Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Crawford, Robert

1341367Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 13 — Crawford, Robert1888Thomas Finlayson Henderson ‎

CRAWFORD, ROBERT (d. 1733), author of ‘Tweedside,’ ‘The Bush aboon Traquair,’ and several other well-known Scotch songs, originally contributed to Ramsay's ‘Tea-table Miscellany,’ under the signature ‘C.,’ was the second son of Patrick Crawford, merchant in Edinburgh (third son of David Crawford, sixth laird of Drumsoy), by his first wife, a daughter of Gordon of Turnberry. Patrick Crawford purchased the estate of Auchinames in 1715, as well as that of Drumsoy about 1731, which explains the statement of Burns that the son Robert was of the house of Auchinames, generally regarded as entirely erroneous. Stenhouse and others, from misreading a reference to a William Crawford in a letter from Hamilton of Bangor to Lord Kames (Life of Lord Kames, i. 97), have erroneously given William as the name of the author of the songs. That Robert Crawford above mentioned was the author is supported by two explicit testimonies both communicated to Robert Burns: that of Tytler of Woodhouslee, who, as Burns states, was ‘most intimately acquainted with Allan Ramsay,’ and that of Ramsay of Ochtertyre, who in a letter to Dr. Blacklock, 27 Oct. 1787, asks him to inform Burns that Colonel Edmestone told him that the author was not, as had been rumoured, his cousin Colonel George Crawford, who was ‘no poet though a great singer of songs,’ but the ‘elder brother, Robert, by a former marriage.’ Ramsay adds that Crawford was ‘a pretty young man and lived in France,’ and Burns states, on the authority of Tytler, that he was ‘unfortunately drowned coming from France.’ According to an obituary manuscript which was in the possession of Charles Mackay, professor of civil history in the university of Edinburgh, this took place in May 1733. Burns, with his usual generous appreciation, remarks that ‘the beautiful song of “Tweedside” does great honour to his poetical talents.’ Most of Crawford's songs were also published with music in the ‘Orpheus Caledonius’ and in Johnson's ‘Musical Museum.’

[Laing's Edition of Stenhouse's Notes to Johnson's Musical Museum; Works of Robert Burns.]

T. F. H.