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Biggar and the House of Fleming
Chapter VII - Biggar Churchyard


THE Churchyard of Biggar is of small extent It is by no ml I, means in keeping with the populousness of the parish, and the spaciousness of the church erected in its centre. An addition was made to it, some years ago, by taking in a part of the glebe connected with the Established Church; but it is still narrow and confined, and affords no space for the walks, shrubs, and flowers with which the tombs, in more modem cemeteries, are now generally adorned. The graves are too much crowded, and the tombstones, especially on the south, stand too closely together. None of the tomb-stones are remarkable for their design, ornamentation, or antiquity. They almost entirely consist of the plain upright headstone, or the horizontal slab, generally called a 'throughstane.’ The oldest stones, so far as the inscriptions on them can be deciphered, do not go farther back than the seventeenth century. The greater portion of them have been erected during the last fifty years, and few of them are without some lettering executed by the late James Watson, mason, Westraw, who might justly have been styled the ‘ Old Mortality’ of the district, as he was often to be seen plying his mallet and chisel, not only in this churchyard, but in those of the country round.

Near the gateway is an obelisk, erected by the Lodge of Biggar Free Operatives, to the memory of Gavin Nicol, mason, an exceedingly bright and active member of the masonic fraternity, who died in 1819. Many persons yet alive will recollect the consequential strut and air which he assumed when taking part in the public masonic displays on St John's Day. In his latter years he was chiefly employed in conveying the mail-bags to and from Mountbog, mounted on an ass. During the Peninsular War, Gavin heralded to the inhabitants of Biggar the intelligence of all the famous victories achieved by the British arms. On these occasions his pocket-handkerchief was placed on the end of his staff in form of a flag, and his progress through the town was quite an ovation. No sooner did he appear at the town-head1 with his ass and his flag, and proclaim that some great battle had been fought and won, such as Salamanca, Vittoria, the Pyrenees, Waterloo, etc., than he was surrounded by an excited crowd; and the shop of Eben Young, tinsmith, was besieged, and his whole stock of tinhoms carried off. Then, amid the routing of horns and the cheering of the people, he was conducted to the dwelling of the postmaster, Mr Alexander Multrie, where the bag was opened, and the details of the battle were read to the crowd amid loud huzzas.

At no great distance from this monument is the burying-place of the Gladstones family. This family, it is understood, have had a long connection with Biggar. We know that in the early part of last century three of the chief men of the town bore that name, and had all families. These were William, a merchant, whose spouse was Janet How; James, who was by profession a maltman, and whose wife was Jean Telfer; and John, who was also a maltman, a burgess of the town, and proprietor of Mid Toftcombs. John was bom in 1694, and took in marriage Janet Aitken, by whom he had a large family. His eldest son, Thomas, left his native place, and settled as a victual-dealer in the Coal Hill, Leith, where he prosecuted his business with success, and realized a considerable fortune. He married Helen, a daughter of Walter Neilson of Springfield, by whom he had a son, John, who commenced business in Leith; but being Unsuccessful, he proceeded to Liverpool; where he embarked in the West IndiA trade, and acquired so great wealth that he was able to purchase the estate of Fasque, and to give each of his sons, during his lifetime, L.100,000. He was created a baronet on the 27th of June 1846. By his second wife, Ann, daughter of Andrew Robertson, Provost of Dingwall, he had four sons—Thomas, Robertson^ John Neilson, and William Ewart. The last named is well known as an eminent scholar, orator, and statesman. He is the author of various works, and at present, 1862, holds the high and very important offices of Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Rector of the University of Edinburgh.

Here we note the resting-place of the Kelloes, a very old Biggar family. In a list of the parishioners of Biggar, in 1640, in the archives of the Wigton family, John Kello is given as one of them. About the same period, George Kello and his son received a disposition of two oxengates of land in Biggar, and, in 1681, John Kello was one of the bailies of Biggar. On the family tomb-stone we notice the name of Agnes Kello, a lady who acquired some celebrity in her time, and therefore deserves to be specially mentioned. She was the daughter of Andrew Kello, tenant in Skirling Mill, and portioner in Biggar, who died in 1763, when she was a child. Her mother, whose name was Janet Watson, outlived her husband fifty-three years, and died in 1816, in the eighty-fifth year of her age.

