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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Crochallan Fencibles

In 18th Century Edinburgh there were numerous convivial clubs each with its own designation to describe the character of its proceedings. One such club was the Crochallan Fencibles. Its name was derived from 2 sources. Daniel Douglas, proprietor of the tavern in Anchor Close, off the High Street, where the club met, was known for his singing of the Gaelic song 'Crodh Chailein' or 'Colin's Cattle'. This was taken as the first part of the Club's name. The other half arose from the voluntary arming which was taking place because of the alarms caused by the American War of Independence. The wits, among whom was the printer William Smellie, the founder of the club (see Smellie, William) took the name of the Crochallan Fencibles, the office-bearers having pseudo-military rank. The President, or Colonel of the Club, was a writer to the signet, William Dunbar, whom Burns called 'rattling roaring Willie', after the musician celebrated in the Border Minstrelsey. He it was who first introduced Burns to the works of Spencer.

The Club members were noted for the conviviality of their meetings and the 'gude companie' they kept. It is probable that many of the pieces which make up The Merry Muses were presented by Burns at meetings of the Fencibles.

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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

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