Leyden was born in 1775 in a
cottage on the north side of the Green. His father, a shepherd, was descended from a servant from the university town of Leiden in
Holland brought back to Scotland in the 16th century by one of the Douglas
family who had studied there.
Even as a boy he
had a great appetite for learning. At fifteen he set off for Edinburgh
University, making most of the journey on foot. He qualified as both a Doctor
and a Minister. Whilst there he collaborated with Sir Walter Scott in collecting
ballads for the "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders". His interest in
travelling led him to take up a medical appointment in India, where he mastered
many oriental languages. Leyden died in Java at the early age of 36.
in-depth report on the life of John Leyden can be read here..
Sir James A H Murray, 1837-1915,
Dr James Murray was born in
Denholm on the Main Street and at the age of seven his parents sent him to
school at Cavers. For two years he had to walk the three miles to cavers and
back but his parents must have thought it a better one than the school in
Denholm. When he was nine he moved to
the auld school on the Green where his ability was quickly recognised.
was twelve he and his two younger brothers transferred to the parish school at
Minto, one and a half miles away. Clever as he was he had to leave school at
fourteen because his family could not afford to send him to grammar school at
Melrose. He continued to educate himself as best he could although books were
difficult to come by.
At the age of seventeen he got a job as an assistant
school master in Hawick. He proved such an excellent teacher that, after three
years, he was offered the headmastership of a new private school in Hawick, a
post he held for ten years.
In 1864 he moved to London in a
vain attempt to find a healthier climate for his sick wife!
He took the first
job he was offered, as a bank clerk in the city where he remained for six years.
In 1870 he returned to
schoolmastering at Mill Hill in north London and towards the end of the decade
he agreed to become the editor of the New English Dictionary (later the Oxford
English Dictionary). He worked on this for thirty five years until his death in
1915 when it was still unfinished. He was knighted in 1908.
John Scott, 1836-1860,
John Scott was a well-known 19th
century horticulturist who was brought up in Denholm. As a boy he gained all the
prizes for growing hardy annuals and cultivated flowers in the annual flower
show. He went on to work at the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh where he
corresponded with Darwin and experimented with the hybridization of plants.
Rev James Duncan,
James Duncan was a well-known
naturalist who specialised in entomology and contributed to the Encyclopedia
Britannica. He was a great influence on the young James Murray.
His father, the Reverend James
Duncan, was the minister of the Cameronion Chapel and tutored John Leyden in