name of one part of an independent state, even if the part is traditionally known s a nation and there are, mainly local, organisations bearing the name 'national'. Maybe this should be put to RfC in that more general form, without specific reference to Scotland.. Martin Hogbin (talk) 23:02, 30 October 2014 (UTC)

The relevant guidance is on the Template:Infobox person page: "Nationality. May be used instead of citizenship (below) or vice versa in cases where any confusion could result. Should only be used with citizenship when they somehow differ." FF-UK (talk) 17:26, 31 October 2014 (UTC)
There is no confusion, it is very simple. People from Scotland have British nationality and are British citizens.
In which case the appropriate thing to do would be to have nothing against "Nationality", in accordance with the guidance. I believe that no one is disagreeing on British Citizenship, but as the Infobox has been structured to accommodate situations like this where the nationality and citizenship differ, then it is correct to continue to show Maxwell's nationality as Scottish, in accordance with the accepted norm. It is not difficult. By the way, I am proud to be English, and proud to have been welcomed into the Scottish Nation where I have lived for the majority of my adult life, and where I serve as one of the Trustees of The James Clerk Maxwell Foundation. As an aside, when I joined the Army in 1963 my papers showed my nationality as "British/English". FF-UK (talk) 18:26, 31 October 2014 (UTC)
On a more constructive topic, then, think you could get us a better image of Maxwell for the lead? I'm worried about the copyright documentation for the lead image. Adam Cuerden (talk) 20:27, 31 October 2014 (UTC)
If you look at the British nationality page you will see that it is imposssible to have British citizenship and not have British nationality. Britsish citizenship is a sub-category of British nationality. There is no accepted norm for showing nationality as Scottish. If Maxwell was a British citizen then his nationality, by definition, was British. See the article on the subject. Once again, I have no problem in describing Maxwell as Scottish in the text but his formal nationality (which is what is appropriate for an infobox) is British.Martin Hogbin (talk) 13:00, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
In Maxwell's own time, under the law of that time, he was a British subject. If he were alive today, under current law, he would be both a British national and a British citizen. There has been no such thing as Scottish nationality since 1707. It's no more appropriate to assign Maxwell Scottish nationality than it would be to assign Faraday Kent nationality. It is quite wrong to state that Maxwell had Scottish nationality. However, it's OK to refer to him as Scottish in the main text. This error should be corrected with immediate effect. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:53, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
You are right of course. Anyone in doubt might like to read British nationality law where it is clear that anyone from Scotland has British nationality and that it is imposssible to be a Britsih citizemn and not to have British nationality. The situation is further explained in Constituent_country#United_Kingdom and Unitary state. Martin Hogbin (talk) 22:41, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
I guess that Martin Hogbin must be very grateful that an IP editor with no previous edits on any subject has leapt in to support him on this issue. FF-UK (talk) 22:12, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
Yes I am happy that another editor has agreed with me. Martin Hogbin (talk) 22:41, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
More to the point, Charles Darwin like Maxwell studied in both Scotland and England, he's noted as English and both his Citizenship and Nationality appear in the infobox as British. If anything, CD's career was more concentrated in England, and it makes sense for the same British nationality to apply to both. . . dave souza, talk 22:50, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
You are perfectly correct in what you say but the real isssue is that WP is not based on opinions but on facts and there simply is no nationality of 'Scottish'. People from all parts of the UK have British nationality, whether they like it or not and whatever our opinions on what is should be might be. The articles, British nationality law, Constituent_country#United_Kingdom, and Unitary state make this quite clear. Martin Hogbin (talk) 23:05, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
Here is an authoritative reference [2] There is only mention of British nationality. Martin Hogbin (talk) 23:20, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
Here is the later version of the same thing from the National Records of Scotland [3]. Despite the name of the organisation there is no mention of Scottish nationality, only British. Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:59, 1 December 2014 (UTC)

FF-UK, I was supporting the facts. I wasn't supporting any individual. There is no such thing as Scottish nationality. Likewise, Lord Kelvin was British as he didn't come from the part of Ireland that later got its own nationality, neither was he from the community that would nowadays reject his British nationality. There is an abundance of reliable sources on British nationality law, and British citizenship is one particular form of British nationality. There are others s well, but there is no such thing as Scottish nationality. Had Maxwell lived in the 17th century I might have allowed it, but he lived in the 19th century. You're free to refer to him as Scottish in the main body of the text. Nobody will object to that so long as you don't qualify it by adding 'national' or 'citizen'. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:43, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

I have changed it, there seems to be a clear consensus now. Let us hope that the consensus is accepted without edit warring. Martin Hogbin (talk) 10:41, 1 December 2014 (UTC)

Much better. It was best to get rid of the citizenship thing altogether because the concept of 'British citizenship' only came into existence in 1983. Maxwell was a British subject in his days, and in his days there was no such a thing as British citizenship. 'British nationality' is the best and most accurate way of describing Maxwell in the box, because under current law, British subjects are British nationals. As regards describing him as Scottish in the lead, why the need for all the in-line citations? Is anybody doubting that he was Scottish? I will remove those citations because it makes it look as if the matter is controversial. The controversy was not about whether or not Maxwell was Scottish. The controversy was about editors inventing the concept of Scottish nationality. (talk) 16:25, 1 December 2014 (UTC)

I would suggest that one citation is OK, information should be based on reliable sources even if it is fairly well accepted. Unfortunately another IP has reverted all the changes without explanation. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:02, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
IP asks: "why the need for all the in-line citations? Is anybody doubting that he was Scottish?" Yes they have, many times! The citations were apparently introduced in an effort to discourage editors from eliminating references to Scottish in the article. The particular significance is, of course, obvious as one of the citations is taken from the UK parliamentary record, and the other from the London Science Museum, it is not therefore possible to dismiss these as being from biased Scots.
As regards the continued attempts to disclaim Scotland's status as a nation, consider the words of ex-Prime minister Gordon Brown in his pre-referendum speech in defence of the union: "The vote tomorrow is not about whether Scotland is a nation; we are, yesterday, today, and tomorrow." As I have indicated before, it is nonsense to claim otherwise and very silly to harp on about narrow legal definitions when there is a perfectly valid and easily understood dictionary definition of what nationality means: "The status of belonging to a particular nation." Since when have WP articles been slaves to legal definitions rather than general definitions?
The concept of Scotland as a nation is more than adequately demonstrated by the many national institutions which I have referred to in earlier comments (and, of course, there are many similar national institutions bearing the name "English National ....." and "Welsh National ......" as well as a long understood convention that we do not have British national sporting teams, we have English Scottish and Welsh teams.
Unless you are trying to deny the existence of the home nations, it is ridiculous and inconsistent to deny English, Scottish and Welsh nationality.
The relevant guidance is on the Template:Infobox person page: "Nationality. May be used instead of citizenship (below) or vice versa in cases where any confusion could result. Should only be used with citizenship when they somehow differ." This is a clear case where citizenship and nationality (in the normal rather than the narrow legal sense) do differ, and the Infobox has been designed to deal with that.
Perhaps of more general importance is that the convention of using the home nation nationalities in articles on UK citizens is well established. Those that wish to change this convention should not be arguing about it here but if they wish to pursue the issue to do so on a more general platform, possibly the Wikipedia:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom or somewhere else, but not piecemeal on individual articles. Let us have no more of this here unless some new WP convention is established. Meanwhile, I will revert the article to the state it is was in before the IP editors started messing with it. FF-UK (talk) 23:26, 1 December 2014 (UTC)
There is no WP convention to use non-existent nationalities neither is there a consensus on this page to do so. This is not a question about Scotland or the Scottish people or what Gordon Brown said, it is a simple matter of fact, confirmed by several WP articles and reliable sources. Your argument about citizenship makes no sense, please read British nationality page and you will see that it is imposssible to have British citizenship and not have British nationality. Britsish citizenship is a sub-category of British nationality. The Constituent_country#United_Kingdom, and Unitary state articles explain the situation.
Despite using the word 'national' the National Records of Scotland [4] clearly show that people living in Scotland have British nationality. I will restore the correct version as there is now a clear consensus for it. Martin Hogbin (talk) 00:08, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
FF-UK, thank you for bringing the "relevant guidance" here again. I wish I had seen it sooner. The infobox allows for specifying nationality and citizenship together because they can differ. Clearly, in the case at hand, they do "somehow differ". There is ample usage for "Scottish nationality". It is logically suspect to define it as "non-existent" (as "a simple matter of fact") as justification for removing it from the infobox. If we were arguing about the strict legal definition of nationality and its applicability, we were indeed "arguing about the wrong thing". There are times when Wikipedia must reflect common sense and general, everyday, flexible usage. Hertz1888 (talk) 03:58, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
Hertz, have you looked at the links that I gave? They clearly show the situation regarding British nationality. It is imposssible for a person to be a British citizen and not have British nationality. WP guidance cannot change that. It would be like listing nationality as 'Texan' and citizenship as 'US'. In fact it is worse than that because the UK is a Unitary state but the US is a Federation. We must base WP on facts not editor's opinions.
Have you studied the impeccable source that I gave? The National Records of Scotland is the govenmental organisation that deals with isssues such as nationality in Scotland. It says, 'An estimated 266,000 (5.1 per cent) of the usually resident population of Scotland held non-British nationality', in other words the non-imigrant 94.9 per cent of the Scottish population hold Britsh nationality. We do indeed have flexibility in the language that we use in WP but this cannot override fcats as confirmed by reliable sources. So far we have had no reliable and authoritative sources stating that a Scottish nationality exists. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:28, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
M.H., it looks like you are locked into a process of circular logic. Citing an "impeccable source", you claim it as a "fact" that Scottish nationality cannot exist, and use that as a reason to remove SN from the article. However, the absence of absence (i.e., that there is no such thing as SN) is very hard to prove conclusively. All you may have succeeeded in showing is that SN shouldn't exist. There is so much common usage to the contrary that WP can reasonably be flexible. I may be hoping for too much, but perhaps a footnote in the infobox, mentioning that SN is an informal and possibly unofficial concept, can resolve the entire controversy and end this tiresomely long debate once and for all. Hertz1888 (talk) 11:01, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
There is nothing circular about my argument. My cited source clearly shows that residents of Scotland do have British nationality. Are you suggesting that Maxwell somehow had dual nationality?. There is no doubt that British nationality exists, at the moment the argument for Scottich nationality is pure OR. Can you produce a single source that shows official usage of the term 'Scottish nationality'?
As there is is no doubt that British nationality does exist and that Maxwell was entitled to it but there is, at the very least, doubt as to whether Scottish nationality exists, a perfectly reasonable compromise would therefore be to show Maxwell's nationality as the, factually correct, 'British' and describe him as Scottish in the text. Martin Hogbin (talk) 12:02, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
FF-UK has provided a long list of sources showing common usage of the term. It doesn't have to be provenly official to fit the flexibility built into the infobox. Your compromise is no compromise at all, as there was never any doubt or debate that Maxwell was Scottish. Hertz1888 (talk) 12:34, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
There is no usage of the term at all. The list provided is of 'Scottish national xxx'. As I have shown, that is irrelevant as the 'National Records of Scotland' only uses the nationality 'British'.
It is a fundamental principle of WP that all information should be supported by a reliable source. We cannot be 'flexible' in that respect. There are no reliable sources' showing the existence of Scottish nationality. Martin Hogbin (talk) 13:32, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

FF-UK, With all those in-line citations to prove that Maxwell was Scottish, I'm surprised that you haven't added a picture of him drinking Irn Bru. Yes he was Scottish. He was a Lowland Scot, which makes him culturally, linguistically, religiously, and ethnically as close to English as it's possible to be without actually being English. But you've got it all wrong on the citizenship and nationality business. There was no British citizenship in Maxwell's day. British citizenship was only introduced for the first time in 1983. Maxwell was a British Subject and a British National, and despite your protestations to the contrary, there is no such thing as Scottish nationality, and it now looks as though there never will be. The most reasonable compromise in this dispute is to refer to him as Scottish in the text, scrap the British citizenship bit in the box, and describe him there as a British National, which is exactly what he was. That I believe is the way Martin Hogbin put it. On a more general note, there really ought to be some proper guidelines for this kind of situation, in order to strike a balance across the complexities of ethnicity, historical boundary changes, and the degree to which certain distinct ethnic groups readily identify with their official nationality. For example, you wouldn't describe an ethnic Turk who lived in Ottoman Jaffa in the 19th century as an Israeli, just because Jaffa is in modern day Israel. Neither would you describe an ethnic Russian who lived in 19th century Estonia as an Estonian, when Estonia was in the Russian Empire, just because Estonia is an independent nation today. There ought to be some guidelines that take account of a number of criteria, including, as best as it is possible to ascertain, what the subject in question would have wanted to consider himself or herself. Based on my reading about Maxwell, he was very comfortable with his British nationality. He spent important years in London and Cambridge and he has a memorial stone in Westminster Abbey. I have never seen any evidence that Maxwell was active in pursuing Scottish nationalism. (talk) 08:11, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

Please let us not introduce "red herrings", this discussion is not about ethnicity or nationalism.
I will say again, an individual article is not the place to have this debate. Despite Martin Hogbin's denial, we do have WP guidance in the form of Wikipedia:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom which includes the following:
Do not enforce uniformity
It is not possible to create a uniforming guideline, when such strong disagreement exists on the relative importance of the labels.
Re-labelling nationalities on grounds of consistency—making every UK citizen "British", or converting each of those labelled "British" into their constituent nationalities—is strongly discouraged. Such imposed uniformity cannot, in any case, be sustained.
Wikipedia:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom is the place for this debate, not here, and unless there is any change to that guidance then no further attempts should be made to change the status quo of nationality in this article. FF-UK (talk) 12:16, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
I second that. The message is loud and clear. Hertz1888 (talk) 12:46, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
That is not guidance it is an essay. The disclaimer at the top says, 'This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.
In any case an essay cannot override fact. I have not yet seen any authitative source which uses the term 'Scottish nationality'. We cannot just make stuff up. Martin Hogbin (talk) 13:22, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
Martin Hogbin: "We cannot just make stuff up." Agreed, so please accept that Scottish nationality exists on the basis that, when referring to the saltire, the Lord Lyon King of Arms states: "this is the correct flag for all Scots or Scottish corporate bodies to fly to demonstrate their loyalty and their Scottish nationality." (See Another authoritative source is "Scottish Nationality (British History in Perspective" (Aug 2001) by Professor Murray Pittock, this is described as "the only book available which gives an overview of what made Scotland a nation across the whole of its history". FF-UK (talk) 14:56, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
Only the first source even mentions nationality and that is just a web site, it has no official standing. I really do not see how you can argue with 'National Records of Scotland' it is the official goverment web site for Scotland that deals with isssues such as nationality. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:50, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

