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Declining health


On 16th of May, 1810 the Poet walked to Glasgow to call on his friend Alexander Borland. They had a long conversation. It seems from Borland's account that Robert's speech became incoherent so he decided not to let him walk home alone and insisted on walking him to his front door before returning to Glasgow.

It is difficult to attach a time-scale to Robert's decline but the family seem to have been aware of more than just his physical frailty because that same night, two of his brothers called on their mother while Robert was in bed. They seem to have been worried about him because the records state that she assured her sons that she could cope with Robert. They went home but his mother, hearing a noise in the night, found his bed empty and immediately sent for the brothers and for a family friend, Peter Burnet.


Burnet went down Queen Street into George Street, where the police night-watchman said he had seen a small man hurrying from Queen Street, crossing George Street going west. Burnet then made for Brediland Road, and found the Poet's coat and silver watch on the south side of the culvert of Candren Burn, an inverted stone siphon under the Canal. Robert Tannahill's body was found there. The Poet left his mother's house about 3 o'clock and his body was brought back by 5 o'clock on the morning of Thursday, 17th May, 1810.


Soon, the sad news had spread and small groups congregated throughout the town. The funeral took place on Monday, 21st May, 1810 at the West Relief Church. His family wanted a quiet, family funeral but his friends met in William Stewart's house around the corner from Queen Street and fell in behind the family mourners. The interment took place in the lair, No. 366 of the West Relief (now the United Presbyterian Church) burial-ground, Canal Street.

A monument was erected over the Poet's remains in 1867.

Next - Robert Tannahill's legacy