The exact origins of the Greyfriars Bobby story have been lost in the passing of time, but the legend of his loyalty lives on. Visitors to the Museum of Edinburgh can see Bobby’s own collar and feeding bowl, among other treasures.
In one version of the Greyfriars Bobby story, Bobby was owned by Constable John Gray of the Edinburgh Police. Constable Gray died in 1858 and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard (churchyard). Bobby sat devotedly by his grave for 14 years.
An alternative account states that Bobby’s master was John Gray (Auld Jock), a shepherd from the Pentland Hills who died on a visit to Edinburgh in 1858.
Bobby became a familiar sight in the kirkyard, and was fed by local people. In 1867, a new duty on dogs was introduced, putting Bobby in danger as he had no legal owner. By now, his story had reached important public figures and the Lord Provost paid the duty, giving Bobby his own inscribed collar.
Bobby died in 1872. His story is known throughout the world, and visitors flock to his statue and to the Museum to pay tribute to this excellent example of ‘man’s best friend’.
The Museum of Edinburgh displays Bobby’s feeding bowl and collar next to a plaster version of his famous statue. Alongside these are the drinking cup from the fountain under the statue and images of people related to Bobby’s remarkable story, including the Traill family who fed him near the kirkyard.
Find out more about the Greyfriars Bobby statue outside Greyfriars Churchyard in the Monuments section.