OK, so the Lord Lyon says one thing and the law says another thing. The first thing you need to do is get rid of the "citizenship" bit, because there was no British citizenship in Maxwell's day. May I suggest as a compromise that either (1) We list him as Nationality - British, Regional Identity - Scottish, or (2) Nationality - British (Scottish). We cannot omit the British nationality, but neither can we use the term citizenship, so a new formula must be found. (talk) 16:24, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

Why not Nationality - British, Profession - physicist? We have a field in the infobox for nationality and that is what it should contain. It is not the place for additional biographical information. His nationality is quite simply British, there is nothing else to say about it unless you are trying to make some kind of point. We could possibly add a field to the infobox called region, state, etc.Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:50, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

Martin, That's what I meant in my first option. A special field in the info box for regional identity. You are correct about the nationality. He was British, and there is no evidence that he was in rebellion about the fact. (talk) 17:00, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

The idea of Scottish nationality is somewhat contrived, as it overlooks the fact that the Lowlanders have nothing in common with the Highlanders. The Highlanders in their dwindling numbers are the only true Scots. They are a Gaelic people who originally came from the north east of Ireland. The multi-volume Oxford Dictionary definition of Irish says (a) pertaining to Ireland or (b) to the Highlanders of Scotland (we refer to our Highland men as Irishes). The Lowlanders are to all intents and purposes English, and they have no historical connection with the kilt, the tartan, or the Gaelic language. Billy Connolly even said, that as a Glasgow man he has more in common with a Liverpool man than with a Highlander So Scottish nationality is largely a myth, perpetrated by the likes of the Lord Lyon. Please consider the compromise that I have suggested above. (talk) 16:49, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
I like the idea of a compromise but we must not compromise on facts. In an infobox, under the heading 'nationality' surely we would expect to find the legal, internationally accepted, nationality of the subject. There is no doubt whatsoever as to what that was for Maxwell, it was British. As I said above, would not object to an additional field, although that might cause conflict elswhere.
Scotland is not an independent country (and recently the Scottish people voted for that to remain so), it is not a member of the UN, it has no diplomatic staff no embassies and no Scottish passports and no official document uses Scottish as a nationality. Ultimate power in Scotland is held by the UK parliament, which devolves some powers to the parliament of one of its constituent countries. The relevan Scottish authority on nationality mentions only British. Scotland, being part of a Unitary state has less right to have a nationality than Texas, which is part of a Federation. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:14, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
Martin Hogbin in his contributions to this has continually shown a complete lack of awareness of cultural reality, but has now excelled even his own previous nonsense: "Only the first source even mentions nationality and that is just a web site, it has no official standing." What utter rubbish! The Lord Lyon is a member of the Royal Household and the Court of the Lord Lyon (a government department) is a court of law in which Lord Lyon sits as judge. As for the implication that the second source does not mention nationality, check the title again! FF-UK (talk) 18:45, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
FF-UK please confine yourself to comments about content and not about me personally.
This is not a question of culture. I am making no comment at all about Scottish people or Scottish culture just about the facts of nationality. Lord Lyon may well be a judge but the web site is not an official goverment on one and here is no indication that it in any way represents government policy. Such sites are generally from domains.
You are correct, I did miss the word 'nationality' in the title of the first source. Perhaps you can now tell us exactly what the book says about Scottish nationality. Martin Hogbin (talk) 19:31, 2 December

2014 (UTC)

This is absolutely about culture! Or perhaps you simply do not know what "culture" is? Here is a definition from which may help you. "Culture definition: The sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. Culture is transmitted, through language, material objects, ritual, institutions, and art, from one generation to the next." And that is really why nationality is such an important piece of information, it has very little to do with what passport someone may have, and everything to do with their culture.
As far as commenting on your continued demonstrations of lack of understanding on the subject, you claim so many blatantly nonsensical facts that it is hard to avoid it! Here is your latest piece of nonsense: "Lord Lyon may well be a judge but the web site is not an official goverment on one and here is no indication that it in any way represents government policy. Such sites are generally from domains. (sic)" Are you seriously trying to make out that the website of The Court of the Lord Lyon is not an official site? that is lunacy, as for your faulty idea that only the domain constitutes an official government site, then here are two more which completely disprove that: and - or perhaps you are about to tell us that they are unofficial too? Get real! 20:26, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
Where to stop[edit]

In infoboxes in particular it would seem obvious to me to only give nationalities that refer to independent sovereign states. If we go beyond that point, it will be hard to know where to stop. As each new level of nationality becomes established some editor will push for lower levels to be included. If we allow Scottish we must presumably allow English, Welsh, and Northern Irish. Will this the encourage the Texas Nationalists to push for Texan nationality; they actually have a better case than Scotland. Then what? Every tinpot separatist movement will want its own nationality in Wikipedia.

Ther is an obvious and natural place to stop and that is with nationalities of sovereign states that are Member states of the United Nations. That is a simple clear principle that should solve this issue and all (most) future ones. Martin Hogbin (talk) 19:31, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

Martin is right. The reference to nationality in an info box will always be assumed to refer to sovereign nationality. Scottish is not a sovereign nationality and it is deceptive to slip the concept in under that heading in an info box. By all means refer to his Scottishness using another device, but not via nationality. The legal and cultural reality is that Maxwell was British first and Scottish second. (talk) 19:50, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
If you guys want to argue along these lines this is not the place to do it, go and find a more appropriate page. This is the page for discussions on improving this article. FF-UK (talk) 20:02, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
This is exactly the page to do it on. A field in an info box is being abused in this article in order to deceptively portray the idea that Scottish is a sovereign nationality. It is not, and the info box as it stands at the moment is wrong. Scottish nationalists are poaching on a great Scot, who wasn't a nationalist himself. The matter should be referred for further opinions before assuming that the info box will remain as it is, because if this matter is allowed to go unchecked, then petty nationalists will start to claim lots of historical personalities. There needs to be a clear guideline that nationality in an info box always refers to sovereign nationality. There might be problems as regards whether to apply past or present sovereign nationality, but in Maxwell's case this won't matter as it is British now and was British then. (talk) 20:40, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
IP, you seem to be confusing nationality with nationalism, they are not the same thing. I am an Englishman, and a staunch upholder of the Union, I despise nationalism. I am very concerned about those who seek to diminish the significance of Scottish nationhood, this is an attitude which plays precisely into the hands of those who seek independence for Scotland. It does no service to anyone to portray the United Kingdom as anything less than a union of several nations, each of which have their own distinct national characteristics. The UK will only survive if the inhabitants of each constituent nation make more effort to understand these differences, and the strength that they bring to the union. Anyone who needs help on this issue would do well to read My Scotland, Our Britain: A Future Worth Sharing by Gordon Brown (definitely not a nationalist). It is a feature of the 1707 Act of Union that Scottish institutions were not subsumed into English institutions. The Scottish legal system continued and remains distinctly different to that of England and Wales (this has nothing to do with devolution). The same is true of the Scottish Educational system and the churches in Scotland. These differences underline the significance of noting the appropriate nationality, and this has nothing to do with passports or legal status - for that we have Citizenship. FF-UK (talk) 12:49, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
FF-UK let me also affirm that I am not attacking or in any way disparaging Scotland or the Scots people, neither do I object to the Scots people asserting their national (Yes, I am happy to use that word in this context) identity but, the 'nationality' field in a Wikipedia infobox for a world famous Scotsman is not the right place to do this. Wikipedia should have a world view of things and readers have a right to expect information in an infobox to represent the view on the subject from an international perspectve. From that perspective 'Nationality' should show the 'independent state' of which the subject was a member. For current states and those whose status has not changed since the relevant time I suggest that we only use those states that are Member states of the United Nations except in truly exceptional circumstances.
The problem with going beyond this is that there is no obvious place to stop. Once England, Scotland, Wales, The Azores, and Kurdistan, for example, have established a right to their own 'nationality' every tinpot separatist organisation and every entity which has its own customs, language, traditions, or football team, will use Wikipedia as a medium for furthering its aims.
I am not trying to make a point about Scotland or the UK I am trying to help write an encyclopedia in consistent NPOV way. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:42, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

FF-UK, It sounds then as though our views are very similar. I am very favorably disposed towards Scotland and I cherish its distinct identity and special history. And like yourself I am pro-union and despise nationalism. Nationalism is a divisive movement which is driven by hysteria and only serves to stir up discord and weaken the British nation as a whole. But surely then you should see that Martin is right. The nationality field in an info box should be used exclusively for the sovereign nationality except in cases were there are complexities associated with historical boundary changes, ethnicity, and real or perceived subjugation. None of these special circumstances apply in Maxwell's case. I accept you at your word that you are not a Scottish nationalist, but you would surely agree that Scottish nationalists would readily wish to usurp the official status quo by supplanting the official sovereign nationality with a subordinate regional nationality in order to promote their Scottish nationalist aspirations. It's not even POV pushing. It's worse. It comes down to breaking the rules in order to push a political cause. I agree with you that some Scottish nationalists are driven by the feeling, real or perceived, that England tries to suppress their Scottish identity, but I personally don't agree that this is so. I am all for promoting the fact that Maxwell was Scottish and reminding the English, where necessary, that Maxwell was Scottish. But the nationality field in the info box is not the place to do that. As it stands, it's wrong in two respects. In Maxwell's time, there were two kinds of British nationality. (1) British Subject, and (2) British Protected Person. The citizenship thing only came about in 1983. I suggest that we describe Maxwell as a British National and then have another field called 'Origin' and there we can write Scotland. (talk) 18:03, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

Describing prominent Scots as having Scottish Nationality in a WP infobox is common practice, it is not something unique to JCM. If Scotland exists as a nation, which it clearly does, then one who belongs to Scotland has Scottish nationality (in addition to British Nationality). Scottish is more precise and helps, not hinders, a non-British reader to understand where a person comes from, this is far more important than what it says in his/her passport. I have yet to see a reference to support the idea that Scottish nationality does not exist, but we do have a number of references to Scottish Nationality as a valid concept. There is nothing in WP guidance which disagrees with this view, and it is completely unreasonable to dismiss those WP sources which support the usage as it commonly exists. References to "tinpot organisations" are simply further examples of cultural bias.
IP, Scotland is a nation within the UK, it is not a region as you describe it! As far as your statement "It comes down to breaking the rules in order to push a political cause." is concerned, whose rules? The ones that Martin Hogbin is trying to create?
If WP practice on Scottish nationality is to change then I say it clearly once again, this is not the place to discuss it. FF-UK (talk) 19:10, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
The issue here is about sovereign nationality and what people assume when they see 'Nationality' in an info box. It is deceptive to use a nationality field in an info box to slip in a subordinate regional nationality that is being promoted by a nationalist movement who were recently defeated at the polls. It's not for you to decide that Maxwell's Scottishness was more important than his Britishness, let alone list it in an info box in a manner that has the ability to deceive. I'm not suggesting that you are intending to deceive, but that is the effect of what you are doing. You are giving precedence to the subordinate Scottish nation over the head of the sovereign British nation, and that is a policy of the Scottish nationalists. Whether intentionally or not, you are promoting a minority nationalist cause. And while you may have found a source which acknowledges the concept of Scottish nationality, you are turning a blind eye to the overwhelming sources regarding British nationality, and so you are giving undue weight, and most importantly of all, you are ignoring the sovereignty issue. (talk) 21:00, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
IP, I know you are a new user, but please could you try to add your talk edits in the normal way by indenting them one additional space each time, it makes it a lot easier to read the conversation and it should not be necessary for others to do it for you. Can I also point out that, as a new user, you would do better to abide by the established conventions on nationality shown in Wikipedia:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom. If you do not like those conventions, that is the place to discuss it, NOT HERE! The issue affects many pages for notable Scots, and picking on JCM to campaign on is not an appropriate thing to do, it looks like the start of a surreptitious salami slicing campaign with suspect motives. I have not yet found in all those "overwhelming sources regarding British nationality" any suggestion that Scottish nationality is non-existent, so they are simply not relevant. You would also do well to check your facts before sounding off, it is not going to make you a very popular editor if you just wade in with no thought as to the history of an article. Had you bothered to check you would have seen that the Infobox_Scientist, with the nationality shown as Scottish, was added to the article eight years ago by a Canadian editor, User:Je_at_uwo, as part of a major edit, see the diff. That tells you three things, it is nonsense to suggest that this is in some way an SNP driven initiative, it is nonsense to suggest that in some way this is unhelpful to an international readership, and it is nonsense (and very inappropriate) to imply that this was initiated by me as it was introduced almost six years before I became a WP editor! My role, as a JCM enthusiast, is simply to patrol the article and endeavor to prevent vandalism and inappropriate editing such as that you have embarked upon. FF-UK (talk) 00:55, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

FF-UK, You have not addressed the issue of where this might all end. If Scotalnd is accepted ther would be a good case for The Azores, do you not agree? Then what? Cornwall? By 'tinpot organisations' I was referring to where this might ultimately end. Where would you draw the line? Martin Hogbin (talk) 23:30, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
Martin Hogbin, of course I have not addressed an issue which is completely irrelevant to this particular article, you need to take that elsewhere as I keep telling you. FF-UK (talk) 00:55, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Since we are talking specifically about the wording to be used on this article it obviously is relevant to this article but I am happy to discuss it elswehere if you wish. Where do you suggest? Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:14, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Martin Hogbin, since, as you say "we are talking specifically about the wording to be used on this article" then concerns about Cornishness and the status of the Azores are obviously totally irrelevant here. I have made repeated references to the appropriate place to discuss details of the info box and the established conventions specific to the various UK nationalities. FF-UK (talk) 14:00, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
There are no 'established conventions specific to the various UK nationalities'. You are now editing this article but refusing to discuss the isssues surrounding it. That is not on; you are now simply edit warring. If you are not willing to sensibly discuss your edits here then please stop eding the article.
The question I asked was, if we permit the entry into infoboxes of 'nationalities' that do not represent independedn countries, for example 'Scottish', hwat other criterion could we sensibly use? Perhaps you would be kind enough to answer my question now.