Miss Kello was a lady of considerable personal attractions, great amiability of disposition, and of fortune somewhat beyond persons in her station of life. The charms of her person were set off to advantage by the neatness and elegance of her dress, particularly on Sundays, when she attended divine service in the Burgher meeting-house at Biggar. No young woman entered the old town on whom all persons smiled so complacently, and none enjoyed a larger share of admiration and respect. It is a proof of the impression which she made, and the estimation in which she was held, that, though it is upwards of sixty years since she was laid in her grave, her name is a household word in Biggar to this day.

As might be expected, Miss Kello had many suitors for her hand. They were, in fact, as numerous as those who came to woo ‘Tibbie Fowler of the Glen.’ Farmers, lairds, students, and tradesmen were all ambitious to secure her favourable regard. One of her most persevering suitors Was William Sim, then schoolmaster at Quothquan, a rare compound of bitter envy, spiritual pride, lofty aspirations, and learned pretensions. There is no proof that he ever received from her the smallest encouragement; and so, wearied with sending her letters, he took leave of her in an indignant epistle, which he addressed to her on the 2d of June 1789, and a copy of which he has preserved in one of the volumes of his manuscript memoirs. A suitor of a far higher stamp made advances to her at one time, and was accepted. This was the famed Professor Lawson of Selkirk. The day for the nuptials was fixed, and the intended bride and her relatives had made all the necessary arrangements. The Professor had a most extraordinary memory for all kinds of sacred and human learning, but it appears that he had a most unaccountable obliviousness regarding some of the most important concerns of this world. At all events, he forgot the time that he had stipulated for the marriage. The banns were unproclaimed, and the lovely and amiable maid of Skirling Mill was left to neglect. She was, however, possessed of firmness and spirit; and when the oblivious Professor returned to consciousness, she rejected his advances, and resolutely refused to reinstate him in the place which he had forfeited.

The admirer with whom she gained the greatest notoriety was Patrick Taylor of Birkenshaw, in the parish of Torphichen, near Bathgate. He first saw her at a Skirling Fair. Her personal graces, and the fact that she possessed a fortune of L.2000, made her very attractive in his eyes. He subsequently paid his addresses to her, and being a showy, specious fellow, succeeded in making some impression on her heart By pursuing a course of reckless dissipation, he had reduced himself to bankruptcy, and this rendered him altogether unacceptable to Miss Kello’s relations. After an intimacy of eighteen months, he gave her a document declaring her to be his just and lawful wife, and received one from her of a similar import in return. The following is a transcript of the document presented by her to Taylor:—

'Skirling Mill, 16th Feb. 1779.

'I hereby solemnly declare you, Patrick Taylor, in Birkenshaw, my just and lawful husband, and remain your affectionate wife,

'Agnes Kello.’

These documents were kept secret by both parties; but the copy in Miss Kello’s hands having been discovered by her mother, she caused her to destroy it, and to write to Taylor, requesting him to give up his copy. This he refused to do, unless he received L.500. He continued, occasionally, after this period, to pay visits to Skirling Mill, and employed friends to intercede with Miss Kello’s relatives in his behalf. He so far succeeded, that, in the spring of 1780, their banns were twice proclaimed; but some of the lady’s friends, who were obstinately opposed to the union, prevented them from being proclaimed a third time. For two years afterwards their meetings were very unfrequent; and from 1782 to 1784 they ceased altogether.

Another candidate now appeared for the hand of Miss Kello. This was a gentleman of wealth and respectability from the neighbourhood of Whitburn. His suit was successful, and preparations were made for the marriage. Taylor, getting notice of this arrangement, immediately took steps to prevent its being carried into effect, by declaring that Miss Kello was already his wife. The case having been brought before the Commissary Court, was argued at great length; and the decision given was, that, according to the law of Scotland, they were married parties. Every effort was made, first by a bill of advocation, and afterwards by a reclaiming petition, to reduce this sentence in the Court of Session, but without effect; and therefore the case was carried, by appeal, to the House of Lords. Their lordships, on the 16th of February 1787, reversed the decisions of the Scottish Courts, declaring, (that the two letters insisted upon in this process by the parties respectively, and mutually exchanged, were not intended by either, or understood by the other, as a final agreement; nor was it intended or understood that they had thereby contracted the state of matrimony, or the relation of husband and wife from the date thereof. On the contrary, it was expressly agreed, that the same should be delivered up, if the purpose they were intended to serve should prove unattainable, and if such delivery should be demanded; which last-mentioned agreement is further proved by the whole and uniform subsequent conduct of both parties.’

