Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 2


B I 0 GR AP €1 I C AL S ICE T C HE S. 235 of the Earl and his lady, than he burst out into an immoderate fit of laughter. The artist, apprised of the visit, was in readiness, and the next portraiture that appeared was the jolly Laird of Sonachan in the attitude described. DONALDC AMPBELLE,s q., of Sonachan, in the county of Argyle, was born id the year 1735 j and in the early part of his life served as a lieutenant in the first West Fencible Regiment. He afterwards became an active and judicious agriculturist, and dedicated his whole attention to country affairs. His paternal estate not being large, he was, soon after quitting the army, appointed Chamberlain of Argyle, by the late John Duke of Argyle, and subsequently Collector of Supply for that county-both which situations he held for a period of nearly twenty years. He married, in the year 1777, Mary, only daughter of Robert Maclachlan, Esq., of Maclachlan, by whom he left four sons and two daughters. His brothers were John, a Captain‘of Cavalry in the East India Company’s service, killed in India; and Archibald, a subaltern in the British army, killed in America. Mr. Campbell died in March 1808, in the seventy-third year of his age. His eldest son, who succeeded to the property, was for many years a Writer to the Signet in Edinburgh, CCL. AIR. THOMAS SOMMERS, HIS MAJESTY’S GLAZIER FOR SCOTLAND. THOMAS SO3f.MERS-the friend and biographer of Fergusson the poet-was originally from Lanarkshire. He came to Edinburgh early in life ; so early indeed, that he may be said to have been brought up in the city almost from infancy. He first became acquainted with Fergusson in 1756, who, then in the sixth year of his age, was a pupil of Mr. Philp, an English teacher in Niddry’s Wynd, and who was on terms of intimacy with Mr. Sommers. After finishing his apprenticeship as a glazier, Sommers proceeded to London. He was then about twenty years of age ; and shortly after his arrival, as he used frequently to relate, he had the satisfaction of witnessing the coronation of George 111. and his consort. In the capital he found good employment for several years ; and he was enabled, on his return to Edinburgh, to commence business for himself, by opening a paint and glazier’s shop in the Parliament Square. Possessed of an education much superior to most of his contemporaries in the same station of life, Mr. Sommers soon acquired influence in the manage
Volume 9 Page 314
  Enlarge Enlarge  
236 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. ment of Mary’s Chapel.’ He was elected Deacon of the Masons in 1770-1, and again in 1776. In the latter year, remarkable in the annals of the council for a keen contest for supremacy: he espoused the side of Sir Laurence Dundas, through whose interest he procured the appointment of ‘‘ His Majesty’s Glazier for Scotland.” A taste for literature had been early imbibed by Mr. Sommers ; and although thirteen years the senior of Fergusson, a reciprocity of sentiment produced a warm and steady intimacy betwixt them. T;liith Woods, the Scottish Roscius, as he was termed, and several other friends of the poet, he was well acquainted, and long after the latter had closed his short and ill-fated career, they continued to cherish his memory with the utmost affection. Possessing considerable facility in composition, with pretty extensive general knowledge, his acquirements were well calculated to elevate him above the level of the great mass of his fellow- citizens. In, the Corporation, of which he was a member, and while one of the Town Council, Mr. Sommers stood pre-eminent-frequently astonishing his brethren, accustomed as they were to conversational debates, by the force of his arguments and the flights of his fancy. Interested in all public matters, he was ever zealous for the public good ; and the humanity and kindness of his disposition invariably led him, as a member of Mary’s Chapel, to advocate warmly the cause of the necessitous, who had claims on the Incorporation. As may be inferred, “His Majesty’s Glazier” possessed a truly social temper. He was a member of the well-known Cape Cub, and for several years Secretary to the Grand Lodge of Freemasons, by whom he was regarded as an oracle. He had long amused himself with literary composition for the periodical “ The United Incorporation of Mary’s Chapel. It consists of the following crafts :-Wrights, masons, bowyers, glaziers, plummers, upholsterers, painters, slaters, sievewrights, and coopers. This community has, in Niddry’s Wynd, a modern hall, for holding their meetings. It is called dfury’s Chapel, having been originally a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.”-Amot’s Est. of Edin. Two deacons are annually chosen ; one to represent the wrights, and another the masons. Some years ago, the election of Deacon for MUTY’S Chapel was a matter of very great importance. The political strife which marked this period had its origin in the general Parliamentary election of 1774, when exertions were made to oust Sir Laurence from the representation of the city. His opponents on that occasion were David Loch, Esq., of Over-Carnbie, formerly an extensive merchant at Leith, and the author of “ Letters on the Trade and Manufactures of Scotland ;” and Captain James-Francis Erskine of Forrest, who only intimated his intention of standing on the day of election. A charge of bribery and corruption was preferred against Sir Laurence, and a letter to one of his agents, relating to the burgh of Dunfermline, produced in proof. The electors were in consequence much embarrassed ; and a delay having occurred, Provost Stoddart came forward as a candidate. The votes were, for Sir Laurence, twenty-three-for Mr. Stoddart, six-and for Captain Erskine, three. Both Mr. Stoddart and Mr. Loch protested-the latter, on the ground that the election had been brought about by undue influence. The opposition to Sir Laurence still becoming more popular, a keen trial of strength took place at the election of Deacons and Councillors in 1776. Several letters were puhlished, and much recrimination indulged in through the medium of the press. The friends of Sir Laurence were again trinmphant ; and both parties in the Council united in the choice of Alexander Kincaid, Esq., aa the Chief Magistrate. In the evening, some of his lordship’s friends having expressed their joy by a bonfire and illumination, a riot was the consequence, and much damage done by breaking windows, and other mischief. It may be curious to add that, at this compakatively recent period, the house occupied by the Lord Provost waa situated in the Cowgate, in a small court west of the Horse Wynd. One of the Council, Mr. Lamie, Old Provost, was absent. Provost Kincaid died in office, 1777. The house is still known as “ Kincaid’s Land.”
Volume 9 Page 315
  Enlarge Enlarge