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Famous Sons & Daughters

Over the years Jedburgh has produced many fine women and men who have given valuable service to their own community and to the wider society. There is space here to mention only the few who by their outstanding contributions have become renowned throughout Scotland and beyond. Each was born in or near Jedburgh. Some were educated here and all retained a connection with their place of birth throughout their lives. 


Mary Somerville (1780-1872)

David Brewster (1781-1868)

Samuel Rutherford (c1600-1661) 

James Thomson (1700-1748) 
Anthony Fasson G.C. (1920-1943) 
John Ainslie (1745-1828) 
Steve Hislop (1962-2003) 
You can find out more by going to www.achieversuk.co.uk 

​Mary Somerville was born in the church manse in Jedburgh in 1780. She became the most distinguished female scientist and mathematician in nineteenth century Britain - perhaps even throughout the whole world. The daughter of Admiral Sir William Fairfax, she lived in London from 1816, where she moved in intelectual and scientific circles, and corresponded with foreign scientists. In 1831 she published the Mechanisms of the Heavens, an account for the general reader of Pierre Simon Laplace's Mecanique Celeste. This had great success and she wrote several further scientific works. She supported the emancipation and education of women and Somerville College (1879) at Oxford is named after her. 
 
David Brewster, who was born in Jedburgh in 1781, was something of a child prodigy. At the age of only 12 he built a working telescope. Although he was trained for the church his vocation was in science, particularly optics. He became editor of the Edinburgh Magazine in 1802 and in 1808 of the Edinburgh Encyclopedia. In 1816 he invented the kaleidoscope and made significant contributions in the area of scientific instruments. In 1818 he was awarded the Rumford silver and gold medals for his discoveries on the polarization of light 
 
Samuel Rutherford was a theologian and preacher. He was born in Nisbet near Jedburgh. After graduating from Edinburgh University he was appointed professor of humanity there in 1623. 
Rutherford was a controversial figure whose work deeply influenced the latter course of the Scottish Reformation. He was one of the authors of the Westminster Confession. 


James Thomson was born in Kelso but educated in Jedburgh. He studied for the ministry but abandoned his studies and went to seek his fortune in London. He published Winter, a short poem in blank verse, in 1726. There followed Summer (1727), Spring (1728) and Autumn which appeared with the other three under the collective title of The Seasons in 1730. The poem Liberty (1735-1736) was inspired by the Grand Tour which he undertook as tutor to Charles Talbot's son in 1731, and was dedicated to the Prince of Wales, who awarded him a pension.  Alfred a Masque contains the song 'Rule Britania'. The Spenserian The Castle of Indolance (1740) is considered his masterpiece.  


First Officer of HMS Petard Anthony Fasson lost his life recovering important documents and an undamaged Enigma machine from a sinking U-boat in November 1943. Lieutenant Fasson had swam to a recently abandoned enemy submarine with Able Seaman Colin Grazier and Canteen Assistant Tommy Brown. They clambered onto the stricken boat and climbed down into the command area where they found the lights still on. 
After making repeated forays into the submarine and recovering extremely valuable intelligence material Fasson or Grazier were trapped in the sinking vessel and both died. The top-secret de-coding team at Bletchley Park were able to use the material to crack the German naval code and thereby save millions of tons of shipping and thousands of allied lives. 


John Ainslie, surveyor and cartographer, was born in Jedburgh in 1745. He began his career as a surveyor and engraver for the English County series of maps. He produced a widely acclaimed map of Scotland in 1782 which was further updated in 1789. 
He wrote the standard text for his profession, the Comprehensive treatise on Land Surveying comprising the Theory and Practice of all its Branches. 


Steve Hislop was an internationally acclaimed outstanding motorcycle rider.  He was British Superbike champion in 1995 and 2002. 
Steve also won a total of 11 races at the Isle of Man TT.
He died tragically in a helicopter crash in 2003 in the Borders not far from where he was born.