I am a Tombstone Tourist: someone who loves to wander cemeteries. I find it akin to visiting a museum: an opportunity to enjoy rarely seen sculpture, intricate carvings, and amazing architecture, all in a tranquil outdoor setting. This blog is about cemetery culture, art, history, issues of death, and genealogy - subjects of current relevance. I usually find something that intrigues me and makes me want to dig deeper. Care to join me? Read on...
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
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
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 amarker
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
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.