12 James Smith (1824-1887)

James Smith was a printer and Scottish storyteller. His poems and stories were published in local newspapers. A collection of his poems was published by Blackwood in 1869. Stories, dialogues and poems were in the vernacular with some examples, such as “Habbie and Madge” and “The merry bridal o’ Firthmains”, to be found on the Internet.
Born in Edinburgh on 2 March 1824, James worked as a printer in England and Ireland before returning to Edinburgh. He worked at the office of Aikman, a law printer, where he became manager. Subsequently, he became librarian of the Edinburgh Mechanics Library; and was an enthusiastic freemason.

He married three times, and had seven children. He died on 12 December 1887. His elaborate monument was “erected by friends and admirers” two years later. It depicts a portrait of James Smith by the sculptor Charles McBride, with a female figure holding up a wreath.
In his testament James Smith says, “I declare that the burying ground belonging to me in the Grange Cemetery should not be sold but after my wife’s death, should she remain unmarried, and after the death of Eleanora, my daughter, if she should remain unmarried, should be forever closed.”


  1. The Scottish Genealogist, Vol LVI no 4, December 2009

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