Colin Maclaurin lived from February 1698 to 14 June 1746. He was an eminent mathematician. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Colin Maclaurin was born at Kilmodan, on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll. Both his parents died when he was still young, and he was brought up by an uncle, Rev Daniel Maclaurin, the Church of Scotland minister at Kilfinnan on Loch Lochy. He became a student at the University of Glasgow at the age of 11; and graduated with an MA based on a thesis on The Power of Gravity at the age of 14. He then remained at Glasgow University to study divinity until, at the age of 19 in 1717, he was elected Professor of Mathematics at Aberdeen's Marischal College. His record as the world's youngest ever university professor lasted until March 2008.
Maclaurin travelled to London during the vacations of 1719 and 1721, where he met Sir Isaac Newton and other eminent mathematicians of the day. He was also elected to become a Fellow of the Royal Society. He spent 1722 travelling on the continent as a tutor to George Hume, the son of Alexander Hume, 2nd Earl of Marchmont. During their travels he produced his essay on The Percussion of Bodies, which won a prize at the Royal Academy of Sciences in 1724.
In 1725 he was appointed, on the recommendation of Sir Isaac Newton, to be deputy to the Professor of Mathematics at the University of Edinburgh, and he took over as professor in his own right in November of that year. In 1733, Maclaurin married Anne Stewart, the daughter of Walter Stewart, the Solicitor General for Scotland, and they had seven children together. In about 1735 he did the work that resulted in his name being attached to the "Euler–Maclaurin formula" a powerful means of establishing certain connections in advanced mathematics.
Maclaurin was known for his strongly anti-Jacobite views, and in 1745 fled south to York when Edinburgh was captured during the Jacobite uprising. A fall from a horse during the journey triggered an illness that claimed his life in June 1746, after his return to Edinburgh. He was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard. Some of his best known work was only published after his death, with Treatise on Algebra and Account of Newton's Discoveries both being published in 1748.