Clerk, Sir John, of Penicuik

(1676-1755)
   The eldest son of Sir John Clerk of Penicuik (south of Edinburgh), he was educated at the universities of Glasgow and Leiden. He studied music under the composer and violinist Arcangelo Corelli in Rome. He became highly a proficient violin and harpsichord player and in his lifetime composed five cantatas for solo voice, strings and continuo. However, music for a man of his social standing could only be a hobby, so he studied for law, and was called to the bar in 1700. He was one of the commissioners for the Treaty of Union (Scotland and England) in 1707, was returned to the first parliament of Great Britain in the same year, and succeeded to the title in 1722. A renowned collector of valuable antiques, he became a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1725 and of the Royal Society in 1728. He was patron to the poet Allan Ramsay (see entry). Clerk's son and successor, Sir James Clerk, erected an obelisk to his father's memory at Penicuik. Some of his poems: "Fane Wald I Luve," "Merry May the Maid Be," "The Country Seat," "The Miller."
   Sources: Biography of Sir John Clerk, Concerto Caledonia (http://www.concal.org/clerk.htm). Biography of Sir John Clerk, Scotland's People (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/content/help/index.aspx?1089). Five Cantos by Sir John Clerk, Musica Scotica (http://www.musicascotica.org.uk/fivecantatas.htm). The Cherry-Tree. Geoffrey Grigson, ed. Phoenix House, 1959. The Home Book of Verse. Burton Egbert Stevenson, ed. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1953. The Oxford Book of Garden Verse. John Dixon Hunt, ed. Oxford University Press, 1993. The Oxford Book of Scottish Verse. John MacQueen and Tom Scott, eds. Oxford University Press, 1966.

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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