The Biography of Walter Scott (1771-1832) in 1909

The Biography of Walter Scott (1771-1832)
From The Dictionary of National Biography – Volume 1, 1909
Written by Mr Leslie Stephen

SCOTT, Snr WALTER (1771-1832), author of The Waverley Novels, son of Walter Scott by his wife Anne Rutherford, was born on 15 Aug. 1771 in a house in College Wynd at Edinburgh, since demolished.

The True History of several honourable Families of the Right Honourable Name of Scott (1688), by Walter Scott of Satchelis [q. v.], was a favourite of the later Walter from his earliest years. He learnt from it the history of many of the heroes of his writings. Among them were John Scott of Harden, called ‘the Lamiter,’ a younger son of a duke of Buccleuch in the fourteenth century; and John’s son, William the Bolt-foot,’ a famous border knight. A later Scott called ‘Amid War,’ the Harden of the ‘Lay of the Lost Minstrel,’ married Mary Scott, the ‘Flower of Yarrow,’ in 1607, and was the hero of many legends [see Scott, Walter, 1660 P-1629 P]. His son, William Scott of Harlech, was made prisoner by Gideon Marray of Elibank, and preferred a marriage with Murray’s ugliest daughter to the gallows. William’s third son, Walter, laird of Raeburn, became a quaker, and suffered persecutions described in a note to the Heart of Midlothian. Raeburn’s second Son also Walter, became a Jacobite, and was known as ‘Beardie,’ because he gave up shaving in token of mourning for the Stuarts. He died in 1729. ‘Beardie’ and his son Robert are described in the introductory ‘Epistles’ to ‘Matmion.’ Robert quarrelled with his father, became a whig, and set up as a farmer at Sandy Knowe.

He was a Keen sportsman and a general referee in all matters of dispute in the neighbourhood. In 1728 he married Barbara, daughter of Thomas Haliburton of New Mains, by whom he had a numerous family. One of them, Thomas, died, in his ninetieth year. Another, Robert, was in the navy, and, after, died at Rosebank, near Kelso. Walter Scott, the eldest son of Robert of family Knowe, born 1729, was the first of the family to adopt a town life. He acquired a fur practice a writer to the signet. Huxnn Autobiographical that he delighted in the antiquarian part of his profession, but had too much simplicity to make money, and often rather lost than profited by his zeal for his clients. He was a strict Calvinist; his favourite study was church history; and he was rather formal in manners and staunch to old Scottish prejudices. He is the original of the elder Fairford in ‘Redgauntlet’

In April 1788 he married Anne, eldest daughter of John Rutherford, professor of medicine in the university of Edinburgh [q. v.]  Her mother was a daughter of Sir John Swinton [q. v.], a descendant of many famous warriors, and through her her son traced a descent from Sir William Alexander, earl of Stirling, the friend of Ben Jonson. Mrs. Scott was short, and ‘by no means comely. She was well educated for the time, though with old-fashioned stiffness; was fond of poetry, and was of light and happy temper of mine. Though devout, she was less austere than her husband. Her son Walter had no likeness, it is said, to her or to his father; but strongly resembled his great-grandfather Beardie, and especially his grandfather Robert.