Hunter, John Kelso (DNB00)

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HUNTER, JOHN KELSO (1802–1873), artist and cobbler, second son of one Hunter of Chirnside who removed to Ayrshire in 1799, and died there about 1810, was born at Dunkeith, Ayrshire, on 15 Dec. 1802, and was for some time employed as a herd-boy. He was then apprenticed to a shoemaker, and on the expiration of his indentures settled at Kilmarnock in the pursuit of his calling. He afterwards taught himself portrait-painting, attained to a respectable position as an artist, and removed to Glasgow, where he was employed alternately as an artist and a shoemaker. In 1847 he exhibited a portrait of himself as a cobbler at the Royal Academy, London. In 1868 he published his first book, ‘The Retrospect of an Artist's Life.’ Acquainted in his youth with many who had known Robert Burns, and with some of the heroes of the poet's verse, Hunter embodied these recollections in a volume entitled ‘Life Studies of Character,’ printed in 1870. The book throws much light on the works of Burns, especially on the original of Dr. Hornbook, and faithfully describes the society into which the poet was born. Valuable notices are supplied of the song writer, Tannahill, and other minor poets of the north. His third work was ‘Memorials of West-Country Men and Manners.’ Hunter was known for his sturdy independence, and had a wide circle of friends. He died at Pollokshields, near Glasgow, on 3 Feb. 1873.

[Times, 6 Feb. 1873, p. 7; Ann. Reg. 1873, p. 129; Illustrated London News, 8 Feb. 1873, p. 126; Irving's Book of Scotsmen, 1881, p. 226.]

G. C. B.