Robert Burns Life and Times

The Life
Robert Burns

William Burnes (father) born at Clochnahill, Kincardineshire
William Burnes marries Agnes Broun of Craigenton, Maybole
1759 Jan 25th
Robert Burns born at Alloway.
Burns by Nasmyth

Burns Cottage, Alloway

Eldest son of William Burnes ( 1721 - 1784) and his wife Agnes Broun (1732 - 1820).
The other children were Gilbert (1760 - 1832),
Agnes (1762 - 1834),
Anabella (1764 - 1832),
William (1767 - 1790),
John (1769 - 1785),
and Isabella (1771 - 1858).
Robert and Gilbert sent to school to John Murdoch at Alloway.
Willian Burnes rents Mount Oliphant Farm, near Alloway
Mount Oliphant Farm
Murdoch gives up Alloway School
Robert and Gilbert attend Dalrymple parish school, week about, during summer quarter.
Robert studies grammar and French with Murdoch for three weeks, writes first song, Handsome Nell for Nellie Kilpatrick.
Hard times begin at Mount Oliphant.
Robert attends Hugh Roger's school at Kirkoswald.
At Whitsun, William Burnes moves from Mount Oliphant to Lochlea.
Lochlea Farm
Burns joins a Tarbolton dancing class in absolute defiance of his father's commands.
The Tarbolton Bachelors' Club organised.
Burns courts Alison Begie. His father's dispute with David MacLure, his landlord, begins. Burns joins the Freemasons. About Midsummer he goes to Irvine as a flax-dresser.
Jan 1st The Irvine shop burnt out. Soon after, Burns returns to Lochlea
Sept 24th William Burnes's dispute referred to arbiters.
Jan Burns wins a £3.00 prize for flax seed
April Burns begins his commonplace book
May 17th MacLure gets a writ of sequestration against William Burnes.
Aug 18th The Oversman reports in Burnes's favour
Aug 25th Burnes makes first appeal to Court of Session
Autumn Robert and Gilbert secretly arrange to rent Mossgiel
Jan 27th The Court of Session upholds William Burnes. He wins his case but is ruined financially.
Feb 13th Death of William Burnes aged 63. The family moves to Mossgiel.
Mossgiel Then Mossgiel Now
May 22nd Birth of Elizabeth, Dear bought Bess, the poets daughter by Elizabeth Paton
During the summer Burns meets Jean Armour.
Sept Burns attests the marriage to Jean Armour
Nov 1st Burial of John Burns, the poets youngest brother.
During this year Burns began to write his satires, composed Love and Liberty and in October finished his first commonplace book
Jan. (?) Burns plans emigration to Jamaica.
April 3 Proposals for the Kilmarnock Poems sent to press
c. April James Armour repudiates Burns as a son-in-law. Burns repudiates Jean Armour.
Bonnie Jean
May 14th Sunday Farewell and marriage to Highland Mary (?)
July 22 Burns transfers his share in Mossgiel to Gilbert
July 29 Burns presides at Freemasons meeting in Mauchline
July 30 Burns in hiding from James Armour's writ
July 31 Monday The Kilmarnock Poems published
August 6 Sunday Burns last penitential appearance in Mauchline Kirk
c. Sept 1 First postponement of Jamaica voyage
Sept 3 Sunday Jean Armour Burns bears twins, who are christened Robert and Jean
c. Sept 27 Second postponement of Jamaica voyage
Oct Death of Highland Mary at Greenock and abandonment of Jamaica plans
Nov 27 Burns sets out for Edinburgh
Nov 29 Burns arrives in Edinburgh
Dec 1 Elizabeth Paton accepts Burns settlement of her claim
Dec 9 Henry MacKenzie praises the Kilmarnock Poems in The Lounger
Dec 14 William Creech issues subscription bills for the Edinburgh edition of the Poems
Jan 13 The Grand Lodge of Scotland toasts Burns as Caledonia's Bard
April 21 Edinburgh Poems published
April 23 Burns sells his copyright to Creech for 100 guineas
May 5 - June 1 Burns tours the Borders with Robert Ainslie
End of May Volume 1 of Scots Musical Museum published
June 2 Burns receives Peggy Cameron's appeal
June 8 Burns eclatant return to Mauchline
End of June Burns tours West Highlands as far as Inveraray
Aug 2 Burns completes his autobiographical letter to Dr. John Moore
Aug 8 Burns returns to Edinburgh
Aug 15 Burns freed of Peggy Cameron's writ
Aug 25 - Sept 16 Highland tour with William Nicol
Oct 4 - 20 Tour in Stirlingshire
Burns spends 8 days with Margaret Chalmers. Although she turned down his proposal of marriage he wrote to her from Ellisland saying "I have lived more of a real life with you in eight days than I can do with almost anybody I meet with in eight years"
Peggy Chalmers
Oct Death of poet's daughter, Jean
Nov Burns begins active work for the Scots Musical Museum
Dec 4th Burns meets Mrs.Agnes McLehose (Clarinda)
Dec 7 Burns dislocates his knee
Dec 8 The Clarinda correspondence begins
Jan 4 Burns first visit to Clarinda
