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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Burns, Robert (1786-1857)

Eldest son of the poet. He was educated at Dumfries Grammar School, then had two sessions at Edinburgh and one at Glasgow University, where he was a prize winner. He obtained a position in the Stamp Office in London, which had been offered to him by the Prime Minister, and from which he retired in 1833 with a small pension, to Dumfries, where he died. A letter from the Treasury Chanbers of 16th August 1832, printed in the 1859 Illustrated London News, authorised the Commissioners of Stamps at Somerset House, 'to place him on the superannuation list of your department, at the allowance of £120 per annum'. The money was granted because of 'the great literary talents' of his father.

In his poem 'Nature's Law', the poet hinted at his hopes for his eldest son:

"Auld cantie Coil may count the day,
As annual it returns,
The third of Libra's equal sway,
That gave another Burns,*
With future rhymes an' other times,
To emulate his sire;
To sing auld Coil in nobler style,
With more poetic fire.'

* September was the birth month of Robert Burns II

Though he did write verse, however, he did not fulfil his father's hopes in this respect.

Burns was, from the start, proud of his son's intellectual abilities. Writing to Mrs Dunlop from Dumfries on 24th September 1792, he said:

'Your little godson is thriving charmingly, (Francis Wallace) but is a very devil. He, though two years younger, has completely mastered his brother. Robert is indeed the mildest, gentlest creature I ever saw. He has a most surprising memory, and is quite the pride of his schoolmaster.'

Robert Burns II married Anne Sherwood when he was 22. They had one daughter, Eliza, who went out to India with her uncle, Colonel James Glencairn Burns, where she married a Dr Everitt of the East India Company. She died in 1878.

Both in London and in Dumfries, Robert Burns II augmented his income by teaching the classics and mathematics.

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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
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Burns Chess Sets

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