These harassing proceedings, although so far successful, had an injurious effect on Miss Kello’s health and spirits. She never regained her former sprightliness and gaiety. She retired, in a great measure, from general society; and, along with her mother, took up her abode in the town of Biggar, where she died in 1796, in the thirty-second year of her age, and was interred in Biggar Churchyard.

Not far from the wall of the church is the resting-place of John Cree, Procurator-fiscal of Biggar, who died on the 17th December 1796, in the eighty-ninth year of his age; and also of his son Mathew, who held the office of Baron Bailie twenty-seven years, and died on the 7th of July 1832. He was one of the most mild and conciliatory magistrates that ever exercised authority in Biggar, or anywhere else. His common advice to disputants was, ‘Tak a gill and ’gree;’ and thus seems to have been an implicit believer in Bums’ opinion, that 'it’s aye die cheapest lawyer’s fee to taste the barrel’ He long officiated as an elder in the parish church. His only acting colleague in this office, for many years, was John Pairman, who was generally denominated The Elder. These two worthies were great cronies, and had many a pleasant confabulation over a single glass of whisky punch; for they were remarkably circumspect in their conduot, and never exceeded in their potations. The Elder was in the habit of pronouncing any untoward circumstance, ‘A fair smock;’ and this phrase became quite proverbial in Beggar. On one occasion, a person called on the Elder in regard to a case of scandal, and invited him to a public-house to talk over the steps he would require to take, to be restored to his position in the Church. When the Elder was thawed a little with the toddy, the offender ventured to hint that there were two cases of scandaL ‘ Faith, then, Davie lad,’ said the Elder,.'we maun hae another half mutchkin.’ On another occasion, he complained bitterly to the parish minister of the annoyance received from the paupers of the parish, and the heavy demands made for their support The minister exhorted him to courage, and said,

'But, John, think of the reward promised in another world.’ John’s answer was, ‘Faith, a bird in the hand is worth twa in the buss.’

In the tomb of his forefathers also sleeps Gavin Cree, son of Mathew Cree, just referred to. Gavin followed the same profession, viz., that of a nurseryman. In 1812 he was appointed paymaster to the French prisoners who were located at Biggar, and ever afterwards was extremely loquacious on the characters and proceedings of these unfortunate sons of Mars. He long took a deep interest in the prosperity of his native town. He was an active manager of some of its benefit societies. At the yearly display of the Whipmen’s Society, in the middle of June, he was always in high spirits, arranged the races and sports that took place on the occasion, and catered largely for the gratification of the juvenile portion of the population. He held the rank of sergeant in the corps of the Lanarkshire Yeomanry Cavalry, and regularly, for many years, attended the musters on Lanark Muir. Mr Cree, however, gained his chief distinction by his laborious study and exertions to improve the methods of pruning forest trees. His attention was drawn at an early period to this subject, and one of the first trees on which he experimented was the most notable in Biggar. It was usually styled, the ‘Deil’s Tree;’ and every youth finely believed that on very dark nights evil spirits were wont to hold their rendezvous under its shade; and therefore a great amount of courage was requisite to pass it after nightfall Mr Cree procured a ladder and a saw, and, greatly to the amazement of young and old, cut off bough after bough, regardless either of fiend or fairy, and left it one of the most stunted and uncouth objects that could well be conceived. He continued his experiments wherever an opportunity could be obtained, and he wrote several papers illustrative of his system, for the ‘Quarterly Journal of Agriculture.’ The Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland having had their attention called to the subject, offered, in 1836, several prizes for essays on the best method of pruning forest trees. Mr Cree accordingly entered the arena as a competitor, and succeeded in carrying off one of the Society’s silver medals. The distinguishing peculiarity of Mr Cree’s system—the shortening the branches, instead of cutting them off by the trunk—attracted the attention of several distinguished botanists, among whom may be mentioned Mr Louden, and Professors Balfour and Low. Some of the systems propounded by others, particularly by Mr Bellington, one of the Keepers of the Royal Forest, were nearly similar to that of Mr Cree, but they failed to give so precisely the role of practice; and therefore Professor Law, in his ‘Elements of Agriculture/ states, that the country is highly indebted to Mr Cree for bringing his system to a point of improvement never before known. In May 1848, the London Society of Arts awarded Mr Cree a gold medal for the best essay, ‘On the treatment of Forest Trees, where early pruning has been neglected; on the practice of Foreshortening, and how far advisable; and the physiological principles of its adoption.’ This honour* afforded Mr Cree the highest gratification. On all public occasions the medal appeared on his breast; and he spoke with rapture of the distinction of receiving an invitation to attend a meeting in London, to receive the medal from the hands of Prince Albert,—an invitation, however, with which he had been unable to comply. His system having thus been brought favourably under the notice of his countrymen, he was to be often seen in a solitary plantation, with his ladder and his saw, disencumbering the trees of their superfluous branches. On one or two occasions, he appeared in working order in the metropolis of Scotland, and, greatly to the horror of the uninitiated, committed sad havoc among the goodly boughs of the trees in the Meadows, and the Gardens of Princes Street, and the Royal 'Terrace; but theBe trees have long since borne ample testimony to the advantageous results of his operations. Some years ago, Mr Cree published his ‘Essays on Pruning,’ in a collected form, which, we understand, met with a ready sale. He died, after a short illness, on the 17th of June 1860.

