Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sir Walter Scott and Thomas Sutherland

In a previous post I discussed a story passed down among Thomas Sutherland’s descendants in North America, namely that Sir Walter Scott was a client in Edinburgh. And yet, I was cautious in endorsing it, as other stories about Sutherland’s relationship with authors appeared somewhat suspect. But now I have a corroborating account from a grand-nephew, whose father served his apprenticeship with Sutherland. He writes:

"It was with this Thomas Sutherland that my father served his apprenticeship. I have on many occasions heard my father allude to the fact that his uncle numbered Sir Walter Scott as one of his customers, and in his capacity of apprentice and messenger my father had frequent opportunities of seeing Sir Walter in his daily life long before he had become known to the world as the famous author of the Waverly novels."

Ultimately it doesn’t tell us anything new or momentous about Sutherland. But it does testify to the reliability of some of the family narratives passed down. Not to mention we can now look at a neatly-turned out Scott, and get a sense of the kind of tailoring Sutherland did.