James Blaikie
Jane Garden
William Garden Blaikie
Margaret Catherine Biggar
Walter Biggar Blaikie


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Janet Marshall Macfie

Walter Biggar Blaikie 54

  • Born: 23 November 1847, Edinburgh 838
  • Marriage: Janet Marshall Macfie in 1873
  • Died: 3 May 1928, Edinburgh aged 80

bullet  General Notes:

Eminent Edinburgh painter, and author of "Itinerary of Prince Charles

From The Times, May 5, 1928

Dr. W. B. Blaikie, scholar, historian, printer, and man of affairs,
died on Thursday at a nursing home in Edinburgh, at the age of 80.
Walter Biggar Blaikie sprang from an old Border family which had
migrated to Aberdeen, where his paternal grandfather was a noted
Provost. His father, Professor William Garden Blaikie, was one of the
474 ministers of the Church of Scotland who signed the deed of
demission at the time of the Disruption, was chosen as Moderator of
the General Assembly of the new Free Church, and became a well-known
writer, of whose books "The Personal Life of Dr. Livingstone" is
perhaps the best remembered. Walter Blaikie was born on November 23,
1847, and his nurse was the Alison Cunningham who, in May, 1852, went
on to another baby, Robert Louis Stevenson, and became his beloved
"Cummy", his second mother, "The Angel of my infant life". Not many
days before her death in July, 1913, learning that Blaikie had been
chosen to receive the honorary degree of LL.D. from Edinburgh
University, she sent him, in her own firm handwriting, a
characteristic letter of motherly affection. She lived to see the
books which made one of her boys famous printed by the other in the
Edinburgh edition. Another link between them was their common
friendship with W. E. Henley.
Like Stevenson, Blaikie began by studying engineering. He was
educated at Edinburgh Academy and University and in Brussels and went
to India in 1870, serving in the military branch of the Public Works
Department. Retiring as an executive engineer of military works in
1878, he returned to Scotland, and in 1878, he returned to Scotland,
and in 1879, entered the service of the famous printing firm of T. and
A. Constable, over whose business he continued to preside for 40
years. The beautiful productions of the firm owed much to his taste
and expert technical knowledge; he was indeed the "artist painter" to
whom Henley dedicated his "Lyra Heroica".
But though Blaikie's life's work lay in printing, to the scholarly
side of which he devoted special attention, he was nothing if not
many-sided, and won distinction in many other fields. In Scottish
history, for example, he was reputed to know more of the Jacobite
period than any authority of his time after the death of Andrew Lang,
and to the elucidatoin of this subject he made valuable contributions
in the shape of an "Itinerary of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, 1745
and 1746", "Origins of The Forty-five", "Edinburgh at the time of
Prince Charles Edward's Occupation", and "Jacobite Perthshire", the
last-named taking the form of five articles contributed to Lady
Tullibardine's (Duchess of Atholl's) military history of the county.
His wanderings in the Highlands and Western Isles on the track of
Prince Charlie aroused his interest in the old Celtic literature and
traditions, and for their collection and preservation he founded the
Celtic Review.
More important was the part he took, in conjunction with the late Mr.
Fitzroy Bell, in founding the Scots Observer, which had "R.L.S.",
"Hugh Haliburton", and J. M. Barrie, then but little known, among its
original contributors, and to which Blaikie was personally responsible
for bringing Henley to Edinburgh as editor. He was a good classical
scholar, and wrote accomplished Latin verses. Astronomy also engaged
his attention; his chief contribution to that science was an annual
series of monthly star-maps, which he began in 1898 and continued
without interruption till 1920. In addition, he was one of
Edinburgh's leading men of affairs. To mention only the chief of his
public offices, he was one of the founders of the Scottish
Geographical Society, a past chairman of the chairman of the Chamber
of Commerce, a member of the Council of Old Edinburgh Club, of which
he was for five years president, a pillar of the Royal Infirmary, and,
by no means least, a member of the Territorial Force Association from
its inception, and chairman of the Recruiting Committee, for which he
did yeoman service from the outbreak of the War.
With so many intellectual irons in the fire, it will scarcely be
supposed that Blaikie was a "deacon" of any one of his crafts, except
printing and Jacobite history, and none was more ready, in a general
way, to acknowledge this than himself. Yet, on specific occasions, he
was far from lacking self-confidence and was even prone to a little
impatient of opposition. He had what is perhaps the next thing to
originality, namely, the power of instantly recognizing and hailing
its manifestations in others, as was shown by the eager support he
gave to Lang's views on the Forty-five, to Henley's views on the poet
Burns, and to the views of the author of "The House with the Green
Shutters" on the Kailyard school of fiction. But it remains that his
was a quite exceptionally well-filled and useful life, and that he
made the most of the unusually large number of talents and aptitudes
with which Nature had endowed him.
Dr. Blaikie married in 1873 Janet Marshall, daughter of John Macfie,
of Edinburgh, and had five daughters.
There will be a service in St. Cuthbert's Church, Edinburgh, on Monday
at 3.15.


bullet  Noted events in his life were:

1. Resided: 3 May 1928, Bridgend, Colinton, Edinburgh. 13

2. Resided: 3 May 1928, 11 Thistle Street, Edinburgh. 13

3. He had an estate probated on 28 August 1928 in London. 13


Walter married Janet Marshall Macfie, daughter of John Macfie and Unknown, in 1873. (Janet Marshall Macfie was born in 1852 54 and died on 30 June 1942 in Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex 54.)

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