Here is the resting-place of John Pairman, artist, who deserves to be noticed, not less on account of his merits as a painter, than on account of his amiable character, his cultivated understanding, and public usefulness. He was the second son of Robert Tairman, farmer, Staine, in the parish of Biggar, and was born in 1788. He received his education at the schools of his native place, and then went to Glasgow as an apprentice to a draper. At the expiry of his apprenticeship, he returned to Biggar; and there, in the shop now occupied by Mr George Johnstone, commenced business on his own account.

By this time he had begun to devote his thoughts and his leisure hours to drawing sketches from the objects around him. One of the first portraits that he attempted, was that of his brother Robert, merchant, Biggar. He wrought at this quite stealthily. One day he ventured to show it to his minister, the Rev. John Brown, who had accidentally called at his shop. He made no disclosure of the person whom he intended to represent, but Mr Brown at once said, ‘That is your brother.' This gratified him exceedingly, as it showed that he could now sketch a countenance that could be recognised. After painting a number of portraits and local scenes, he abandoned his shop at Biggar, and repaired to Glasgow, where he took lodgings, and, though entirely self-taught, and without patronage of any sort, he commenced business as a portrait painter. After spending some years in Glasgow, he left it, and proceeded to the Scottish capital, as likely to afford a better field for his exertions, and there he fixed his headquarters till his death. During the summer months, he was in the habit of visiting some of the principal towns of Scotland, and there painting portraits of clergymen and other noted personages. The first full-length portrait that he painted, was one of the Rev. John Brown, Biggar; and though it is more than forty years ago, the colours are still fresh* and the picture is considered a good likeness by those who knew Mr Brown in his younger days. At a later period, he painted another portrait of Mr Brown, which was considered so striking a resemblance that an engraving was taken from it. Among the portraits of other celebrities, painted by Mr Pairman, was one of Professor Lawson of Selkirk, which was afterwards engraved. Mr Pairman, however, did not confine his attention to portraits; he also painted landscapes, groups, and. fancy pictures, somewhat in the style of Wilkie. These were sent to the different exhibitions in Edinburgh, obtained very favourable notices, and sold readily. The last landscape that he painted, was a bridge over the Almond, a small stream not far from Edinburgh. It is in the possession of his brother Robert, along with a number of other memorials, particularly a view of Tinto, taken from the High Street of Biggar.

Mr Pairman was a member of the session of the congregation, Broughton Place, Edinburgh, under the pastoral care of the Rev. Dr Brown. He took a deep interest in aU matters connected with that congregation, and was at the head of every scheme of usefulness. He paid great attention to the wants of the poor, and had an evident delight in attending fellowship and district prayer-meetings. He was greatly esteemed for his mild, conciliatory manners, his ardent piety, his unwearied diligence in doing good, and his enlightened and instructive conversation. He died suddenly, at his house in Edinburgh, on the 14th December 1848, in the fifty-fifth year of his age.

