The principal figure in this scene at Bruntsfield
Links gives an excellent portraiture of Colonel Patrick Crichton, iu the
attitude of directing the movements of a body of Volunteers. The stout
personage in the back-ground, to the rear of the Colonel, is Captain
Coulter, afterwards Lord Provost, who obtained great celebrity for a
declaration which he made on one occasion at a civic feast. His health
having been drank, he embraced the opportunity, in returning thanks, of
placing his martial avocations in opposition to his civic ones, and
wound up the harangue by exclaiming—"Although I am in body a
stocking-weaver, yet I am in soul a Sheepyo/" (Scipio). He
retained the name of Sheepyo ever afterwards.
Colonel Crichton, whose father, Alexander Crichton,
carried on the business of coach-building in the Canongate for many
years, was a gentleman well-known and very much respected in Edinburgh.
He entered the army, and attained the rank of Captain in the 57th
Regiment. He served in America during the War of Independence, and
distinguished himself so much that he received the public thanks of the
Commander of the Forces.
At the close of the war, Captain Crichton retired
from the army, and entered into partnership with his father. The firm
was subsequently changed to Crichton & Field; and latterly to Crichton,
Gall, & Thomson. When the first regiment of Edinburgh Volunteers was
formed, on account of his former military services, he was chosen second
Major and Captain of the East New Town Company—an honour fully merited,
as a great portion of the labour of organisation devolved upon him. He
also undertook the formation of the second battalion, raised in 1796, of
which he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel. The second battalion had
their mess in Henry Young's, Bruntsfield Links, where the Duke of
Buccleuch (the Colonel) often dined with them.
About this period Colonel Crichton fought a duel with
Mr. Bennet, surgeon in Edinburgh, in which the former was wounded. The
ball entered near the left side of the chest, passed through part of the
pectoral muscle, and came out behind, near the edge of the blade-bone.
The wound was severe, but not dangerous, and he speedily recovered. The
duel is said to have originated in this way. Bennet had sent his chaise
to the coach-yard of Crichton & Field for the purpose of being repaired.
Some altercation on the subject took place betwixt Bennet and Field, and
high words ensued. It was with Field that the quarrel commenced, as
Crichton was not present during the altercation. Field (an American by
birth) challenged Bennet; but the latter declined to meet him, alleging
that his rank was not that of a gentleman. Upon this Crichton took the
matter upon himself, and offered to fight Bennet—a proposition which was
at once acceded to.
When the Local Militia was embodied in 1805, Mr.
Crichton was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant of the 2nd
Edinburgh Regiment. In connection with this body several anecdotes are
related of the Colonel, very much to his credit as a philanthropist. One
instance we must not refrain from mentioning. A person of the name of
S------t, one of the fifers of the regiment, having been rendered
powerless in one of his sides by a stroke of palsy only a day or two
subsequent to his marriage, no sooner was the circumstance made known to
the Colonel than he became deeply interested in his favour. Militiamen
are not entitled by law to a pension, but trusting to the
peculiarity of his case, Colonel Crichton caused
S------t to proceed to London, that he might personally make application
to Government. He of course furnished him with means and the necessary
recommendations. S------t remained some time in London; and, after much
harassing delay, had the mortification to find all his endeavours
unavailing. In this dilemma he communicated with Colonel Crichton, who
immediately wrote in his behalf to an influential quarter, when a
pension was granted without further delay. S------t is still alive, and
enjoys the benefit of the Colonel's humane exertions. Mr. Crichton's
generosity was the more remarkable, as he had previously been much
annoyed with the filer's irregularities and inattention to duty.
Mr. Crichton entered the Town Council in 1794, as one
of the Merchant Councillors, and held the office of Treasurer in 1795-6.
He died at his own house in Gayfield's Square, on the 14th May, 1823. He
was a fine manly-looking person, rather florid in his complexion;
exceedingly polite in his manners, and of gentlemanly attainments.
Mr. Crichton was married and had children. One of his
sons, Archibald William, had the honour of knighthood conferred on him
by George IV. The Colonel's brother, who is
still in the Russian service, was physician to the late Emperor
Alexander of Russia, by whom he was knighted. Sir Alexander Crichton
visited his native country about the year 1834.