Prominent personalities with a Bute connection
This list does not pretend to be exhaustive. Any suggestions of
additional personalities (with appropriate details) can be submitted via
the website contact facility that can be accessed by clicking
- HRH The Prince Charles, The Duke of Rothesay:
"Duke of Rothesay" is the Scottish Peerage title used by HRH Prince Charles when in Scotland.
During the late 14th and early 15th centuries Rothesay Castle was a
favourite residence of Robert II (King 1371-1390) and Robert III (King
1390-1406). King Robert III, was the first monarch to designate his
eldest son (David) the Duke of Rothesay (in 1398) thus commencing the
tradition of the Dukedom. That title is still bestowed on the
heir-apparent to the throne and so is currently held by HRH Prince Charles.
Historical background on the peerage title "Duke of Rothesay" (including succession details and a picture of the banner)
General information on HRH Prince Charles
Official website of HRH Prince Charles
Photo Gallery of HRH Prince Charles's visit to Rothesay
- Lord Richard Attenborough: (29 August 1923 - 24 August 2014) who has appeared in more than 50 films, including Jurassic Park and
Miracle on 34th Street, directed the movie
Gandhi which won eight Oscars in 1982, was knighted by Her
Majesty the Queen in 1976, and given a Life Peerage in 1993, had, until recently, a
personal retreat estate (Rhubodach) at the north end of
the Isle of Bute. This estate has now been acquired by the people of Bute as part of a community buy-out scheme.
- Sir (Dr) William MacEwen:
(1848-1924) the founder of Erskine Hospital and its "first great
surgeon" and subsequently Professor of Surgery at the Western Infirmary
and Surgeon to the Royal household, was born in Rothesay. He is
recognised as being 'the father of neurosurgery'. His Bute home was the
present Garrochty House at the south end of the island (visible from St
Blane's). When Mount Stuart served as a Military Hospital during World
War 1, Dr MacEwen was a resident surgeon. He was awarded the Freedom of
the Royal Burgh in 1922, two years before his death.
- Robert Thom:
Thom, an industrialist and engineer, was the owner of the Rothesay
Cotton Mill. In 1800 he had found that the water power was inadequate,
and switched to coal, but this proved too expensive. The mills
therefore reverted to water power the supply of which from Loch Fad was
greatly augmented through the re-routing of water from elsewhere on the
island to Loch Fad by means of water-cuts (ditches) hence Thom's
Cuts. In 1831Thom bought Ascog House and 420 acres including 90
acres of Ascog Loch, and in 1840 he built Meikle Ascog. Both these
properties are now in the ownership of the Landmark Trust - the former
building reputed to be among the oldest presently-standing dwellings on
the island (circa 1678).(more)
- John William Mackail:
(1859-1945) Born in Ascog (Isle of Bute): man of letters (now best remembered as a
Virgil scholar), poet, literary historian and biographer.
- HR (Birdie) Bowers:
was a lieutenant in the Royal Indian Marines. He was one of the group
of four who trekked with Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole in March
1912. All five were lost on the return journey with the bodies of
Scott, Wilson and Bowers being discovered in their tent in November
1912. His mother and sister stayed in Rothesay and he did some of his
training while staying with them, swimming from Ardbeg to Craigmore
regularly to build up his stamina. His home is still standing, and there
is an impressive memorial to him in St. Ninian's Church, Port Bannatyne (see image in right-hand panel).
- Edmund Kean: (1789-1833)
Kean was considered the greatest Shakespearean actor of his day, and he
rose to considerable fame and wealth on the European and American stage.
