The Quilietti Family

The story of a Scots Italian family

EDINBURGH’s more famous folks

Edinburgh’s famous people – culture and sport

  • Other
    • James Braidwood (1800-1861). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh. Founded the world’s first municipal fire service in Edinburgh in 1824, and was the first director of the London Fire Engine Establishment
    • John Knox (c.1510-1572). Born in Edinburgh. A Scottish clergyman and leader of the Protestant Reformation who is considered the founder of the Presbyterian denomination.
    • Alexander Laing (1793-1826). Born and educated in Edinburgh. Scottish explorer and the first European to reach Timbuktu.
    • Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville (1742-1811). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh. Scottish lawyer and politician. He was the first Secretary of State for War and both the first and last person to be impeached in the United Kingdom. The Melville monument in St Andrew Square is dedicated to him.
    • Founders of Encyclopedia Britannica (Colin Macfarquhar and Andrew Bell). The former was a bookseller and printer, the latter an engraver. Both were from Edinburgh and the first edition of the Britannica was published in Edinburgh in 1768 under the pseudonym “A Society of Gentlemen in Scotland”.
    • Deacon Brodie (1741-1788). Born and lived in Edinburgh. Scottish cabinet-maker and Edinburgh city councillor, who maintained a secret life as a burglar. The dichotomy between Brodie’s respectable façade, and his real nature inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
    • Burke and Hare. Both lived in Edinburgh , where they murdered 16 victims and sold their bodies to Dr. Knox, a private anatomy lecturer whose students were drawn from Edinburgh Medical College.
    • Greyfriars Bobby (1855/1856-1872). Skye terrier who became known in 19th-century Edinburgh after reportedly spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner, John Gray, until he died. A statue and fountain was erected in 1873 at the southern end of the George IV Bridge to commemorate him.
    • Mary Queen of Scots (1541-1587). Spent her early years in Edinburgh, returning to rule Scotland in 1561. Mary was forced to abdicate the throne in 1567, in favour of her one-year-old son James VI. She was imprisoned in England for 19 years and eventually executed for her involvement in three plots to assassinate Elizabeth I.
    • Douglas Haig (1861-1928). Born in Edinburgh. British soldier and senior commander (field marshal) during World War I. Most notably he was commander during the Battle of the Somme, the 3rd Battle of Ypres and the series of victories leading to the German surrender in 1918.

Edinburgh has many connections with notable figures from all spheres and walks of life. From scientific pioneers to sporting champions, and best-selling authors to Hollywood icons, the city is rightly proud of these associations.

Whether they were born, educated or employed in Edinburgh, or had something more of a passing connection, you can find details of these people here. The next page also has a timeline of events and occasions that features some of the individuals below.

Please note that this information is intended as a guide only and we advise that you double-check it before using it for anything other than your own interest.


  • John Bellany (b.1942). Studied at the Edinburgh College of Art. Influential Scottish figurative painter.
  • Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005). Born in Leith , studied at Edinburgh College of Art. Scottish sculptor and artist – a major figure in the international art world. Created some of the finest examples of British pop art.
  • Alexander Nasmyth (1758-1840). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh. Scottish portrait and landscape painter, often called the “father of Scottish landscape painting.” His famous portrait of Robert Burns, now in the National Gallery of Scotland, is now well known through William Walker’s engraving.
  • Ceclie Walton (1891-1956). Lived in Edinburgh. Scottish painter, illustrator and sculptor. She and her husband Eric were two of the moving spirits of the Edinburgh chapter of the Symbolist movement in the early 20th century.
  • Henry Raeburn (1756-1823). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh. Scottish portrait painter. His famous portrait of Sir Walter Scott resides in the National Gallery of Scotland.
  • Patrick Nasmyth (1787-1831). Scottish landscape painter. He was the eldest son of the famous artist Alexander Nasmyth, whilst his younger brother, James, was a prominent engineer who gained notoriety as the inventor of the steam hammer.
  • Samuel Peploe (1871-1935). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh. Scottish Post-Impressionist painter, noted for his still life works and for being one of the group of four painters that became known as the Scottish Colourists.
  • Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006). Educated and lived in Edinburgh. Scottish poet, writer and artist. Gained wide renown as an impressive concrete poet. Responsible for the creation of Little Sparta, a garden in the Pentland Hills, that in 2004 was voted the most important work of Scottish art.
  • Allan Ramsay (1713-1784). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh. Scottish portrait painter, and royal portrait painter to George III.
  • David Wilkie (1785-1841). Educated and lived in Edinburgh. Prominent Scottish painter, who achieved fame internationally and was appointed as the Scottish court painter during his lifetime. His famous works include Pitlessie Fair and the Letter of Introduction.
  • John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh. Scottish artist, regarded as one of the major artists of the Scottish Colourists School of painting.
  • Francis Cadell (1883-1937). Born, educated and lived most of his life in Edinburgh. Scottish painter associated with the Scottish Colourists

