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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


Volume 9 Page 134
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, 101 foot of the Candlemaker Row, He was employed and paid by the fishmongers to announce that fish were in the market. His horn was a long, white, iron one, which he always kept exceedingly well polished. The practice of announcing the arrival of fish by ‘‘ tout” of horn is now discontinued. Davidson was a welldoing man in his way. His wife kept a small grocery shop; and by means of their united efforts, brought up their family in comfort. Some of his daughters were respectably married. No. ccv. WILLIAM WILSON OR “MORTAR WILLIE.” THIS venerable personage was a native of Perthshire, and born in 1709, to use his own words, ‘‘ within a bow-shot of Castle Huntly,” parish of Longforgan. The first thirty years of his life were devoted to agricultural employment. He then enlisted, fought against the Pretender, and afterwards served for nineteen years in the army-the greater portion of which was spent in the German and American wars.‘ After obtaining his discharge, he wrought for nearly twenty years in a bark-mill in the neighbourhood of London. About 1778 he returned to his native country, and settling in Edinburgh, found employment in the capacity described in the Print. He was a long time in the establishment of Dr, Burt of this city,* who generously continued to pay him his usual allowance of two shillings daily for his labour, after he had attained the long age of a hundred years, and although unable to work more than a small portion of the day. Willie was gratefully sensible of the Doctor’s kindness in this respect-“ Eh, man,” he would remark, on:occasions when he had done little, “ ye’ve got a bad bargain the day.” He was remarkably honest and attentive. He occasionally nursed the children j and as he sat by the fire, used to tell them amusing stories. He always rose about four in the morning ; and, at this early hour, seldom failed to rouse the domestics of his employer, in order to gain admission to the laboratory. He lived in the Old Hard-Well Close, Canongate, where he died on the 16th July 1815, in the hundred and sixth year of his age. It is supposed that, but for a hurt he received by a fall, he might have lived several years longer. He left an infirm old widow, aged seventy-three, in very poor circumstances, to whom he had been married fifty years. He was for many year8 servant to Lord John Murray, eldest son of the Duke of Atholl, who, in 1745, was appointed Colonel of the 42d Highlanders, and fought at the battle of Fontenoy. He had previously been in the employ of Mrs. Macdonald, who kept a laboratory shop in the Lawnmarket, with whom Dr. Burt served his apprenticeship, and to whose business he afterwards succeeded. Indeed the labours of “Mortar Willie” were not confined to one or two employers, his important services having been rendered, at various periods, to almost every drug establishment of any extent in town. _ _
Volume 9 Page 135
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