National Records of Scotland

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Colin MacLaurin (1698-1746)

Colin MacLaurin (1698-1746)

Mathematician and natural philosopher

Colin MacLaurin was born in 1698, the son of John MacLaurin, a Church of Scotland minister, and Mary Cameron. Both parents died when he was young and he was brought up by his uncle, Daniel MacLaurin. He studied at University of Glasgow and submitted a thesis on the power of gravity. In 1717 he was appointed chair of mathematics at Marischal College, Aberdeen. Two years later he was admitted as a member of the Royal Society and met Isaac Newton. In 1724 he won the Academie Royal prize and from 1726 was professor of mathematics at the University of Edinburgh. He published treatises on geometry, algebra and fluxions, contributed to a biography of Isaac Newton and was a co-founder of what would become the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 1745 he helped to prepare Edinburgh's defences against the Jacobite army, had to flee to England but later returned to the city where he died a few months later.

Marriage in 1733

Colin MacLaurin (here spelt McLauren) married Ann Stewart on 8 July 1733. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Edinburgh shows he was professor of mathematics in the University of Edinburgh and that Ann was the daughter (D) of the deceased Mr Walter Stewart, advocate, His Majesty’s Solicitor.

Marriage entry for Colin McLaurin

Marriage entry for Colin MacLaurin (52 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-1/47, page 48

Death in 1746

Mr Colin MacLaurin (here McLauran), professor of mathematics, was buried on 17 June 1746. The single line entry in the Old Parish Register for Edinburgh gives further information about the location of his burial w (west) of the little door. The OPR volume, a record of interments in Greyfriars Burying Ground, includes columns for the numbers of males, females and children. There are summaries, including cause of death, at the end of each month's entries. Colin MacLaurin, was the 34th person and 9th adult male recorded for the month of June. The first letter of the surname is added before the name column, for example M Mr Colin McLauran.

Burial entry for Colin MacLaurin

Burial entry for Colin MacLaurin (16 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-1/91