Crawfurd, Archibald (DNB00)

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CRAWFURD, ARCHIBALD (1785–1843), Scottish poet, was born of humble parents in Ayr in 1785. In his ninth year he was left an orphan, and after receiving a very limited school education in Ayr went, in his thirteenth year, to London to learn the trade of a baker with his sister's husband. After eight years' absence he returned to Ayr, where at the age of twenty-two he attended the writing classes in Ayr academy for a quarter of a year. Proceeding then to Edinburgh, he was for some time employed in the house of Charles Hay, after which he obtained an engagement in the family of General Hay of Rannes, in honour of whose daughter, who had nursed him while suffering from typhus fever, he composed the well-known song, ‘Bonnie Mary Hay,’ which originally appeared in the ‘Ayr and Wigtownshire Courier.’ Returning to Ayr with his earnings in 1811, he entered into business as a grocer, but this not proving successful he became an auctioneer, and also took a small shop for the sale of furniture. Having been indulged by his employers with the use of their libraries, Crawford had found the means of cultivating his literary tastes, and in 1819 ventured on authorship, by publishing anonymously ‘St. James's in an Uproar,’ of which three thousand copies were sold in Ayr alone, and for which the printer was apprehended and compelled to give bail for his appearance. In the same year Crawford began to contribute to the ‘Ayr and Wigtownshire Courier’ a number of pieces in prose and verse. They included a series of sketches founded on traditions in the west of Scotland, which in 1824 were published by subscription in a volume under the title ‘Tales of a Grandfather,’ new and enlarged edition in two volumes, by Archibald Constable & Co. in 1825. Shortly afterwards, in conjunction with one or two friends, he commenced a weekly serial in Ayr entitled ‘The Correspondent,’ which, however, on account of a disagreement between the originators, was only continued for a short time. Subsequently he brought out, on his own account, ‘The Gaberlunzie,’ which extended to sixteen numbers. To the publication he contributed a number of tales and poems, among the latter of which ‘Scotland, I have no home but thee,’ was set to music and soon became popular. In his later years he contributed articles in prose and verse to the ‘Ayr Advertiser.’ He died at Ayr 6 Jan. 1843.

[Charles Rogers's Modern Scottish Minstrel, vi. 31–3; Anderson's Scottish Nation.]

T. F. H.