Broun, Agnes (17321820)
The poet's mother. Daughter of Gilbert Broun, tenant of the 300 acre farm of Craigenton, in Kirkoswald parish, she was the eldest of 6 children. She was ten when her mother died. For 2 years, she looked after the family, until her father remarried he was married, in all, three times and she was sent to Maybole to live with a grandmother, Mrs Rennie, whose recollections went back to Covenanting times, and hose mind was a storehouse of old songs and ballads.
Agnes Broun was first of all engaged to a ploughman, William Nelson, but broke it off after 7 years, allegedly because of some impropriety on her fiance's part. She may have met William Burns at the Maybole Fair of 1756. They were married on 15th December 1757. Robert, born on 25th January 1759 was the eldest of their 7 children.
After William Burns's death in 1784, his widow, who survived him for 36 years, lived most of the time with her son, Gilbert. She enjoyed an annuity of £5 which Robert had settled on her out of the loan he made to Gilbert. She died at Gilbert's home, Grant's Braes, East Lothian, and was buried in the Churchyard of Bolton.
Mrs Begg, the poet's sister, wrote of her mother: 'She was rather under the average height; inclined to plumpness, but neat, shapely, and full of energy; having a beautiful pink-and-white complexion, a fine square forehead, pale red hair but dark eyebrows and dark eyes often ablaze with a temper difficult of control. Her disposition was naturally cheerful; her manner, easy and collected; her address, simple and unpresuming; and her judgement uncommonly sound and good. She possessed a fine musical ear, and sang well.'