William McEwan

Founder of McEwan's Brewery, Member of Parliament for Edinburgh, major benefactor of the University.

Mcewan plaque


William McEwan was born in Alloa in 1827 to John McEwan, a ship owner.

After pursuing careers as a commercial clerk and bookmaker, he joined his uncles' brewery in Edinburgh and received the technical and management training required to establish his own brewery in 1856.

His Fountain Brewery at Fountainbridge started small, but McEwan's ambition, supported by funding from his mother and uncle, helped it to achieve success with the local market: by the turn of the century, the brewery had 90% of sales in north-eastern England. He also expanded into international trade, making significant exports to Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and India.

In 1886, he became the Member of Parliament for Edinburgh Central, which he served until 1900.

McEwan gave significant donations to the city of Edinburgh, including £115,000 to build the McEwan Hall as a graduation hall for the University of Edinburgh.

The plaque

McEwan's plaque is on the exterior wall of the McEwan Hall, next to the main entrance.


In honour of William McEwan


Founder of McEwan's Brewery, benefactor of the Medical School and Graduation Hall