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Duncan McLaren (12 January 1800 – 26 April 1886) was a Liberal Party Member of Parliament (MP) for Edinburgh.

Duncan McLaren Memorial


Born in Renton, Scotlandmarker, Duncan McLaren was the youngest of ten children of John McLaren and Catherine McLellan. Apart from two years of schooling, was self taught. After school, he was apprenticed to a merchant in Dunbar. In 1824 he set up his own business as a draper in Edinburgh. He became a member of the City Council in 1833. He became City Treasurer in 1837 and found that the city’s finances were in ruin and that the Scottish Capital was bankrupt. His work extricated Edinburgh from financial ruin. In 1835 he pioneered free education for all classes and started a building programme of thirteen schools.

He was elected Lord Provost of Edinburgh in 1851. McLaren was a Liberal and supported the anti–Corn Law campaign of John Bright, the opening of the Meadows in Edinburgh to the Public, and the establishment of 'the Industrial Museum'. McLaren was also a governor of the Heriot Free School trust.

In 1865 he was elected one of Edinburgh’s two Members of Parliament, a position he held until he retired 16 years later. In Parliament he proved a conscientious and intelligent representative, and acquired a position of so much authority on Scottish questions, that he was called "Member for Scotland".

Duncan McLaren was married three times - the third being Priscilla Bright (sister of John Bright and Margaret Bright Lucas), who he married in 1848, and they lived together in Newington House, Edinburgh from 1852 until his death in 1886. He is buried in St. Cuthberts Church Cemetery in the heart of Edinburgh.

He was the father of Charles McLaren, 1st Baron Aberconway, John McLaren, Lord McLaren, Walter Stowe Bright McLaren (all three being Members of Parliament), Helen Priscilla McLaren (wife of Andrea Rabagliati) and Agnes McLaren.

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