Self-taught sculptor and antiquarian. The son of a Roxburghshire farmer, he worked first as a millwright, and later served an apprenticeship at the dockyards in Chatham, Kent. After attaining some skill as a wood-carver, he set up a studio c.1859 in the grounds of Darnick Tower, near Melrose, Roxburghshire, where he produced a series of more ambitious works, such as the monuments to Mungo Park in Selkirk, 1859; James Hogg at St Mary’s Loch, 1860; and Robert the Bruce on the Castle Esplanade in Stirling, 1877. As a boy he had known Sir Walter Scott, and much of his career was devoted to the portrayal of characters from his novels. For the Scott Monument, Edinburgh, he produced figures of Edie Ochiltree and Old Mortality, 1873–74 (a third figure, of Dousterswivel, has not survived). Although he spent most of his life near Ettrick Forest in the Borders, he moved to Edinburgh at the end of his life, dying suddenly at his home in Melville Drive in February 1891.
Bibliography: W.T. Johnston, Dictionary of Scottish Artists (c.2000), Scottish National Library, ref CD-ROM.585; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 2, pp. 260–61, 509, 512; The Scotsman: (i) 25 June 1920, p. 6; (ii) 28 June 1920, p. 8.
Ray McKenzie 2018