FF-UK, You expose your agenda where you state above "I am very concerned about those who seek to diminish the significance of Scottish nationhood, this is an attitude which plays precisely into the hands of those who seek independence for Scotland." Wikipedia is not the place for you to be concerned about such matters. Wikipedia is a place were facts must be recorded as they are and not how you think they should be. The term British is widely understood abroad. People talk about British made aeroplanes, British ships, British cars, British troops, British inventions, British Prime Minister, British consular assistance abroad etc. Never have I heard the English complaining that this diminishes the significance of the English nation, even though England is the powerhouse behind all things British. If I have picked your meaning up wrongly, can you then name somebody who you think should rightfully be described as having British nationality? Is there anyone among the sixty million British nationals, who in your opinion, unlike James Maxwell, are rightfully entitled to be described as a British national? The point is, it's not for you to insist that people stop referring to certain British nationals as British nationals. Maxwell was a British national under law, and it's not for you to decide that he should be described by a subordinate regional nationality in an info box field that is assumed by readers to be for the sovereign nationality. And also, I notice that you are very keen that this discussion gets taken elsewhere. The main article is as you want it, so you want the discussion to disappear? Well it can't disappear, because Maxwell was not a British citizen, but he was a British national, and so ultimately that will have to be fixed. Ultimately the article will have to read that Maxwell was a British National. You cannot list him as a British citizen because there was no such thing in law in Maxwell's day. (talk) 07:30, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

IP, you claim that "England is the powerhouse behind all things British", I think that says all we need to know about your agenda, again I suggest that your education would be improved by studying Gordon Brown's book. My own experience of the foreign understanding of what constitutes British as opposed to English, Scottish etc. would not lead me to such sweeping conclusions as you have made, but in any case we need to be guided by established WP practice as to the use of these terms, and that is something that you are clearly opposed to, so the relevant page as referenced above is the place to discuss it, not here. You may also care to ponder on the results of the 2011 census where respondents were asked to state what national identity they regarded themselves as being: English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish, or British (as well as non-UK identities). Multiple identities were permitted. In the census the Ethnicity and National Identity in England and Wales 2011[1] shows only 29.1% identified as British with only 19.1% choosing it as their sole identity, by comparison, 67.1 identified as English, with 57.7% as their sole identity. The figures for Welsh were 4.3% and 3.7% respectively. In Scotland's census 2011[2], it shows that 62% identified as Scottish only, a further 18% as Scottish and British, and 8% as British only. I draw attention to these numbers only as background, but is quite clear that in all parts of the UK the majority of people identify as having a single identity which is not British. FF-UK (talk) 14:00, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
For the sake of completeness I am adding the percentages from the Northern Ireland Census 2011 Key Statistics Summary Report [3]. 39.9% identified as British only (with a further 8.3% as British and some form of Irish). 25.3% identified as Irish only, and 20.9% as Northern Irish only. FF-UK (talk) 21:02, 5 December 2014 (UTC)

FF-UK, I see now. This is your campaign to ban the word 'British'. In other words, your answer to Martin's question is that we use sovereign nationalities except when the sovereign nationality is British. And now you want the discussion closed down because you have the main article as you want it, including the incorrect use of British citizenship when in fact Maxwell was a British subject and not a British citizen. It's like you're trying to say, he was only British on paper but not really British. (talk) 15:44, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

FF-UK, specific to this article is the propagation of incorrect facts about Maxwell. It has now been explained in some detail that there are two reasons why Maxwell cannot be shown as a British citizen.

Firstly that category did not exist in Maxwell's time, so he cannot possibly have been one.

Secondly, the British nationality law page makes quite clear that 'British citizen' is a sub category of 'British national'. You cannot be a British citizen if you do not have British nationality. Please explain why you have persisted in adding this, provably incorrect, information to Wikipedia? Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:22, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

Self-identity is completely irrelevant; nationality is a simple matter of fact. If people could have any nationality simply by self-identifying with the one of their choice we could all travel to any live in any place that we chose. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:29, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

I am not adding it, I am reverting changes to the established and accepted (by most) form which has been used for years. If you want to change the practice then one particular page is not the way to go about it. And please, would editors stick to the correct way of formatting a talk page USE INDENTS! FF-UK (talk) 17:32, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
@ FF-UK, from your comment of 14:00, 4 December 2014, you don't seem to appreciate that Scottish national identity is personal cultural identification which commonly coexists with British nationality: many Scots remain happy to be both Scottish and British. Legally Maxwell's nationality was British, we'd need evidence to conclude whether he considered his identity to be Scottish, British or both. This is reinforced by the fact that Scottish nationality has always been a redirect to the identity page: good sources would be needed for anything else. . dave souza, talk 20:17, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
I find it very surprising that Dave souza should assert that "many Scots remain happy to be both Scottish and British" when only a minority have indicated that such is the case. The 2011 census is the only real source of information on this subject, and it has clearly shown that the majority of the population of Britain do not regard themselves as British, I happen to be one of the minority who identifies as both English and British. The real question to be answered (and the place for it to be answered is not on any particular article, but somewhere appropriate to establish the general principal) is: should nationality be shown in respect to the nation from which a person derives, or the passport he was entitled to hold? I believe that the former is the more meaningful, and conveys the most useful information, but I am well aware that currently both solutions are in common use across WP. FF-UK (talk) 13:31, 5 December 2014 (UTC)
The convention that I use for indenting is to indent relative to the post that I am respondibng to. There is now a clear consensus for change to this page so you are editing against consensus and without engaging in meaningful discussion. You have not responded to any of the points that I have made you just edit war.
Let me ask you this question. What is your reason for wanting to give Maxwell's nationality as 'Scottish'. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:57, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Martin Hogbin, with all of the discussion on this subject that is now taking place elsewhere, I see that I have failed to respond to this post, so here is a belated response. I have seen no consensus at all for change on Maxwell's nationality, therefore I see no reason for change. I believe the nationality which has been stated since 2006 is the correct one. FF-UK (talk) 23:27, 7 December 2014 (UTC)
I have an observation to make on the use of the term "subordinate regional nationality". As far as I can tell, this term does not exist anywhere outside this particular discussion, it returns no results on any search which I have conducted. This is not surprising because it has no discernible meaning, nationality relates to a nation or country, not a region. There can therefore not be any such thing as a "subordinate regional nationality". It may seem by some to be a convenient tactic to invent a term and then repeatedly use it in a misguided attempt to make a point, but if the term itself is meaningless, then the arguments employing it are also meaningless. The term appears to have been invented by the editor using IP, see diff [5] who then uses it again here [6] and here [7]. The use of IP commenced at 16.25 on 1st December 2014 with a message of support for Martin Hogbin, and continued until an edit made at 15.44 on 4th December. All edits related to the same subject. Several hours after the last IP edit, at 20.47, another editor using a new IP address,, appeared on the scene with an edit of Wikipedia talk:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom which used the same erroneous "subordinate regional nationality" term, see diff [8] and used the term again, in the same article, at 21.09 on 6th December [9]. IP is still in use at the time of writing, and as with IP is being used exclusively for editing on pages associated with this subject. Both IP and IP are BT Public Internet Service WiFi hotspots in the Greater London area. The use of these two IPs for edits which are exclusively associated with InfoBox nationality, in consecutive periods, and with edits from both repeatedly using the erroneous "subordinate regional nationality" term, suggests the possibility that they are both being used by the same editor. This must be considered when applying any judgement on whether a consensus exists or not. FF-UK (talk) 23:27, 7 December 2014 (UTC)
  1. ^ "Ethnicity and National Identity in England and Wales 2011". Office for National Statistics (ONS). Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "Scotland's census 2011, Ethnicity, Identity, Language and Religion". National Records of Scotland. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  3. ^ "Northern Ireland Census 2011 Key Statistics Summary Report". Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). Retrieved 5 December 2014. 

@FF-UK:, Your decision to put both as listed in the info-box is a good idea, Nationality Scottish, and Citizenship British should solve the problem here. Scots are citizens of Britain, but are of the nationality Scottish (which could be considered a subdivision of British). This has already been discussed and concluded. The only problem here was in finding which one to list. My opinion is that you leave it as it is now, since it should satisfy both sides as having both listed. -- Orduin T 17:18, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Orduin, thank you for your support, but I should make it clear that I have neither added to, nor subtracted from this article, I have simply returned it to the status quo from which several editors (with no previous interest in the article) have been attempting to depart. The infobox was originally added in 2006 and showed Maxwell as "Nationality Scottish", the separate citizenship field, which originally showed United Kingdom, then British, was first used in 2010. There has been a long standing consensus on this article, but it is now being usurped as a battleground by a few editors who are unwilling to accept the consensus and prefer their own PoV. FF-UK (talk) 18:00, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Orduin, Citizenship is a Roman concept that was only introduced to British nationality law as recently as 1983 (The 1981 act). Citizenship is all about rights, whereas nationality is about origins. It is therefore inaccurate to describe Maxwell as a British citizen, because the status did not exist in his own time. He was a British national under the law of both then and now. In his own time he was a subject of her majesty prior to 1870, and a British subject after 1870. Scottish nationality on the other hand has no legal definition. It's best to remove these two contentious fields altogether. It is sufficient to describe Maxwell as Scottish in the lead. Your idea may appear superficially as a compromise, but it is totally inaccurate and unsourced information, and hence misleading. (talk) 19:17, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Yet again the wandering IP seeks to mislead with more inaccurate nonsense! As previously stated several times (in the various places where Martin Hogbin and the wandering IP are seeking to conduct their disruptive campaign) the word citizen is defined as "A legally recognized subject or national of a state or commonwealth, either native or naturalized." which fully encompasses the situation as it stood in Maxwell's day. You cannot just ignore the proper meaning of a word to suit a desire to restrict its use. In the same way you do not need to redefine "nationality", it has a perfectly established meaning as "The status of belonging to a particular nation". We know that Scotland is a nation, and has been for over 1000 years. I have referred elsewhere to the former Prime Minister's speech which referred to: "whether Scotland is a nation; we are, yesterday, today, and tomorrow", that view is clearly shared by the current Prime minister who has said in a pre-referendum speech: "This is a decision that could break up our family of nations, and rip Scotland from the rest of the UK.". Even Simon Heffer, no fan of Scotland, repeatedly describes Scotland as a nation when writing in the Daily Mail! Note, none of these three eminent people could in any way be described as Scottish nationalists, but they all recognize the status of Scotland as a nation. The long standing status quo in this article properly and accurately represents Maxwell's status as a British Citizen (Subject) having Scottish nationality. These are facts, everything presented against the status quo is merely opinion unsupported by relevant sources. FF-UK (talk) 19:31, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
FF-UK, So based on your original research, we can juggle the terms citizenship and nationality around? So can we then say that Maxwell was a British national and a Scottish citizen? What is your reason for insisting that it is the other way around? Why can't we say that he was a British national? We know he came from the UK. We've got sources that say that he was British. How can he not then, according to your reasoning above, be a British national? (talk) 06:38, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
More fantasy from the wandering IP. Let me remind you that the sources quoted in the article, which you have tried to remove, are very authoritative sources which have been there a long time, they are not my sources. They say that Maxwell was Scottish. WP depends on sources, the article has them, but apparently you wish to ignore them. You and Matin Hogbin are the ones wishing to override the consensus, not me! FF-UK (talk) 13:16, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

Poll on Nationality designation[edit]

Encyclopedia Britannica describes him as British, while Hutchinson's encyclopedia describes him as Scottish, although it doesn't specifically state him to have 'Scottish nationality'. It just says that he was a Scottish natural philosopher. I have no objection to either British or Scottish. I do object however to the info box giving him Scottish nationality when in fact that is subordinate to his British nationality. Also, he was not a British citizen, since that status only came about in 1983, so something is going to have to be altered. I suggest that the best compromise is to describe him as Scottish on the first line of the text, while stating his nationality to be British in the info box. I will leave it for others to set up the poll if there is a desire to do so. (talk) 21:22, 6 December 2014 (UTC)

The above claim regarding Encyclopedia Britannica is not true! FF-UK (talk) 18:54, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
I think we should broaden the scope of this discusssion and set up an RfC on how we should state nationality in general. Martin Hogbin (talk) 22:44, 6 December 2014 (UTC)

Nationality and National Identity[edit]

How about recording his Nationality as British, and his National identity as Scottish? The sources below specifically talk about national identity. Would that satisfy everybody? I would settle for it, but with reservations, because we don't know how Maxwell viewed his own national identity. It would nevertheless be technically correct to identify him with a Scottish national identity within the modern meaning of the term Scottish, although the true Scots are actually the Highlanders who were originally Irish Gaels from the north east of Ireland. Maxwell, being a Lowlander, was English in culture and ethnicity, and was even considered to be English in his own time. See,_James_Clerk and But if it ends this dispute I will settle for him being described as having British nationality and Scottish national identity. What do you say about that? (talk) 07:53, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

