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Kirkintilloch Town and Parish
Walter Watson, Poet

Another minor Scottish poet connected with Kirkintilloch was Walter Watson, the author of the well-known, proverbial lines:—

We’ve aye been provided for, and sae will we yet.

Walter Watson was born in the village of Chryston, parish of Cadder, on 29th March, 1780, of humble, hard-working, weaving parents. In later years he described the old folks :—

My parents were folk that gaed aye to the kirk,
Keepit in wi* their neibors about,
Were carefu* and eident frae momin* till mirk,
An* I ne’er kent their credit rin out.

Little could be done for young Walter in the way of education, and at the age of eight years he was engaged as a herd on a neighbour's farm, where, like Hogg, he had an opportunity of studying nature's beauties, yet to be the subject of his muse.

In winter time the fields were abandoned for the loom, and, on reaching manhood, he earned good wages as a sawyer in Glasgow.

When in this city, a recruiting sergeant persuaded him to serve His Majesty, and, entering the “Scots Greys,” he spent three years of a soldier’s life in England. Receiving his discharge at the peace of Amiens, he returned to his native place, and married Margaret Wilson, a farmer's daughter. During his spare hours he cultivated his mind, improved his grammar, and, encouraged by the knowledge that some of his poetry had been printed in newspapers, published a small volume of verse, by which he gained considerable local fame.

In the year 1826 there was great commercial depression, and in order to procure employment for himself and some of his growing family, he removed to Kirkintilloch, where he obtained work as a stone breaker at Strone Quarry, about five miles from the town. During his residence here, life was a hard struggle, and he lost three of his sons by death.

Removing from Kirkintilloch to Craigdorroch, and then to Lennoxtown, in 1849 he settled down in Duntiblae, and was in the habit of getting up popular concerts for the people at Kirkintilloch, at some of which he sang his own songs, and which were always well attended. Some of his old friends presented him with a sum of money at a supper in Campsie, and in his declining years he was the recipient of many tokens of appreciation and affection, but in 1854 the cholera visited the district, and he died of that malady on the 13th September.

On the 9th October, 1875, a graceful granite obelisk was erected to his memory at the south-east corner of the graveyard in his native village.

Walter Watson did not claim any high rank as a poet, and must be placed amongst humble bards, but yet his songs, “We've aye been provided for, and sae will we yet,” and “Jockie’s far awa’,” are justly included amongst the best of their kind.

He has left his mark upon Scottish literature with sufficient force to make his name a popular and familiar one to his fellow countrymen.

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