Paterson, James (DNB00)

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PATERSON, JAMES (1805–1876), antiquary and miscellaneous writer, was the son of James Paterson, farmer at Struthers, Ayrshire, where he was born on 18 May 1805. Although his father was compelled by pecuniary difficulties to give up his farm and experienced various vicissitudes, the son received a fairly good education. Ultimately he was apprenticed to a printer at the office of the Kilmarnock ‘Mirror,’ and in his thirteenth year began to contribute to Thomson's ‘Miscellany.’ Subsequently he was transferred to the ‘Courier’ office in Ayr, and on completing his apprenticeship he went to Glasgow, where he joined the ‘Scots Times.’ In 1826 he returned to Kilmarnock, and, having taken a shop as stationer and printer, he, in partnership with other gentlemen, started the Kilmarnock ‘Chronicle,’ the first number appearing on 4 May 1831, in the midst of the reform agitation, and the paper expiring in May 1832. In 1835 he left Kilmarnock for Dublin, where for some time he acted as Dublin correspondent of the Glasgow ‘Liberator.’ Thence he went to Edinburgh, and ultimately found employment at a small salary in writing the letterpress for Kay's ‘Edinburgh Portraits,’ 1837–9, the majority of the biographies being contributed by him. Failing to find further employment in Edinburgh, he accepted in 1839 the editorship of the Ayr ‘Observer.’ In 1840 he published ‘Contemporaries of Burns and the more recent Poets of Ayrshire,’ and in 1847 a ‘History of the County of Ayr.’ Disappointed with his prospects on the Ayr ‘Observer,’ he again returned to Edinburgh, where he supported himself chiefly by miscellaneous writing. In 1871 he published ‘Autobiographical Reminiscences.’ Shortly after this he was attacked by paralysis, and he died on 6 May 1876. His works are not characterised by much literary merit, and are popular rather than scholarly.

Paterson's publications, other than those mentioned, were: 1. ‘The Obit of the Church of St. John the Baptist at Ayr,’ with a translation and historical sketch, 1848. 2. ‘The Poems of the Sempills of Beltrees,’ with notes, 1849. 3. ‘The Poems of William Hamilton of Bangour,’ with a life of the poet, 1850. 4. ‘Memoir of James Fillans, Sculptor,’ 1854. 5. ‘Origin of the Scots and of the Scottish Language,’ 1855; 2nd ed. 1858. 6. ‘History of the Regality of Musselburgh,’ 1857. 7. ‘Wallace and his Times,’ 1858, and several subsequent editions. 8. ‘The Life and Poems of William Dunbar,’ 1860. 9. A. Crawfurd's ‘The Huntly Casket and other Poems,’ 1861. 10. ‘James the Fifth, or the Gudeman of Ballengich, his Poetry and Adventures,’ 1861. 11. ‘The History of the Counties of Ayr and Wigton,’ 1863. 12. ‘A Contribution to Historical Genealogy: The Breadalbane Succession Case—how it arose and how it stands,’ 1863. He had also some share in the production of P. H. M'Kirlie's ‘History of the Lands and their Owners in Galloway,’ 1870, about which he had a dispute with the author.

[Autobiogr. Reminiscences, 1871; Irving's Eminent Scotsmen; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. F. H.