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Greyfriars Bobby

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The legend of the devotion and loyalty of Greyfriars Bobby is known around the world. His origins however are unclear. Some believe he was the watch dog of John Gray, an Edinburgh Police Constable. Gray died in February 1858 and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard. According to legend, Bobby sat devotedly by his grave for 14 years.

In her book published in 1912 however, Eleanor Atkinson proposed that he belonged to another John Gray - Auld Jock, a shepherd from the Pentland Hills, who died on a visit to Edinburgh in 1858. The shepherd died within days of the police officer, however he was not buried at Greyfriars but in East Preston Street graveyard.

Bobby was a familiar figure around Greyfriars Kirkyard, where he was fed and given shelter by local residents. Sergeant Scott of the Royal Engineers trained Bobby to associate the One o'clock Gun with his dinner time and from 1862 his appearances at Traill's Restaurant rooms at 6 Greyfriars Place became a daily spectacle.

In 1867 a new duty on dogs was introduced, putting Bobby in danger as he had no legal owner. By now his story had reached important public figures and the Lord Provost, Sir William Chambers, paid the licence fee and gave Bobby an inscribed collar.

Bobby died in 1872 and a year later a memorial water fountain, commissioned by Baroness Burdett-Coutts, was unveiled opposite the entrance to Greyfriars Kirkyard.

Many of the City of Edinburgh Council Museums & Galleries images included in this exhibition are on physical display at the Museum of Edinburgh on the Canongate along with other Greyfriars Bobby related exhibits.

You can also follow the Greyfriars Bobby trail online on Our Town Stories.