The Viscount Muirshiel
|Secretary of State for Scotland|
13 January 1957 – 13 July 1962
|Prime Minister||Harold Macmillan|
|Preceded by||Hon. James Stuart|
|Succeeded by||Michael Noble|
|Minister of State for the Colonies|
18 October 1956 – 13 January 1957
|Prime Minister||Anthony Eden|
|Preceded by||John Hare|
|Succeeded by||John Drummond|
|Minister of Civil Aviation|
31 October 1951 – 7 May 1952
|Prime Minister||Winston Churchill|
|Preceded by||David Rees-Williams|
|Succeeded by||Alan Lennox-Boyd|
|Chairman of the National Liberal Party|
|Preceded by||Stanley Holmes|
|Succeeded by||James Duncan|
|Member of Parliament|
for West Renfrewshire
23 February 1950 – 25 September 1964
|Preceded by||Thomas Scollan|
|Succeeded by||Norman Buchan|
|Member of Parliament|
for Montrose Burghs
5 July 1940 – 3 February 1950
|Preceded by||Charles Kerr|
|Succeeded by||Constituency abolished|
|Born||26 October 1905|
|Died||17 August 1992 (aged 86)|
|Political party||National Liberal |
|Spouse||Betty Astley (1902–1974)|
|Alma mater||Trinity College, Cambridge|
Lord Muirshiel served as Secretary of State for Scotland from 1957 to 1962 within Harold Macmillan's Conservative government, having held a number of junior ministerial posts beforehand. In 1964, he was elevated to the House of Lords.
Background and education
Maclay was the fifth son of Joseph Paton Maclay, 1st Baron Maclay, and the younger brother of Joseph Maclay, 2nd Baron Maclay. He was educated at Winchester and Trinity College, Cambridge, and was bowman in the victorious Cambridge boat in the 1927 Boat Race. At Cambridge, he was also a member of the University Pitt Club.
In 1940 Maclay was elected in a wartime by-election as Member of Parliament (MP) for Montrose Burghs. During the Second World War, he led the British Merchant shipping Mission to Washington, D.C., leading to his appointment to the Order of St Michael and St George as a Companion (CMG) in the 1944 Birthday Honours. In 1945 he briefly served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of Production. He retained his Montrose seat at the 1945 general election. During the 1945 to 1951 Labour government, he led the National Liberals in the House of Commons. The Montrose Burghs constituency was abolished for the 1950 general election, and Maclay was instead returned for West Renfrewshire, a seat he held until 1964. He served under Winston Churchill as Minister of Civil Aviation and Minister of Transport between October 1951 and May 1952. In 1952 he was admitted to the Privy Council.
Maclay remained out of office until October 1956 when he was appointed Minister of State for the Colonies by Sir Anthony Eden. When Harold Macmillan became Prime Minister in January 1957, he was made Secretary of State for Scotland with a seat in the cabinet. He continued in this post until July 1962, when he was a victim of the "Night of the Long Knives", when one-third of the Cabinet lost their ministries. In 1964 Maclay was raised to the peerage as Viscount Muirshiel, of Kilmacolm in the County of Renfrew. He had been made a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in 1962 and was made a Knight of the Thistle in 1973. From 1967 to 1980 he served as Lord-Lieutenant of Renfrewshire.
Lord Muirshiel married Betty, daughter of Delaval Graham L'Estrange Astley, in 1930. The marriage was childless. She died in June 1974, aged 71. Lord Muirshiel remained a widower until his death in August 1992, aged 86. The viscountcy died with him. He is buried alongside a number of family members including the Barons Maclay in the Mount Zion Church graveyard in Quarrier's Village near Kilmacolm in his former West Renfrewshire constituency.
- "Obituary: Viscount Muirshiel | The Independent | The Independent". Independent.co.uk. 20 August 1992. Archived from the original on 13 June 2022.
- thepeerage.com John Scott Maclay, 1st Viscount Muirshiel
- Fletcher, Walter Morley (2011) . The University Pitt Club: 1835-1935 (First Paperback ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-107-60006-5.
- "No. 34892". The London Gazette. 9 July 1940. p. 4170.
- "No. 36544". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 June 1944. p. 2569.
- "No. 37238". The London Gazette. 24 August 1945. p. 4296.
- "No. 38851". The London Gazette. 28 February 1950. p. 1044.
- "No. 43383". The London Gazette. 17 July 1964. p. 6097.
- "No. 42736". The London Gazette. 20 July 1962. p. 5807.
- "No. 45963". The London Gazette. 27 April 1973. p. 5331.
- Torrance, David, The Scottish Secretaries (Birlinn 2006)