No this would not be a solution. As national identity and nationality are not necessarily the same thing and we don't know if and how he self-identified anyway, we shouldn't do that. Once you start conflating supposed "true Scots" in the modern era with Scoti, Anglo-Saxon heritage with Englishness and exluding the latter from a modern Scottish identity we're talking nonsense regarding a 19th-century Scot. Two very old American sources either following the (arguably always plain wrong but certainly now very outdated) contemporary usage of "English" for "British", or simply making an error which we don't have to follow in this encyclopedia, tells us nothing. I'm unpersuaded as to which way to go in regard to what goes into the box but the above is not well thought out. Mutt Lunker (talk) 13:33, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
As there is no such Infobox person category as 'national identity' it is pointless to discuss it here. Template talk:Infobox person is the only appropriate place for this. FF-UK (talk) 14:46, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
FF-UK, You were the one who brought up the subject of national identity in the first place. I was referring to the census sources that you provided. (talk) 17:00, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
Indeed I did bring up the census material referring to national identity, but that does not change the fact that national identity does not currently exist in the Infobox person category template, and nothing can be entered against a category that is not there, that is why it is pointless to discuss it here. FF-UK (talk) 17:57, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
Mutt, You have just repeated back to me a lot of what I just said myself. I think you need to read what I said again more carefully this time. Like you, I also said that nationality and national identity are not the same thing. Like you, I also said that we don't know how Maxwell self identified, and like you I also noted the difference between the modern meaning of Scottish and the original meaning of Scottish, and I wasn't using those sources to suggest that we describe him as English in the article as you seem to have thought I was. Basically you have said the same as myself but assumed to be in disagreement. The purpose was to describe him as having British nationality while appeasing the Scottish separatists by assigning him a Scottish national identity. (talk) 16:58, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
Yes you made a proposal, exposed the obvious holes in it but nevertheless held it up as a solution. I read it carefully several times but, as you had effectively dimsissed your own solution, stated that we clearly shouldn't go for it then. Then you followed it with factual fallacies and outdated/wrong sources in an apparent categorisation of Scots as Irish or English to an end I can't fathom (unless that somehow "describe(s) him as having British nationality"). Not that it answers which should be in the infobox but both unionists and "Scottish separatists" both overwhelmingly identify and identified as Scots, whether in addition to a British identity or not, so dragging it down to some fantastic notion that this is about British nationalism versus Scottish separatism indicates more about your motives than anything else. Straw man indeed.
I'm not sure why this discussion has ended up being so heated and extensive on this one article as it clearly has consequences for any other Britsh subjects at this time and, if it isn't already, is probably better discussed centrally. I notice that many other Scots and Britons, of this era or not, do not have the field completed so what dictates whether it is completed here? In this era Australians, Canadians etc. would be both that and also British, as much as those from the British Isles, but I think it would be odd to describe them so in the infobox. Would just leaving it out in this instance be a solution? Mutt Lunker (talk) 22:58, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
Mutt, I don't mind in the slightest whether he is described as Scottish or British in the main text of the article. I recognize that he is both. The specific problem here is that the nationality field in the info box reads Scottish. I have no problem at all with Maxwell being described as Scottish, but it is incorrect to state in an info box that his nationality is specifically Scottish. This puts a regional nationality with no administrative significance above his sovereign nationality. If it can't be agreed to correct this to his sovereign nationality, then yes, the solution is to leave nationality out of the info box altogether, as is the case with James Laidlaw Maxwell and with others where there is controversy surrounding the nationality. (talk) 06:33, 11 December 2014 (UTC)
Where does this nonsense about "appeasing the Scottish separatists" come from? Do you have one iota of evidence that this is a real issue? If not, then do not keep attempting to set it up as a straw man. FF-UK (talk) 17:57, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── IP why do you keep changing your identity? Yesterday you were posting as, before that it was, and you first became involved in this subject as These are all BT WiFi public hotspots. Are you doing this to confuse other WP edotors? If not, then please register so that your identity becomes consistent. Thank you. FF-UK (talk) 17:57, 10 December 2014 (UTC),

FF-UK, I would encourage all editors to register but there is no requirement to do so. IP editors have no obligation to use the same IP address and in many cases this may not be possible. Please confine your comments to content and not to attacking other editors.
I agree with 109, if we cannot even agree what 'Nationality' means in the infobox we must not use it. It cannot possible be something juts made up by WP editors just to suit their own invividual understandings. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:12, 11 December 2014 (UTC)
Agree with that, citizenship is reasonably clear, nationality "is the legal relationship between a person and a country" and is used as a synonym for citizenship (a good compromise for British subjects pre the change to citizens) but also "In English, the same word is used in the sense of an ethnic group (a group of people who share a common ethnic identity, language, culture, descent, history, and so forth). This meaning of nationality is not defined by political borders or passport ownership and includes nations that lack an independent state (such as the Scots, Welsh, English, Basques, Kurds, Tamils, Hmong, Inuit and Māori)." If we want to use that meaning, the infobox heading should be ethnic group. . . dave souza, talk 11:17, 11 December 2014 (UTC)
Nationality#Nationality versus national identity says "National identity is a person's subjective sense of belonging to one state or to one nation." Legally Maxwell was British, so that belongs in the infobox. At his time he was likely to identify as both Scottish and British, we'd need a source for his self-description but if the infobox had a 'national identity field then Scottish national identity would be a possible option (even today, according to the 2011 poll, around a fifth of the Scottish population identify as British and Scottish, plus a further 5% British, making a quarter of the population). As it is, it's clearly correct in the lead paragraph to describe him as Scottish as shown by various sources, the infobox can show his legal nationality as British without trying to anachronistically suggest he was a citizen. The current box saying British citizen and Scottish nationality is rubbish. . . dave souza, talk 11:17, 11 December 2014 (UTC)
That is pretty much what I am saying. In the infobox we should have a formal definition of nationality. In the text we can state sourced facts about personal and netional identity, ethnicity, culture, langage, home town etc. Martin Hogbin (talk) 15:16, 11 December 2014 (UTC)
There is nothing "anachronistic" about stating Maxwell's citizenship as British. The word citizen is defined as "A legally recognized subject or national of a state or commonwealth, either native or naturalized." which fully encompasses the situation as it stood in Maxwell's day. You cannot just ignore the proper meaning of a word to suit a desire to restrict its use. In the same way you do not need to redefine "nationality", it has a perfectly established meaning as "The status of belonging to a particular nation". We know that Scotland is a nation, and has been for over 1000 years. I have referred already to the former Prime Minister's speech which referred to: "whether Scotland is a nation; we are, yesterday, today, and tomorrow", that view is clearly shared by the current Prime minister who has said in a pre-referendum speech: "This is a decision that could break up our family of nations, and rip Scotland from the rest of the UK.". Even Simon Heffer, no fan of Scotland, repeatedly describes Scotland as a nation when writing in the Daily Mail! Note, none of these three eminent people could in any way be described as Scottish nationalists, but they all recognize the status of Scotland as a nation. The long standing status quo in this article properly and accurately represents Maxwell's status as a British Citizen (Subject) having Scottish nationality. These are facts, everything presented against the status quo is merely opinion unsupported by relevant sources. FF-UK (talk) 00:14, 12 December 2014 (UTC)
FF-UK, Scotland is not a sovereign nation. If the nationality field in a biographical info box cannot be allowed to state the subject's sovereign nationality, then it should be removed altogether. (talk) 07:49, 12 December 2014 (UTC)
Here we go again, the wandering IP, true to past form, seeks to misrepresent what I say, and what the box is labelled. The box is "Nationality", nowhere in the template information is that defined as having the restricted meaning of "sovereign nationality". Attempts to redefine the meaning at the template talk page, and at the village pump, have met with no success. This is not the place to discuss such changes to the template. FF-UK (talk) 14:48, 12 December 2014 (UTC)
Attempts to define nationality at the village pump failed. The nationality field should therefore be removed altogether if there is widespread opposition to the use of the subject's sovereign nationality. I'm not sure however that there is widespread opposition. You are certainly opposing it along with an anonymous IP server, but I'm not sure if the two of you represent widespread opposition. Maybe we should just remove it anyway in order to remove all doubt. (talk) 19:55, 12 December 2014 (UTC) The failure that you refer to, and the failure to gain support for change either here or at Wikipedia talk:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom, should give you an indication that no change is necessary, and that the status quo for nationality in this article (which has existed since 2006) is widely accepted. Once again, I note that you are attempting to reframe the situation by choosing to ignore the previously stated positions of User:Hertz1888 and User:Adam_Cuerden, as well as all those who have reverted previous attempts to change the nationality away from Scottish. FF-UK (talk) 21:34, 12 December 2014 (UTC)
Do you have a source that specifically states that Maxwell had Scottish nationality? I have found sources that say he was Scottish, but I have never seen a source that says he had Scottish nationality. If you cannot find such a source, then we will have to remove the nationality field from the info box altogether. (talk) 20:43, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
To be Scottish is to have Scottish nationality. You know where the references in the article are, having attempted to remove them from the article on December 1st with the comment "Nobody doubts that he was Scottish." (talk) 03:48, 14 December 2014 (UTC)

Nobody doubts he was Scottish, and nobody doubts he was British. So if there is no agreement as to whether to put British or Scottish in the nationality field, then it should be removed altogether. (talk) 14:55, 14 December 2014 (UTC)

I agree with this proposal. The point that I have been making all along is that we should be clear exactly what information we are giving our readers and that nobody (including me) should be fighting for ownersip of the good and the great or making political points in biographies.
To clarify, I suggest that, somewhere appropriate, we make clear that the 'nationality' field contains the internationally recognised legal nationality,referring to the independent state to which the subject belongs. This should be an easily verified fact.
I have no objection to having another field or fields called national/regional/ethic/personal identity, or whatever we can agree on, that contains the personal/political/ethnic/ideological group(s) with which the subject is known to identify. Entries this field must, of course, be suppurted by reliable sources clearly stating that the person identified with the stated groups. This field should also not be used for countries/religions/ethnicities/ideologies to claim ownership of the subject, of for the making of point not specifically connected to the subject. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:59, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
Martin Hogbin, once again you are trying to discuss general matters on a specific article talk page, please take this to the appropriate page. FF-UK (talk) 13:52, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
FF-UK, You are very keen to close the discussion down. That won't happen so long as the nationality field in this article is being abused. I suggest that the nationality and citizenship fields be removed altogether, because they are being abused. It is quite sufficient to describe Maxwell as being Scottish in the lead. We have sources describing him as Scottish, and besides I can't imagine anybody disputing it. But we have no sources saying that Maxwell had Scottish nationality. We do know however that he had British nationality, but if we can't agree over whether to put British or Scottish in the nationality field, then let's delete it altogether. Why are you so keen to promote the idea that Maxwell specifically had Scottish nationality? Why is that so important to you? (talk) 18:23, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
So, the wandering IP is back with the fifth BT WiFi hotspot identity in two weeks. True to form, the above comment is based on mis-representations and false accusations. It is a mis-representation to claim that I am "very keen to close the discussion down" when I ask that this particular discussion be taken to its proper place. Any discussion which seeks to change the nature of the infobox template must clearly not take place on an article talk page! And what is this nonsense about "the nationality field in this article is being abused", can you present any evidence for that? The IP has a strong (and some might think irrational) desire to see Maxwell's nationality changed to "British", but has provided no suggestion of a source which would support this. Instead, they wish to make a case that while they fully accept Maxwell was Scottish, he did not actually have Scottish nationality. Duh? FF-UK (talk) 22:50, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
Nobody is doubting he was Scottish and nobody is doubting he was British,_James_Clerk (talk) 06:31, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
IP, I note that you have still not learned to indent! You have not provided a source which states the nationality of Maxwell as British. What you have done is provide a source which is notorious for giving an erroneous birth date, not very clever. FF-UK (talk) 12:20, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

FF-UK, You haven't provided a source which states the nationality of Maxwell as Scottish. So best we delete the field altogether. (talk) 16:09, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

WP policy is actually quite clear about this. Editors are simply not permitted to just make facts up. Unless we have a source stating Maxwell's nationality we cannot give it. Anything contentious, and this clearly is, must be removed if there is no reliable source confirming it. This is fundamental WP policy and is non-negotiable.
Until we find a reliable source saying that Maxwell's nationality was XXX we cannot state it anywhere in WP. I am removing the OR until a source is found. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:25, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
Infoboxes do not reference sources, they are a precis of facts that are already in the article, and that is where the sources will be referenced. There are two referenced sources for Maxwell being Scottish in the article, despite several editors having made attempts to remove them. I have reverted the deletion. (talk) 03:48, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Nobody is disputing that Maxwell was Scottish, and it says so in the lead. But there is no source stating that Maxwell had Scottish Nationality. The nationality in the UK, now, and at the time of Maxwell was British. (talk) 06:23, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

