(a ”souter” is a cobbler).
Souter Johnny is the well known, hard-drinking friend of the even more famous Tam O’Shanter. The character is based on a real person, John Davidson, a dealer in leather and a friend of Burns who lived in the small village of Kirkoswald, in Ayrshire.
Souter was an old friend of Tam, with whom he spent his time drinking in Ayr’s public houses on market days, One might speculate on the look Souter gave Tam the first time he tried to recount his adventures the last time they parted company!
“Ae market night, Tam had got planted unco right, Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely, Wi reaming swats, that drank divinely;
And at his elbow, Souter Johnny, his ancient, trusty drouthy cronie, Tam lo’ed him like a very brither, They had been fou for weeks thigether”