Robert Fergusson

1750 - 1774

Robert Fergusson Statue, Canongate
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Robert Fergusson Statue, Canongate

Poet and song-writer. Born in Edinburgh, the son of a banking accountant, Fergusson was educated at the High School there, followed by St Andrew's University, where he began writing poetry. He returned to Edinburgh without a degree and took a job as a clerk. He became famous for his accounts of Edinburgh's Old Town, written in the Scot's tongue. He wrote extensively for "Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine" in Edinburgh during his short life. Fergusson would often collect traditional fragments and re-work these into songs. His verse was a favourite influence on the works of poet Robert Burns (1759-96).

Fergusson's health was always poor, and he died in an asylum at an unfortunately young age. He was buried in Edinburgh's Canongate Kirkyard, where Burns erected a memorial over his almost-forgotten grave. A life-size statue was erected on the pavement outside the churchyard in 2004.

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