We need a source saying that Maxwell's nationality was Scottish because that is the specific statement being made in the infobox. This is a fundamental principle of Wikipedia and cannot be changed at will. In cases where information given is non-contentious a source may not be required but, as there is considerable argument about this fact, we must have a source. Martin Hogbin (talk) 08:55, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
IP, as this is your first WP edit it is not yet clear if you are a genuinely new editor, or the sixth incarnation of the wandering IP (with whom you share a lack of understanding that you need to use indenting on talk pages). In either case, you need to familiarize yourself with Wikipedia:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom which deals with this subject, it is a distillation of the outcome of previous discussions which can found at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Biographies/2007-2008 archive: British nationality. Your edit is not in accordance with the guidance and will be reverted. You should not be misled by the PoV pushing of the editor Martin Hogbin who, despite taking his desire to have very narrow limits placed on the infobox descriptions to a number of different fora, has completely failed to gain consensus for his idiosyncratic views, and consensus is very important on WP. There should be no doubt that a source describing a person as 'Scottish' is a source for that person's nationality. FF-UK (talk) 13:15, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Your OR on the subject is irrelevant and what you call guidance is an essay by a few editors in which dissenting opinion was ignored. We must have a definitive source saying that Maxwell's nationality was Scottish before we can make this statement in Wikipedia WP:V. There are of course such sources, as there are sorces saying that his nationality was British. There is obviously no agreement between editors or sources on the subject and we simply cannot decide for ourselves what to write.
Your argument that a source saying a person is Scottish defines his nationality as Scottish is obviously incorrect. If he was described as Cornish should we conclude that his nationality was Cornish. What if he was described as tall?
There is no consensus so we can say nothing on the subject. Martin Hogbin (talk) 13:40, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Martin Hogbin, please reign in your fantasy, 'Scottish' is a nationality, 'Cornish' and 'tall' are not. You seem obsessed with attempting to narrowly define words in a way which is other than what is generally understood. That is normal for a legal document, but is not the way that an encyclopedia should be written. FF-UK (talk) 13:47, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
That is your opinion; your OR. I have given you links to WP articles, which themselves refer to reliable sources, which show that Texas and Cornwall both have a greater claim than Scotland to have their own nationalities. You have never addresses these issues. You not only state your opinion as fact but seem to think that it overrides the fundamental WP policy of WP:V. There is no authoritative source giving Maxwell's nationality as 'Scottish'. Thare are some sources saying this, just as thare are sources saying his nationality was British. Martin Hogbin (talk) 10:13, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
Martin Hogbin, let me remind you, yet again, that as I have not added anything to the article there is no possibility that it contains any original research from me! If you do actually know of a source which says (your words) "his nationality was British" then you should share that. You have not actually provided any sources which make a comparison between Scotland, Texas and Cornwall and their relative rights to have their own nationalities, but we do know from the US Supreme Court reference which I provided that, beyond any possible doubt, Texas is not a nation and has no right to leave the United States. By contrast we know that Scotland is a nation, and has every right to leave the UK should a majority of its people choose to do so. I remain exceedingly grateful that the majority of Scots chose to stay within the union, but that in no way changes the status of Scotland as a nation, a status that is supported by the various references which I have provided. You have consistently ignored the WP discussions and consensus on Wikipedia:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom. You do, of course, have every right to say that you take a different view, but that view does not give you the right to simply say all those editors were wrong and that you are infallible. Unless you can gain consensus that the Hogbin view on this is the right view, then you must stop attempting to impose that view on others. This is the difference between us. You wish to impose your views on WP without consensus, I wish to ensure that the long established status quo on nationality in this article (consistent with the referenced sources) is maintained as it is, unless and until the consensus changes. FF-UK (talk) 13:49, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
You have restored 'Nationality - Scottish'. Here is a source saying his nationality was British [[10]] and here is one saying that it was British and Scottish! It is pretty clear that there is no consensus here and no really authoritative sources giving his nationality so under the fundamental prinpiple of WP:V we cannot give a nationality.
You have read the article Unitary state? It says, 'The United Kingdom is an example of a unitary state. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have a degree of autonomous devolved power. But such devolved power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution'. I presume that you are not challenging this well known fact.
It then goes on to say, 'The United States is an example of a federal state. Under the U.S. Constitution, power is shared between the Federal government of the United States and the U.S. states, with the tenth amendment explicitly denoted as "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." '. In the Texas secession movements it says 'TNM points to the state constitution of Texas which states that Texans have the right “to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think expedient.”[12]
The article on Cornish nationalism says [my bold]: 'Cornish nationalism is a cultural, political and social movement that seeks the recognition of Cornwall, England, UK, – as a nation distinct from England. It is usually based on three general arguments: that Cornwall has a Celtic cultural identity separate from that of England, and that the Cornish people have a national, civic or ethnic identity separate from that of English people; that Cornwall should be granted a degree of devolution or autonomy, usually in the form of a Cornish national assembly;[1] and that Cornwall is legally a territorial and constitutional Duchy with the right to veto Westminster legislation, not merely a county of England, and has never been formally incorporated into England via an Act of Union.[2]
That all seems pretty clear to me, Scotland is an integral part of the unitary state of the UK whose 'devolved power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution'; Texas is a state within a federation and has independent powers, Cornwall is formally not part of the UK at all.
Please tell me, by what logic is Scotland entitled to its own nationality but Texas and Cornwall not? Martin Hogbin (talk) 15:05, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Martin Hogbin, are you trying to be serious, or just 'playing the fool'? I quote: "Here is a source saying his nationality was British [[11]]" That is a bootleg mirror of a page taken from Wikipedia for Schools, even the real version of that page has no source in the text for the infobox entry. In any case, you cannot use WP as a referenced source for WP! Especially not a third hand out of date rendition of a page. As for "here is one saying that it was British and Scottish" where? You did not bother to actually provide it. As for "the article Unitary state", that is also a WP article, and has no sources to back up the claim on which you are basing your case. "Texas secession movements" makes it quite clear, with properly referenced sources, that Texas has no right to secede. (And I will remind you, yet again, of the decision of the Supreme Court which says: "In the Constitution, the term "state" most frequently expresses the combined idea just noticed, of people, territory, and government. A "state," in the ordinary sense of the Constitution, is a political community of free citizens, occupying a territory of defined boundaries, and organized under a government sanctioned and limited by a written constitution, and established by the consent of the governed. It is the union of such states, under a common constitution, which forms the distinct and greater political unit which that Constitution designates as the United States, and makes of the people and states which compose it one people and one country." As regards Cornwall, you are placing your trust in yet another WP article, and in particular on a completely unofficial self published website which describes itself as an " alternative history of the Duchy of Cornwall". Again, not something which has anything of importance to say to us on this subject. So, in answer to your question: "Please tell me, by what logic is Scotland entitled to its own nationality but Texas and Cornwall not? " I say, because we have proper reliable sources to confirm that Scotland is a nation, and that Scottish nationality exists. We have no such sources for Texas or Cornwall, only your personal opinion. FF-UK (talk) 16:54, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

That is my point, there are no authoritative sources giving Maxwell's nationality, so we simply cannot state it here. You have not explained why you are ignoring the most fundamental policy of WP, WP:V. If we do not have a reliable source we cannot say it.
Are you seriously challenging what it says in the Unitary state article? Please tell me if you are saying that this statement is wrong, 'devolved power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution'. Please do tell me if you think this is incorrect. It would be rather good news for me if you are building your argument for Scottish nationality on a claim of Scotland's having independence from the UK (and rather a surprise for the people who live in Scotland, who recently voted against it).
I have no idea what you think the relevance is of the supreme court decision. The Texas secession movements article, which is well sources makes it quite clear that there is an argument that that states could reclaim their independence. There is no such argument for Scotland.
So you think that that the Acts of Union 1707 applied to Cornwall do you? You do accept that they apply to Scotland?
Scotland was once an independent nation. It is now an integral part of the UK. It is still often referred to as a nation but what exactly do you claim that means? Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:35, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
"That is my point, there are no authoritative sources giving Maxwell's nationality, so we simply cannot state it here. You have not explained why you are ignoring the most fundamental policy of WP, WP:V. If we do not have a reliable source we cannot say it. Martin Hogbin" We do have reliable sources, they are referenced in the article. We have done to death the simple fact that for a person to be Scottish they have Scottish nationality. Let's not go round in any more circles on that. FF-UK (talk) 18:17, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
You seem to be working on the principle that if you say something enough times it makes it true. It is quite obvious that just because an adjective is used to describe a person it doed not define their nationality. You have to produce a source stating that Maxwell's nationality is Scottish anything else is your opinion only. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:56, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
What matters is what WP says on the subject. I have yet to see anything that suggests that a source stating someone is "Scottish" (or equivalent other description for another nationality) is not acceptable as a WP source for nationality, only your opinion. Your attempts to impose a narrow definition have failed, yet you keep claiming that everything should be narrowly and legalistically defined. WP does not seem to work that way. FF-UK (talk) 13:59, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
It is fairly obvious that we cannot use any term that may be correctly applied to Maxwell as his nationality. Maxwell was Scottish, British, a physicist, a scientist, a mathematician but we cannot use all of those as his nationality. In particular he was, undisputably British so there is at least as good a case for giving his nationality as British by your argument. Martin Hogbin (talk) 10:15, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Scottish is a more precise term than British, and therefore more useful. (Useful in an encyclopedia is good.) FF-UK (talk) 14:36, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
"Are you seriously challenging what it says in the Unitary state article? Please tell me if you are saying that this statement is wrong, 'devolved power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution'. Please do tell me if you think this is incorrect. It would be rather good news for me if you are building your argument for Scottish nationality on a claim of Scotland's having independence from the UK (and rather a surprise for the people who live in Scotland, who recently voted against it). Martin Hogbin" As has been stated so many times before, this has nothing to do with devolution or independence, only that Scotland is a nation (as the sources previously quoted have proven beyond doubt). FF-UK (talk) 18:17, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
Then please just confirm that you accept this fact as true rather than challenging it and you did above. That might save some time and argument and make it easier to assume good faith. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:56, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
Neither the Act of Union, nor the Scotland Act changed the fact that Scotland is a nation, so let's leave red herrings aside. FF-UK (talk) 13:59, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
It completely changed the legal and international status of both Scotland and England. Both became part of the independent state of the UK. The term 'nation' has a mutitude of meaning but just because a group uses the term 'nation' to describe itself does not give its members a new nationality. Scotland is officially described as a constituent country' of the UK, there is no mention of the word 'nation'. Martin Hogbin (talk) 10:15, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
As usual, if Martin Hogbin disagrees with the sources, then he ignores them. FF-UK (talk) 14:36, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
"I have no idea what you think the relevance is of the supreme court decision. The Texas secession movements article, which is well sources makes it quite clear that there is an argument that that states could reclaim their independence. There is no such argument for Scotland. Martin Hogbin" The relevance of the supreme court decision is, of course, that it completely debunks your fantasy that Texas is, or could be a nation. The status of Texas is entirely different from Scotland, which is a nation, Texas is therefore not relevant to the discussion. FF-UK (talk) 18:17, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
You do understand that Texas separatists note that 'each state was independent and sovereign before the ratification of the Constitution'. You do know that Texas was once and independent republic. Please read the article.
What Texas separatists may claim is another complete red herring. But let us be clear that the referenced decision of SCOTUS makes it clear that the US is a single country (unlike the UK). Should you need any further reassurance on the position then please refer to the White House's rejection of the secession petitions, search for: petition response "our states remain united" (WP does not permit me to link to the White House page). FF-UK (talk) 13:59, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
Texas at least has a legal case for secesssion, Scotland has none, having mutually agreed to a union with England. Texas' argument for its own nationality is still stronger than that for Scotland. Martin Hogbin (talk) 10:15, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Read the source again, it makes clear that Texas has NO legal case for secession. FF-UK (talk) 14:36, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
In the case of Scotland you at last seem to agree that, by mutual agreement, Scotland and England (and Wales) became a single independent country. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:56, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
The UK is a "family of nations" according to our Prime Minister, I agree with him. FF-UK (talk) 13:59, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
Yes, the word 'nation' is often used informally about Scotland, as it is about many other things, but SCotland has no independent nationality. Martin Hogbin (talk) 10:15, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Yet again you try to introduce the irrelevant red herring of independence. And attempting to dismiss the content of a major speech by the Prime Minister as "informal usage" is rich, even for you! FF-UK (talk) 14:36, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
It is not a red herring, it is the only way to decide what groups of people should be entitled to have a nationality of their own. What is the raeson that you do not accept Cornish nationality? Bcause it is not an independent state. Why do you not accpet Texas nationality? Because it is not an independent state. We must be consistent. Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:10, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Not True. The actual reason is that neither are nations/countries. We also know, beyond doubt, that Texas cannot become an independent country, whereas, we know (also beyond doubt as per the Edinburgh Agreement (2012)) that Scotland could, if its people so determined. But it remains a red Herring as we also know that Maxwell was neither Cornish or Texan. FF-UK (talk) 15:21, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
The Edinburgh Agreement (2012) was an agreement to hold a referendum, nothing else. The referendum has beeen held and Scotland voted against independence. The agreement is fulfilled. Even if Scotland had voted for independence it is not clear what would have happened next, there might have been a long period of discusssion and negotiation which might have resulted in the UK parliament granting independence to Scotland but there is nothing in the agreement stating that this had to happen. As it turned Scotland voted against independence so the agreement is irrelevant.
You might note that one major aim of the referendum was, to 'deliver a fair test and a decisive expression of the views of people in Scotland and a result that everyone will respect'. The result has been delivered; please respect it.
To get back to the subject in hand, this has nothing to do with Maxwell anyway, for the whole of his life he was a British subject. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:08, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Another attempt to reframe what I said and set up a straw man, a favourite Hogbin tactic. As I have repeatedly made clear, I am not a nationalist and am very happy (having been an active campaign worker for Better Together) with the outcome of the referendum. However, the point is that the Edinburgh Agreement makes it very clear that Scotland could have become independent, and that is totally at variance with your untruthful claim that: "Texas at least has a legal case for secession (sic), Scotland has none". I cite it because it is very important to underline the fact that you continue to show dishonesty (and a disregard for the sources which do not suit you) in the claims that you are making. If you do not respect the truth then, I suggest, you should not be contributing here. FF-UK (talk) 17:33, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
FF-UK, I don't know about Texas, but I know that Quebec has a right to secede from Canada. I also know that Quebec has a different ethnicity from the rest of Canada, but that one would never describe a Quebecois as having Quebec nationality. It would always be Canadian nationality. (talk) 18:08, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
But that is just another red herring. And another indenting error. FF-UK (talk) 18:33, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
"So you think that that the Acts of Union 1707 applied to Cornwall do you? You do accept that they apply to Scotland? Martin Hogbin" Cornwall is part of England, which like Scotland, is a nation. Cornwall has no relevance to a discussion on nationality. FF-UK (talk) 18:17, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
Once again you resort to just stating your opinion. The facts are that Corwall has no act of union with England but Scotland does. Logically the independence of Cornwall may not make much sense to either of us but from a legal and historical perspective it has more right to independence than Scotland. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:56, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
Once again, this is not about independence, and it is not about Cornwall. FF-UK (talk) 13:59, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
It is about which entities should be entitled to have their own nationalities. You have never given a clear answer to this question. What criteria would you use to justify a nationality. Is it just that the word 'nation' is or has been used by somebody. Is there a size limit? Is some form of geographic or ethnic separation requirted? Your argument is simple that Scottish nationality exits because it does because it does.
There is a rational and logical reason for Britsh nationality, which is that the UK is an independent state. Why do you allow Scotland but not Cornwall? How will we decide what other entities should have their own nationality? Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:10, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
I have provided an official source (The Court of The Lord Lyon) for the existence of Scottish Nationality, is there any official source for Cornish Nationality? (Not that it would have any effect on this article either way.) FF-UK (talk) 15:21, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
"Scotland was once an independent nation. It is now an integral part of the UK. It is still often referred to as a nation but what exactly do you claim that means? Martin Hogbin" It is often referred to as a nation because it is a nation. No more, no less. FF-UK (talk) 18:17, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
What exactly do you mean by a nation? Scotland is officially a country within the UK. We are back to wher we started. How do we decide which reasons should be designated nations and which not> What are the defining features of a 'nation'? You have never addressed these points. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:56, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
It is not for me or you to define things, we should just go with the sources. I have provided plenty of sources on that. FF-UK (talk) 13:59, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
Of couse it is up to you to define what you mean by 'nation', your whole argument has been based on your assertion that Scotland is a nation. Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:12, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Not True! It is not my assertion, it is what the sources tell us. FF-UK (talk) 15:21, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

Delete/ignore the field[edit]

Again, when in doubt, throw it out. The Citizenship/Nationality fields should be deleted from the infobox. GoodDay (talk) 16:46, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

GoodDay, whilst it is appropriate to discuss here what should be in the infobox for James Clerk Maxwell, it is most definitely not the place to discuss what fields the infobox should contain, that is a matter which affects all infoboxes. FF-UK (talk) 18:05, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
There's an inconsistancy among all bio infoboxes (even among UK bio infoboxes) concerning the usage of the fields 'Citizenship' & 'Nationality'. GoodDay (talk) 05:05, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
FF-UK, fine, then let us just not fill in the field here, as I have tried to do. WP:V overrides your personal opinion (and mine). Martin Hogbin (talk) 10:13, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
In fact we should not fill the fields in anywhere the question is contentious and there is no definitive source. That is fundamental WP policy. Martin Hogbin (talk) 15:09, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
  • "When in doubt throw it out" makes sense to me and I would support that (infoboxes being overrated in the first place), were it not for the fact that the two entries were there in the version that was promoted to GA. Drmies (talk) 18:44, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
The GA reviewers were probably not aware that there was any issue with 'Scottish' nationality. Martin Hogbin (talk) 10:41, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
Quite right too, as there isn't. Why would there be? Maxwell was Scottish, so why wouldn't we say so? --John (talk) 16:42, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
There is no reason we should not say Maxwell was Scottish but we should not give his nationality unless it is supported by a reliable source. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:51, 21 December 2014 (UTC)


Since you have been unable to come to an understanding over the article, Allow me to make a suggest a compromise.

