- Robert Allan (1774-1841)
Robert Allan was a friend and companion of Robert Tannahill, was born at Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, November 4, 1774. Inheriting a taste for music, he early evinced talent in the composition of song, which was afterwards fostered by the encouragement of the poet Tannahill. Like Tannahill, his occupation was that of a weaver (in Allan's case, muslin) in his native place and many of his best songs were composed at the loom. A number of them he contributed to the Scottish Minstrel, published by R. A. Smith. Several of Allan's songs also appeared in the Harp of Renfrewshire.
Popular Success, Financial Failure
In 1836 a volume of his poems was published under the editorial revision of Robert Burns Hardy of Glasgow, and attracted a great deal of attention among lovers of Scottish song, although financially the publication proved a sufficient failure to deter him from putting forth another volume. Several of Allan's lyrics will compare very favourably with the best specimens of the minor poets of his native land.
Emigration to USA
In his more advanced years he became possessed with the idea that he was not appreciated in Scotland as a poet, and determined, in opposition to the wishes of friends, to join his youngest son in the United States. He accordingly sailed for the New World, April 28, 1841, at the age of sixty-seven, and only survived the passage six days, having died in New York, June 1,1841. His funeral was attended by a large number of his sou's friends, including several prominent American literary men, as well as his own countrymen residing in New York city. Many of Allan's unpublished poems and songs were left in MS. in his son's possession.
On November 4, 1874, the inhabitants of the village that gave birth to Robert Allan, with the praiseworthy spirit of reverence for departed worth which has latterly prevailed throughout Scotland, enthusiastically observed his centennial anniversary by a public soiree in their principal hall, and by other meetings of a festive and social character. At the same time they set on foot a movement for erecting in Kilbarchan some suitable monument to the poet's memory, to which many natives of that place in Canada and the United States cheerfully contributed, thus manifesting a tangible sympathy with their countrymen at home in honouring the memory of a simple leal-hearted Scotsman. The result was a small fountain inscribed with an engraving of Robert Allan (see illustration above).
The text above is based on "The Poets and Poetry of Scotland" published in 1876/77.
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