John Lapraik 1727 - 1807

John Lapraik was a land-owner and farmer who lived near Muirkirk in Ayrshire in the south west of Scotland during the 18th Century.

He had a long and eventful life: starting as a relatively wealthy land-owner, marrying twice (and having at least 13 children), becoming bankrupt following the insolvency of a Bank, enduring a spell in a debtor's prison and ultimately in his old age running the village post office and public house.

He is principally known as a friend of Robert Burns, Scotland's most famous poet. Burns published three Epistles addressed to John Lapraik.

It is believed that John Lapraik was Burns' model in Burns’ A Man’s a Man for a That, one of Burns’ most famous poems.

Lapraik was an amateur poet in his own right and his book of poems were published shortly after Burns first Kilmarnock Edition of poetry by the same printer. Whilst they cast light on what it was like to live in Ayrshire in the 18th Century, they never enjoyed any widespread popular acclaim or commercial success.

James Maxwell - another amateur poet who did not approve of either Burns or Lapraik - described, with some delight, the fate of Lapraik's books in the following terms:

John Lapraik signature

For some devoted theirs unto the flame;
Bumfodder also others made of them.
Some turn’d to dung, and others they were burn’d,
And so to dirt and ashes all were turn’d.

In fact, a small number of copies of John Lapraik’s book "Poems on Several Occasions survive and the contents have now been republished on this site.

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