Walter Scott made him a principal character in his novel Old Mortality (1816). Paterson was born near Hawick in 1715. He subsequently devoted his life to cutting and erecting stones for the graves of the Covenanters, for 40 years wandering from place to place in the lowlands.
He died in poverty at Caerlaverock in 1801, and a stone to his memory was erected by Scott"s publishers in 1869 in the churchyard.
There is also a memorial in Balmaclellan churchyard where Paterson lived for many years.