Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier known to have spent fourteen years
guarding the grave of his owner. This remarkable demonstration of
loyalty caused him to be the subject of countless books and even movies.
To this day, thousands of tourists visit Bobby’s monument and pay homage
to his inspiring life.
In Greyfriars Bobby and the One o’clock Gun, George Robinson brings to
life Bobby’s inspiring story in unprecedented depth. Based on the facts
and press reports published during the period, it features some of the
important people that became part of Bobby’s life including Colour
Sergeant Scott, the Traill family who looked after and fed Bobby and
Baroness Burdett-Coutts, the richest woman in the United Kingdom.
By turns heartwarming, incredible and ultimately unforgettable,
Greyfriars Bobby and the One o'clock Gun is an extraordinary tale of
friendship and an insightful glimpse into life in 19th century
The hearing to establish the identity of
Greyfriars Bobby’s owner took place at the Burgh Court, Edinburgh in April
1867. The hearing resulted in the story of the dog who dined daily at
Traill’s Temperance Coffee House being featured all over the world in
newspapers and magazines including ‘Harper’s Weekly’.
Deciding that a cabinet card featuring the four-footed celebrity would
appeal to the public, commercial photographer Walter Greenoak Patterson
produced a card printed with the report of the hearing on the back. The
cards were available from the photographer’s print shop in Frederick Street.
The Town Council asked James Brown the superintendent of Greyfriars Kirkyard
to look after Bobby. In addition to compiling a guide book featuring the
headstones in the kirkyard, James supplemented his weekly wage by selling
the cabinet cards to tourists.
A drinking fountain to the memory of the wee dog was set up at the end of
George IV Bridge in 1873, the year following the terrier’s death. Baroness
Burdett-Coutts the richest woman in the U.K and close friend of Queen
Victoria commissioned William Brodie to sculpt the life size monument. The
red granite pedestal was probably designed by David Cousins the city
As picture postcards became increasingly popular with the public, companies
such as Valentine & Sons in Dundee began printing cards featuring views of
the wee dog’s memorial fountain.
Reginald Phillimore the prolific postcard artist who lived in North Berwick
not far from Edinburgh produced a hand drawn postcard featuring Bobby’s
memorial fountain which quickly became a collector’s item.
Eleanor Atkinson’s best selling novel ‘Greyfriars Bobby’ was published in
1912. The novelist who had been born in Renssalaer, Indiana, U.S.A. had
worked as a journalist with the ‘Chicago Tribune’. Although the novelist did
not visit Edinburgh, while carrying out research for her novel, she found
that the newspaper report of the Burgh Court hearing stated that the surname
of Bobby’s owner may have been Gray.
As Eleanor needed a first name for the farm worker who appears in her novel,
she decided to call him Jock which quickly led to the belief that the
original owner’s name had been John.
Funded by Mr and Mrs Howell Reed of Boston, U.S.A., a memorial stone to Jock
was set up in Greyfriars Kirkyard next to a table stone where Bobby was said
to have sheltered. Eleanor’s novel combined with the setting up of the
memorial stone led journalists and historians to believe that a man called
John Gray had been Bobby’s owner.
MGM released ‘Challenge to Lassie’ in 1948. Based on Eleanor’s novel, Lassie
played the part of Bobby. The film was so successful that Eleanor’s story
was re-filmed by the Walt Disney company starring Donald Crisp as the
kirkyard superintendent and released in 1961.
Although thousands of picture postcards have been published featuring Bobby,
including John MacLeod’s portrait of the terrier which hangs in Greyfriars
Kirk visitors centre, the cards mainly feature views of the iconic memorial
A set of six cards showing the restaurant where Bobby headed for his dinner
when the One o’Clock Gun fired from the Half Moon Battery at Edinburgh
Castle is now available. The cards can be obtained from Edinburgh Books
1. Old Greyfriars 1867
2. Traill’s Temperance Coffee House
3. Greyfriars Bobby and the Traill family
4. John Traill and Greyfriars Bobby
5. Greyfriars Bobby and the 78th Highlanders
6. Baroness Burdett-Coutts
This comment system
requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account
or an account you already have with Google, Twitter,
Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account
with any of these companies then you can create an account
with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't
display until the moderator has approved your comment.