4th May 1855

Greyfriars Bobby is born

Greyfriars Bobby is said to have sat on his master’s grave for 14 of his sixteen and a bit years of life. Bobby had belonged to a night watchman (or possibly a farmer – there is some confusion) called John Gray, who died and was buried in Edinburgh’s Greyfriars Kirkyard, hence the dog’s name. When Bobby himself died, he was buried in the Kirkyard, within view of his master’s own grave.

Statue of Greyfriars Bobby
Statue of Greyfriars Bobby

Bobby’s death

On 19 January 1872, the Illustrated Berwick Journal reported that Bobby had died the previous Sunday evening and that “every kind attention was paid to him in his last days by his guardian Mr Tarill, who has had him buried in a flower-plot near Greyfriars church. His collar, a gift from Lord Provost Chambers, has been deposited in the office at the church gate. Mr Brodie, we understand, has successfully modelled the figure of Greyfriars Bobby, which is to surmount the very handsome memorial to be erected by the munificence of the Baroness Burdett Coutts.”

Dogs still had to be licensed in the 1850s and 1860s. In Bobby’s case, the cost of his licence was covered by William Chambers, who was Lord Provost of Edinburgh at the time.

The grave on which Greyfriars Bobby is said to have sat for most of his life is now covered in sticks.
The grave on which Greyfriars Bobby is said to have sat for most of his life is now covered in sticks.

Story questioned

There is some doubt as to whether Bobby really did sit on his master’s grave for as long as it is claimed, whether it was the same dog throughout this period, and whether the dog or dogs in question simply went to that spot because people had started feeding it (or them) as they’d grown accustomed to seeing the animal (or animals) there when they visited their relatives’ graves.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the story of Greyfriars Bobby has endured and the water fountain (alas, no longer dispensing water) remains in place and receives frequent visitors.

Greyfriars Bobby's grave
Greyfriars Bobby’s grave



Other events that occured in May

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