Dr. Thomas Bassett Macaulay

1860 - 1942

Canadian actuary, who became a generous philanthropist. Born in Hamilton (Ontario), the son of a Fraserburgh-born insurance executive, who had emigrated from Scotland in 1854. After leaving school, he joined the Sun Life Assurance Company of Montreal and made remarkable progress within the company, becoming successively Secretary, Managing Director and President, serving in the latter role for twenty years until his retirement.

He generously contributed to various Canadian charities, but also funded numerous projects in Scotland. He endowed a fund of £10,000 to support poor seafarers in his father's home-town of Fraserburgh. He maintained interests in cattle breeding and was determined to improve agriculture in Scotland. He gave a further £10,000 to support research into animal breeding at the University of Edinburgh and established the Macaulay Experimental Farm on Lewis, where his family had originally come from. In 1930, he funded the purchase of land at Craigiebuckler (Aberdeen) to establish the Macaulay Institute for Soil Research, which became the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute and merged to form the James Hutton Institute in 2011 - having become an international leader in soil science, land and natural resource research.

Macaulay also gave money to the public library in Stornoway and funded a new wing for the hospital there. In gratitude, he was created the first Freeman of the burgh for 300 years. He was also awarded honorary degrees by the University of Aberdeen and by McGill University in Canada.

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