LAING, DAVID (1793-1878), Scottish antiquary, the son of William Laing, a bookseller in Edinburgh, was born in that city on the 20th of April 1793. Educated at the Canongate Grammar School, when 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, which post he retained till his death. Apart from an extraordinary general bibliographical knowledge, Laing was best known as a lifelong student of the literary and artistic history of Scotland. He published no original volumes, but contented himself with editing the works of others. Of these, the chief are 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); Sir David Lyndsay's Poetical Works (3 vols., 1879). Laing was for more than fifty years a member of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and he contributed upwards of a hundred separate papers to their Proceedings. He was also for more than forty years secretary to the Bannatyne Club, many of the publications of which were edited by him. He was struck with paralysis in 1878 while in the Signet Library, and it is related 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, on the 18th of October, in his eighty-sixth year. His library was sold by auction, and realized 16,137. To the university of Edinburgh he bequeathed his collection of MSS.
See the Biographical Memoir prefixed to Select Remains of Ancient, Popular and Romance Poetry of Scotland, edited by John Small (Edinburgh, 1885); also T. G. Stevenson, Notices of David Laing with List of his Publications, &fc. (privately printed 1878).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)