Greyfriars Bobby

A small devoted dog rests in peace near his owner’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh.

Greyfriars Bobby

Albumen print of Greyfriars Bobby, about 1865, from the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland

Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier who belonged to John Gray, a night watchman for the Edinburgh police during the late 1800’s.

When John Gray died in 1858, it is reported that his faithful companion, Bobby, spent his days sitting by his masters grave until the day he died, fourteen years later.

Local accounts say that the little dog would wander over to the nearby restaurant for his food.  This building still exists and is now called Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar.

Saved by the SSPCA

In 1867, an act was passed, stating that any dog without an owner should be destroyed. Bobbys’ licence was kindly renewed by the director of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir William Chambers.

As a result, Greyfriars Bobby became the responsibility of Edinburgh City Council.

Fourteen years of loyalty

In 1872, fourteen years after his owner’s death, Bobby died but could not be buried with his owner on the consecrated ground, so little Bobby was buried just inside the gates of Greyfriars Kirkyard, not far from John Gray’s grave.

A grave marker was erected on the site in 1981 and reads;

Greyfriars Bobby gravestone

Greyfriars Bobby gravestone

“Greyfriars Bobby
Died 14th January 1872
Aged 16 Years

Let his loyalty & devotion
be a lesson to us all

Erected by the Dog Aid Society
of Scotland & unveiled by H.R.H.
the Duke of Gloucester GCVO
on 13th May 1891”

A number of pet toys and sticks are regularly laid by visitors.

Greyfriars Bobby Statue

Greyfriars Bobby Statue

Greyfriars Bobby Statue

A commemorative statue and fountain to Greyfriars Bobby, commissioned by Lady Burdett-Coutts. was erected on the corner of Candlemakers Row and King George IV Bridge in Edinburgh old town, just outside Greyfriars church and graveyard where he is buried near his master.

His shiny little nose is testament to the many who now follow the age old superstition of touching his nose for good luck.

The commemorative inscription reads;

“A tribute to the affectionate fidelity of
Greyfriars Bobby
In 1858 this faithful dog followed the remains of this master to Greyfriars churchyard and lingered near the spot until his death in 1872
With permission
Erected by the Baroness Burdett Coutts”

In January 2013 a 140 year old plaster prototype which was used to create the bronze statue of the world famous terrier, Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh, sold for £3100 at auction and was purchased by The Skye Terrier Club

The life of Greyfriars Bobby

Greyfriars Bobby has been the inspiration for a number books and films, based on his life, including;

Greyfriars Bobby: The Real Story at Last by Forbes McGreggor

Greyfriars Bobby [DVD]  – 1961 Disney film

The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby [DVD] – 2006 film.

Also of interest

Greyfriars Bobby website.

Greyfriars Kirk – Greyfriars Kirk is a church community in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland. The church was founded in 1620 and has a fascinating history.

Dog Aid Society of Scotland

Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Speak Your Mind

%d bloggers like this: