Sir Alexander MacEwen
Leader of the Scottish National Party
In office
7 April 1934 – 1936
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byAndrew Dewar Gibb
Personal details
Born(1875-01-10)10 January 1875
Kolkata, British India
Died29 June 1941(1941-06-29) (aged 66)
North Kessock, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland, UK
Political partyScottish National Party (1934–1941)
Other political
Liberal Party
Scottish Party
Spouse(s)Mary Henderson (m. 1906–1941)
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh

Sir Alexander Malcolm MacEwen (10 January 1875 – 29 June 1941)[1] was a Scottish solicitor, provost and the first leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Early life

MacEwen was born in Calcutta, India, the son of Robert Sutherland Taylor MacEwen (1839-1900), a barrister from Dornoch who served in India as the Recorder of Rangoon.[2] Alexander MacEwen was educated at Clifton College, Bristol[3] and the University of Edinburgh. After qualifying as a solicitor in 1901, he began his legal career in Stornoway, before joining the Inverness legal firm of Stewart Rule & Co., where he later became senior partner.[1]

Political career

A member of the Liberal Party, MacEwen was elected to Inverness Town Council in 1908, and served as Provost of Inverness 1925–1931. During his period in office, Provost MacEwen promoted schemes for the improvement of public health and housing in Inverness, and served as a member of the Inverness-shire Education Committee, and as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Royal Northern Infirmary. He also served as a councillor on Inverness County Council, representing Benbecula.[2]

He was Chief of the Gaelic Society in 1930.[4]

In 1932 MacEwen was one of the founders of the Scottish Party, and in the 1933 Kilmarnock by-election he stood as the joint candidate of the Scottish Party and the National Party of Scotland, coming fourth with 6,098 votes.[5][6]

With merger of the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party on 7 April 1934 to form the Scottish National Party, MacEwen became the new party's first leader.[7] The party's performance in the 1935 general election was disappointing with only Inverness and MacEwan in the Western Isles achieving respectable results.

MacEwen stood down as leader of the SNP in 1936, when he was succeeded by Andrew Dewar Gibb. He died at his home on the Black Isle in 1941, aged 66. MacEwen had three sons and two daughters. His son Malcolm joined the Communist Party of Great Britain and became a prominent conservationist.[8]


He was knighted by King George V in the 1932 Birthday Honours for services to local government and public health in Scotland.[9] MacEwen Drive in Inverness is named after him.[8][1]



  1. ^ a b c "Sir Alexander Malcolm MacEwen". Am Baille. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Scottish Highland Photo Archive - Image Detail".
  3. ^ "Clifton College Register" Muirhead, J.A.O. p159: Bristol; J.W Arrowsmith for Old Cliftonian Society; April, 1948
  4. ^ "History 2". Gaelic Society of Inverness.
  5. ^ "Kilmarnock By-election Result. National Government Success. Mr Lindsay's majority over Labour candidate. Scottish National Champion Last". The Glasgow Herald. 3 November 1933. p. 11. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  6. ^ "Focus: Plus ça change… for SNP and the rest of us". The Scotsman. 6 April 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  7. ^ "Union of Scots Parties. Opening Conference in Glasgow. New officials elected". The Glasgow Herald. 9 April 1934. p. 14. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Obituary: Alexander MacEwen. Advocate of Scottish Self-Government". The Glasgow Herald. 30 June 1941. p. 6. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  9. ^ "Knighthood". The Edinburgh Gazette. No. 14866. 3 June 1932. p. 446. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
Party political offices New political party Chairman (Leader) of the Scottish National Party 1934–1936 Succeeded byAndrew Dewar Gibb