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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Cockburn, Mrs Alison (1712 — 94)

Authoress of one of the versions of 'The Flowers of the Forest', and for 60 years one of the 'queens of Edinburgh society'. The daughter of Robert Rutherford of Fairnilee, in Selkirkshire, she married Patrick Cockburn, an advocate, in 1731. 9 years before she met Burns she had described Walter Scott as 'the most extraordinary genius of a boy.'

In one of her letters she recorded her opinion of Burns: 'The town is at present (December 1786) agog with the ploughman poet, who receives adulation with native dignity, and is the figure of his profession, strong and coarse, but has a most enthusiastick heart of LOVE. He has seen dutchess Gordon and all the gay world: his favrite for looks and manners is Bess Burnett — no bad judge indeed'. In another letter she wrote: 'The man will be spoiled if he can spoil, but he keeps with his simple manners and is quite sober.'

Mrs Cockburn's niece was Elizabeth Scott (1729-89), wife of Walter Scott of Wauchope, near Jedburgh. Mrs Cockburn lent her niece a copy of the Kilmarnock Poems.

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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...