Journalist The Edinburgh Evening Courant
Proprietor in Burns's day of the Edinburgh Courant. Burns mentioned him humorously in a letter to Peter Hill from Ellisland, 2nd April 1789: 'I beg you will sit down and either compose or borrow a panegyric (If you are going to borrow, apply to our friend, Ramsay, for the assistance of the author of those pretty little buttering paragraphs of eulogiums on your thrice-honoured and never-enough-to-be-praised MAGISTRACY — how they hunt down a housebreaker with the sanguinary perseverance of a bloodhound — how they outdo a terrier in a badger-hole, in unearthing a Resettor of stolen goods — how they steal on a thoughtless troop of Night-nymphs as a spaniel winds the unsuspecting Covey —or how they riot o'er a ravaged B-dyhouse as a cat does o'er a plundered Mousenest — how they new-vamp old churches, aiming at appearances of Piety — plan Squares & Colledges, to pass for men of taste & learning, etc. etc. etc. — while old Edinburgh, like the doting Mother of a parcel of rakehelly Prodigals, may sing 'Hooly & fairly', or cry, 'Waes me that e'er I saw ye', but still must put her hand in her pocket & pay whatever scores the young dogs think it proper to contract) — I was going to say, but this d-mn'd Parenthesis has put me out of breath, that you should get that manufacturer of the tinselled crockery of magistratial reputations, who makes so distinguished & distinguishing a figure in the Ev: Courant to compose, or rather to compound, something very clever on my remarkable frugality; that I write to one of my most esteemed friends on this wretched paper, which was originally intended for the venal fist of some drunken Exciseman, to take dirty notes in a miserable vault of an ale-cellar.'