This gentleman, long known as a respectable and
eminent physician in Edinburgh, was a brother of Mr. Colquhoun Grant,
whose exploits, as an adherent of Prince Charles Edward, have been
noticed in a former article.
The education of Dr. Grant was carefully
superintended, and perfected at the most celebrated schools of the day.
Having studied three years at the University of Aberdeen, and
subsequently for five years at Edinburgh, he repaired to London, Rouen,
and Paris, and took his degree at Leyden about the year 1740. He
afterwards practised for some time at Rotterdam, where he married Miss
Sarah Lonibe, a lady of much piety and high mental attainments. By this
union he had a son and daughter. The former died in infancy. Miss Grant,
afterwards married to the late Dr. Andrew Brown, was much celebrated for
her acquirements. She was an accomplished musician, and performed with
science and taste on the piano and pedal harp.
Some time after the death of his first wife, Dr.
Grant again entered into the married state, by espousing a daughter of
Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk. By this marriage he had two sons and a
daughter. The eldest, Archibald, went out to Jamaica to a relation—Grant
of Rothiemurcus—where he died. The other son, Johnson, studied for the
Church, much against his father's will, who was desirous that lie should
follow out the profession of medicine. He is now settled in the vicarage
of Kentish-town, London. The daughter was courted and married by Dr.
Thorpe, physician at Leeds, while a student at the University of this
On settling in Edinburgh, Dr. Grant rapidly acquired
a wide range of professional employment, chiefly among the leading
families from the north ; and a course of lectures on the Practice of
Physic, delivered about 1770, secured for him a flattering increase of
reputation. In chemistry he was known to possess pretty extensive
knowledge ; and part of his house was fitted up with the necessary
apparatus for experimenting on a large scale in that interesting
department of science. It may be worth mentioning, as illustrative of
his humane disposition, that he devoted an hour, between eight and nine
o'clock, every morning—winter as well as summer—to the service of the
poor, to whom he gave medicine and advice gratis. He was long a manager
of the Orphan Hospital, devoting much of his attention to its interests,
and was the projector of the Hospital at Granton, in Strathspey.
Moving in the best circles of society, the Doctor was
a joyous supporter of the social character ascribed to the last century
inhabitants of Edinburgh; and his house in James's Court—top flat of the
left hanu turnpike—was the scene of many fashionable entertainments. His
parties, at which the Duchess of Gordon and other ladies of high rank
were frequently present, were given generally in the evening, and called
"musical suppers." As an instance of the enthusiasm with which he
entered into the spirit of such amusements, it is reported that, in
leading a dance, when upwards of seventy-six years of age, he broke what
is called, in anatomical language, the lendo Achillis ot his leg.
Dr. Grant was a patron of the fine arts; and a
fondness for the drama was another distinguishing feature in his
character. While Mrs. Siddons remained in Edinburgh, she was frequently
a guest at his table; and to all professors of the histrionic art he
manifested his particular favour, by professionally attending them and
their families, when called upon, without fee or reward.
The figure and characteristic appearance of Dr.
Gregory Grant are well delineated in the Print. He dressed with minute
attention to neatness, but without regard to prevailing fashions,
strictly adhered to that of his younger years. His coat was sometimes of
a drab or black colour, but most frequently of a dark purple, with
corresponding under garments. In reference to his peculiar style of
dress, a ludicrous anecdote is told. A party of equestrians having
broken up their establishment, the pony, which had been in the habit of
performing in the farce of the "Tailor's Journey to Brentford," was
purchased by a baker in Leith Walk for the purpose of carrying bread.
One day in Princes Street, as Dr. Grant was passing, the pony happened
to be standing loose, and no doubt fancying to recognise, in the dress
and appearance of the Doctor, his old friend the "Tailor," he
immediately pricked up his ears, started off in pursuit, and began
throwing up his heels at him in the way he had been accustomed in the
circus. Confounded at such an alarming salutation, and it is believed
considerably injured, Dr. Grant was glad to seek safety in flight, by
darting into an entry until the offender was secured.
The Doctor seldom made use of his carriage. When he
went to the country he usually rode a cream-coloured horse, his servant
following behind in the Grant livery. He was a most active man, regular
in all his habits, and punctual to a moment in keeping his hours.
Although he might in some degree participate in the
chivalrous feeling of his brother for the unfortunate house of Stuart,
Dr. Grant was a decided Presbyterian, and regularly attended the
Tolbooth Church. The love of country was with him a predominant feeling.
He was often heard to remark, that there was no dress in Europe to
compare with the Highland garb, when worn by a graceful native
Highlander; and that there was no language which could convey the
meaning with greater distinctness than the Gaelic. He was one of the
first promoters of the Highland Society, and an enthusiastic supporter
of the competitions of ancient music. He died, at an advanced age, in
1803, leaving considerable wealth.