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The Scottish Nation

PENNECUIK, a surname derived from the parish of Penicuick, in Mid Lothian, belonging to Sir George Clerk, baronet. The name was in early times spelled Penicok, and is believed to have been derived from the Gaelic Bein-na-cuack, or the British Pen-y-coc, both of which mean the Cuckoo’s hill.

PENNECUIK, ALEXANDER. M.D., an eminent physician and poet, was born at Newhall, near Edinburgh, in 1652. His father, of the same name, served as a surgeon in the Swedish army, during the Thirty Years’ War, and was afterwards surgeon-general to the Auxiliary Scots army sent into England in 1644. He was proprietor of the estates of Newhall in the county of Edinburgh, and Romanno in Peebles-shire, and is said by his son to have lived to be “the oldest Æsculapius of the age.” After receiving his education, which he completed on the Continent, Alexander went to reside with his father on the family property, which he inherited at the old gentleman’s death. There he continued to practice as a physician, and to cultivate poetry and science. He wrote a ‘Description of Tweeddale,’ esteemed for the antiquarian and botanical information it contains, which, with his miscellaneous poems, was published in 1715. His poetical pieces are chiefly descriptive of rural manners. He died in 1722, leaving two married daughters, to the elder of whom he gave, as a dower, the estate of Newhall, and to the younger he left, at his death, the lands of Romanno. A new edition of his works, with a life of the author, appeared at Leith in 1815, exactly a century after their first publication. Dr. Pennecuik is traditionally said to have furnished Allan Ramsay with the plot of ‘The Gentle Shepherd;’ but like many other tales handed down by tradition, there seems no foundation for the statement.

There was another Alexander Pennecuik, a poet, and burgess of Edinburgh, the author of ‘Streams from Helicon,’ published in 1720; and ‘Flowers from Parnassus,’ in 1726. He wrote also an account of ‘The Blue Blanket, or Craftsman’s Banner;’ and shortly before his death commenced a periodical, entitled ‘Entertainment for the curious.’ IN his poetry he imitated Allan Ramsay. His life was dissipated, and he is said to have died of starvation in the streets.

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