    Entertainment and media

    • Ewen Bremner (b.1972). Born in Edinburgh. Actor, probably best know for his role as Spud in the 1996 film version of Trainspotting, set in Edinburgh.
    • Rory Bremner (b.1961). Born in Edinburgh. British impressionist, playwright and comedian, noted particularly for his work in political satire.
    • Frederic Chopin (1810-1849). Wrote out his last will and testament in Edinburgh (October 1848). A Polish composer and pianist. One of the great masters of Romantic music.
    • Sir Sean Connery (b.1930). Born in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh. Retired Scottish actor and producer. Winner of an Academy Award, 2 BAFTA Awards and 3 Golden Globes.
    • Ronnie Corbett (b.1930). Born and educated in Edinburgh. Actor and comedian best known for his association with Ronnie Barker in the long-running British television comedy sketch series The Two Ronnies.
    • AA Gill (b.1954). Born in Edinburgh. Writer and restaurant critic known for his humour and satire.
    • Sir Ludovic Kennedy (1919-2009). Born in Edinburgh. Writer, journalist and presenter best known for re-examining cases such as the Lindbergh kidnapping and the murder convictions of Timothy Evans and Derek Bentley, and for his role in the abolition of the death penalty in the United Kingdom.
    • Sir Harry Lauder (1870-1950). Born in Portobello, Edinburgh. Scottish singer and entertainer, described by Sir Winston Churchill as “Scotland’s greatest ever ambassador!”
    • Shirley Manson (b.1966). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh . Scottish musician and actress, best known internationally as the lead singer of the grunge band ‘Garbage’.
    • Edwyn Collins (b.1959).  Born in Edinburgh.  Member of the popular 70s/80s band ‘Orange Juice’.  Later began his solo career, had a UK and US hit with “Girl Like You” in 1994.
    • Bay City Rollers.  Formed in Edinburgh.  Scottish pop band most popular in the 1970s.  The group’s line-up featured numerous changes over the years, but the classic line-up during its heyday included guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart Wood, singer Les McKeown, bassist Alan Longmuir, and drummer Derek Longmuir.
    • Ken Stott (b.1955). Born in Edinburgh, attended George Heriot’s School. Particularly known for his numerous television roles.
    • Charles Maclaren (1782-1866). Born and lived in Edinburgh. He established The Scotsman newspaper in Edinburgh and at first acted as its editor.
    • Gail Porter (b.1971). Born in Edinburgh. Scottish television presenter, most famous for presenting Top of the PopsLive and Kicking and The Big Breakfast
      • John Leslie (b.1965). Born, educated and lives in Edinburgh. Former Scottish television presenter – he has presented BBC One’s Blue Peter and ITV’s This Morning and the ITV game show Wheel of Fortune.
      • Kirsty Gallacher (b.1976). Born in Edinburgh. Scottish television presenter best known for presenting Sky Sports NewsSoccer AM and The Games.
      • Nicky Campbell (b.1961). Born and educated in Edinburgh. Scottish radio and television presenter and journalist. Best known for his time presenting Watchdogand the game show Wheel of Fortune.
      • Magnús Magnússon (1929-2007). Educated and lived in Edinburgh. Television presenter, journalist, translator and writer. Earned renown as the presenter of the BBC television quiz programme Mastermind, which he hosted for 25 years.


      • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). Born and studied in Edinburgh. Scottish physician and writer, particularly renowned for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes.
      • Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932). Born in Edinburgh. A writer, most famous forThe Wind in the Willows.
      • JK Rowling (b.1965). Famously completed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone whilst in Edinburgh. An author best known for her creation of the Harry Potter series.
      • Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh. A prolific Scottish historical novelist and poet, popular throughout Europe during his time. Famous titles include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, Waverley , The Heart of Midlothian and The Bride of Lammermoor.
      • Alexander McCall Smith (b.1948). Studied at the University of Edinburgh, now lives in Edinburgh. Best known for The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series.
      • Ian Rankin (b.1960). Lives in Edinburgh. Scottish crime writer, most famous for his Inspector Rebus series that are mainly set in Edinburgh.
      • Dame Muriel Spark (1918-2006). Born in Edinburgh, attended James Gillespie’s High School for Girls. An award-winning Scottish writer, best known for her novelThe Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
      • Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh. Scottish novelist, essayist, poet and travel writer, particularly renowned forTreasure Island, Kidnapped and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
      • Irvine Welsh (b.1957). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh. Contemporary Scottish novelist, best known for his novel Trainspotting.
      • Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978). Lived and died in Edinburgh. A significant Scottish poet of the 20th century. He was instrumental in creating a Scottish version of modernism and was a leading light in the Scottish Renaissance of the 20th century.
      • Margaret Oliphant (1828-1897). Born in Edinburgh. Popular Scottish novelist and historical writer.
      • Norman MacCaig (1910-1996). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh . Scottish poet praised by Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes and Hugh MacDiarmid. He was a leading thinker in the twentieth-century movement called The Scottish Renaissance.
      • Robert Fergusson (1750-1774). Born and lived in Edinburgh. Scottish poet at the height of the Scottish Enlightenment. His short career was highly influential, especially through its impact on Robert Burns who echoes or directly models some of Fergusson’s works.
      • Sydney Goodsir Smith (1915-1975). Educated and lived in Edinburgh. Poet, artist, dramatist and novelist – a major figure of the Scottish Renaissance. He is now commemorated in The Makars’ Court.


      • Alex Arthur (b.1978). Born and lives in Edinburgh. Professional boxer; former British, Commonwealth, European Boxing Union (EBU) and WBO super featherweight champion.
      • Ken Buchanan (b.1945). Former boxing undisputed world lightweight champion. Many consider Buchanan to be the best boxer ever to come out of Scotland.
      • Sir Chris Hoy (b.1976). Born in Edinburgh, educated at George Watson’s College. He joined his first track cycling club, City of Edinburgh Racing Club, in 1994. Scottish track cyclist; multiple world champion and Olympic Games triple gold medal winner. Hoy is Scotland’s most successful Olympian and the most successful Olympic male cyclist of all time.
      • Katherine Grainger (b.1975). Studied at the University of Edinburgh where she took up rowing in 1993. Scottish rower, three-time Olympic silver medalist, and winner of six medals at the World Championships.
      • Gordon Strachan (b.1957). Born in Edinburgh. Scottish football manager and former player, he won 50 international caps for Scotland and is a member of the Scotland Football Hall of Fame.
      • Gavin Hastings (b.1962). Born and educated in Edinburgh. Former Scotland rugby union player. He is considered one of the best rugby players to come out of Scotland.
      • Eric Liddell (1902-1945). Family home in Edinburgh , attended University of Edinburgh. Scottish athlete. Winner of the Men’s 400m at the 1924 Summer Olympics held in Paris. He was portrayed in the film Chariots of Fire.
      • Graeme Souness (b.1953). Born in Edinburgh. Scottish former professional footballer and manager. Souness is perhaps best known as the former captain of the successful Liverpool team of the early 1980s.
      • John Greig (b.1942). Born in Edinburgh. Former Scottish professional football player – spent his career at Glasgow Rangers as a player and then later a manager.
      • Stephen Hendry (b.1969). Born in South Queensferry, Edinburgh. Scottish professional snooker player – became the youngest ever snooker World Champion at 21. Holds six further World Championship titles and was snooker’s world number one for eight consecutive years between 1990 and 1998, and again in 2006/2007.
      • Dario Franchitti (b.1973). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh. Scottish racing driver and world champion. He won the 2007 BBC Scotland Sports Personality of the Year award.
      PScience, medicine and engineering

