National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

John Muir (1838-1914)

John Muir (1838-1914)


John Muir was born in East Lothian.  His family emigrated to the United States of America in 1849. He became an early advocate of the preservation of the American wilderness and a leading conservationist. He petitioned the US Congress for the National Park Bill (passed in 1899), establishing both Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. His birthplace in Dunbar is now a museum.

John Muir is one of the famous Scots commemorated in our Archivists' Garden. The entry on leopard lily includes a quote about his first sighting of this American wild flower.

Birth in 1838

John Muir was born on 21 April 1838, the son of Daniel Muir, shopkeeper in Dunbar and Ann Gilrye. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Dunbar gives the date of baptism as 6 May and the names of two witnesses.

Baptism entry for John Muir

Birth and baptism entry for John Muir in the OPR for Dunbar (26 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 706/7

1841 Census

In 1841, John Muir, aged 3, was with his family at an address in High Street, Dunbar, East Lothian. The census record gives the family name as Moore. The last two columns for place of birth show that his father, a meal-dealer, was born in England (E) but the rest of the family, and Christina Penraith aged 10, are born in the county (Y). Ages over 15 years have been rounded down to the nearest five.

1841 Census record for John Muir

1841 Census record for John Muir (35 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1841/706/7, page 3

By the time of the 1851 Census the family had emigrated to the USA.