Alexander MacEwen

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Sir Alexander MacEwen
Leader of the Scottish National Party
In office
7 April 1934 – 1936
Preceded by New office
Succeeded by Andrew Dewar Gibb
Personal details
Born (1875-01-10)10 January 1875
Kolkata, India
Died 29 June 1941(1941-06-29) (aged 66)
North Kessock, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland
Political party Scottish National Party (1934–1941)
Other political
Liberal Party
Scottish Party
Spouse(s) Mary Henderson (m. 1906–1941)
Children 5
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Profession Solicitor

Sir Alexander Malcolm MacEwen (10 January 1875 – 29 June 1941)[1] was a Scottish solicitor, provost and the first leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Early life[edit]

MacEwen was born in Calcutta, India, the son of Robert Sutherland MacEwen (1839-1900), a barrister from Dornoch who served in India as the Recorder of Rangoon.[2] Alexander MacEwen was educated at Clifton College, Bristol and the University of Edinburgh. After qualifying as a solicitor in 1901, he began his legal career in Stornoway, before joining the Inverness legal firm of Stewart Rule & Co., where he later became senior partner.[1]

Political career[edit]

A member of the Liberal Party, MacEwen was elected to Inverness Town Council in 1908, and served as Provost of Inverness 1925–1931. During his period in office, Provost MacEwen promoted schemes for the improvement of public health and housing in Inverness, and served as a member of the Inverness-shire Education Committee, and as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Royal Northern Infirmary. He also served as a councillor on Inverness County Council, representing Benbecula.[3]

In 1930 MacEwen was one of the founders of the Scottish Party, and in the 1933 Kilmarnock by-election he stood as the joint candidate of the Scottish Party and the National Party of Scotland, coming fourth with 6,098 votes.[4][5]

With merger of the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party on 7 April 1934 to form the Scottish National Party, Sir Alexander MacEwen became the new party's first leader.[6] The party’s performance in the 1935 general election was disappointing with only Inverness and MacEwan in the Western Isles achieving respectable results.

Sir Alexander MacEwen stood down as leader of the SNP in 1936, when he was succeeded by Andrew Dewar Gibb. He died at his home on the Black Isle in 1941, aged 66. MacEwen had three sons and two daughters. His son Malcolm joined the Communist Party of Great Britain and became a prominent conservationist.[7]


He was knighted by King George V in the 1932 Birthday Honours for services to local government and public health in Scotland.[8] MacEwen Drive in Inverness is named after him.[7][1]


  • The Thistle and the Rose - Scotlands Problem To-Day, 1932
  • Scotland at School - Education for Citizenship, 1938
  • Towards Freedom, 1938


Party political offices
New political party Chairman (Leader) of the Scottish National Party
Succeeded by
Andrew Dewar Gibb