David Laing (antiquary)
The son of William Laing, a bookseller in Edinburgh, where he was born, he was educated at Canongate Grammar School. At fourteen he was apprenticed to his father. Shortly after the death of the latter in 1837, Laing was elected to the librarianship of the Signet Library, a post he retained till his death. Apart from general bibliographical knowledge, Laing was best known as a student of the literary and artistic history of Scotland.
Laing was struck with paralysis in 1878 while in the Signet Library, and it is said that, on recovering consciousness, he looked about and asked if a proof of Wyntoun had been sent from the printers. He died a few days afterwards, in his eighty-sixth year. His library was sold by auction, and realized £16,137. He bequeathed his collection of manuscripts to the University of Edinburgh.
Laing published no original books, but edited the works of others. Of these, the major ones are: William Dunbar's Works (2 vols., 1834), with a supplement added in 1865; Robert Baillie's Letters and Journals (3 vols., 1841-1842); John Knox's Works (6 vols., 1846—1864); Poems and Fables of Robert Henryson (1865); Andrew of Wyntoun's Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland (3 vols., 1872-1879); and Sir David Lyndsay's Poetical Works (3 vols., 1879).
For over fifty years, Laing was a member of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and contributed over a hundred papers to their Proceedings. He was also the long-standing secretary to the Bannatyne Club, many of whose publications were edited by him.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- "Biographical Memoir" prefixed to Select Remains of Ancient, Popular and Romance Poetry of Scotland, edited by John Small (Edinburgh, 1885)
- Thomas George Stevenson, Notices of David Laing with List of his Publications, etc. (privately printed 1878).