Presbyterianism led me to the next place in the Loose Ends cavalcade, the statue of John Witherspoon outside the University of the West of Scotland in Paisley. Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister who worked in Paisley before going off to America to found Princeton University and sign the Declaration of Independence, one of six Scots to do so. Like the best people, though, Witherspoon came from East Lothian originally, even if it was Gifford and he went to high school in Haddington.
The statue is the work of Alexander Stoddart, sculptor of many prominent statues including those of David Hume, Adam Smith and James Clerk Maxwell in Edinburgh. Stoddart is the Queen’s Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland and works from a studio in Paisley. I always like the thoughtful details in his work; the volumes of Cicero, Principe, Locke and Hume at his feet in this case.
Many connections can arise from Witherspoon’s statue, not least the May Donoghue ‘snail in a bottle’ statue along the road or indeed any of Stoddart’s other works around the country. Witherspoon comes from Gifford so I could go there or anywhere in East Lothian, maybe the Giffordgate in Haddington where John Knox was born but that might be one religious connection too many for now. He was also educated at the University of Edinburgh, which might be another destination or through its alumni lead elsewhere. I was passing the Witherspoon statue on the way to watch the football so another connection would have to wait until another day.
Thanks for reading. Another Loose Ends adventure follows next week.