Sitting on Sir Walter Scott’s knee

Just found this in the online collection of digitised New Zealand newspapers, though it’s referring back to a death of a ggggg-uncle in Scotland, John Usher (1809-1896) who farmed near Kelso:

Otago Witness, 1896 April 23

The men who have seen Sir Walter Scott must now be getting few. Mr John Usher, of Stodrig, who died the other day, himself an enthusiast on Border ballads, was one of the rapidly diminishing little company. He used to tell with no small pride that on one occasion, when Sir Walter was a visitor at Toftfield, his birthplace, he had sat on the great novelist’s knee, and had sung several songs, for which he was rewarded by Sir Walter with the present of a white pony. Mr Usher in later life was something of a poet himself, and a collection of his verses and songs appeared about a year ago.

I have a copy – bought from a secondhand book dealer – of John Usher’s collection of poems and songs. It includes his photograph at the front, and there is a long list of subscribers at the back, many of them members of his extended family.

An earlier blog post here recounted another gift Sir Walter Scott made to the young Usher children, in that case a pianoforte.

About vivdunstan

Academic historian, genealogist, former computer scientist, and Doctor Who fan.
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