Born in Edinburgh and educated at Donaldson's Hospital School. Apprenticed to a military tailor but decided to join his two hearing brothers when they emigrated to South Africa, arriving in Cape Town in 1892. Worked for a time in Cape Town and then in Bloemfontein as a tailor to earn money, then bought an ox wagon, 18 oxen, and a wagonload of merchandise for peddling in the native kraals. He became well known among the native Africans, receiving the name of Seetu the Trader, "seetu" meaning "silent" in the local language. With his earnings and a partner, he bought and began a farm near Bulawayo. When the Matabele rebellion broke out, he lost his farm and served 6 months in the impromptu white settler's self-defense army until relieved by British Government troops. When the war ended, he resumed his trading, this time in Rhodesia, where he performed heroic duty in performing emergency smallpox vaccination in one kraal during a smallpox outbreak. Himself catching malaria, he was cared for by the Africans until recovery. Worked as a rigger in diamond mines and as a brick maker. With the outbreak of the Zulu War, volunteered for a raid on Johannesburg that triggered the Boer War. After that war ended, he returned to Rhodesia and set up a large farm, initially successful but then ruined in the 1930s by several years of bad drought. He retired to his native Scotland, eventually dying at Fife.
Deaf Lives, p.122-123.
1872-16 February 1951