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Who is Alexander Clapperton?

By Web Monster, June 1, 2018 - 3:47pm
Alexander Clapperton visits his grave

Alexander Clapperton (deceased) is the chief guide on the Witchery Ghosts & Gore Tour. We found him on George IV Bridge ... well, we found his name in the Edinburgh Room of the Central Library on George IV Bridge, where we do much of our local research. We very much liked the sound of his name, 'Clapperton', and the fact he'd been a Director of the Edinburgh Western Cemetery Company. He passed the 'looking for an historical character with an interesting name who can conduct one of our walking tours test' with flying colours.

Alexander Clapperton was born in 1781 in Crichton, Midlothian. In 1814 Alexander, along with brother John, became a life member of The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, holding various positions within the Chamber, including Chairman.  On 25th July 1816 at Colinton, Alexander married Ann Hume, a farmer's daughter.  They raised a family of twelve: nine girls and three boys. A full football team's worth (in the days of only one substitute). The business, John Clapperton & Co operated at No. 371 High Street in the Royal Mile.

Alexander died on 28th April 1849 and was buried in St Cuthbert's Kirkyard. His obituary describes him as a generous man. This generosity is reflected by the donations he made to several public memorials including Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and James Watt.

We'd been conducting the Witchery Ghosts & Gore Tour with Alexander as the main tour guide for some years before discovering that his civic-spirited philanthropy had in fact earned him a memorial tribute of his own, at the very heart of the Old Town. There is a stained-glass window in St Giles' Cathedral dedicated to his memory. The window depicts the Parable of the Ten Virgins and the Parable of the Talents.

Alexander Clapperton (deceased) was resurrected in 1990 after resting for 143 years to conduct our early evening walking tours, and since then has led countless trips for visitors from the all over the globe. Despite an earthly career preoccupied with the business of death he is an affable sort, and the Old Town ghosts by which our tours are incessantly interrupted are much more chatty with him than they are with that bossy criminal rogue, Adam Lyal (also deceased).

We'll never know what Alexander would make of his contemporary career, but we'd like to think he'd be happy with the modern tradition of audiences clapping enthusiastically every time they hear his name. You'd almost think he was putting them up to it...