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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BI 0 GRAPH1 CAL SKETCHES. 263 and again, in 1794-5, when he was also chosen Deacon Convener of the Trades. He took much interest in city affairs ; and was distinguished as an active and energetic member of the Town Council. Frequently in opposition, he was conspicuously so when the ‘‘ levelling of the High Street ” was first proposed ; in the Print of which, formerly given, he figures as a principal opponent. Dr. Hay resided first in Strichen’s Close ; again at the head of Blair Street, in the house next to Messrs. Smith and Co., purveyors of oils and lamps ; and latterly in George Street, where he died on the 11th of April 1816. He married Miss Jean Graham, sister of the late Lieut.-General Grahaql Deputy- Governor of Stirling Castle, and left several children, John Hay, Esq., late member of the Medical Board, Madras, being the eldest, and Dr. David Hay, of Queen Street, the youngest. A memoir of SIR JAMES STIRLING has already been given in the first volume of this Work. From accurate information, we may here state that his father, Alexander-son of Gilbert Stirling, Esq., and Margaret, daughter, of Alexander Cumming, Esq., of Birness, cadet of the family of Altyre, Aberdeenshire- was a merchant of much respectability in Edinburgh, having a shop in the Luckenbooths, for the sale of cloth and other goods. His mother was a daughter of James Moir, Esq., of Lochfield, in Perthshire, cadet of the family of Moir of Leckie. The honour of a baronetage was conferred on Sir James in 1792, as expressly stated to him by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, as a mark of his Majesty’s most gracious approbation of his conduct during the riots in that year, when (according to the statement of his friends), so far from taking refuge in the Castle from the fear of personal consequences, he remained there at great inconvenience to himself, in order that the military should have a civil magistrate ready to accompany them when called on, which he did on more occasions than one. The other two sons, Jarnes and William, died in infancy. Sir James left only one son, who succeeded him in the baronetcy. In Stewart’s Mil&wy Sketches the following remarkable circumstance is related of General Graham, then a Lieat.-Colonel, and on service in the West Indies :-“A ball had entered his side three iuches from the back-bone, and, passing through, had come out under his breast ; another, or perhaps the same ball, had shattered two of his fingers. No assistance could be got but that of a soldier’s wife (of the 42d regiment), who had been long in the service, and was in the habit of attending sick and wounded soldiers. She washed his wounds, and bound them up in such a manner, that when a surgeon came and saw the way in which the operation had been performed, he said he could not have done it better, and would not unbind the dressing. The Colonel soon afterwards opened his eyes, and, though unable to speak for many hours, seemed sensible of what was passing around him. In this state he lay nearly three weeks, when he WBS carried to Kingston, and thence conveyed to England. He was still in a most exhausted state, the wound in his side discharging matter from both orifices. He went to Edinburgh with little hopes of recovery, but on the evening of the illumination for the battle of Camperdown, the smoke of 80 many candles and flambeaux affecting his breathing, he coughed with great violence, and, in the exertion, threw np a piece of cloth, left, no doubt, by the ball in ita passage through his body. From that day he recovered as by a charm.”- Colonel Graham was at this time residing in Blaii Street with his brother-in-law, Dr. Hay.
Volume 9 Page 350
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264 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. No. CCLIX. COLONEL MONRO, A WELL KNOWN BLUE-GOWN BEGGAR. THE name of “COLONELM ONRO,”a s applied to a half-crazed old man who used to frequent the streets of Edinburgh, is familiar to many of the older inhabitants, but almost nothing is known of his history. He obtained the soubriquet of “ Colonel ” from having fought under the banners of Prince Charles Edward ; and to the last he continued to profess his devotion to the house of Stuart. In token of his sympathy for the fallen race, he always wore a white cockade in his bonnet or hat. His Jacobitical predilections, however, did not prevent him from participating in the bounty of the reigning dynasty ; hence the lines of the artist- (‘ Behold courageous Colonel Monro, A Highland hero, turned a Blue-Gown beau.” Of the Blue-Gowns, or Bedesmen, whose dress and appearance are represented in the Print, Sir Walter Scott has given the following account in his notes to the Antiquary :- “ These Bedesmen are an order of paupers, to whom the Kings of Scotland were in the custom of distributing a certain alms, in conformity with the ordinances of the Catholic Church, and who were expected in return to pray for the royal welfare and that of the State. This order is still kept up. Their number is equal to the number of years which his Majesty has lived ; and one Blue-Gown is put on the roll for every returning royal birthday. On the same auapicious era, each Bedesnian receives a new cloak, or gown, of coarse cloth, the colour light-blue, with a pewter badge, which confers on them the general privilege of seeking alms through all Scotland, all laws against sorning, masterful begging, and every other species of mendicity being suspended in favour of this privileged class. With his cloak each receives a leathern purse, containing as many shillings Scots (videlicet, pennies sterling) as the Sovereign is years old-the zeal of their intercession for the King’s long life receiving, it is to be supposed, a great stimulus from their own present and increasing interest in the object of their prayers. On the same occasion, one of the Royal Chaplains preaches a sermon to the Bedesmen, who (as one of the Rev. gentlemen expressed himself) are the most impatient and inattentive audience in the world. Something of this may arise from a feeling, on the part of the Bedesmen, that they are paid for their own devotions, not for listening to those of others. Or more probably it arises from impatience, natural, though indecorous in men bearing so venerable a character, to arrive at the conclusion of the ceremonial of the royal birthday, which as far as they are concerned, ends in & lusty breakfast of bread and ale ;I the whole moral and religious exhibition terminating in the advice of Johnson’s ‘ Hermit hoar ’ to his proselyte,- ‘ Come, my lad, and drink some beer.’ ” The “ lusty breakfast ” latterly conaiated of a single halfpenny hup, and a very small modicum of beer.
Volume 9 Page 351
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