Born in Lesmahagow, and apprenticed as a mason, he became interested in sculpture while employed by Robert Forrest in 1822, after which he set up a studio in Milton, near Carluke, Lanarkshire. His earliest independent works were mostly of animals for gateposts, and he also carved the decorations in the pediment of Hamilton Palace (c.1822, demolished 1926). His monumental work includes statues of historical figures such as John Knox (Glasgow Necropolis, 1825), and a range of illustrious contemporaries and near contemporaries, including Lord Byron (n.d.), George Canning (1827) and the Duke of York (1828). Like Robert Forrest, he also specialised in making statues of popular characters from literature, such as his last completed work, The Jolly Beggars (1835), from the poem by Robert Burns. He made numerous portraits of Sir Walter Scott, including the monument in George Square, Glasgow (1834; completed 1838 by John Ritchie).
Bibliography: Anon [Daniel Reid Rankin], Notices Historical, Statistical, & Biographical Relating to the Parish of Carluke, from 1288 till 1874, Glasgow, 1874, pp. 302–24; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, pp. 350–52, vol. 2, pp. 103, 236; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool, 2002, pp. 124–26, 404.
Ray McKenzie 2018