National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Norman MacCaig (1910-1996)

The NRS Catalogue is currently affected by an issue that is intermittently creating error messages for users. We are working to resolve this as quickly as possible, and we apologise for the inconvenience.

Norman MacCaig (1910-1996)


Norman MacCaig graduated from the University of Edinburgh. During the Second World War he was a conscientious objector on humanist grounds and spent time in prison. For most of his career he was a primary school teacher. He was appointed creative writing fellow at the University of Edinburgh in 1967 and reader in poetry at Stirling University until his retirement. He was a regular, along with fellow poets, in the bars of Rose Street in Edinburgh and is depicted in the painting 'Poets' Pub' held by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. He adopted the spelling MacCaig for his publications, keeping McCaig for personal matters (as in the official records below). He published sixteen volumes of poems and his poetry readings were always popular. Among his many honours were an OBE in 1979 and the Queen's Medal for Poetry in 1987. The Norman MacCaig Papers, which include manuscripts of his poems and correspondence, are held by the University of Edinburgh. The Norman MacCaig page on the Scottish Poetry Library website includes transcripts of some of the poems and a selected bibliography.

Birth in 1910

Norman Alexander McCaig was born at 1:30 am on 14 November 1910, the son of Robert McCaig, Chemist and Joan McLeod. The entry in the statutory register of births for the district of St Andrew in the burgh of Edinburgh gives the place of birth as 53 East London Street, Edinburgh.

Birth entry for Norman McCaig

Birth entry for Norman McCaig (55 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1910/685-2/855

1911 Census

In 1911, Norman A McCaig, 4 months, was enumerated at 53 East London Street, Edinburgh with his parents and his older sisters, Catherine R and Ellen D McCaig. The census return for the district of St Andrew in Edinburgh shows his father, a chemist was a shop assistant and born in Dumfries and his mother, Joan was born in Tarbet, Inverness-shire.

1911 Census record for Norman McCaig

1911 Census record for Norman McCaig (25 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1911/685-2/3, page 8

Marriage in 1940

Norman Alexander McCaig, 29, school teacher married Isabel Robina Munro, 29, school teacher, on 6 April 1940. The entry in the statutory register of marriages for the district of St Andrew gives the place of marriage as St Columba’s Church, Johnston Terrace, Edinburgh. They married 'after publication according to the forms of the Free Church of Scotland'. His usual address was 31 Howard Street, Edinburgh.

Marriage entry for Norman McCaig

Marriage entry for Norman McCaig (72 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1940/685-4/504

1940 valuation roll

The 1940 valuation roll for 31 Howard Place, Norman MacCaig's usual residence in the marriage entry above, shows the property was owned by his father, Robert McCaig, Chemist. Norman Alexander McCaig, Teacher, is recorded at 104 Broughton Road - last line in the image below. The valuation roll for the burgh of Edinburgh shows that the proprietors were James Miller and Partners of 88 Hanover Street and that the yearly rent or value was £36.

1940 valuation roll for Norman McCaig

1940 valuation roll for Norman McCaig (30 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, VR100/857, page 2539

Death in 1996

Norman Alexander McCaig died on 23 January 1996. The entry in the statutory register of deaths for the district of Edinburgh gives his age at death as 85 years. (National Records of Scotland, 1996/730/98)