FOLLOWING, the wrecking of a ferry between Alloa and South Alloa, David Taylor, the St Ninians Poet, set about writing the lament ‘The Wreck of the “Countess”’ which included lines about Captain Meikle who had survived the sinking.

However, Meikle took umbrage at David’s work, slating it as slanderous, and as such took his case to the sheriff court.

In the end the case was dismissed, as there was no law stating the poet could not use poetic licence in his work.

It was also not uncommon for David to make up verses on the spot. Once, when he was dismissed from his work in Alva for ‘intemperance’, he met a friend who asked him why he was no longer working at the mill.

His reply was ‘If ye tak a ‘cauker,’ Your name shall be Walker, Says Mr Stalker’.

During the winter months when the nights were long, David taught music.

He conducted a singing class at Chartershall near St Ninians and met with a choir in Stirling.

After he had penned a new tune, he would go there so the choir and conductor could evaluate it.

Often, he would appear in concert in Stirling and the surrounding areas and was involved in organising musical entertainment for the public.

To make some money, David printed a leaflet of some of his work and thanks to the encouragement of friends, published ‘Poems and Songs, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect,’ in 1862.

David, who was taller than average with black hair and dark skin, was described by a contemporary as ‘sociable, amiable and generous’, but that he had only the one enemy; himself and his love of dinking.

His friend believed, however, that this allowed him to write such well-composed works.

In the summer of 1867, David found himself employed in a mill in Alva once more. On July 10, he left two boys in charge of the loom and decided to go to the River Devon for a swim.

When he failed to return, a search got underway. His clothes were found at the spot where it was assumed he had entered the water and his body was found shortly afterward. He was 50 years old.

His friends in Alva raised enough money for him to be buried and he was interred in St Ninians Churchyard.

Money was also raised for a monument to him, but it failed to materialise due to the fact he was buried in a pauper’s grave, so it was given to his two sisters.