Professor Sir Tom Devine (Kt, OBE, BA, PhD, DLitt, HonD Univ (Strathclyde, 2006), Hon DLitt (Queen's, Belfast, 2001), Hon DLitt (Abertay, Dundee, 2001), FRHistS, FSAScot, FRSE, Hon MRIA, FBA, Academician Academia Europea)

Sir William Fraser Professor Emeritus of Scottish History and Palaeography


Sir Tom Devine retired from the Sir William Fraser Chair of Scottish History and Palaeography in 2015. He is now Professor Emeritus in the University of Edinburgh.

I am a graduate of Strathclyde University and hold honorary doctorates from my alma mater, Queen’s University, Belfast and the University of Abertay, Dundee. At Strathclyde I rose through the academic ranks from assistant lecturer to Professor of Scottish History (in 1988), Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and, finally, Deputy Principal of the University from 1994 to 1998. From 1999 to 2004 I was a member of staff at Aberdeen University, being successively University Research Professor in Scottish History, Director of the AHRC Research Centre in Irish and Scottish Studies and Glucksman; Research Chair of Irish and Scottish Studies. I joined the University of Edinburgh in January, 2006. In addition to these appointments in the UK, I hold Honorary Professorships across the Atlantic at North Carolina (USA) and Guelph (Canada). Between 1992 and 1993 I was a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellow

Among my current and recent university and public appointments have been:

  • Member and Vice-Chair, RAE Assessment Panels in History, 1992 &1996
  • Trustee, National Museums of Scotland, 1998-2002
  • Member of Council, British Academy, 2000-2003
  • Convenor, Irish-Scottish Academic Initiative, 1993-9
  • Advisory Board, ESRC Devolution and Constitutional Change Programme
  • Research Awards Advisory Committee, Leverhulme Trust, Adviser on all History applications to the Trust, 2001-9
  • Trustee, Edinburgh UNESCO World City of Literature

I have won several awards, fellowships and prizes in recognition of my scholarly and research achievements including:

  • Senior Hume Brown Prize in Scottish History (1976)
  • Saltire Prize for Scottish Historical Research (1992)
  • Henry Duncan Prize and Lectureship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1993)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (elected 1992)
  • Fellow of the British Academy (elected 1994)
  • Hon Member of the Royal Irish Academy (elected 2001)
  • Hon Fellow, University of the West of Scotland, for services to cultural life in Scotland (2005)
  • Inaugural John Aitkenhead Award of the Institute of Contemporary Scotland for services to Scottish education and admission to the Academy of Merit (2006)
  • Royal Society of Edinburgh/Beltane Senior Prize for Excellence in Public Engagement (2012).

Over the last six years, while at Aberdeen and Edinburgh University I raised£4.5 million from research councils (primarily the AHRC), private benefaction and other external bodies for advanced research in Scottish history and Irish-Scottish Studies. In 2001, I was presented by HM Queen Elizabeth II with the Royal Gold Medal, Scotland’s supreme academic accolade, and appointed OBE in the New Year Honours List 2005 for services to Scottish history. I am the only UK historian elected to all three national academies within the British Isles; Birthday Honours Lists 2014, created Knight Bachelor for services to the study of Scottish history, first historian knighted with that citation.

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Research summary

  • Scotland

Current research interests

I have published 32 books and around 100 academic articles on such varied subjects as Scottish transatlantic trade, urban élites, rural society - in Highlands and Lowlands, sectarianism, the Irish in Scotland, Scotland and empire, the Anglo-Scottish Union, Irish - Scottish historical comparisons, emigration and famine.

Affiliated research centres

In the press

Scotland's Past and Scotland's Present

Highlights from an event celebrating the career of eminent historian Professor Sir Tom Devine.

Professor Devine was joined by Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the UK, for a discussion that explored facets of the nation's modern history at a crucial time for the country. The event marked 45 years of academic service by Tom Devine to the Universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Strathclyde.

