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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Broun or Brown, Samuel (1739-1811)

The poet's maternal uncle, Samuel Broun of Kirkoswald, was the 3rd son of Gilbert Broun of Craigenton and Agnes Rennie, his wife. It is sometimes claimed that it was to Broun's house that Burns went to stay while studying surveying at Kirkoswald in 1775, but it seems more probable that the poet lodged with Nivens.

Broun was probably a man after Burns's own heart, for Broun married Margaret Niven, the daughter of Robert Niven, farmer and miller, at Ballochniel, after they had both done penance before the Kirk Session for fornication. Three months later, in July 1765, their only child was born, a daughter, Jenny, mentioned by Burns in 'Halloween'. Broun was a farm worker at Ballochniel.

Locally, the tradition has it that Broun was involved in smuggling, then something of a trade because of the wide range of goods on which Excise duty was levelled. Only one of Burns's letters to his uncle has survived. Dated Mossgiel, 4th May 1788, it asks Broun for '3 or 4 stones of feathers' from the Ailsa fowling season. (Solan geese and their eggs were presumably still considered a traditional Scottish delicacy, thought the taste died soon after.) Burns goes on: 'It would be a vain attempt for me to enumerate the various transactions I have been engaged in since I saw you last, but this I know, I engaged in the smuggling trade, and God knows if ever any poor man experienced better returns — two for one! — but as freight and delivery has turned out so dear, I am thinking of taking out a license and beginning in fair trade.'

This, of course, refers to his second experience of Jean's twin-bearing faculty, and to his newly-taken decision, which he announced in the closing paragraph about 'a farm on the banks of Nith'.

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Complete Burns Songs

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Burns Chess Sets

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