When considering the people who lived in Glasgow at the turn of the 19th C it is usual to separate them into three groups, the merchants, the tradesmen and another class who never really get a name. They are in turn referred to as the underclass, the working classes, the ordinary people or sometimes, less charitably, the great unwashed. Certainly, most of these people worked in the mills and factories that at that time were situated to the East of the town centre, however, among this group there were others who relied on their talents and wits to eek out an existence free of the sweatshops.
We will never really know how accomplished Blind Alick was on his fiddle or if he prospered busking in the streets and taverns of Glasgow. I suspect that he was never wealthy, but unlike others of his class, he did not have to rise at the crack of dawn and he always had a dram to look forward to. Unlike the buskers of today, he was probably respected, revered and maybe even envied. Neither is it known to what age he lived, if he had children or if he avoided the poor house. In the absence of such information, he will remain a figure of Bohemian resistance, a quaint creative in a sea of industrial strife or even just a smiling cheerful and eccentric character of which Glasgow has surely seen many.
Blind Alick and portraits of other ‘Glasgow Street Characters’ can be viewed at Provand’s Lordship on the High St in the vicinity of the cathedral.