Primarily a writer, Sir Thomas Dick Lauder was also an engineer, chemist, geologist, surveyor, musician and artist. He spent much of his time exploring Scotland and recording his travels in word and picture. Born in Midlothian, he lived for many years on his wife's estate near Elgin. He became a baronet on the death of his father in 1820 and moved to Edinburgh in 1832. As Secretary to the Board of Scottish Manufactures, he was instrumental in the establishment of technical and art schools.