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Significant Scots
Dr Cowan

The Tale of Dr. Cowan's Tragic Death

This picture and poem were found in the old photo album left to me by my Scottish grandparents over 45 yrs ago.  Dr.David MacClure Cowan, the son of David Cowan and Janet MacClure, must have been very special to them. My family left Maybole, Scotland just a few years before this man's death. The picture postcard and poem must have been sent to them in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada from friends or family left behind in Maybole. They held onto it for 30 years until their own deaths in the 1950's. I hope that whoever is related to this man see's this tribute to him.

Update!! The answer to his death has been found! See the thumbnail picture at the end of this poem. Click on it to read a Scottish newspaper article explaining who this wonderful man was!!  This article is contributed by Alex McLaren, of Girvan, Ayr, the man who found the photos !

Dr. David MacClure Cowan


Source: Scottish Newspaper name unknown - 1920


Dr. Cowan's Death Recalled.

[Dr. David Maclure Cowan of Maybole, died in Ayr County Hospital, on the 6th December 1913, over seven years ago, and the tragic circumstances connected with his departure have not yet faded from the public memory. The poor woman, whose story is here narrated had good cause to remember the young doctor, and in his whole career there is perhaps not a more touching episode than the one unfolded in these verses, now published for the first time.]

When stricken doon wi' trouble,
And rackit sair wi' pain,
I wondered wha would bring tae me
The bloom o' health again.

"Oh, there's a doctor laddie
That leeves in Maybole toon,
He'll tell ye a' that's wrang." they said,
"And mak' ye hale an' soun'."

Five weary miles we tampit,
My ain guidman and me,
For we are two puir bodies
That wander wide and free,

And hawk aboot oor humble wares
Wi' a faucht that nane may ken,
And think oorsel's fou happy
If we manage jist to fen".

At last we found the doctor,
And a winsome lad was he -
Sae young, and yet to ken sae much
O' life's deep mystery.

For he was skilled to understaun'
This mortal frame o' mine,
And telt me a' would come oot richt,
I needna fret nor dwine.

Aff tae Ayr Hospital." he said,
"As fast as ye can flee,
And tell them to dae naething,
But jist to wait for me."

And there, whaur every yin was kind,
They laid me gently doon,
Wi' doctors in attendance,
And nurses standin' roon.

When I awoke new life was mine,
My pain and trouble flew,
For weel I kent the doctor lad
Would bring me safely through.

He said to me, "You're unca richt.
And in a week or twa,
I'm thinkin' ye may tak' your flicht
Ow'r moor and moss and a'."

And syne he put intae my haun
A shinin' white hauf-croon,
And telt me it would keep my pooch
And tak' me oot the toon.

Then a' unkent tae him and me
He said the last "Guid-day,"
For noo the laddie's deed and gane,
And oh but I am wae.

They say that he was dune tae death
By some disease sae foll
That there was nane to save him,
And he couldna save himsel'.

"Noo tell me whaur they've ta'en him,
And whaur they've laid him doon"-
Oh his bed lies deep in the hill sae steep,
That's near tae Maybole toon."

The gloamin' shades descended,
As I reached _____ ____e graveside
My tears they flowed incessant
As frae a springing tide.

The rain-cloud heard my wail o' grief,
And sobbed in sympathy,
And earth and air and low'ring sky
A' seemed to mourn wi' me.

As I charged the wind his dirge to sing,
And the stars' their watch to keep,
Ow'r the grassy mound in the burial ground
Whaur the lad's sae soond asleep.

For simmer days will come again,
Wi' a' things bricht and fair,
Yet a winsome doctor laddie
Will come nevermair.

But when the blast o' winter's past,
And the bud is on the tree.
I'll come tae whaur the laddie lies
That's dune sae much for me.

A bunch o' bonnie flooers I'll bring,
As white as driven snaw,
In fondest memory o' him
Sae early ta'en awa',

And on the turf abune his heed,
Bedewed wi' mony a tear,
I'll lay my wee bit offering
At the spring-time o' the year.

Be this my pilgrimage o' love,
Until the day I dee,
For oh the doctor laddie
Will ne'er come back tae me!

[signed] Wanderer

Click this to read the article!

Our thanks to Gayle Fuson for letting us publish this article. Do check out her website at

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