Feb 13 - 14 Peak of the Clarinda correspondence: four letters in two days
Feb 18 Burns leaves Edinburgh
Feb 23 Burns returns to Mauchline; buys Jean a mahogany bed and sets up house with her, publicly testifying that they are man and wife
Feb 27(?) - Mar 2 Burns visits Ellisland with John Tennant
Mar 3 Jean bears twin girls, of whom one dies on March 10 and the other on March 22
c Mar 13 Burns returns to Edinburgh
Mar 18 Burns signs lease of Ellisland
Ellisland Farm
Mar 24 Burns leaves Edinburgh
Mar Volume II of Scots Musical Museum published
April - May Burns receives Excise instructions at Mauchline and Tarbolton
June 11 Burns settles at Ellisland
July 14 Burns Excise commission issued
Aug 5 Rev. William Auld and the Mauchline Kirk Session recognise the authenticity of the marriage of Burns and Jean Armour
Nov 5 Centenary of the "Glorious Revolution"
Nov Jenny Clow bears Burns a son
Dec Jean joins Burns in borrowed quarters at the Isle
Feb 16 Burns goes to Edinburgh to close accounts with Creech
(Feb. 27) and to settle Jenny Clow's suit
Feb 28 Burns leaves Edinburgh
July 14 Fall of the Bastille
c. July Burns meets Francis Grose
Aug 18 Francis Wallace Burns born
Sept Burns begins duty as Excise officer
Nov Burns ill with malignant squinancy and low fever
Jan 27 Burns name placed on list of those eligible for promotion as Examiners and Supervisors. He is riding up to 200 miles a week on excise duties while trying to maintain his farm
Feb Volume III of Scots Musical Museum published
July Burns transferred to Dumfries Third Division
July 24 Death of William Burns in London
Dec 1 MS of Tam o'Shanter sent to Grose
Mar 31 Anne Park bears Burns a daughter, Elizabeth
Apr 9 William Nicol Burns born
April Tam o'Shanter published in Grose's Antiquities of Scotland and in the March issue of the Edinburgh Magazine
June 19 - 22 Burns in Ayrshire to attend Gilbert's wedding
Aug 25 Auction of crops at Ellisland
Sept 10 Formal renunciation of Ellisland lease signed
Nov 11 Burns moves into Dumfries
Nov 29 - Dec 11 Burns in Edinburgh. Farewell to Mrs. Agnes McLehose at Lamont's Land
Feb Burns promoted to Dumfries Port Division
Feb 29 Capture of schooner Rosamond
March Paine's Rights of Man (First part) published
April 10 Burns made honorary member of Royal Company of Archers, Edinburgh
April 19 Sale of the Rosamond's carronades
May Paine indicted for treason, escapes to France
Aug Volume IV of Scots Musical Museum published
Sept Burns begins work for Thomson's Select Scottish Airs, William Smellie made freeman of Dumfries, Theatre Royal opened at Dumfries
Nov 13 Burns subscribes for Edinburgh Gazetteer
Nov 21 Birth of Elizabeth Riddell Burns
Dec First General Convention of The Friends of the People at Edinburgh
Mid-Dec Burns last visit to Dunlop House
Dec 31 Excise inquiry into Burns loyalty
Jan 5 Burns defends himself to Graham of Fintry
Jan 21 French King (Louis Sixteenth) executed
Feb 1 France declares war against Britain
Feb 18 Second Edinburgh edition of Poems published
March Burns asks, and receives, burgess privileges in the Dumfries school. Mrs. McLehose returns from the West Indies
May 19 Burns moves to a house in Millbrae Vennel
June First number of Thomson's Select Scotish Airs published
c. July 30 - Aug 2 First Galloway tour with Syme
Aug Thomas Muir arrested at Portpatrick. The Edinburgh sedition trials
c. Aug 30 Scots Wha hae sent to Thomson
Dec 9 Isabella Burns married at Mossgiel
c. Dec 31 Beginning of the Riddell quarrel
Jan 12 Final breach with Maria Riddell
Feb 14 Muir, Palmer and their associates sail as convicts from Woolwich to Botany Bay
April 21 Death of Robert Riddell
c. May 1 Burns declines a post on the Morning Chronicle, London
c. June 25 - 28 Second Galloway tour with Syme
Aug 12 Birth of James Glencairn Burns
c. Dec 22 Burns appointed temporary Acting Supervisor at Dumfries
Jan 12 Burns posts the letter which estranged Mrs. Dunlop
Jan 31 Burns joins in organising the Dumfries Volunteers
Feb Reconciliation with Maria Riddell
Maria Riddell
April The Reid miniature painted. Alexander Findlater resumes his duties as Supervisor at Dumfries
June 24 Death of William Smellie
Sept Death of Elizabeth Riddell Burns at Mossgiel
Dec - Jan Burns ill with rheumatic fever
Feb 11 Muir rescued from Botany Bay by American vessel on order of George Washington
Mar 12 - 14 Food riots in Dumfries
July 3 - 16 Burns at the Brow Well
July 18 Burns writes his last letter
July 21 Death of Burns
July 25 Funeral of Burns, and birth of his son Maxwell
Burns Monument

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