Malcolm Laing, a Scottish historian, born on the island of Mainland, Orkneys, in 1762, died there in November, 1818. He was educated at the university of Edinburgh, studied law, and was called to the bar in 1785; but not succeeding in his profession, he turned his attention to literature. His first work was a continuation of Dr. Henry's "History of Great Britain," which was followed in 1800 by a " History of Scotland, from the Union of the Crowns to the Union of the Kingdoms." To this were appended two dissertations, historical and critical, one on the Gowry conspiracy, the other on the authenticity of Ossian's poems. His arguments against the latter brought considerable obloquy upon him at the time, but led to the investigation and report of the Highland society. To the second edition of his history (1804) he appended an essay "On the Participation of Mary, Queen of Scots, in the Murder of Darn-ley," in which he strongly argued her guilt. In 1807 he was a member of parliament for the Orkneys, but ill health soon compelled him to withdraw to private life.

Besides the works already mentioned, he published an edition of the " History and Life of King James VI.," from the original manuscript, which had served as the foundation of the forgeries of Crawfurd in his "Memoirs of the Affairs of Scotland." - His brother, Samuel Laing, is known as the author of books of travel, and of works on social and political subjects. A new edition of his book on Norway appeared in 1854.