(1800–86), MP for Edinburgh 1865–81, the foremost exemplar of middleclass Victorian radicalism (see Equipoise, age of). He was described at the time as ‘the member for Scotland’.
Of Highland parentage, MacLaren became a successful draper in Edinburgh. As a dissenting Presbyterian, he was excluded alike by religion, occupation, background, and education from the charmed circle of Church of Scotland lawyers and lairds who controlled Edinburgh's political and social life (see Disruption). For two decades he led the ultimately successful dissenters' campaign against Edinburgh's iniquitous Annuity Tax. He became burgh treasurer after municipal reform in 1833, rescuing Edinburgh's finances from the insolvency bequeathed by the unreformed council. He was Lord Provost from 1851 to 1854.
From The Oxford Companion to Scottish History in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: British History.