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Significant Scots
David Herd


HERD, DAVID, an ingenious and useful inquirer into our national antiquities, was born in the parish of St Cyrus, Kincardineshire, about the year 1732. Of his education, and early life in general, nothing has been ascertained. He probably served an apprenticeship under a country writer, and then, like many young men in his circumstances, sought a situation of better promise in the capital. Throughout a long life, he appears to have lived unambitiously, and a bachelor, in Edinburgh, never rising above the character of a Writerís clerk. He was for many years clerk to Mr David Russel, accountant. A decided taste for antiquities, and literary antiquities in particular, led Mr Herd to spend a great part of his savings on books; and although the volumes which he preferred were then much cheaper than now, his library eventually brought the sum of 254 pounds, 19s. 10d. The same taste brought him into association with the principal authors and artists of his own time: Runciman, the painter, was one of his intimate friends, and with Ruddiman, Gilbert Stuart, Fergusson, and Robert Burns, he was well acquainted. His information regarding Scottish history and biography was extensive. Many of his remarks appeared in the periodical works of his time, and the notes appended to several popular works were enriched by notes of his collecting. Sir Walter Scott, for instance, was much indebted, in his Border Minstrelsy, to a manuscript of Mr Herdís, which is frequently quoted by the editor, both for ballads and for information respecting them. Mr Herd was himself editor of what Scott calls "the first classical collection" of Scottish songs, which first appeared in one volume in 1769, and secondly in two volumes, in 1772. At his demise, which took place, June 25, 1810, he was understood to have left considerable property, which fell to a gentleman in England, supposed to have been his natural son, and who is said to have died a major in the army.

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