James Hiram Watson (1852-1903)

Joined the Society: 1871 (🌳 Original Member)

James Hiram Watson was born in Eccles, Berwickshire, in 1852 to his father, the Rev James Rutherford, himself a son of a minister. Although he was reported to have attended Edinburgh University, it doesn’t appear that he ever graduated. If he did attend the University, he was probably attending in or close to 1871, in which year he became a founding member of the Philosophy Society. He was almost certainly living in the New Town at that time.

He subsequently left Edinburgh to become a Church of Scotland minister, after his father and grandfather. Having toured the country on several postings around Scotland, he settled back in Edinburgh, where he spent the last decade of his life not only continuing his work as a preacher, but also writing under the pen-name of ‘Andrew Cheviot’. Although he published a number of short stories in the Scots Magazine, some of which are still accessible today, he is today by far best remembered for his exceptional collection of Scots proverbs, Proverbs, Proverbial Expressions, and Popular Rhymes of Scotland. Watson spent nine years of his life producing this collection, and through it a great deal of Scotland’s linguistic heritage has been preserved that otherwise would probably have been lost. He died in January 1903 in Deaconess Hospital on the Pleasance, which was converted into student accommodation by the University of Edinburgh in 2014.

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