Sunday, January 14, 2024

Remembering Greyfriars Bobby

 by Joy Neighbors, A Grave Interest

Greyfriars Bobby is the most popular Dandy Dinmont Terrier in the world. Bobby belonged to John Gray, who worked as a night watchman for the Edinburgh, Scotland police force in the 19th century. Bobby went everywhere with John, including on his watchman rounds.

But John became ill of consumption and died on February 15, 1858. Bobby was inconsolable. He followed the coffin to the gravesite in Edinburgh’s Greyfriars Kirkyard and remained there for another fourteen years. 

Bobby's Collar
When it was decreed that all dogs must have a license in 1867, the lord provost, Sir William Chambers paid for Bobby’s license so he could remain in the cemetery by his master’s side. His collar tag read:
“Greyfriars Bobby – from the lord Provost, 1867, licensed”


The people of Edinburgh took care of Bobby, bringing him food and blankets so he didn’t have to leave his master’s grave for long. During Bobby’s life he was awarded the Key to the City of Edinburgh, and his collar now rests in the Museum of Edinburgh.


Bobby passed away on January 14,  1872,  at the age of 16 and was buried   just inside the cemetery grounds at the front gate about 75-yards from John’s grave. In 1981, Bobby received a  marker for his grave, which reads:




“Greyfriars Bobby – Died 14th January 1872 – Aged 16 years
Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all”


One year after his death, a fountain and life-sized statue of Greyfriars Bobby was placed just outside the Kirkyard. Today, it is considered good luck to rub the statue’s head and nose. Nicholson’s Pub now sits behind it and is known as Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar, named after Edinburgh’s most loyal dog.


In 2021, a special memorial was erected to Greyfriars Bobby to mark the 150th anniversary of his passing. It can be found along the east wall of the cemetery. 

Today, his grave is a sought after
spot. When I was in Edinburgh, I made the pilgrimage to Greyfriars Kirkyard, not to see the graves of those bearing the names that were used in the Harry Potter series, but to pay my respects to Greyfriars Bobby. I left a stick for him along with numerous others, as a way to pay tribute to his undying devotion.

~ Joy

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