  • User FF-UK wishes to include the section Nationality - Scottish, Citizenship - British.
  • User Martin Hogbin simply wishes to list Maxwell as the Nationality British.

My suggestion is that you keep the Nationality as Scottish, and remove the Citizen section. Then, using <br> add "A subject of Britain" below Nationality - Scottish.

Please consider this as a possible solution, or come up with something all members can accept, instead of going over all the points of the subject without coming to a conclusion. This discussion has gone on for a long time. It is time for a solution to be presented and implemented. -- Orduin T 20:32, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

I would have no difficulty accepting that, but we probably need to have the editors who steered this to GA status to express their agreement. FF-UK (talk) 21:03, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
Indeed, that is why I did not implement any changes yet. If the others do not respond in about a day, I will add a talkpack template to their pages. -- Orduin T 21:14, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

Orduin, What's wrong with describing him as Scottish in the lead, while stating his nationality to be British in the info box? Wouldn't that not only be a compromise but also be correct? (talk) 21:23, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

No objection to Orduin's suggestion from me, it does need put to bed. (talk) 04:10, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

Orduin, thanks for your attempt to resolve this dispute. It is always a mistake to be the first to propose a compromise in an argument because newcomers then look for a compromise between the proposed compromise and the original position of one participant. One group of editors assert that the that Maxwell had British nationality, as confirmed by British government sources on the subject, so the article should show his nationality as 'British'. Another group assert that his nationality was 'Scottish'. My proposal above is already a compromise and it is, in fact, the only compromise that is allowed in Wikipedia. Two groups of editors clearly cannot agree and there are no definitive and totally clear sources giving Maxwell's nationality. Editors cannot even reach an agreement as to what the term means. There is only one thing in accordance with the fundamental policy WP:V that we can do in these circumstances that is not to give the information at all as it cannot be properly verified. This is non-negotiable. Martin Hogbin (talk) 10:13, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

What I am trying to do here is solve an argument that has been going on and off, with different users each time, for four years. I am trying to provide an example of a compromise where the people in the argument come to a conclusion, in an attempt, to find a statement/solution that everyone can accept. I have given two examples so far, and I hope you, all of you, will try, instead of attempting to just put through your idea, work together in order to find a solution. I will not be adding more to this discussion unless I still see it going on some time from now.
The trouble with simply listing his nationality as British will mean that, sometime from now, another editor will open this whole argument again. I'm not arguing for naming him as Scottish, I would leave him as British if you reached agreement to call him that (but so far, you have not reached consensus). There will always be people arguing one way or another. If we can reach consensus here and now, we can simply leave the discussion alone, and cite our discussion in order to close the argument permanently.
I hope you all come to close this argument soon. This is the last I will say on the subject. Lets put it to bed. Good luck -- Orduin T 16:37, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

However, I will inform you that the earliest discussion on his nationality, four years ago, came to the conclusion that his nationality should be British. Food for thought -- Orduin T 16:45, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

We don't work by precedent here though and a discussion from four years ago isn't particularly compelling unless there were good arguments made. Were there? Meantime, I think we can safely stick with the peer-reviewed version. I appreciate that things like this can be very confusing to the uninitiated. Scotland/Britain is not like Texas/USA or Victoria/Australia at all. It is probably unique in all the world. There is an essay which provides an interesting introduction to the subject at WP:UKNATIONALS. --John (talk) 17:30, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
You are correct when you say that Scotland/Britain is not like Texas/USA. Texas has a greater legal claim to separate nationality that Scotland and England do. Scotland and England (with Wales) both agreed to form a Unitary state. Texas joined a federation of states which retain some degree of independence.
What has to be accepted, is that there's many who will never agree to deleting/replacing Scottish. It's just not going to happen. GoodDay (talk) 17:45, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

I don't think though that anybody was ever suggesting removing 'Scottish' in the lead. Nobody has said what is wrong with describing him as Scottish in the lead, while stating his nationality to be 'British' in the info box. (talk) 18:01, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

The infobox should agree with the rest of the article, I think. --John (talk) 08:36, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Maxwell's nationality is not stated in the rest of the article. If we cannot support as statement with a reliable source we cannot make it, see WP:V. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:49, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
There's no disagreement with the rest of the article, if the lead shows Scottish national identity and the infobox, correctly, shows British nationality as the legal status of a British subject before the introduction of British citizenship. He'd have had a British passport, while being identified and quite likely identifying himself as both British and Scottish. .. dave souza, talk 10:36, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
It's most unlikely he would have had any passport at all, as they were uncommon until 1920. --John (talk) 11:18, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
John, If he'd had a passport, it would have been a British passport. Your remark about passports being uncommon until 1920 is however true. (talk) 15:00, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
The point is that we cannot decide for ourselves what Maxwell's nationality was. There is no agreement amongst editors here about his nationality was or even what the word 'nationality' means and there are no authoritative sources specifically saying, 'Maxwells's nationality was XXX' so it is quite simple, WP:V mandates that we cannot state a nationality at all. This is the most fundamental principle of WP. To paraphrase WP:V, 'making stuff up is not allowed'.Martin Hogbin (talk) 13:00, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Martin Hogbin, we know that 'nationality' means: "The status of belonging to a particular nation". We also know that 'Scottish' means "relating to Scotland or its people". We know that Scotland is a nation, we have references from impeccable sources which clearly state that Maxwell was Scottish. No one is "'making stuff up." The only problem we have is that Martin Hogbin wishes to redefine the term 'nationality' in a very restrictive sense which would exclude Scottish as a nationality. There are no sources which support that idea, and your attempts at achieving a WP consensus to impose it have failed, and yet you persist in trying to over-rule the established practice regarding Wikipedia:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom. This is a very disruptive attitude which is wasting the time of editors, it should end now. FF-UK (talk) 14:13, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
FF-UK, It's not as straightforward as you are suggesting. The exact same arguments that you use above could be used to argue that Maxwell had British nationality because he was born in the UK. You have given absolutely no reason as to why the Scottish nationality should be supreme over the British nationality. As regards sources, we have sources to say that he was Scottish, sources to say that he was British, and even some sources to say that he was English. What you seem to be doing here is promoting the concept of Scottish nationality over and above the concept of British nationality, when in fact the former has no definition in law, whereas the latter is formally constituted in law, and applies to the sovereign nation from where Maxwell derived. (talk) 14:56, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
FF-UK that is your OR, your claim, your pesrsonal opinion. We know that Maxwell was British so by your argument his nationality was British. Martin Hogbin (talk) 15:26, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Martin Hogbin, you need to understand what OR is, and it is most definitely not the collection of appropriate sources to support a case! (You also do really need to learn how to indent, even if only to differentiate yourself from the mysterious Wandering IP who suffers from the same inability.) FF-UK (talk) 15:21, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

We must remove all references to nationality[edit]

In view of the following:

  • Editors do not agree on whether the nationality of Maxwell was 'Scottish', 'British' , or something else.
  • There is no agreement on what exactly is meant by 'nationality', in an infobox or anywhere else.
  • There are no authoritative sources stating clearly that Maxwell has British or Scottish nationality (although it is posssible to find poor quality sources saying both).
  • Attempting to give due weight to the various sources would be endlessly disputed and very difficult to state in a sensible fashion. We could edit war endlessly with each side citing their preferred source.
  • The core Wikipedia policy of WP:V states, 'All quotations, and any material whose verifiability has been challenged or is likely to be challenged, must include an inline citation that directly supports the material. Any material that needs a source but does not have one may be removed'.

We have only one option left which is that all claims of nationality in this article should be removed. Martin Hogbin (talk) 15:18, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

Those who want to keep using Scottish, will never agree to deletion. GoodDay (talk) 16:31, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Well this is a compomise that is fully in accordance with the basic principle of Wikipedia; that you shopuld not state something unless it is verifiably true. I do realise that there are editors who seem to wish to use this page to make some kind of statement about Scotland but such things are stricly forbidden by WP policy. We maybe have to accept that we will never agree but that does not entitle one party to state their opinion as fact with no authoritative source. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:38, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
I agree, until you can come to a conclusion, leave it blank. If you do not come to a conclusion, leave it blank as well. -- Orduin T 16:49, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
We already have a working conclusion that has been peer reviewed. Just leaving it like that seems fine to me. --John (talk) 17:23, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
I agree with John, it should have been left at the peer reviewed version. Martin Hogbin appears to have already removed it. SagaciousPhil - Chat 17:48, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Peer review does not override WP:V. The stated information does not have a source and, as it is highly contentious, must therefore be removed.
Please note that I am not pushing my opinion, which is that Maxwell's nationality is 'British' I am proposing a compromise that is in accordance with the highest principles of WP. 'Seems fine to me' is not acceptable, we must have a high quality authoritative source for something so contentious. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:56, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Maxwell's Scottishness is very well-referenced in the article. If you are having trouble understanding the subtleties of this matter, you've been pointed a few times now to a decent essay on the subject. The article passed GA like that. Just leave it at that, will you? --John (talk) 18:11, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
I have no idea what you mean by 'Scottishness' but it is quite irrelevant anyway, the dispute is not about Maxwell's degree of Scottishness it is about what his nationality is. Many editors argue that there is no nationality 'Scottish', there is no refernce to Scottish nationality in any UK government publictions on the subject. Most importantly though, we do not have an authoritative source saying that Maxwell's nationality was Scottish therefore we cannot state that here. There are no sources cited anywhere in the article saying his nationality was 'Scottish'. Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:19, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Once again, Martin Hogbin conveniently forgets that, when referring to the saltire, the Lord Lyon King of Arms states: "this is the correct flag for all Scots or Scottish corporate bodies to fly to demonstrate their loyalty and their Scottish nationality." (See As The Court of The Lord Lyon is a part of the established legal system of Scotland (a system which has not been supplanted by, or subsumed into, the legal system of the rest of the UK) then I believe that its view counts rather more than the personal opinions of Martin Hogbin. FF-UK (talk) 14:48, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
To quote from the website, 'The Court of the Lord Lyon is the heraldic authority for Scotland and deals with all matters relating to Scottish Heraldry and Coats of Arms and maintains the Scottish Public Registers of Arms and Genealogies'. It is not a British government source. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:12, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
More wriggling and deviousness from Martin Hogbin, please respect the truth! "The Lyon Court is a standing court of law which regulates heraldry in Scotland. It is fully integrated into the Scottish legal system and has both civil and criminal jurisdiction." (From the Procurator Fiscal to the Lyon Court.) Are you seriously trying to say that the UK has non-official courts with criminal jurisdiction? Your statements get wilder every day! FF-UK (talk) 17:02, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
I don't think anybody has doubted that Maxwell was Scottish. I don't even see the need to put three references in the lead to that extent. It's rather like laboring the issue. The point here is that the info box is incorrect on two counts. Maxwell was not a British citizen in his own time because the status didn't exist then, and neither did he have Scottish nationality, at least not to the extent that it superseded his British nationality. So If you don't want to state him as having British nationality, then you can't state him as having Scottish nationality either. So the best compromise is to leave the field blank on both counts. (talk) 21:06, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

Maybe it is time for Arbcom[edit]

I have proposed a straight-down-the-middle compromise that is totally in accordance with the best principles of Wikipedia yet even this is not acceptable to some editors, who insist on reinstating their own opinion on the subject. This is now more than a content dispute it is unacceptable behaviour. I think we should take the matter to Arbcom.

