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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Cameron, May

A servant girl in Edinburgh who bore Burns a child which he admitted was his. It was probably early in June 1787, when he was in Dumfries receiving the freedom of the burgh, that May Cameron's letter — probably written for her by a friend, and dated 26th May — reached him: 'I beg, for God's sake, you will write and let me know how I am to do. You can write to any person you can trust to get me a place to stay till such time as you come to town yourself'. Burns immediately wrote an undated note to Ainslie (who was in the same paternal predicament himself), asking him to: 'send for the wench and give her ten or twelve shillings... and advise her out to some country (friends)... Call immediately, or at least as soon as it is dark, for God's sake lest the poor soul be starving. — Ask her for a letter I wrote her just now, by way of token — it is unsigned.' (Fergusson dates this letter 'about 1st June 1788', which for obvious reasons must be incorrect).

Ainslie evidently complied with this request, but the girl cannot have been satisfied, because she later had served on Burns a writ in meditation fugae: 15th August 1787, however, was the date of a document freeing him from the writ and its unpleasant implications of arrest. Burns kept this document, which carries two verses of an 'old and broadly humorous song', according to Chambers. Chambers said further that 'the terms of this writ must have been merely used formally, in order to force him to grant the required security.'

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Robert Burns Store

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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

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...