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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Benson, Anna Dorothea Bridget (1773-1856)

The daughter of James Benson, a new York wine merchant and a friend of the Craiks of Arbigland, in whose house Burns met her. She married twice, and by her first husband, Thomas Skepper, a barrister at York, she had a daughter who married Bryan Waller Procter, the author 'Barry Cornwall'. Her second husband was Basil Montague of London, whose third wife she became in 1808.

From the role which she occupied in the correspondence between Thomas Carlyle and Jane Welsh, we learn that the lady was meddling, self-opinionated and sentimental. Burns sent her a stilted, fulsome letter of praise from Dumfries, dated 21st March 1793, accompanying a hitherto untraced sonnet — 'though to tell you the real truth, the sonnet is a mere pretence, that I may have the opportunity of declaring with how much respectful esteem I have the honour to be etc...'

Allan Cunningham ascribed a statement to her that Burns drank 'as other men drank'. In a letter of 25th February 1834, she protested against the ascription saying that Burns had been incapable of rudeness or vulgarity... well bred and gentlemanly in all the courtesies of life. Even during the meeting of the Caledonian hunt, she 'never saw Burns once intoxicated, though the worthy Member for Dumfries and the good Laird of Arbigland and twenty more... Were brought home in a state of glorious insensibility.'

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Robert Burns Store

NEW!! robert burns store View our exclusive range of distinctive Robert Burns related products. Register with our Shopping Club for further offers and unique member offers.Click here...


Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
Search our huge CD and music store for any Burns-related phrase!
Hint: Type "lang syne" or "peck maut" etc. into the Search box there for all artists, titles, descriptions or track listings with the words entered.
Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

ScotwebThe finest Scottish shopping site in the world, with the world's largest choice of kilts and tartans, exclusive jewelry, Highland Dress, Bagpipes and piping supplies, cashmere, and much more. Buying from these sites helps pay for the upkeep of Burns Country! Click here...