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 Greyfriars Bobby

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Greyfriars Bobby

  • Birth 1855
  • Death 14 Jan 1872
  • Burial Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Memorial ID 5637

Scotland Folk Dog. This little black Skye Terrier best illustrates the extent a dog will go to show his friendship, uncommon loyalty, affection and devotion to his master. Edinburgh policeman, John Gray, acquired a stray black terrier to serve as a watch dog, a condition of his employment. The dog was given the name 'Bobby' a term often used to refer to a policeman in the UK. Man and dog became inseparable until Gray died of tuberculous. A funeral procession to the gravesite at Greyfriar Kirkyard was led by the dog. With interment complete, Bobby attempted to stay by his master's covered grave, but many times the caretaker sent him packing. Bobby persisted and made his home by his master's grave. The site was unmarked and soon became scarcely discernible and humans expressed no interest in the occupant. However, the sacred spot was not wholly disregarded or forgotten. Bobby kept a constant watch and guard over the grave. Local residents fed the dog and even built him a shelter. Any vermin that came near the grave was chased and killed. A tradition at nearby Edinburgh Castle was the firing of a cannon to signal the one o'clock hour which also would find Bobby trotting out heading for a restaurant called 'Traill's Dining Rooms', where the proprietor regularly gave Bobby his lunch and where the twosome often lunched together as Constable John Gray made his rounds. When word of this spread around the country, crowds would collect at the gates of the kirkyard to see this amazing event. Bobby was all business, he did not linger over his food. Finished, he raced off to the cemetery to continue his vigil. Nine years after the death of his master, Bobby was seized as a homeless dog without a collar or license. The Lord Provost of Edinburgh was so touched by his loyalty, that he personally paid the annual dog license while presenting the dog with a brass-plated collar inscribed: 'Greyfriars Bobby, from the Lord Provost, 1867, Licensed'. This ritual lasted fourteen years until Bobby died and was buried inside Greyfriars Kirkyard, about 75 yards from John Gray's grave. The dog caught the attention of Baroness Burdett-Coutts fearing the animal would be forgotten in death, was instrumental in having a permanent memorial build in recognition of Bobby's loyalty. Completed in 1872, the memorial comprises a life-size bronze of the dog made by famous Scottish sculptor William Brodie. It is mounted on a granite pylon at the sharp junction of George IV Bridge and Candlemaker Row in Edinburgh just opposite the entrance to Greyfriars Kirk. The Huntly House is a restored 16th century townhouse and is the official museum of Edinburgh. Bobby's collar and dinner dish is displayed here. The Greyfriar Bobby legend continues today, 150 years later, as tourist and animal lovers come to the city to see the grave and monument to the little terrier and buy numerous little souvenirs available from vendors.

Footnote: In 1961, Walt Disney Studio's released the film 'Greyfriars Bobby' which was based on the children's book of the same name written by Eleanor Atkinson.

Bio by: Donald Greyfield


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 7 Jun 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5637
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Greyfriars Bobby (1855–14 Jan 1872), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5637, citing Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh, Scotland ; Maintained by Find A Grave .