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Picture No:15634
Courtesy of:Lilian Campbell
GraveyardContin Parish Churchyard
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William & Janet (Ballantyne) Laidlaw.

Here lie the remains of/WILLIAM LAIDLAW/born at Blackhouse in Yarrow/Nov. 1780/died at Contin May 18th 1845/and his wife/JANET BALLANTYNE/who died at Contin/15th July 1861.

The above WILLIAM LAIDLAW was/amanuensis to Sir WALTER SCOTT/of Abbotsford 1817-1832.

Stone restored 1958 by direction of/Mrs Wm. LAIDLAW St Louis USA/and/S. G. LAIDLAW Rosehall Perth Scotland.

Picture Added on 06 December 2011.


The above gravestone is that of the close friend and amenuensis of Sir Walter Scott, William Laidlaw. William was also a friend of James Hogg, The Ettrick Shepherd, and contributed the ballad, "Lucy's Flittin' ", anonymously, to Hogg's "Forest Minstrel" which appeared in 1810. Laidlaw's wife, Janet Ballantyne, was related to the family of Ballantyne's Publishing House, Scott's publisher. Laidlaw became factor on Scott's estate and occasional amenuensis. He it was to whom Scott dictated most of "Ivanhoe' amongst other pieces. Laidlaw left Scott's employment for a time when Scott faced financial difficulties. During that time he visited his sheep-farming brothers in Ross-shire and catalogued the extensive library of Scott of Harden. Laidlaw returned to Abbotsford in 1830 when Scott's financial position improved somewhat and around 1831 wrote, "I am now writing as amenuensis to Sir Walter, and have the satisfaction of finding that I am of essential service to him..." When Scott's health gave way and he left for the continent it was Laidlaw whom he left to represent him and to look after his interests. On his return Laidlaw stayed
with Scott until his death. He then left Abbotsford and moved to Ross-shire as factor on the estate of Mrs Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth and later on the estate of Sir Charles Lockhart Ross of Balnagown. When his health failed he moved to Contin to stay with his brother James Laidlaw, a sheep-farmer at Contin. William died there in 1845. A very interesting biography of William Laidlaw appeared in the "Border Counties' Magazine" in 1881, in two parts, the first on pages 97-100 and the other on pages 121-124. Towards the end of the article the writer records, "The rest is recorded on the inscription on the tombstone-which, we are glad to learn, is in good preservation-in the wilds of Ross-shire." Unfortunately the stone is now very difficult to read. The above information on Laidlaw is from the article in "Border Counties' Magazine" 1881 in the November and December issues. The magazine had a short life of 18 months and can be accessed online.

Added by Lilian Campbell on 07 December 2011.

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