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Alison Elliot[1] CBE FRSE (born 27 November 1948)[2] is the Associate Director of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2004 she became the first woman ever to be elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.[3] An elder and session clerk at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh, she was also the first non-minister to hold this post since George Buchanan in 1567.

Alison Elliot

Born (1948-11-27) 27 November 1948 (age 70)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Occupationacademic session clerk
Known forfirst woman elected as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
Academic background
EducationBathgate Academy
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
University of Sussex
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of Lancaster
University of Edinburgh

Background and educationEdit

Alison Elliot was born in Edinburgh in 1948. She was educated at Bathgate Academy, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Sussex.


Her professional career is in psychology, but her public profile has been chiefly through her church work. She was Research Associate in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh 1973–1974, then lecturer in psychology at the University of Lancaster 1974–1976 and at the University of Edinburgh 1977–1985. She is the author of two publications: Child Language (1981) and The Miraculous Everyday (2005).

She served as Convener of the Committee on Church and Nation of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1996–2000, as well as Session Clerk at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh. She was involved in building ecumenical relations, and was a member of the Central Committee of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) 2003-2009 (and also moderated CEC's Assembly held in Lyon, France, in July 2009). She played a key role in Action of Churches Together in Scotland. In 2004 she was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland,[4] the first woman to be elected to that post.[3] The OBE was conferred upon her for her ecumenical work.

In 2016, she became only the third person ever to receive the Scottish Publish Service Awards' Lifetime Achievement Award.[5]

She is a founding board member of the Palestine Festival of Literature. Since 2007 she has been Convener of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

In 2018 she became General Secretary of The Royal Society of Edinburgh[6], of which she has been a Fellow since 2008.[6]


She is married to John (Jo) Elliot; they live in Edinburgh. They have a daughter Christina, and a son Johnny.

Artistic recognitionEdit

In 2004 the Scottish National Portrait Gallery commissioned a portrait of Elliot by Jennifer McRae.[7][8]


  1. ^ Roy, Christopher D. (2006). Who's Who in Scotland (2006 ed.). Ayr: Carrick Media. ISBN 0-946724-56-3.
  2. ^ "Elliot, Dr Alison Janet, (born 27 Nov. 1948), Associate Director, Centre for Theology and Public Issues, Edinburgh University, since 2001; Convener, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, 2007–13", Who's Who, Oxford University Press, 1 December 2007, doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u44338, retrieved 28 June 2019
  3. ^ a b "[eb|url= Royal Society of About This Artwork: Jennifer McRae: Alison Elliot, b. 1948. Moderator Elect of the Church of Scotland]". Edinburgh, Scotland: National Galleries of Scotland, retrieved online August 29, 2018.
  4. ^ "New Moderator Installed as General Assembly of Church of Scotland Begins". Edinburgh, Scotland: BBC News Scotland, May 18, 2013.
  5. ^ "First Woman Moderator to receive one of Scotland’s highest honours for public service". Edinburgh, Scotland: The Church of Scotland, December 5, 2016.
  6. ^ a b {{|=|=|=|=|=|=}}
  7. ^ The Grange Newsletter (broadsheet) May 2016
  8. ^ "About This Artwork: Jennifer McRae: Alison Elliot, b. 1948. Moderator Elect of the Church of Scotland".

See alsoEdit