Watch here


T.M. Devine, To the Ends of the Earth, Scotland's Global Diaspora, 1750-2010 (Penguin, 2011)

T.M. Devine, With John M. Mackenzie, eds., Scotland and the British Empire (Oxford University Press, 2011)

T.M. Devine, The Scottish Nation 1700 to 2000 (Penguin, London, 2006)

T.M. Devine, Clearance and Improvement: Land, Power and People in Scotland, 1700-1900 (John Donald Publishers Ltd, 2006)

T.M. Devine, Scotland's Empire and the Shaping of the Americas, 1700-1815 (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2004)

T.M. Devine, Scotland's Empire, 1600-1815 (Penguin Allen Lane, 2003)

T.M. Devine, The Scottish Nation, 1700-2000 (Penguin Allen Lane, 1999)

T.M. Devine, St Mary's Hamilton: the Social History of an Irish Catholic Community (John Donald, 1996)

T.M. Devine, Exploring the Scottish Past: Themes in the History of Scottish Society (Tuckwell Press, 1995)

T.M. Devine, The Transformation of Rural Scotland: Social Change and Agrarian Development, 1660-1815 (Edinburgh University Press, 1994)

T.M. Devine, Clanship to Crofters' War: The Social Transformation of the Scottish Highlands (Manchester University Press, 1994)

T.M. Devine, The Great Highland Famine: Hunger, Emigration and the Scottish Highlands in the Nineteenth Century (John Donald, 1988)

T.M. Devine, A Scottish Firm in Virginia: William Cunninghame and Co., 1767-1777 (Scottish History Society, 1984)

T.M. Devine, The Tobacco Lords: A Study of the Tobacco Merchants of Glasgow and their Trading Activities, 1740-1790 (John Donald, 1975)


Edited Books

T.M. Devine and J. Wormald, The Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History, (OUP, 2012)

T.M. Devine, (Editor) Scotland and the Union, 1707 to 2007 (Edinburgh University Press, 2008)

T.M. Devine, with C.H. Lee and G. Peden, eds., The Transformation of Scotland: the Economy since 1700 (Edinburgh University Press, 2005)

T.M. Devine, With P. Logue, eds., Being Scottish: Personal Reflections on Scottish Identity Today (Edinburgh University Press, 2002)

T.M. Devine, Ed., Scotland's Shame? Bigotry and Sectarianism in Modern Scotland (Mainstream Publishing, 2000)

T.M. Devine, With J.F. McMillan, eds., Celebrating Columba: Irish-Scottish Connections, 597-1997 (John Donald, 1999)

T.M. Devine, With J.R. Young, eds., Eighteenth Century Scotland: Explorations and Revisions (Tuckwell Press, 1999)

T.M. Devine, With R.J. Finlay, eds., Scotland in the Twentieth Century (Edinburgh University Press, 1996)

T.M. Devine, With G. Jackson, eds., Glasgow, Vol 1. Beginnings to 1830 (Manchester University Press, 1995)

T.M. Devine, With A.J.G. Cummings, eds., Industry, Business & Society in Scotland since 1700 (John Donald, 1994)

T.M. Devine, Ed., Scottish Elites: proceedings of the Scottish Historical Studies Seminar, University of Strathclyde, 1991-92 (John Donald, 1994) 

T.M. Devine, Ed., Scottish Emigration & Scottish Society: proceedings of the Scottish Historical Studies Seminar, University of Strathclyde, 1990-91(John Donald, 1992)

T.M. Devine, Ed., Irish Immigrants and Scottish Society in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: proceedings of the Scottish Historical Society Seminar, University of Strathclyde, 1989-90 (John Donald, 1991)

T.M. Devine, Ed., Conflict and Stability in Scottish Society, 1700-1850: proceedings of the Scottish Historical Studies Seminar, University of Strathclyde, 1988-89 (John Donald 1990)

T.M. Devine, Ed., Improvement and Enlightenment : proceedings of the Scottish Historical Studies Seminar, University of Strathclyde, 1987-88 (John Donald, 1989)

T.M. Devine, With Rosalind Mitchison, eds., People and Society in Scotland, 1760-1830 (John Donald, 1988)

T.M. Devine, Ed., Farm Servants and Labour in Lowland Scotland, 1770-1914 (John Donald, 1984)

T.M. Devine, With D. Dickson, eds., Ireland and Scotland, 1600-1850: Parallels and Contrasts in Economic and Social Development (John Donald, 1983)

T.M. Devine, Ed., Lairds and Improvement in the Scotland of the Enlightenment: proceedings of the Ninth Scottish Historical Conference, University of Edinburgh, 1978 (Glasgow, Scottish Historical Conference Trust, 1979)


Articles and Book Chapters

T.M. Devine, 'The Great irish Famine and Scottish History', in MJ Mitchell's (ed) Irish in Scotland: New Perspectives (2008)

