Lodge Canongate Kilwinning No 2

William Creech 1745-1815


Burns was introduced to Creech by Lord Glencairn soon after his arrival from Ayrshire in 1786. His Lordship asked Creech whether he would undertake to produce a second and enlarged edition of Mr Burns's poems. Creech, however, recommended a subscription edition, for which he undertook to subscribe 500 copies. On 17th April 1787, at the house of Henry Mackenzie, Burns and Creech drew up a 'Memorandum of Agreement' whereby on Mackenzie's advice, Burns received 100 guineas for the 'property' of his poems in addition to his subscription money: an agreement which, in the light of Burns's posthumous fame, seems ridiculous, but at the time must have seemed fair, even generous! Creech tried to get Cadell of London to take up some of the edition of about 3,000 copies. Cadell, however, delayed replying, and on 23rd April Creech agreed 'to take the whole upon himself'.  Burns later commemorated Creech in two poems. One the 'Lament for the Absence of William Creech, publisher' written on the Border Tour, reflects their relationship before the quarrel over a delayed payment. Creech was then in London on business and Burns laments the fact that the levees are suspended:

"Now worthy Greg'ry's Latin face,
Tytler's and Greenfield's modest grace;
M'Kenzie, Stewart, such a brace
As Rome ne'er saw;
They a' maun meet some ither place
Willie's awa!"

In the painting Creech is depicted as pointing out in the  list of his individual subscription for 400 copies in order to shame Peter Williamson (number 38) who would not subscribe.