Robert Burns Life and Times

The Times
Robert Burns

1700 There was no sanitary system. Streets were dustbins and dead bodies were placed in open graves until they were full. Disease was rampant. Life expectancy was very low.
In Scotland Oats were grown for the staple diet along with kale, pease and beans. Barley provided scones and Scotch ale. Potatoes, if grown, were for the laird.
Beer was drunk with every meal. It was purer than water.
In the Highlands, whisky was distilled from the barley but elsewhere there was a move towards gin which was cheap. Drunkenness was rife, and death through drunken brawling was common. Gentlemen wore swords and duelling was commonplace.
Roads were repaired by the parishes they ran through, and were poorly maintained.

1721 Robert Walpole became the first British Prime Minister.

1733 The first of the great textile innovations, the flying shuttle was invented by John Kay.

1740 James Boswell born.

1743 George 2nd beat the French at Dettingen and became the last British Monarch to Command his troops in battle.

1745 The first public performance of the National Anthem "God Save the King."
The Jacobite rebellion under Bonnie Prince Charlie and its initial success at Prestonpans.

1747 John Paul was born at Kirkbean. He was later to add Jones to his name and he founded the United States Navy.

1750 Tea began to rival alcohol and there was a significant fall in the death rate caused by alcohol related problems.
Johann Sebastian Bach died.

1756 Mozart was born.
The Black Hole of Calcutta claimed the lives of 146 imprisoned soldiers.

1757 The foundation of the British Empire.

1758 Horatio Nelson born.

1759 Robert Burns born.
Handel died.
William Pitt born.
2,200 Oak trees were felled to construct the Victory.
General James Wolfe killed at Quebec.

1760 The Carron Company was founded. They manufactured the Carronade and were the forerunners of the Scottish iron industry.

1763 Canada was ceded to Britain.

1766 Charles Macintosh, the inventor of waterproof fabrics was born.
William Burnes moved from Alloway to Mount Oliphant.

1767 The Mason-Dixon line was established between Maryland and Pennsylvania, separating the free states from the slaves states.

1769 Arkwright erected his first spinning mill.
Napoleon Bonaparte was born.
Captain Cook reached New Zealand.

1770 Cook reached Australia.
William Wordsworth was born.
James Bruce discovered the source of the Blue Nile.
Beethoven was born.

1771 Walter Scott was born.
Mungo Park was born.

1772 Samuel Coleridge was born.

1773 Burns writes his first poetic work. Handsome Nell for Nellie Kilpatrick.
The Boston Tea Party was to herald the start of the War of Independence two years later.

1775 The Battle of Lexington. The opening engagement in the War of Independence.
The Battle of Bunker Hill.

1777 The Stars and Stripes adopted as the National Banner.
Burns moved from Mount Oliphant to Lochlie near Tarbolton.

1778 Cook discovers Hawaii.
La Scala Opera House opens in Milan.
Voltaire died, but had prepared the way for the French revolution.
France enters the American War of Independence on the side of the colonists.

1779 Spain joins with France.
Cook stabbed to death in Hawaii.
Burns joins dancing class in Tarbolton against his father's wishes.

1781 Birth of George Stephenson whose invention of the locomotive was to revolutionise transport.
British forces under Cornwallis surrenders to the Americans and French at Yorktown.
Washington accepts the surrender.
Robert Burns goes to Irvine.

1783 American Indepedence recognised with the Treaty of Versailles.
Britain kept Canada. Louisiana went to the French. Florida to the Spanish. American colonists the remainder.
Pitt the Younger becomes Prime Minister at the same age as Burns, 24.
Man first takes to the air. The Montgolfier Brothers flew 6 miles in their hot air balloon.
Burns starts his first Common Place Book.

1784 Robert's father dies. He and Gilbert move to Mossgiel.
The first Royal Mail coach ran from Bristol to London.
The world's first successful Daily Newspaper was published. The Pennsylvania Packet and General Advertiser.

1785 English Channel crossed in a balloon.
Burns becomes a father.
His most prolific year in poetical writing.
Meets Jean Armour.

1786 The Kilmarnock Volume published - Burns first book of poems.
Davy Crocket born.
Jean Armour bore twins - Robert and Jean.
Burns sets out for Edinburgh.

1787 Burns proclaimed Caledonia's Bard.
Edinburgh Edition published.
Meets James Johnson and also Agnes McLehose.

1788 First convicts arrive at Sydney Cove, Australia.
Bonnie Prince Charlie died in Rome.
Jean gives birth to another set of twins who both died within the month.
Burns sets up home in Mauchline with Jean as his wife.
Accepted as a candidate for the Excise.
Takes tenancy of farm at Ellisland.
Worlds first steamboat makes its maiden voyage in Dalswinton Loch, Dumfriesshire.
Jenny Clow and May Cameron give birth.

1789 The U.S. holds its first General Election.
George Washington installed.
Congress inaugurated in Federal Hall, New York.
Mutiny on the Bounty.
The Bastille was stormed and The French Revolution began.
Burns takes up a position in the Excise.
James Fenimore Cooper born.

1790 Burns promoted in the Excise. His salary increases from £50 to £70 per annum.

1791 Anna Park gives Burns a daughter. 9 days later Jean gives birth to William Nicol Burns. Jean nursed both children.
Tam O'Shanter published.
Britain sends her first ambassador, George Hammond to the U.S.
Burns renounces the lease of Ellisland and moves into Dumfries.
Samuel Morse and Michael Faraday both born.
Burns says a final farewell to Agnes McLehose.

1792 Burns involved in the capture of the Rosamond.
The first U.S. Mint established in the then capital, Philadelphia.
Guillotine introduced in France.
Rouget de Lisle completes the Marseillaise.
John Paul Jones and Richard Arkwright die.
Burns offers to contribute to George Thomson's Select Scottish Airs. In total he contributed over 100 songs to this in addition to the 160 he contributed to Johnsons Musical Museum.
France declared a republic.
The corner stone of the White House in Washington is laid.
Denmark is the first country to prohibit the slave trade.

1793 Louis 16th guillotined.
France declares war on Britain, the Netherlands and Spain.
The second Edinburgh Edition of Poems published.
The Bank of England introduces the first £5 note.
In France the first metric weight, the kilogramme, was introduced.
Marie Antoinette convicted of treason, sentenced to death and executed.

1794 Burns declines a post on the London Morning Chronicle.
Appointed Acting Excise Supervisor in Dumfries.

1795 Burns, his loyalty no longer under question helps to organise the Royal Dumfries Volunteers, a local militia unit.
John Keats was born.
Burns seriously ill with what was thought to be rheumatic fever.

1796 Napoleon takes command of the French army.
Edward Jenner made the first vaccination against smallpox.
Burns at Brow Well immersing himself in the Solway, under Dr Maxwell's misguided instructions.
Nicholas 1st, Czar of Russia, was born.
Burns returns to Dumfries. 3 Days later he died, aged 37.
Buried in St Michaels Churchyard, Dumfries.
As a member of the Royal Dumfries Volunteers he was given full military honours and as 10,000 mourners lined the streets and joined the funeral procession, Jean Armour gave birth to a son, Maxwell.

1800 The first British census put the population at 9 million.
London had 1 million.
Edinburgh and Glasgow each had 100,000, out of a total population in Scotland of 1,600,000.

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