T.M. Devine, 'An End to Disadvantage? Catholics in Scotland since 1945' in MJ Mitchell's (ed) Irish in Scotland: New Perspectives (2008)

T.M. Devine, 'Three Hundred Years of the Anglo-Scottish Union' in TM Devine's (ed) Scotland and the Union, 1707 to 2007 (2008)

T.M. Devine, 'The Spoils of Empire' in TM Devine's (ed) Scotland and the Union, 1707 to 2007 (2008)

T.M. Devine, 'Imperial Scotland' in TM Devine's (ed) Scotland and the Union, 1707 to 2007 (2008)

T.M. Devine, 'The Challenge of Nationalism' in TM Devine's (ed) Scotland and the Union, 1707 to 2007 (2008)

T.M. Devine, ‘The Break-Up of Britain? Scotland and the End of Empire. The Prothero Lecture of the Royal Historical Society’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (Cambridge Journal Online, 2006) 16, 163-180

T.M. Devine, ‘The Modern Economy: Scotland and the Act of Union’, The Transformation of Scotland. The Economy since 1700 (Edinburgh University Press, 2005), 13-33

T.M. Devine, ‘Industrialisation’, The Transformation of Scotland. The Economy since 1700 (Edinburgh University Press, 2005), 34-70

T.M. Devine, ‘The Transformation of Agriculture: Cultivation and Clearance’, The Transformation of Scotland. The Economy since 1700 (Edinburgh University Press, 2005), 71-99

T.M. Devine, ‘Scottish Élites and the Indian Empire, 1700-1815’, Anglo-Scottish Relations, from 1603 to 1900 (Oxford University Press, 2005), 213-230

T.M. Devine, ‘Making the Caledonian Connection: the Development of Irish and Scottish Studies’, Ireland and Scotland: Culture and Society, 1700-2000 (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2005), 248-59

T.M. Devine, ‘Alexander Geddes: The Scottish Context’, The Bible and the Enlightenment (T & T Clark International, London, 2004), 35-43

T.M. Devine, ‘Scotland’, The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2004) 1, 388-417

T.M. Devine, ‘Irish and Scottish Development Revisited’, Refiguring Ireland. Essays in Honour of L M Cullen (Lilliput Press, Dublin, 2003), 37-52

T.M. Devine, 'Scottish Urban Networks, 1500-1850' in P. Clark, ed., The Cambridge Urban History of Britain, Vol 2 (Cambridge University Press, 2000)

T.M. Devine, 'Agrarian and Social Change in Lowland Scotland, c.1680-1815', Histoire, Economie et Société, (Paris, 1999)

T.M. Devine, 'Land and Power in Eighteenth Century Scotland' in S. Foster, A. Macinnes and R. Macinnes, eds., Power Centres: from the early Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century (Cruithne Press, 1998)

T.M. Devine, 'Why the Highlands did not starve: Ireland and Highland Scotland in the Potato Famine' in R.J. Morris, R. Houston and S. Connolly, eds., Conflict, Identity and Economic Development: Ireland and Scotland, 1600-1939 (Carnegie Publications, 1995)

T.M. Devine, 'Introduction' to symposium proceedings, 'Whither Scottish History?', Scottish Historical Review (April, 1994)

T.M. Devine, 'The Flight of the Poor: Highland Emigration to Canada in the Mid-Nineteenth Century' in C.J. Byrne, M. Harry and P. O'Siadhail, eds., Celtic Languages and Celtic Peoples; Proceedings of the Second North American Congress of Celtic Studies, Halifax, Nova Scotia, August 1989 (Halifax, N.S., 1992)

T.M. Devine, 'The Making of Urban and Industrial Society' in R. Mitchison, ed., Why Scottish History Matters, (The Saltire Society, 1991)

T.M. Devine, 'The Highland Clearances' in A. Digby and C. Feinstein, D. Jenkins, eds., New Directions in Economic and Social History (Macmillan, 1992)

T.M. Devine, 'Social Responses to Agrarian Improvement: the Highland and Lowland Clearances in Scotland, 1500-1850' in R. Houston and I. Whyte, eds., Scottish Society, 1500-1800 (Cambridge University Press, 1989)

T.M. Devine, 'The Landed Class and the Great Highland Famine' in L. Leneman, ed., Perspectives in Scottish Social History: essays in honour of Rosalind Mitchison (Aberdeen University Press, 1988)