Anyone support this? Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:30, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

I'm trying to not be a part of this, but I was seriously considering asking Arbcom to solve this problem. I'd suggest you request Arbcom intervention. Maybe they will be able to close this discussion once and for all. -- Orduin T 21:43, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Arbcom generally will only intervene as a last resort in any dispute. Also, they will not rule on content. Indeed general Arbcom practice is simply to spend hours looking at and analysing a dispute in a pseudo-lawyerly and process-heavy fashion – despite its members merely being anonymous, and often teenage and/or sockpuppeting, internet warriors with an elevated sense of their own inportance – and then simply topic-banning every user account appended to the case, including those who petitioned them in the first place. I really wouldn't recommend it. N-HH talk/edits 22:46, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
I wouldn't recommend it either, based on what I observed at the Village Pump and the Nationality Essay. Scottish nationalism is a cause which attracts romantics and subversives. Judging by the comments at the village pump, I think that Martin would not gain the required support. The general attitude at the village pump seemed to be that of an aversion to making a rule that would help to enforce the truth, and I would fear that this would merely be repeated at any tribunal. I tend now to agree with editor Goodday that this is a lost cause for the truth. On a side note, the nationalists wrongly think that unionists are anti-Scottish. Not so. I am very pro-Scottish, but I am disappointed that Braveheart triggered off a rift with England. I see Scotland for what it is. It's a predominantly British region that has a unique history, and which has adopted Gaelic Highland overtones, giving it a distinct identity within the British family. I think that the latest surge in nationalism has been very divisive and very destructive. I backed up Martin here because he was technically correct. I can see the best of Scotland without having to promote the concept of Scottish nationality, which doesn't exist in any practical or administrative sense. If the system is going to promote inaccuracies under the banner of consensus, then best we let it go. To fight against it will likely result in a topic ban for the one who brings the case. I don't see this dispute ever heading for a truthful conclusion. (talk) 23:52, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
I am famiiar with how Arbcom work and with the fact that they do not deal with content disputes, however this is not a content dispute any more. Had I, and others, been pushing for 'British' and others for 'Scottish' that would be a content dispute but I am now proposing the only posssible compromise which is in line with the fundamental Wikipedia policies of WP:V and WP:NPOV. It is now a matter of user conduct with editors continuing to edit war in order to push their POV over the mandated neutral and verifiable position.
If Wikipedia is to maintain any credibilty and integrity and to move towards Jimmy Wales original goal of containing all the world's knowledge it must be protected from POV pushing and mob rule. If Arbcom do not have the fundamental values of NPOV and verifiabilty at heart when they make their decision then WP is a lost cause and probably not the place for me. Martin Hogbin (talk) 14:12, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
By all means then give it a try. But I noticed that some of the editors opposing you, both here and at the village pump, are administrators. As soon as I noticed that, I got a bad feeling about the whole situation. If people who are appointed administrators are aiding and abetting factually incorrect information to be published in wikipedia, then I don't hold out much hope that the tribunal will rule in your favor, even though I believe that you are totally correct, and that your arguments have been impeccable. (talk) 17:14, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
The opinions of admins carry no more weight than the opinions of other editors. If some of the protagonists here are admins they should at least know that presenting one side of a dispute as fact in an article is very much against the core policy of Wikipedia. I am sure that that is the view that Arbcom will take. Martin Hogbin (talk) 19:19, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
I am sure that many editors would back the idea that WP is not the place for editors who ignore consensus, make false representations, and ignore sources. FF-UK (talk) 14:48, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Arbcom will not arbitrate on whether Maxwell had Scottish or British nationality, that is a content dispute. In this content dispute both sides have proposed arguments supported by what they consider reliable sources whilst the other side has produced counterarguments supported by sources that they say are more reliable. It is quite clear that we will never reach a consensus on this and that no source is sufficiently clear and authoritative to be decisive. The correct thing to do in this circumstance is not to present to our readers one side's opinion as fact but to say nothing on the subject, that is what is mandated by WP:V and WP:NPOV In order to avoid the hassle of an Arbcom case can I ask you again to seriously reconsider the option of not stating Maxwell's nationality in this article. Martin Hogbin (talk) 19:19, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Martin Hogbin, you have tried to impose your interpretation of WP policy on this article. As we know, your interpretation differs with the earlier consensus on the subject of UK nationalities that is encapsulated in Wikipedia:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom I urged you to take your arguments there, rather than hammering away at a single article. Instead you chose to raise an ill thought out RfC which would affect all nationalities. In effect you switched from the individual to the global, this, naturally, has received little support. So, if you still wish to change the accepted consensus then, rather than, bringing the argument back to this individual article, why not make a proposal limited to UK nationalities at the appropriate place and see where that takes you? It would be a much more responsible approach than bullying away here! FF-UK (talk) 22:26, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

You are quite right in saying that my RfC at the was ill thought out. Most people did not even seem to understand the question.
Regarding this article it is abundantly clear that there are two sides to this argument both with sources. To state one side only, without even a decent reference, is clearly against WP:V and WP:NPOV. There can never be a concensus to ovverride these two core policies. I must therefore take the case to Arbcom as this is unecceptable behaviour and page ownership. Martin Hogbin (talk) 12:18, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
I would remind you that there are "decent references" in the article, but you choose to ignore them. I would remind you that the reference to nationality in the article is consistent with Wikipedia:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom, but you choose to ignore that also. As far as ownership goes, then I remind you that attempts to change Maxwell's nationality, or remove it completely, have been resisted by five editors since you started your attack on this page (and many more have reverted previous attacks). The five being FF-UK, John, Hertz1888, Adam_Cuerden and, does that really sound like ownership? Or is it an indication that there are a number of editors who do believe that the appropriate practice is described in Wikipedia:Nationality of people from the United Kingdom, and that your failed attempts to narrowly define nationality and refusal to accept that references describing someone as Scottish are valid as indications of their nationality, are unacceptable behaviour? Why are you so unwilling to abide by the established consensus? FF-UK (talk) 15:32, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Ther are no references in the article to the fact his nationality was Scottish. We all agree that he was Scottish; he was also British, White, European, and many other things but his nationality was Britsh, as this British Govenment source clearly shows. You will note that, if Maxwell was a British citizen, he must have had British nationality according to the law when Maxwell was born and as it is today. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:35, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
That would be true only if the WP community were prepared to accept your redefinition of the words involved, but, so far, it has not. Nowhere on WP can I find that 'nationality' has the rigid interpretation that you are trying to impose. FF-UK (talk) 18:35, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
FF-UK, Are you saying that Maxwell did not have British nationality? (talk) 19:05, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

Other avenues of resolution[edit]

Can anyone suggest any alternative means of resolving the nationality dispute (apart from one side conceding)? I would be happy to seek mediation but feel that it is unlikely to succeed with so many entrenched positions. Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:13, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

According to Wikipedia, "Nationality is the legal relationship between a person and a country. Nationality normally confers some protection of the person by the state, and some obligations on the person towards the state. What these rights and duties are vary from country to country." ... "Nationality affords the state jurisdiction over the person and affords the person the protection of the state." ... "In English, the same word is used in the sense of an ethnic group (a group of people who share a common ethnic identity, language, culture, descent, history, and so forth). This meaning of nationality is not defined by political borders or passport ownership and includes nations that lack an independent state (such as the Scots, Welsh, English, Basques, Kurds, Tamils, Hmong, Inuit and Māori)."
So the problem is that the word "Nationality" is ambiguous. It is pretty clear that James Clerk Maxwell himself would agree to having British nationality according to the first common use of the word, and Scottish according to the second common use of the word. So the info-box should give *both* nationalities and refer to the Wikipedia article Nationality to indicate that these are nationalities according to two definitions.
Incidentally, since by the Union of the Crowns in 1603 the King of Scotland became King of England as well, in other words, England joined Great Scotland, we can just as well use the word "Scottish" to denote British nationality as vice-versa. What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Richard Gill (talk) 08:35, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
England & Scotland remained separate kingdoms until 1707, even though they had the same individuals as their monarchs, since 1603. GoodDay (talk) 08:53, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
Yes. Then both parliaments voted to merge the two states, and become The Kingdom of Great Britain. What's in a name? Richard Gill (talk) 09:25, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
Not to mention William of Orange / William III / William II who was simultaneously King of England, and Scotland, and "Stadtholder" (= some kind of military dictator) of the "Republic" of the Netherlands. ("William and Mary") Richard Gill (talk) 09:31, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
Incidentally, I boldly made the change which I propose in the article (infobox) itself. Richard Gill (talk) 09:27, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
All credit for your well-intentioned attempt. I think though that the peer-reviewed version is just fine. There is only really one editor who is unhappy with saying in the infobox that Maxwell was Scottish, and has made it clear that this is part of a campaign against the idea that there is such a thing as Scottish nationality. I do not think we need to pander to this person who has tried and failed to have their view endorsed in a central discussion. Nationality as it relates to the UK is complicated, so much so that we have an essay about it. What we really don't need is a nationalist POV-pusher at this article, and the next worst thing would be to concede any ground to them. Sorry, but I have reverted to the longstanding version. --John (talk) 17:54, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
Richard, nationality does seem to have many meanings but the one meaning but if you Google 'nationality' you will see that 'the legal relationship between a person and a country' seems to be the one most generally used. This is what you called the 'de jure' nationality. I would have no objection to using this term to make clear exactly what we mean.
You suggested the term 'affective nationality' for 'a group of people who share a common ethnic identity, language, culture, descent, history, and so forth'. This does not seem to be a widely used term. 'National identity' would be beter.
My point is that when we tell our readers something, they should know what it is that we are telling them. Saying 'nationality (de jure) - British' would be quite clear; from an international perspective, the subject is a legal national of the independent state of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
National identity is harder to define. My suggestion would be not to have it as an infobox field because its complex nature cannot be compressed into a single country. Better to have a section in the body of the article which could make specific statements about specific aspects, for example, 'Although born in xxx of YYY parents the subject always identified himself as a ZZZ but he often followed the customs of AAA and spent most of his life in BBB'. All properly sources, of course. Martin Hogbin (talk) 18:20, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
Indeed. All that should be clear enough, one would have thought. As for User:John's accusation of "nationalist POV-push[ing]", well quite. But that criticism seems aimed at the wrong target here. Motes and eyes, as the saying has it. N-HH talk/edits 21:46, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
Look up the word "nationality" in the dictionary. It has always had two meanings. And the two concepts both only exist since about 1830. The "nation state" was a disastrous nineteenth century invention. It's all about power and about politics. It seems to me that there are excellent reasons to call Maxwell both British and Scottish, and the readers of wikipedia, interested in Maxwell the scientist, need to know both. What a storm in a tea-cup! Richard Gill (talk) 12:24, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
I agree. We already have a longstanding consensus to use citizenship=British and nationality=Scottish on this article, and this formula has passed peer review. It also seems to cover the complexity as described in UKNATIONALS. It is hard to see what is gained (beyond a certain point of educating the uninitiated) in discussing this matter further. --John (talk) 14:16, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
Hm so the idea is that citizenship is a legal status and nationality is a personal identity? I don't think that many non UK readers will understand that. In fact, I think they will be perplexed. I think we have to recognise there are two meanings of the word "nationality" and that Maxwell has two different nationalities according to two different criteria. The article on Nationality needs editing so as to emphasize the second meaning (right now it is hidden - probably either for political reasons or because the article was written by lawyers). Add a link to the article. Give Maxwell both nationalities. "Citizenship", as someone wrote, is something you take for tax reasons or get by accident of birth location. Nobody is interested in Maxwell's citizenship.Richard Gill (talk) 15:35, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
I broadly agree with Richard. Maxwell had British nationality both de jure and affective. He also had Scottish nationality affective, while having British ethnicity, because nobody would seriously argue that Lowland Scots are ethnically different from the English. There is no such a thing as Scottish ethnicity unless we are specifically referring to the Gaelic Highlanders, who are in fact very much watered down from what they once were. Maxwell did not have British citizenship because the concept only came into existence under the 1981 act. Citizenship is about rights, and as Richard says, it is not interesting. Stating Maxwell to have British citizenship and Scottish nationality amounts to agenda pushing, because it is giving primacy to his Scottish nationality over and above his British nationality, while at the same time trying to imply that he was only British on paper but not in reality. Richard's compromise was the best and I will now restore Richard's compromise. (talk) 17:57, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
I don't think that is such a good idea. We already have a working compromise which matches common practice elsewhere on Wikipedia and has been peer reviewed, and we don't need another compromise to meet the demands of a nationalistic POV-pusher. While I try to assume good faith of everyone, the fact that you are making this edit from an IP also looks bad to me. Why not log in and make your comments? As it is it looks like you are trying to evade scrutiny. --John (talk) 18:06, 25 December 2014 (UTC)

John, I genuinely believe that splitting it into British citizenship and Scottish nationality is incorrect. British citizenship only came into existence in 1983. The best compromise is to say that he had dual nationality, or to leave nationality out of the info box altogether. I am not objecting to having the subject described as Scottish in the lead. (talk) 18:26, 25 December 2014 (UTC)

I suggest we take a look at the Wikipedia article Nationality and revise it so as to emphasize the dual meaning (in common language) of "nationality". Take a look at some dictionary definitions. Take a look at other notable examples on Wikipedia. I object very much to my solution being called "another compromise to meet the demands of a nationalistic POV-pusher". Slandering someone you don't agree with is not appropriate wikipedia behaviour. Richard Gill (talk) 07:34, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
If you think you can help the situation by making well-sourced consensual edits to another Wikipedia article, you should absolutely feel free to go ahead. Who do you believe is being slandered here? I tell it like it is and I absolutely stand by what I said. You should probably be aware of our policy WP:NLT before you throw around words like slander. --John (talk) 15:16, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
Another suggestion[edit]

Richard has pointed out above that there are two distinct meanings for the word 'nationality', 'the legal relationship between a person and a country' (de jure) and 'an ethnic group (a group of people who share a common ethnic identity, language, culture, descent, history, and so forth)'. I am not sure what to call this second meaning, I will use 'ethnic' for the time being.

There is little doubt that the de jure nationality of Maxwell was 'Brittish'. Maxwell's nationality by the second definition is rather harder to determine but could be considered 'Scottish'.

