THIS week, Chris Atkinson from the West Linton Historical Society looks back at the life of one of the village's most respected figures.

One hundred and fifteen years ago this month West Linton lost one of its most respected figures. He was Robert Sanderson who was born of humble and industrious parents in West Linton in the year 1836 and educated in the Parish School. He served his apprenticeship as a weaver and was one of those who outlived their trade. His intellectual attainments and administrative capacity were of no mean order and by dint of these he pushed himself to the front in the limited sphere in which his lot was cast.

By study and perseverance, he directed his attention to other pursuits and from those he acquired a thorough and practical knowledge of surveying. He was rigidly conscientious in public and private life and as a result his work was always unquestioned by farmers and others by whom he was employed. He became Inspector of Poor, a post regarded highly in those days.

Robert was a man well read in history and in the lives of great men, especially those of eminent Scotsmen. He was a student of antiquarian lore and was well versed in ecclesiastical history and in the struggles of the Covenanters. When only twelve he began to play the violin, receiving lessons from a Linton weaver. Being an enthusiastic musician himself, he soon acquired a high position as a violinist, and in that capacity his services at public functions were in great demand.

In 1865 Robert published a volume entitled “Poems and Songs”. This volume contained a number of pieces of more than ordinary merit, and was very favourably received. His style has been compared to Burns with similar romantic, family, nature, church and historical topics. In 1888, he published a second volume of poems and sketches, entitled “Frae the Lyne Valley” a volume which found its way into the homes of many Scotsmen worldwide. Edinburgh’s Professor Blackie, enthused over his work by saying:

“The cult of Robert Burns is no’ deid – as long as that man’s leevin’”

In many of the pieces in these volumes we have a true mental portrait of the author. He is there revealed to us as a keen and discriminating lover of nature; as a student of the ancient land marks of past generations and as a friend of civil and religious freedom, possessed of those world-wide sympathies which made him loved and honoured by those who knew him.

Robert Sanderson died suddenly on Saturday, September 20, 1902.

"September – silent and serene –

September – sunny, calm and clear –

Thou art the sweetest time I ween,

To me o’ a’ the changing year."