Public to vote for favourite

Eminent Scots on shortlist for new RBS note

RBS £10 NoteTwo eminent scientists and an engineer are in contention to be the face of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s new polymer £10 note.

James Clerk Maxwell, Mary Somerville and Thomas Telford are on the shortlist of famous Scots chosen by the public.

The final decision will be made following a public vote running from 1 to 7 February. It will take place on the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Facebook page – – where images of each of the nominees will be posted along with biographies to help people make up their mind. The portrait with the most ‘likes’ will be selected.

More than 400 people got in touch to nominate a historical Scottish figure who they felt had made a significant contribution in the field of science and innovation. There were 128 nominees.

 The shortlist:

James Clerk MaxwellJames Clerk Maxwell , Physicist (1831 – 1879)

A pioneer of electromagnetism, James Clerk Maxwell’s discovery of the unified theory of electricity and magnetism directly led to the application of electromagnetic radiation. Einstein considered Maxwell to be his hero and the greatest physicist since Newton whilst his findings were described as “the most significant event of the 19th century” by fellow physicist Richard Feynman.

Mary SomervilleMary Somerville, Scientist, Science writer and translator (1780 – 1872)

At a time when women’s participation in science was strongly discouraged, Mary Somerville was a true pioneer and was jointly nominated to be the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1835. Somerville’s writing influenced James Clerk Maxwell and John Couch Adams with her discussion of a hypothetical planet perturbing Uranus leading Adams to look for and discover Neptune.

Thomas TelfordThomas Telford, Civil Engineer (1757 – 1843)

Known as the ‘Colossus of Roads’, Thomas Telford built over 1,000 miles of roads in his lifetime and became the first president of the Institution of Civil Engineers. In his native Scotland, Telford designed numerous infrastructure projects such as the Caledonian Canal and the Telford churches, as well as harbours and tunnels.  Much of his work remains in use across the UK to this day.

Commenting on the nominees, chief marketing officer, David Wheldon, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to engage the public in this process. We received many high quality nominations.

“The strength of our shortlist is indicative of the significant contribution that Scotland has made to the field of science and innovation. I would be very proud for any of these nominees to appear on our new £10 note.

“Anyone who wants to have their say should visit our Facebook page and cast a vote. I look forward to finding out which of these great figures is chosen.”

 Royal Bank of Scotland has been issuing banknotes since 1727 and has an average of £1.5bn worth of notes in circulation on a single day. This is the first set of notes to feature different portraits on different denominations.

The new £5 note will be issued in the second half of 2016, with the £10 note following roughly a year later. This is in line with timeframes previously announced by the Bank of England, Clydesdale Bank and Bank of Scotland.

The notes will be completely redesigned, including new subjects for the portraits. The design for the £5 note is due to be unveiled this year and will feature an historical figure who made a significant literary contribution.

The polymer notes will be 15% smaller and printed on De La Rue’s Safeguard polymer material. Polymer is cleaner, more secure and more durable than cotton paper. As a result of the additional durability, the banknotes will also reduce costs for issuing banks.

A comprehensive education and awareness programme will support the release of the new notes, including information on new security features and how the current notes will be removed from circulation.

The following portraits have featured on previous Royal Bank of Scotland banknotes:

Main note issues

King George II – During his reign, 1727-1760, and also (alternating with George I) 1830s-1960s

King George III – During his reign, 1760-1820

King George IV – 1826 only

King George I  – Alternating with George II, 1830s-1960s

David Dale – 1966-1969

Archibald, Earl of Ilay – 1987-date


Robert Louis Stevenson – 1994

Alexander Graham Bell – 1997

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother  – 2000

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – 2002 and 2012

Old Tom Morris – (on Royal & Ancient Golf Club commemorative) 2004

Jack Nicklaus – 2005

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