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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Blair, David (1755?-1814)`

Possibly a member of the firm of Blair and Lea, gun-makers, which was set up in Navigation Street, Birmingham, in 1783. A David Blair, gunmaker — St Paul's Square — the address to which Burns wrote Blair, first appears in Pye's Directory of Birmingham for 1787. According to Ferguson (who got his information from the City Librarian of Birmingham) Blair was a 'substantial' citizen whose name appears in subscription lists for the relief of the poor in 1812 and 1813, in which latter year he was among the founders of Birmingham Chamber of Manufacturers and Commerce. He lost 2 sons within 2 weeks of each other in May 1812, and died himself the following May.

Burns wrote to Blair from Ellisland on 23rd January 1789, apparently acknowledging the receipt of a gun. This letter suggests it was not his first communication. Thereafter, Burns sent him copies of his poems from time to time, a copy of the 1793 edition of his Poems, and, from Dumfries on 25th August 1795, a letter containing the history of 'Lord Balmerino's durk' which was then in Blair's possession, and the story of which Burns says he got from a friend who once owned it.

Pistols presumably carried by Burns on his Excise duties and which he later presented to Dr W Maxwell, were probably supplied by Blair. They are now in the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.

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Complete Burns Songs

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