George Ritchie Kinloch (1797/8-1877), son of George Kinloch (1741-1802) and Susannah Wigglesworth (1759-1851), of St. Andrews, daughter of Lt. Joseph Wigglesworth of the 49th Regiment, was born (most likely) on the island of Jamaica, where his father, a planter, was serving as deputy judge advocate and master in chancery at the time. George R. was one of at least seven children. As a youngster he travelled from Jamaica to Edinburgh, his mother’s birthplace, and was educated there. He married Mary Stewart (daughter of William Stewart), on 8 September 1817 in Edinburgh Parish. They had one daughter, Susan Jannette (Janet) Kinloch, who was christened 16 October 1818 at St. Cuthberts Church in Edinburgh. Following Mary’s death, he married next, Helen Tod (1799‑1879), daughter of John Tod, on 29 July 1822.
Working as a clerk under Advocate-Depute (prosecuting attorney) Henry Home Drummond, Kinloch was at, and participated in the sedition trials at Stirling in 1817 or 1818. He went on to build a fairly successful early career as clerk to three or four advocates-depute. As a practicing attorney in his own right, George Ritchie Kinloch took on the mantle of assistant keeper of the Register of Deeds in the Register House, Edinburgh from 1842 until 1851. He then served as principal keeper of the Register until his retirement from office in 1869 at age 73.
Mr Kinloch was also an enthusiastic and successful scholar of Scottish interests, an antiquarian, and an editor. However, he is perhaps best known and remembered for his collections and editing of songs and ballads from north-eastern Scotland.
In his 1824 “Preface to the Supplement” for An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language , Dr John Jamieson observes: —
“I would have to charge myself with ingratitude did I omit to acknowledge how much I owe to George Ritchie Kinloch, Esq., Edinburgh, for his friendly exertions in adding to my list of Clydesdale and also of Kincardineshire words, and indeed in liberally communicating all that he had collected for supplying the defects of my Dictionary.”
Just three years later, in 1827, Mr. Kinloch published the original of both books of songs and ballads reprinted in this digital edition. He was editor of, or contributed to nine published works over the last 50 years of his life.
His obituary notice appearing in The Scotsman (24 April 1877, pg 4.) notes:
“In his professional connection Mr Kinloch was justly popular, his kindliness of disposition being evidenced by the untiring exertions he was ever ready to make on behalf of any young man commencing life, especially one hailing from his native district. It is, however, more in respect of his literary labours that the deceased claims public remembrance. In 1827, he came prominently before a select but influential class of readers as the editor of a volume of “Ancient Scottish Ballads,” a work containing a large number of pieces “recovered from tradition and never before published,” and showing such merit that some time after its appearance it was publicly spoken of by Sir Walter Scott as “intimating much taste and feeling for this species of literature.” He afterwards edited another selection of ballads, which, as well as the other, is still a good deal sought after; a “Chronicle of Fife, being the diary of John Lamont of Newton, 1649 to 1672;” and two other publications, entitled “Nugae Scoticae” and “Reliquae Antiquae Scoticae.”
Dr. Jamieson also notes that Kinloch was known to have been preparing a work on Scottish proverbs. It was, unfortunately, never published.
The Scotsman obituary continues:
“During a long course of years, Mr Kinloch found a congenial sphere of recreation among the members of the Maitland and other literary societies. He contributed to the papers of the first of these associations a piece which he had himself edited, and which appears in the Transactions under the title of ‘Babell, a satirical poem on the proceedings of the General Assembly, in the year 1692 by the celebrated Archibald Pitcairne.’
In private life the deceased won the regard of all who knew him by his amiable and estimable qualities. He devoted much time to the work that fell to him as treasurer and one of the trustees of the Patterson and Pape fund for the relief of decayed old men and women.”
Geroge Ritchie Kinloch died on 21 April 1877 at home in West Coast Villa, Edinburgh.