Scottish Textile Merchant and Liberal Party Politician. He is best remembered for the creation of McCrae's Battalion also known as the Second Edinburgh Pals Battalion and (officially) the 16th Battalion Royal Scots. The illegitimate son of a housemaid, he was educated at the Lancasterian School, Edinburgh, having been raised by his maternal uncle. He made his mark in the textile trade. He was described variously as a draper or a merchant hosier and mercer. In 1899 he was elected to the British Parliament as a representative from Edinburgh East. He was knighted in 1908 and in 1909, after a successful political career, he resigned from the House of Commons to take up a position in Scottish government service, accepting the appointment of Vice-President of the Scottish Local Government Board. Following the outbreak of World War I, he became a volunteer soldier and in November 1914 he raised the 16th Battalion the Royal Scots, and became its commander, serving on the Western Front. He ended the war with the rank of Colonel and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. From 1919 until 1922 he served as Chairman of the Scottish Board of Health. From 1923 until 1924 he served as a Member of Parliament for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs. He died at the age of 68.