      • Robert Anderson (1834-1921). Citizen of Edinburgh . Anderson was a leading Scottish architect and military engineer. His works include the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Glasgow Central Station Hotel, the Dome of Old College and the McEwan Hall.
      • Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922). Born and educated in Edinburgh. He is credited with the invention of the telephone.
      • Charles Darwin (1809-1882). Educated at the University of Edinburgh. Founder of the theory of natural selection.
      • James Hutton (1726-1797). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh for most of his life. He is considered the father of modern geology.
      • Joseph Lister (1827-1912). Taught at the University of Edinburgh. Pioneer of antiseptic surgery.
      • Sir Robert Lorimer (1864-1929). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh. A prolific Scottish architect, he designed the war memorial at Edinburgh Castle and the Thistle Chapel at St Giles’ Cathedral.
      • John Napier (1550-1617). Citizen of Edinburgh. Most renowned as the inventor of logarithms and for making common the use of the decimal point in mathematics and arithmetic.
      • Sir Patrick Geddes (1854-1932). Biologist, sociologist and pioneer of town planning. Influential in the construction of parts of Edinburgh ‘s Old Town.
      • Elsie Inglis (1864-1917) Lived and worked in Edinburgh. An innovative Scottish doctor who championed the provision of adequate medical care for women in Edinburgh. Her picture appears on the £50 banknote issued by the Clydesdale Bank in 2009.
      • Richard Shaw (1831-1912). Born in Edinburgh. Influential Georgian architect known especially for his large country houses.
      • James Simpson (1811-1870). Lived and worked in Edinburgh. Discovered the anaesthetic properties of chloroform.
      • Andrew Meikle (1719-1811). Born and lived. Inventor of the threshing machine, a device used to remove the outer husks from grains of wheat. This was regarded as one of the key developments of the British Agricultural Revolution in the late 18th century.
      • William Adam (1689-1748). Lived and worked in Edinburgh. Scottish architect, mason, and entrepreneur – he was the foremost architect of his time in Scotland. Among his best known works are Hopetoun House (Edinburgh) and Duff House (Banff).
      • Robert Adam (1728-1792). Educated and lived in Edinburgh. Scottish neoclassical architect, interior designer and furniture designer. The son of William Adam, Scotland’s foremost architect of the time, he assisted the family business on projects such as the building of Inveraray Castle and the continuing extensions of Hopetoun House.
      • Robert William Thomson (1822 -1873). Lived in Edinburgh. Original inventor of the pneumatic tyre, the first self-filling pen and the first steam traction engine to be used for haulage (road tractor). He was also the first person to use electricity to detonate explosives and patented many rubber vulcanising techniques.
      • Joseph Black (1728-1799). Lived and died in Edinburgh. Scottish physician, known for his discoveries of latent heat, specific heat, and carbon dioxide.
      • Ian Wilmut (b.1944). Lives in Edinburgh and teaches at the University of Edinburgh. Best known as the leader of the research group that in 1996 first cloned Dolly the sheep. He was granted an OBE in 1999 for services to embryo development.
      • James Gillespie Graham (1776-1855). Lived and worked in Edinburgh. Scottish Gothic architect who’s principal works include St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh and the Highland Tolbooth Church (now the Hub) at the top of the Royal Mile.

      Business and economics

      • Sir Tom Farmer (b.1940). Born in Leith and lives in Edinburgh. Founder of the Kwik-Fit chain of garages.
      • John Menzies (1808-1879). Born and lived in Edinburgh. Founder of John Menzies plc, most widely known for their chain of book and stationery shops sold to WH Smith in 1998.
      • Sir David Murray (b.1951). Scottish national, educated in Edinburgh. Successful entrepreneur and chairman of Rangers FC.
      • Adam Smith (1723-1790). Lived and died in Edinburgh. A Scottish moral philosopher and pioneer of modern economics. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment.Politics and philosophy
        • David Hume (1711-1776). Born, educated and lived in Edinburgh. A Scottish philosopher and historian who was a leading figure of the Enlightenment. He is considered one of the giants of Western philosophy.
        • Gordon Brown (b. 1951). Studied at Edinburgh University. Former Prime Minister of the UK .
        • Alistair Darling (b.1953). Lives in Edinburgh, currently the MP for Edinburgh South West. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer 2007-2010.
        • Tony Blair (b.1953). Born in Edinburgh and studied at Fettes College. Former Prime Minister of the UK .
        • Katharine Stewart-Murray (Duchess of Atholl) (1874-1960). Born in Edinburgh. Scottish noblewoman and leading Conservative politician.
        • George Brown (1818-1880). Born and educated in Edinburgh. Politician and a founding father of Canada.
        • Eliza Wigham (1820-1899). Born and lived in Edinburgh. She was the leading light on the Edinburgh Ladies Emancipation Society. She was also prominent in the temperance, suffrage and peace movements in the late 19th century.
        • Adam Ferguson (1723-1816). Lived in Edinburgh and taught at the University of Edinburgh . Philosopher and historian of the Scottish Enlightenment. He is sometimes called “the father of modern sociology.”
        • John Playfair (1748-1819). Lived in Edinburgh. Scottish scientist and mathematician, and a professor of natural philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. Best known for his book illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth (1802), which summarized the work of James Hutton – it was through this book that Hutton’s principle of uniformitarianism first reached a wide audience.

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