Duncan McLaren

1800 - 1886

Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Member of Parliament and social reformer. Born in modest circumstances in Renton (West Dunbartonshire), McLaren was educated there and then at Dalmally, where his family had originated. At the age of twelve, he was apprenticed to a merchant in Dunbar (East Lothian) before setting up his own business as a draper in Edinburgh in 1824. He joined the Town Council in 1833 and became city treasurer in 1837. At this stage Edinburgh was bankrupt and McLaren is noted for restoring health to the city's finances. He also pioneered free education and undertook a school-building programme to cope with the demand. McLaren served as Lord Provost of Edinburgh (1851-54) and was noted for opening of the Meadows as a public park. As a radical Liberal, he worked to break the Whigs hold on local politics, and he went on to serve as Member of Parliament for Edinburgh (1865-81).

He lived at Newington House from 1852 until his death. He is buried in the graveyard of St Cuthbert's Church. McLaren was married three times and his children include politician Sir Charles McLaren (1850 - 1934) and jurist John McLaren (1831 - 1910). He is remembered by the McLaren Monument at Inverstrae.

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