Gilfillan, Robert

(1798-1850)
   Born in Dunfermline, Fifeshire, Scotland, the son of a master weaver, he was influenced in poetry by his mother. He joined with other lads in "guising"going around at Halloween entertaining householders with a poem or a song or telling jokes in return for nuts, apples, sweets or small coins. Young Robert made up his own poems; one of them being about the death of General Sir Ralph Abercromby, hero of the Napoleonic Wars. He began his seven year apprenticeship as a cooper at the age of thirteen at Leith. From 1818 he had various jobs, ending as collector of the police rates at Leith, a job he held until he died. His songs were circulated and sung all over Scotland. His Original Songs was published in 1831, with a new (enlarged) edition in 1835, marked by dinner at the Royal Exchange, Edinburgh, and the presentation of a massive silver cup. A third (enlarged) edition was published in 1839. A monument was erected to him in Leith. His best known poem, "The Exile's Song," tells the story of a young man leaving his loved one to emigrate to Canada.
   Sources: Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. Did You Know?-Halloween in Scotland (http://www.rampantscotland.com/know/blknow_halloween.htm). English Poetry: Author Search. Chadwyck-Healey Ltd., 1995 (http://www. lib.utexas.edu:8080/search/epoetry/author.html). Poems and Songs. Fourth edition. With Memoir of the Author, and Appendix of His Latest Pieces. Sutherland and Knox, 1851. The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. 11th ed. The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, Columbia University Press, 2005 (http://www.columbiagrangers.org). Treasury of Favorite Poems. Joseph H. Head, ed. Gramercy Books, 2000.

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

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  • Gilfillan, Robert — (1798 1850)    Poet, b. at Dunfermline, was latterly Collector of Police Rates in Leith. He wrote a number of Scottish songs, and was favourably mentioned in Noctes Ambrosianæ (see Wilson, J.). He was the author of the beautiful song, Oh, why… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Robert Gilfillan — (July 7, 1798 December 4, 1850), was a poet and songwriter, born at Dunfermline, Scotland, and latterly a collector of the police rates at Leith. He wrote a number of Scottish songs, and was favourably mentioned in Noctes Ambrosianae (see Wilson …   Wikipedia

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