We mark the tomb of Thomas Johnston, merchant, Biggar, and his spouse, Janet Brown. Beside them repose the remains of their eldest son, Robert, who was born at Biggar on the 6th of December 1784, and was baptized on the 12th of the same month by the Rev. John Low. He received his education at Biggar parish school, and there made some progress in the ordinary branches of learning—reading, writing, and arithmetic, including the rudiments of Latin. After leaving school, he learned the art of weaving; and on the expiry of his apprenticeship, wrought some time as a journeyman weaver in the city of Glasgow. Returning to his native town, he settled down as a merchant, and carried on a fair business for a number of years. In 1808 he married Violet, daughter of the Rev. John Brown of Whitburn, and sister of the Rev. John Brown, then minister of the Secession congregation, Biggar.

Mr Johnston's vocation as a merchant not only brought him into contact with most of the worthies who, during his time, flourished in the Biggar district, but allowed him sufficient leisure to cultivate an acquaintance with literature, both ancient and modem. He was in daily converse with shrewd, practical farmers, learned and eccentric schoolmasters, grave and gifted divines, and intelligent and sagacious weavers, shoemakers, and other craftsmen. He would discuss a mathematical problem or an algebraical equation with Robert Whit- * law, the Symington weaver; canvass the merits of a favourite poet, or the contradictions of human nature, with James Brown, the Symington poet, or James Affleck, the Biggar tailor; dive into the perplexing intricacies of politics, or the abstruse subtleties of theology, with John M‘Ghie, the Biggar shoemaker, or Daniel Lithgow, the Biggar weaver; enjoy the devotional gravities and amusing pedantries of Adam Thomson, schoolmaster, Quothquan, or William Sim, the peripatetic dominie and philosopher, Biggar; and then, as his nephew, Dr Brown of Edinburgh, has told us, he would every Friday evening repair to the Burgher manse, and with his gifted brother-in-law, the Rev. John Brown, range over all topics, from the elegancies and niceties of classic lore, to the humours and pleasantries of village gossip. Besides, he was very often chosen a referee in disputed cases, especially among the weavers; and thus his mental acumen was sharpened by coming into collision with such acute intellects as Andrew Brown, John Baillie, Allan Whitfield, etc. He thus acquired a very intimate knowledge of the inhabitants of the Biggar district, and to the last retained a very lively remembrance of their habits, peculiarities, and proceedings.

Mr Johnston cultivated a dose and extensive acquaintance with the English classic authors. He never could be brought to devote any attention to the works of many modem writers, particularly of fiction, of whose productions the present age has been very much enamoured. He seemed to regard them as altogether unworthy of notice. But the works of Shakspeare, Milton, Pope, Swift, Hume, Addison, Burke, Johnson, he read over repeatedly, and knew all their sentiments and peculiarities of style intimately. He had a high appreciation of several of the Edinburgh Reviewers, particularly of Jeffrey, M‘Intosh, Brougham, and Macaulay; and no literary productions ever afforded him greater delight than the poetry and novels of Sir Walter Scott Down to the very close of his life, he every now and then perused one of Sir Walter's novels; and he seemed to enjoy its genial humour, its vivid portraitures of character, and its happy exposition of national feelings and peculiarities, with as much relish as ever, One of the most remarkable traits in Mr Johnston's character was the assiduous manner in which he devoted himself to acquire a knowledge of languages, both ancient and modern. He was, in his latter years, when we knew him best, well versant in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, Italian, and German. He had read repeatedly the works of the best Greek and Roman authors, and particularly those of Virgil, Horace, Livy, Caesar, Suetonius, Xenophon, Theocritus, and, above all, of Homer, as he made it a matter of conscience* to read the Iliad and Odyssey from beginning to end every two or three years. He had perused the Greek New Testament so frequently, that he knew almost every passage in it by heart. He had read all the Hebrew of the Old Testament, but he did not cultivate so dose an acquaintance with the Chaldee. With the works of Schiller, Tasso, and Cervantes, he was veiy familiar in the languages in which they were originally written; and he had a special pleasure in musing over the productions of Voltaire, Rousseau, Le Sage, Montesquieu, and other great French writers. He had, perhaps, a more minute acquaintance with the French language than any other, except his own; at least, it was the only foreign language in which he occasionally attempted to hold conversation.

