Dr. John Leyden

1775-1811, Poet and Linguist

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.