Scotsman Obituaries: John G Elliot, sailor, sportsman and Langholm Fair Crier

John Elliot was the third generation of his family to act as Langholm Fair CrierJohn Elliot was the third generation of his family to act as Langholm Fair Crier
John Elliot was the third generation of his family to act as Langholm Fair Crier
John Govenlock Elliot, Langholm Fair Crier, Born: 19 January 1939 in Annan, Dumfries and Galloway. Died: 20 March 2024 in Dumfries, aged 85

John G Elliot lived in Langholm, Dumfries and Galloway, until he was conscripted for National Service in 1958. He served with the Royal Scots Fusiliers against nationalist guerilla movement EOKA in Cyprus, then with the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) in Kenya.

In 1973, following his grandfather Kirst Elliot and father, also John Elliot, John became the third generation of the Elliot family to cry the Langholm Fair at the Common Riding. The Fair Crier stands on the back of a horse and gives the 400-year-old Langholm Fair proclamation in the Market Place to thousands of people on Common Riding day in July – the biggest day in the Langholm calendar.

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He would cry the fair in Langholm’s ancient market place for the next 30 years before passing on the mantle to his son Rae, the fourth generation, in 2003. John celebrated 100 years of Elliot fair crying in 2009.

John became the first Scotsman to win the Cumberland Cup for wrestling in 1964 in Carlisle, successfully reaching two World Championship finals at Grasmere and Langholm Common-Riding. In 1967, he joined the Merchant Navy which led him to travel the world extensively.

Art and books played an integral part in his life. His interest in art influenced Rae’s career as a graphic designer. Furthermore, he won the Seafarer’s Competition with his story; “A Law of Storms”. In 2013 his historical novel The Gold of Guadirra was published. ​

John played competitive chess in the Border Chess League and, with David Pool Sr, beat a British champion in Dumfries. Grandchildren, Hugo and Camilla are now immersed in competitive chess at Stewart’s Melville College in Edinburgh.

John played at No.8 for Northampton Saints in season 1966-67. A memorial tribute featured in their match day programme for the Saints vs Saracens rugby match on 29 March 2024.

John was selected for East Midlands against an International Barbarians side at Franklins Gardens in 1967. To quote the match report, “John Elliot, played at no. 8 in a highly effective back row which comprised 2 English captains, [Budge Rodgers and Bob Taylor] resulting in a 14-all draw”.

Langholm Rugby Club held a minute’s silence and flew the flag at half-mast on 6 April at Milntown for the last league game, in honour of John, a championship player 1958–59 – he went on to play for the South of Scotland.

John and Elizabeth enjoyed a great social life at Heriot’s Rugby club and he was well represented at his funeral by current players, ex-Scottish Internationalists and British Lions.​

John is survived by his wife Elizabeth and children, John Rae, Desiree and Jeremy

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