Another department of learning to which Mr Johnston specially devoted himself, was geometry and algebra. Like most men of literary habits, he was rather of an indolent disposition, so far as manual labour was concerned; but in studying a classic author, or working out a mathematical demonstration, he would toU for days and weeks with the most unwearied application. He often gave him* self a great deal of unnecessary labour. He disregarded all adventitious helps. He had no patience with glossaries and commentaries. An old text-book and a common dictionary were the only tools with which he would work. In algebra he had great enjoyment in evolving a general formula for himself, though it should cost him weeks of close study; and many of his processes were original deductions to himself. They had long been previously known to regularly educated men; and he might have been acquainted with them too, bad he been disposed to take a little trouble to ascertain what discoveries had been made by other inquirers.

Mr Johnston's contributions to literature were not numerous, considering that he devoted a great part of a long life to the pursuit of knowledge. We know that he contributed to ‘The Christian Repository/ edited at Biggar by his brother-in-law, the Rev. John Brown, a series of articles on the ‘ History of the Secession Church/ a paper on ‘A Com of Wheat Falling into the Ground,' and 1A Review of Sir Harry Moncreiff's Life of Dr John Erskine.’ For a periodical called ‘The Christian Gleaner,’ he wrote ‘ A Memoir of Betty Gibson/ and, for the ‘Eclectic Review' a critique on Dr John Brown’s ‘ Exposition of First Peter.* A sermon on the text, ‘There remaineth much land to be possessed,* which was preached by the Rev. John Brown before the Secession Synod, and afterwards published, gave great offence to some of the friends of the Established Church, and called forth a number of very severe strictures. The Rev. Alexander Craik of Libberton, in particular, entered the lists, and published a censorious pamphlet against the assertions made in the sermon. Mr Johnston followed with a pamphlet, entitled, ‘Letter by a Friend of the Church/ which his nephew, Dr Brown, characterizes as ‘ a capital bit of literary banter.* The following pamphlets were also from Mr Johnston’s pen:—‘ On the Abolition of Slavery;’ ‘ Calm Answers to certain Angry Questions proposed to Voluntary Churchmen;’ and ‘ A Digest of the Evidence on the Connection of Bible Societies with the Circulation of the Apocrypha.* He furnished many articles to the ‘ Scottish Herald,’ the ‘ Scottish Press,’ and the ‘ Kirkcaldy Observer.’ Two of the largest works with which he was connected were a translation of Calvin and Storr’s work on Philippians, and a translation of the Messianic Psalms of Rosenmttller. To both of these works he furnished lengthened prefaces.

Mr Johnston was a person of very diffident and retiring habits. He had an extreme repugnance to put himself forward in any way before the public, or even before strangers with whom he accidentally came in contact. Every one who met him knew that he was a thoughtful, intelligent man; but it was only his intimate friends who were aware of the extent of his eftidition, or the learned inquiries in which he was daily engaged. He had talents and acquirements fitting him to occupy a high position in life; but from an unconquerable aversion to push himself forward, and make his merits and his claims known, he passed through life in comparative obscurity. With one, or at most two intimate friends, he could descant whole evenings on themes of high import, delight them with anecdotes of Biggar men, or dissect the merits of a favourite author; but before a mixed company he was generally silent, or, if forced to speak, he generally made a very poor appearance. He, in fact, hated all public display, both on his own part and that of others. If left to his own judgment, he would not go a yard to see an exhibition, or attend a festive meeting.

Mr Johnston, in the latter part of his life, left Biggar with his family, resided for some years in Edinburgh, and then removed to Portobello. He died at this latter place, after a short illness, on Tuesday, the 17th April 1860, having reached the seventy-fifth year of his age. His wife, Violet Brown, was, in her way, a remarkable woman. Her intellectual powers were strong and discriminating, and her memory was wonderfully tenacious and accurate. It was always a pleasing treat to us to sit and hear her discant on the incidents of her early days, spent at Longridge and Biggar. She died at Porto-bello on the 22d of February 1861, and was interred also in the Churchyard of Biggar.