His hectic (and some would say debauched) lifestyle drove him to seek a
secluded hideaway. He needed somewhere to recharge his batteries and
escape the attentions of his adoring public and also of those who
disapproved of his racy and unseemly behaviour. A frequent visitor on
tour to Scotland he spotted the location of Woodend House
(then a cottage) and entered negotiations with the Marquess of Bute to
lease the land and buildings. He moved into Woodend House
in the Autumn of 1824. Kean endeared himself to the local population
and retained a number of faithful staff. He held fireworks parties and
let off blunderbusses to celebrate his birthday. On Sundays he would
often sleep until the early afternoon and then spend the rest of the day
drifting in his boat on the loch, fishing. His eccentric egotism finds
expression in the grand entrance gate to Woodend House that he had built
- displaying the busts of himself (3rd from left) alongside (L-R)
Massinger, Shakespeare and Garrick.
(George) Leslie Hunter:
(1879-1931) World-recognised landscape and still-life painter. Born in
Rothesay but emigrated with his family to the USA and settled in San
Francisco. He regularly visited the continent and was influenced by
the work of Van Gogh and Matisse. Hunter's particular skill was the
manner in which he dealt with light. He became one of a group known as
the Scottish Colourists, with F.C.B. Cadell (1883 - 1937), J.D.
Fergusson (1874 - 1961) and S.J. Peploe (1871 - 1935). (More)
- John Stirling:
(1806-1844) British author born at Kames Castle on the Isle of Bute. Sterling studied at the University of Glasgow and Trinity College and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he took a distinguished part in the debates of the union. He was active in the literary scene in London. In 1830 he married the daughter of Lieutenant-General Charles Barton (1760-1819), but shortly thereafter he fell victim to tuberculosis. After spending some time on the Continent in June 1834 he was ordained and became curate at Hurstmonceux but acting on the advice of his physician he resigned his clerical duties in the following February. He wrote and published several novels, poems, and allegorical papers. His son, Major-General John Barton Sterling (1840-1926), after entering the navy, went into the army in 1861, and had a distinguished career both as a soldier and as a writer on military subjects. He commanded the Coldstream Guards until his retirement in 1901.
- Montague Stanley:
(1809-1844) gave up the
glitter and fame of the Edinburgh stage due to his religious scruples to
paint on Bute. He is buried in the Sound of the Sea at Ascog Church
(the only grave on this property). He was a regular exhibitor at the
Scottish Academy, and many of his pictures were engraved for book
- Lena Zavaroni:
(1963-1999) A child prodigy
singing star, Lena was a Rothesay lass - born and bred! She rocketed
to fame with her recording of "Ma, he's making eyes at me". She
performed with Frank Sinatra, guest-starred on the Carol Burnett Show,
and even shared a dressing room with Liza Minnelli.
- Johnny Beattie:
(1927- ) Johnny, the Scottish showbiz legend /
impresario, has a second home on Bute, and spends a considerable amount
of time on the island. He has strong ties to Bute, and is
ever-willing to do charity events for good causes. He has been the
recipient of countless awards. He received a top award at the 15th Lord
Provost's Awards Ceremony in City Chambers "for entertaining the people
of Glasgow and beyond for over 50 years", and in March 2007 was
presented with awards by Bute Gateway and the Argyll and Bute
Council in recognition of his services to Bute in particular.
- Adam Crozier:
(1964- ) Adam Crozier, the former CEO of the Royal Mail Group, was born and raised on the Isle of Bute. His father was estate manager for Lord Bute, and his mother was secretary to the Managing Director of The Scotsman. Crozier later transferred to a school in Ayr, before moving to Graeme High School, a comprehensive school in Falkirk. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree (BA) in Business Organisation from Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University. While at school, Crozier had trials with both Hibernian and Stirling Albion football clubs. Accepting the Royal Mail post Crozier described his remit as the "biggest corporate turnaround programme in the UK". He is now chief executive of media group ITV plc.
- Earls and Marquises of Bute: A comprehensive list of internet resources
that provide details of the various Earls and Marquises of Bute can be
found on the "Heritage, Archaeology and Genealogy" page of this website.