T.M. Devine, 'Unrest and Stability in Rural Ireland and Scotland, 1760-1840' in R. Mitchison and P. Roebuck, eds., Economy and Society in Scotland and Ireland, 1500-1939 (John Donald, 1988)

T.M. Devine, 'The Highland Clearances', Recent Findings of Research in Economic and Social History. Economic History Society, 4, (1987)

T.M. Devine, 'The Union of 1707 and Scottish Development', Scottish Economic and Social History, V (1985)

T.M. Devine, 'Pastoralism and Highland Migration, 1760-1870' in A. Pointrineau, ed., Elevage et Vie Pastorale dans Montagnes c'Europe au Moyen Age et a l'Epogue Moderne: Actes du Collogue organise par l'Institut d'Histoire et l'Institute d'Etudes du Massif Central, 3-5 Juin 1982 (Clermont Ferrand, 1984)

'T.M. Devine, The Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707 and Scottish Economic Development': the Case Re-opened, Scotia: American-Canadian Journal of Scottish Studies, vii (1984)

T.M. Devine, 'Highland Migration to Lowland Scotland, 1760-1860', Scottish Historical Review (October, 1983)

T.M. Devine, 'The Merchant Class of the Larger Scottish Towns in the Seventeenth and early Eighteenth Centuries' in and G. Gordon and B. Dicks, eds., Scottish Urban History (Aberdeen University Press, 1983)

T.M. Devine, 'Irish and Scottish Development', Scottish Economic and Social History, 2 (1982)

T.M. Devine, 'Migration and Emigration' in David Daiches, ed., A Companion to Scottish Culture (London, E. Arnold, 1981)

T.M. Devine, 'The Scottish Merchant Community, 1680-1740' in R.H. Campbell and A.S. Skinner, eds., The Origins and Nature of the Scottish Enlightenment ( John Donald, 1982)

T.M. Devine, 'Farm Servants and Labour in the Lothians, 1815-1840', Journal of the Scottish Labour History Society (1980)

T.M. Devine, 'The Demand for Agricultural Labour in East Lothian after the Napoleonic Wars', Transaction of the East Lothian Antiquarian and Natural History Society, 16 (1979)

T.M. Devine, 'Temporary Migration and the Scottish Highlands in the Nineteenth Century', Economic History Review (August, 1979)

T.M. Devine, 'Social Stability and Agrarian Change in the Eastern Lowlands of Scotland, 1810-1840', Social History, III 3 (1978)

T.M. Devine, 'An Eighteenth Century Business Elite, 1740-1815', Scottish Historical Review (April, 1978)

T.M. Devine, 'Colonial Commerce and the Scottish Economy, 1730-1815' in L.M. Cullen and T.C. Smout, eds., Comparative Aspects of Irish and Scottish Economic and Social History, 1600-1900 (John Donald, 1977)

T.M. Devine, 'The Colonial Trades and Industrial Investment in Eighteenth Century Scotland', Economic History Review, 2nd series (April, 1976)

T.M. Devine, 'A Glasgow Merchant during the American War of Independence: Alexander Speirs of Elderslie, 1775-1781', The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, xxxii (1976)

T.M. Devine, 'The American War of Independence and Scottish Economic History' in O.Dudley Edwards and G. Shepperson, eds., Scotland, Europe and the American Revolution (Edinburgh University Student Publications, 1976)

T.M. Devine, 'The Scottish Burghs and the Cromwellian Union, 1652-1660' in J. Butt and J.T. Ward, eds., Scottish Themes: essays in honour of Prof. S.G.E. Lythe (Scottish Academic Press, 1976)

T.M. Devine, 'The Rise and Fall of Illicit Whisky-Making in Northern Scotland, 1780-1840', Scottish Historical Review (October, 1975)

T.M. Devine, 'Sources of Finance for the Scottish Tobacco Trade, c.1730-1780', Business History (July, 1974)

T.M. Devine, 'Glasgow Merchants and the Collapse of the Tobacco Trade, 1775-1783', Scottish Historical Review (April, 1973)

T.M. Devine, 'Problems of Glasgow West India Merchants during the American War, 1775-1783', Transport History (1971)

T.M. Devine, 'Glasgow Colonial Merchants and Land, 1770-1815' in J.T. Ward and R.G. Wilson, eds., Land and Industry: the Landed Estate in the Industrial Revolution (David & Charles, 1971)