Mr and Mrs Johnston left behind them three sons and two daughters. The oldest son, Thomas, is settled in Glasgow as a medical practitioner. Like his father, he is fond of all sorts of books, and has a first-rate knowledge of his profession, and a great hatred of humbugs, especially of medical humbugs. He occasionally lectures on scientific subjects before some of the literary societies of Glasgow. Their, second son, John, is minister of the United Presbyterian congregation, Duke Street, Glasgow. He was for some time editor of the *Scottish Press,' and is the author of a work entitled, 'The Life and Remains of the Rev. Robert Shirra of Kirkcaldy.' He is a very popular preacher; and, a short time ago, one of the American colleges conferred on him the degree of Doctor in Divinity. The youngest son, Robert, is a United Presbyterian minister at Arbroath. He was educated at the High School of Edinburgh, and carried off the chief pri2es at all the classes which he attended, including that of the Rector's. He also received the gold medal for being the best scholar of the senior Humanity class at the University of Edinburgh. He took the degree of LL.B. at the University of London, and at one time was employed in superintending some of the Latin educational works published by the Messrs Chambers of Edinburgh.

Mr Thomas Johnston, merchant, Biggar, had several sons besides Robert, to whom we have just referred. They all devoted themselves to the learned professions. James, a very amiable man, and a most respectable medical praotitioner, is settled at Limekilns. Ebenezer, formerly connected with the Established Church, and now Free Church minister at Bannockburn, is a man of capital scholarship and great humour; and William, who is minister of the United Presbyterian congregation at Limekilns, is a person whose ability, learning, and great moral worth, have not only given him a high place in the United Presbyterian Church, but throughout a much wider section of the community.

In the north part of the Churchyard is a vault without grace or ornament, and, in fact, of so rude a construction as to be even an eyesore among the humble stones by which it is surrounded. Beneath it repose the ashes of Thomas Ord, the famous equestrian, and his first wife. Mr Ord’s early history is obscure. It has been stated that he was the son of the Rev. Selby Ord, minister of Longformacus; that he was for some time a medical student; and that, being of a roving disposition, he threw aside the lancet and dissecting-knife, and enlisted into a cavalry regiment, in which he served till a friend of his father purchased his discharge. On the other hand, it has been asserted that he engaged himself, when a boy, to a distinguished equestrian of the name of McDonald, with whom he served five years. In his sixteenth year, it is said, he started as an equestrian on his own account, and in this character made his debut at Kelso. However this may be, it is certain that, at an early part of his career as a master equestrian, he drew a company around him, and performed with eclat in many of the smaller towns of Scotland. Having great confidence in his own abilities, and encouraged by the success which had attended his previous efforts, he set up regular establishments in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth, Inverness, Dumfries, etc., and everywhere received substantial marks of public favour. He then made a descent into England, and performed in a number of the large towns in the sister kingdom; but here his good fortune forsook him. His heavy expenditure in attempting to cater for the amusement of the Southrons was not always covered by the receipts, and, in the end, he was forced to dispose of the greater part of his stud, to break up his troupe of artistes, and return to Scotland in comparative poverty. After this period he carried on his business in a more humble manner, keeping a small establishment, performing in the open air, and looking for remuneration to the disposal of lottery tickets. By prudence and economy, he amassed a sum of upwards of L.2000, which he invested in the Berwick Bank. This establishment, unfortunately, failed, and our equestrian again lost all his hard-won earnings. Nothing daunted, he still pursued his career, and ere long acquired such a sum as enabled him to purchase a small property at Biggar, which he afterwards regarded as his head-quarters. He had a higher appreciation of Biggar than any other town of Scotland, and here he erected his last circus, or amphitheatre, as it was called, in the spring of 1844. It was a substantial erection of wood, and had the singularity of standing on a part of his own grounds, and within a few yards of his own house. The interior contained the usual accommodation of boxes, pit, and gallery, and was fitted up with a considerable degree of elegance. The entertainments consisted both of equestrian and theatrical performances. On the 4th of April he presented a grand dramatic spectacle, written by a townsman, entitled ‘The Battle of Biggar,1 with appropriate scenery, such as the English Camp on the Burgh Muir, the Cadger’s Brig, the Cave of Threpland, etc. This undertaking, notwithstanding his vigorous efforts to present attractive amusements, failed to command an adequate measure of support In the bill announcing his benefit for the evening of the 11th of April, he consequently thought fit to publish the following card:

