Derived of the Shortreeds of Jedburgh, Robert Shortreed was sheriff-substitute for Roxburghshire. Shortreed and Scott became acquainted by 1792, when the two began ballad hunting together with a summer trip to Liddesdale. These summer 'raids' continued for seven additional years, as Scott was collecting material for his "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border".
From Scott's Journal of July 9, 1829:
I began an immense arrangement of my papers, but was obliged to desist by the approach of four o'clock. Having been enabled to shirk the Court, I had the whole day to do what I wished, and as I made some progress I hope I will be strengthened to resume the task when at Abbotsford.
Heard of the death of poor Bob Shortreed, the companion of many a long ride among the hills in quest of old ballads. He was a merry companion, a good singer and mimic, and full of Scottish drollery. In his company, and under his guidance, I was able to see much of rural society in the mountains which I could not otherwise have attained, and which I have made my use of. He was, in addition, a man of worth and character. I always burdened his hospitality while at Jedburgh on the Circuit, and have been useful to some of his family. Poor fellow! He died at a most interesting period for his family, when his eldest daughter was about to make an advantageous marriage. So glide our friends from us—Haec poena diu viventibus. Many recollections die with him and with poor Terry. I dined with the Skenes in a family way.