Charles Maclaren

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For other people with the same name, see Charles McLaren (disambiguation).
A marble bust of Charles Maclaren, 1861 by William Brodie. On display in the National Museum of Scotland.

Charles Maclaren FRSE FGS (7 October 1782 – 10 September 1866) was a Scottish journalist and geologist. He co-founded The Scotsman newspaper, was its editor for 27 years, and edited the 6th Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.[1]

grave of Charles MacLaren, Grange Cemetery


He was born at Ormiston, Haddingtonshire, 7 October 1782, and received some education at Fala and Colinton, but was mainly self-taught. Removing to Edinburgh, where he served as clerk and bookkeeper to several firms, he joined the Philomathic Debating Society, where he made the acquaintance of John Ritchie and William Ritchie. [2]

He established the Scotsman, 26 January 1817, with William Ritchie and John M'Diarmid, and was joint editor of the first few numbers. When he obtained a position as a clerk in the custom house, he yielded the editorial chair to John Ramsay M'Culloch. In 1820, Maclaren resumed the editorship and held it till 1846, when he resigned it to Alexander Russel. The paper rapidly became the leading political journal of Scotland; its tone was throughout decidedly whiggish, and in church matters it advocated much freedom of opinion. In 1820, Archibald Constable employed Maclaren to edit the sixth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, 1823, and to revise the historical and geographical articles.

In the 1830s Charles Maclaren of the Scotsman newspaper is listed as living at 58 George Square on the south side of the city.[3]

The editor contributed the articles 'America,' 'Europe,' 'Greece,' 'Physical Geography,' and 'Troy'. Maclaren interested himself in science and especially in geology. He was elected F.R.S. Edinburgh in 1837, F.G.S. London in 1846, and was president of the Edinburgh Geological Society from 1864 to his death.[2]

He died at Moreland Cottage, Edinburgh, 10 September 1866.

He was interred at the Grange Cemetery.[2] His monument is a large Celtic cross facing the north path.


Maclaren's Selected Works (1869) were edited by Robert Cox and James Nicol.[4]


His second wife, Jane Veitch Hume née Somner (married 1842; died 1871), was the widow of David Hume the younger.[1]


  1. ^ a b Waterston, Charles D; Macmillan Shearer, A (July 2006). Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783-2002: Biographical Index (PDF). II. Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh. ISBN 978-0-902198-84-5. Retrieved 22 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Boase 1893.
  3. ^
  4. ^  Henderson, Thomas Finlayson (1887). "Cox, Robert". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 12. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBoase, George Clement (1893). "Maclaren, Charles". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 35. London: Smith, Elder & Co.