‘Mr Ord respectfully takes leave to state to the gentry and public in general of Biggar and its populous vicinity, that, in consequence of the very liberal encouragement he received on his former visits, he was determined to spare no expense in putting up an amphitheatre for their amusement, where equestrian exercises in the circle, and dramatic entertainments on the stage, aided by appropriate scenery and wardrobe, might be alternately displayed, in the hope of a continuation of that patronage, which had hitherto crowned his efforts to please. In the attempt he has entirely failed, being a considerable loser from the opening of the establishment to the present time; and as the season is now at a dose, he trust he will not be deemed impertinent in respectfully and earnestly soliciting the countenance of his friends in particular, and the public at large, on this occasion, trusting the numerous amusements selected will merit the approbation of the visitors to his amphitheatre.

‘’Tis not in mortals to command success:
I have done more, I’ve studied to deserve it.’

His last appearance on horseback was at Thornhill, on the 29th September 1859. He proceeded with his company to Ayrshire, and intended to take part in the performances at Galston and other towns; but he became indisposed, and at his own request was conveyed to his home at Biggar. Here he grew gradually worse, and at last closed his earthly career on the 27th December following, aged upwards of eighty years, and his remains were interred in the vault to which we have referred. A proposal was made, at the time of his death, to raise p subscription to erect a monument to his memory; but it appears never to have been actively prosecuted, and may now be said to be abandoned. Mr Ord was temperate in his habits, charitable in his disposition, and opposed to anything* like fraud or gambling. He was an equestrfatf of the first order. In the heyday of his strength and success, he challenged the renowned Andrew Ducrow to a trial of skill for L.500; but the latter refused to peril his reputation by entering the lists against so fearless and agile a competitor.

Several of the* stones mark the resting-place of the baron bailies of Biggar, some of whom presided over the destinies of the little community for many years. We specially notice that of Bailie Alexander Wardlaw, to whose memory a marble slab was erected in the eastern wall of the church, with an epitaph from the pen of the famous Scottish poet, Allan Ramsay. The whole inscription on the tablet is as follows:—

‘Alexander Wardlaw, Chamberlain to the Right Honorable the Earl of Wigtoun, dyed 15th March 1721, aged 67 years.

'Here lyes a man whose upright heart With
virtue was profusely stor’d,
Who acted well the honest part
Between the tennants and their lord,

'Betwixt the sands and flinty rock,
Thus steer’d he in the golden mein;
While his blythe countenance bespoke
A mind unsullied and serene.

‘As to the Bruce the Fleming prov’d
Faithfule, so to the Fleming’s heir
Wardlaw behav’d, and was belov’d,
For justice, candour, faith, and care.

‘His merit shall preserve his name
To latefit ages free from rust,
Till the Archangel raise his frame,
To joyn his soul amongst the just.

'Hoc monumentum ponit Joannes Wardlaw Alexandri filius.’

It is rather a noticeable feature in the tomb-stones of Biggar Churchyard, that few of them contain poetical inscriptions. The only other inscription of this kind which we have noticed or heard of, is on a stone erected to the memory of Janet Jenkison. The whole inscription on the stone is as follows:—

'Here lies the body of Janet Jenkison, daughter of James Jenkison, burgess, Biggar, and spouse of Hugh Somerval, wright in Dolphinton, who died the 20th day of February 1734, aged S3 years.

'At this cold pillow lies her head,
And hopes to rise with Jacob’s seed;
Prudent she was in virtue’s walk,
And to do good in moderate talk.’

This is, no doubt, the composition of a local poet; but it does not impress us with very exalted notions of the manner in which poetry and grammar were cultivated in the district at the period to which it refers.

In this churchyard lie the ashes of many other men who, in their day, enjoyed considerable local celebrity; but it would swell this work to an undue size to descant on their history and characteristics.


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