Why not have two fields, 'Nationality (de jure)' and 'Nationality (ethnic)'? Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:43, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

Martin, Maxwell was British under both definitions of nationality. Scottish ethnicity applies only to the Highlanders. Maxwell was a Lowlander of Northumbrian stock (see here ). I am not however saying that Maxwell was not Scottish and that he should not be described as Scottish in the lead. I always think of him as having been Scottish. See here how they have dealt with George Best They have avoided the nationality question altogether, although I know he would have considered himself to be British. There is nothing wrong with stating Maxwell as being Scottish and stating his place of birth as Scotland. The real problem here is the promotion of the concept of Scottish nationality over and above British nationality. (talk) 20:23, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
I do not disagree with you, I said above 'Maxwell's nationality by the second definition is rather harder to determine'. That was something of an understatement, it will probably lead to endless arguments like this. My main point was that de jure nationality is generally a simple matter of fact easily supported by sources. It also makes no claims beyond stating what a person's legal nationality is, so we should be able to write 'Nationality (de jure):British' without argument and without part of the UK feeling that we are stealing something from them.
The other kind of nationality is much harder. We first have to agree on how it is decided, ethnicity, description, self-identification? We then have to see what sources say on all those subjects and come to some kind of consensus. That will not be easy.
I actually think it would be better to have a text section wher we simple state the facts: born in, self-identified as worked in etc. So I guess my proposal comes in two parts. The first is, would there be any objection to having 'Nationality de jure:British' in the infobox.
If that is OK, how will we deal with the 'other' nationality? Martin Hogbin (talk) 20:47, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
Martin, Bearing in mind all the controversy, it would probably be best to leave nationality out of the info box altogether. I agree with you that his de jure nationality was without argument 'British'. As regards his other nationality, this article here, along with a map, should give you an idea of the endless quarrels that would arise if we were to try and ascribe him an ethnicity. Was he an Angle? Was he a Briton? Or a British blend/Anglo-Saxon mixture? The map certainly doesn't suggest he was a Scot. Best to leave it out all together to avoid causing a storm in a tea cup. (talk) 21:41, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
Nationality de jure sounds to me so much like citizenship that I don't see any point to pursuing such an edit. I am not interested in pursuing endless esoteric arguments justifying this latest inventive suggestion, but do want to register my objection to it. I believe the reader looking for handy information, such as an infobox is meant to convey, wants to find the simplest possible terms there. Hertz1888 (talk) 21:52, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

Hertz1888, Yes we want the simplest possible terms that are unambiguous in their meaning. 'Nationality' is clearly not such a term because it is ambiguous in its meaning. Shouldn't we use the George Best page as a model and avoid nationality altogether? Citizenship by the way is not the same thing as nationality, and it wasn't around in Maxwell's day. It's a Roman concept that has started to become important again since the end of the second world war. Citizenship is all about rights, and not a very interesting concept for info box purposes. (talk) 22:11, 27 December 2014 (UTC)


Until some kinda consensus is reached at a Rfc concerning all UK bio articles, perhaps this entire discussion should be closed. My years of Wiki experience, tells me that there's not going to be any agreement here anytime soon. GoodDay (talk) 18:00, 25 December 2014 (UTC)

I think it ran its course some time ago. What's with all the IP edits? Has this discussion been raised on some message board somewhere? --John (talk) 18:07, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
I've never been comfortable with IP participation in such disputes. Hogbin's proposals have been rejected at the Village Pump & WP:UKNAT, so far. GoodDay (talk) 18:12, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
I have looked through all the previous discussions and there was never a consensus for using the regions of the UK as a nationality. I am taking that up on the essay page.
Regarding IPs, this is the 'Encyclopedia anyone can edit' and they have as much right to a say as anyone else. It does make it hard to know whether comments are from one person or several people sometimes and that can make it hard to assess consensus. For that reason I would always encourage IPs to register but we have no right to discount them. Martin Hogbin (talk) 20:55, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
Scotland is not a region of the UK. I do not intend to make any further response to you here Martin because I am getting a feeling we are being trolled now. My final piece of advice to you is to make your proposals at a central venue if you feel you must fight your nationalistic battle on Wikipedia at all. Even better would be to accept you have lost and move on to something more useful. I do not think you have any interest in improving this article and so your arguments here are in the wrong place. --John (talk) 22:29, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

opening section[edit]

"Einstein kept a photograph of Maxwell on his study wall, alongside pictures of Michael Faraday and Newton." Why would that be in the opening section? Seems more like triva to me, his influence has been mentioned. Same goes for Faraday's page. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:23, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Statue -- a pic would be nice[edit]

A picture of the prominent new statue of Clerk Maxwell on Edinburgh's George Street would be a nice addition, perhaps illustrating the "legacy" section, if any Wikipedian in or near Edinburgh is reading this. The angle of this photograph on Flickr is nice, though it's "all rights reserved", so as things stand we couldn't use it. Jheald (talk) 08:37, 22 May 2011 (UTC)


Katherine did experimental work on viscosity. How much more did she take on in his lab? (talk) 09:35, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

She doesn't have her own page yet she played an huge part in this very important physicists life including nursing him back from near death of small pox. A little more detail about her would be appropriate. (talk) 09:37, 14 September 2011 (UTC)


Why not mention that James Clerk Maxwell was actually a creationist? -- (talk) 09:14, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

The quote that's meant to refute biological evolution doesn't. In context ( ) it's clear he's talking about the creation of matter, not of life. is not a reliable source, and our article does make it clear he was a Christian, which is all we can actually say. Adam Cuerden (talk) 16:58, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Recent edits by User talk:[edit]

User talk: recently made a change to the article that 1) was unusual (Scottish->British), and he didn't seem to care that this is not usually done in Wikipedia without better reasons than the ones he provided, and 2) actually broke the reference list by not using the template properly and changing the text to a phrase that is incorrect English (incompletely copied from the EB page not on JCM, but on some other page that references him with the more generic "British". Let's discuss it here and have other editor give their opinions, rather than start an WP:edit war. Nczempin (talk) 18:39, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

His original paper about ovals[edit]

His original paper about ovals was called Observations on Circumscribed Figures Having a Plurality of Foci, and Radii of Various Proportions and can be partially read on-line at:,+and+Radii+of+Various+Proportions&source=bl&ots=kldlqFc5U6&sig=rfOWmhqX-3JCtECw5yCxEzYzzec&hl=pt-BR#v=onepage&q=Observations%20on%20Circumscribed%20Figures%20Having%20a%20Plurality%20of%20Foci%2C%20and%20Radii%20of%20Various%20Proportions&f=false

The other was the one modified by Forbes. Ariel C.M.K. (talk) 12:16, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

Could you propose your exact change here so we can discuss it? --John (talk) 13:04, 1 September 2012 (UTC)
I edited the article, but it was reverted. They were discovered independently by Maxwell, and his work also presented simpler constructions. It was original, he didn't copy from others. To say it was not original may mean "not preceding all others in time" or "uncreative, uninventive" (which certainly is not the case here) or that is was a copy of an original work (not the case here too). The word original is used in many languages and in some it's almost always used to mean "creative" or "not a copy" (but I don't know how it is in English). I suggest making it clear that it was not a copy of Descartes' work about the ovals (since Wikipedia is read by people from all over the world — also I think that in English it can have the meaning I told too): to make clear that Maxwell didn't know Descartes' work at that time! Maybe change to that it was not "pioneer" or something like "Maxwell was not the first to discover them".
Also, by reading the article one can't know the name of the original article written by Maxwell (not the one with modifications and remarks by Forbes).
This is my last post. My English isn't good enough to discuss here. Ariel C.M.K. (talk) 08:57, 3 September 2012 (UTC)

Clan Maxwell[edit]

Is he part of the Clan Maxwell family? Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 01:29, 30 October 2012 (UTC)


It looks ghastly with all these tags.[citation needed] I will be able to fill in a few, but somebody with the books in the bibliography could look up some of the references quickly and neatly, and fast track it to GA or FA status.[citation needed] The first half is superb,[citation needed] but the second half needs a lot of work. Jamesx12345 (talk) 16:40, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

Comments on referencing[edit]

  • Timoshenko 1983 is not in the Bibliography
  • Arianrhod 2006 is in the Bibliography but isn't cited
  • Publications in the Bibliography are normally listed in alphabetical order by first author
  • The title of Eyges 1972 should be in title case
  • Titles of papers published in scientific journal are normally written in sentence case: see Notes 69, 78, 81, 87, 90 etc. (journal titles are in title case).
  • "retrieved by" is not required for printed publications and adds unnecessary clutter
  • Most FAs only provide links to google books when a Preview Full view is available. ie links are only provided to old books for which the copyright has expired.
  • Note 82 should not be in caps
  • The publisher is missing for Cropper 2004 cited in Note 88.


  • Probably better to express 6.07 km2 as 607 ha Aa77zz (talk) 20:56, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:James Clerk Maxwell/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Adam Cuerden (talk · contribs) 20:29, 16 August 2013 (UTC)

This article should be fairly fun to review, though I'm not sure I'll get through all of it tonight. Certainly tomorrow, though. Adam Cuerden (talk) 20:29, 16 August 2013 (UTC)

Sorry about the delay. I was operating on minimal sleep for a few days. Adam Cuerden (talk) 15:58, 24 August 2013 (UTC)
No problem. Jamesx12345 14:14, 25 August 2013 (UTC)


  • Opening paragraph is a little clunky; in particular, it doesn't flow very well, and I suspect one can explain electromagnetism far more simply han that - I've understood it since I was 10 years old or so, mind you, my father's an electrical engineer. This isn't a blocker for GA, but is worth looking at before FA.
  • "his foundational work on the rigidity of rod-and-joint frameworks (trusses) like those in many bridges." - rigidity is, of course, a fundamental property. You mean something like "analysing the rigidity".
    • More fundamentally, his work on rigidity is not mentioned outside the lead, making this uncited.

Early life, 1831–39

  • The section beginning "His father was a man of comfortable means..." to the end of that paragraph is ambiguously cited. In particular, here's a long section after the last cite.

Education, 1839–47

  • "...rediscovering the regular polyhedron before he received any formal instruction..." - I presume you mean "polyhedra", the plural?
  • "but Maxwell was deemed too young for the work presented" as the next section makes clear, this should read "but Maxwell was deemed to young to present the work himself." - as it stands, the phrasing's natural reading is that people did not believe Maxwell wrote the work himself, due to being too young.

Edinburgh University, 1847–50

  • "Having had the opportunity to attend the University of Cambridge after his first term Maxwell instead decided to complete the full course of his undergraduate studies at Edinburgh." - This phrasing is a little awkward in context. And could use more commas.

University of Cambridge, 1850–56

  • "A considerable part of Maxwell's translation of his equations regarding electromagnetism was accomplished during his time at Trinity." - Uncited.

Aberdeen University, 1856–60

  • This section is very citation-poor. There's large sections at the end of most paragraphs with no obvious citations.
  • The image is from 1869. Why not have a picture of Saturn here, and move the image down a little bit? I know it's meant to show the marriage, but a little more variety in images would be nice.

Later years

  • More problems with ambiguous and missing citations.


  • I hate to harp on this, but... more uncited bits. "A collection of his poems was published by his friend Lewis Campbell in 1882. Many appreciations of Maxwell remark upon his remarkable intellectual qualities being matched by social awkwardness."


  • "Maxwell was proven correct, and his quantitative connection between light and electromagnetism is considered one of the great accomplishments of 19th century mathematical physics." - Uncited.

Colour analysis

  • "Maxwell's purpose was not to present a method of colour photography, but to illustrate the basis of human colour perception and to show that the correct additive primaries are not red, yellow and blue, as was then taught, but red, green and blue. The three photographic plates now reside in a small museum at 14 India Street, Edinburgh, the house where Maxwell was born." Uncited. Also, I need to go to India Street. An unfortunate deletion, though, as the location of the plates, and the museum, is interesting.
  • The bit about the red being ultraviolet is poorly set up. It's only clear the red in the photograph is paradoxical at the point the paradox is resolved.

Control theory

  • Completely uncited.

Experiments in rigidity

  • Does not exist, but mentioned in lead. - Now briefly discussed, at least. Adam Cuerden (talk) 16:37, 27 August 2013 (UTC)



I don't know much about the image process, but they look fine to me. Can it be assumed that all photos taken at that time are now in the public domain? 120 years has lapsed since his death, which is what the guideline seems to say.
There's not much, sadly, on commons for Maxwell. It's a great statue, so if you're about Edinburgh, it might make a Featured pic with the Autumn leaves, something like this. Jamesx12345 20:07, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

The actual text is pretty good, but there's a lot of citation issues, and some infelicities in the description. Adam Cuerden (talk) 15:38, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

Is there any reason you removed the sentence " Maxwell would also go on to disprove mathematically the nebular hypothesis (which stated that the solar system formed through the progressive condensation of a purely gaseous nebula), which forced the proponents of that theory to account for the additional portions of small solid particles."?

The nebular hypothesis article, which is an FA, makes no mention of Maxwell, which likely means he didn't play a massive role in its development. (I left a reason in the edit summary, but in hindsight, that's not a good place to explain anything.) As a fairly conventional Christian, Maxwell attracts a lot of interest from the more modern Young Earth Creationist movement, which has a lot of rubbish masquerading as science. I didn't much like the idea that he "disproved" what is a fairly accepted theory. I couldn't find much either way, there's this and this, but neither is especially succinct. Neither was my answer :-) Jamesx12345 19:25, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

We're nearly there, then. One more citation, and the images need either documented or moved to en-wiki. Adam Cuerden (talk) 19:43, 27 August 2013 (UTC) On the images, I've found which documents them better than any other site I've yet found. No photographer named, but at least the collection is. Adam Cuerden (talk) 21:38, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

I've added 2 more refs to thermodynamics, so I think it's all sourced now. Maxwell and his wife now has a PD-UK template, but for young maxwell, there's this, whatever it means. I think the engraving is properly tagged already. Jamesx12345 19:47, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
You're going to get slaughtered at the FA image check, I fear. For example, "As a work from sometime before 1890, in the public domain." - that's not how British copyright works. But, eh, easiest solution is just to reupload all the images locally, making the problem disappear, since you can just use {{PD-US-1923-abroad}} and forget about it.
Still, eh, since they're all alright for use on en-wiki, I'll kick that can towards FAC.  Pass Adam Cuerden (talk) 20:16, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
Many thanks. Before I think about FACs, I need to do a more research and actually read a number of bios. Thanks for the review - definitely worth 4 points (4 points!?) for the Wikicup. Jamesx12345 20:20, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
Eh, honestly, it's something I should do anyway. It's useful. =) Adam Cuerden (talk) 21:23, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Images relating to James Clerk Maxwell[edit]

I have uploaded the following images (all taken during the Maxwell Year 2006 celebrations on the 175th anniversary of his birth) to Wikimedia Commons:

The gravestone at Parton Kirk (Galloway) of James Clerk Maxwell, his parents and his wife.
The gravestone of James Clerk Maxwell, his parents and his wife. The grave is within the ruins of the Old Kirk in the burial ground of Parton Kirk (Galloway).
This memorial stone to James Clerk Maxwell stands on a green in front of the church, beside the war memorial at Parton (Galloway).
This memorial stone to James Clerk Maxwell stands on a green in front of the church, beside the war memorial at Parton (Galloway). Also in the picture are (left) Professor David S. Ritchie MA FRMetS FRSE of the James Clerk Maxwell Foundation, and (right) Sam Callander (1922 - 2012) of Parton who devoted much of his life to promoting the memory and achievements of JCM.

I will leave it to other editors to determine if the use of any of these is appropriate in this article. FF-UK (talk) 14:21, 22 December 2014 (UTC)