Robert Heron of New Galloway and the Galloway Enlightenment.

Professor Ted Cowan

The ever-popular historian, Professor Ted Cowan, was the guest speaker for our meeting on 14th December 2016.

His chosen subject was Robert Heron of New Galloway (1764-1807), not only an interesting man in his own right, but an exemplar of the many under-appreciated local historians who nevertheless provide a revealing insight into that glorious period in Scottish history known as the Scottish Enlightenment in the latter half of the 18th century.

Heron was born at Creehead, New Galloway, the son of a weaver who also ran a school. After being home–schooled, Heron himself went on to run a school at the incredibly young age of 11. After studying at Edinburgh University he became a licentiate of the Church in 1789, but was in reality a professional man of letters and, as quoted excerpts from his Journal confirmed, he wrote with a refreshing frankness and self-deprecation. For example the entry for 19th September 1789 reads: ‘Prayed carelessly and hastily. At breakfast read my Chapter, carelessly too, although it related the trial and last sufferings of my Saviour.’ The entry for 6th August 1791, reads: ‘Mr Grierson dined with me and drank tea. He, Mr Bradefute, and Mr Burns supped. Left at eleven.’

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