Scroll down to the sub-section entitled "Other heritage resources"
- Ashley Lilley: (29 January 1986- ) Rothesay-born Ashley Lilley is a Scottish actress who made her film debut in 2008 in the film "Mamma Mia! the Movie" which is based on the songs of famous Swedish music group ABBA. Nicknamed "Ash" by her friends and family in Rothesay she attended Rothesay Academy. A graduate of the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London (2004) she has more recently appeared in the 2010 romantic drama, Letters to Juliet, as Patricia, Charlie's cousin (a minor role).
- Graham Watson: A European Parliament politician, Sir Graham Robert Watson was born in Rothesay on 23 March 1956. Since 1994 and was the leader of the Group of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party 2002-2004 and the first leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe 2004-2009. Since 2011, he is the President of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party.
- Jane Ross: (born 18 September 1989) is a Scottish international footballer who currently plays for Glasgow City in the Scottish Women's Premier League.
- Andrew Fulton: Robert Andrew Fulton (6 February 1944 -), current Chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party, was born in Glasgow but grew up on the Isle of Bute and attended Rothesay Academy. Later he went on to study Law at Glasgow University, graduating MA, LLB (1962-1967). Fulton was previously a member of HM Diplomatic Service from 1968-1999 with postings in Saigon, Rome, East Berlin, Oslo and the UK mission to the UN in New York and finally Washington DC.
In 2006 Fulton became Chairman of GPW, global experts in business intelligence and corporate investigations. He is also a senior advisor to IndigoVision and Memex Technology, and is Honorary President, formerly founding Chairman, of the Scottish North American Business Council.
- Matthew Stewart: Matthew Stewart FRS FRSE (23 January 1785) was a Scottish mathematician and minister of religion. He was born in Rothesay, and was educated at Rothesay Grammar School. Matthew Stewart entered the University of Glasgow in 1734 where he studied with the philosopher Francis Hutcheson and the mathematician Robert Simson, the latter with whom he studied ancient geometry. Round about 1749 his father, the Rev. Dugald Stewart, Minister of Rothesay, persuaded Matthew to enter the ministry. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Dunoon in May 1744, and became a minister at Roseneath, Dumbartonshire one year later.
- Peter Monie: Peter William Monie CSI (30 March 1877-11 December 1946) was born in Rothesay, and studied at the University of Glasgow, and Balliol College Oxford. He was a British administrator in India (serving in high ranks in Bombay and in Sind). He later became a clergyman and was first honorary General Secretary of Toc H (1925 to 1935) and served as an assistant curate at St Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow from 1936, and was later appointed rector of Old St Paul's Church in Edinburgh, a post he held until his death.
- Billy McIsaac: William (Billy) McIsaac (12 July 1949- ) was born in Rothesay, and is a musician who played mainly keyboards from his early days with different pop bands. In 1990, he studied piano performance at the Royal Academy of Music, in Glasgow. In 1995, along with singer Maureen McMullan and saxophonist/keyboardist Gordon Bowie, he formed the Billy McIsaac Band, who claim to be the number-1 wedding band in Scotland.
- Sheina Marshall: Sheina MacAlister Marshall OBE FRSE FRS (20 April 1896-7 April 1977) was a Scottish marine zoologist who worked at the Scottish Marine Biological Association, at Millport, Cumbrae. Born in Rothesay, Sheina Marshall was educated at Rothesay Grammar School and St Margaret's School, Polmont. She studied at Glasgow University during World War I, graduating in Zoology in 1919. She held a Cargenie Fellowship at Glasgow from 1920 until 1922, when she joined the University Marine Biological Station Millport (UMBS). She co-authored several books and papers. She became the first women to be admitted Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1961, awarded the OBE in 1966, and won the Royal Society of Edinburgh's Neill Prize in 1971. She retired as Deputy Director of the Millport Station in 1964, but remained there as an Honorary Fellow.
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Lord Richard Attenborough
The Macewen family plot at
St Blane's Lower Churchyard
Original bridge over
one of Thom's Cuts
HR (Birdie) Bowers
Grave at Ascog
Lena Zavaroni Memorial
Bute Discovery Centre
live in Rothesay