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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Halliday, James

The man who made Burns's drain at Ellisland.

Writing on 7th November 1789, to the Dumfries lawyer, David Newall (at whose house, Isle, Burns stayed while Ellisland was being completed), Burns said 'The bearer, James Halliday, is the lad who executed the drain between Isle and Ellisland. It is now finished, at least four or five days work more will conclude it; and these few days' work must, I doubt, stand over until next Spring, as the business is impractible in Wintry weather... I have not taken an accurate [sic] measure of the drain, but by a pretty near guess, I take it to be about 80 Roods in length. Seventeen pence per rood was the bargain, which, taking 85 roods as the just length, makes the whole amount £6-0-5 but at this rate the poor fellows will scarce have I/- per day... and between you and me, they very well deserve 14 or 15d per day, as they wrought both hard and dirty and kept no stated hours, but from sun to sun almost.'fre

Writing again to Newall in the Spring of 1790, Burns said: 'Inclosed is a state of the account between you and me and James Halliday respecting the drain. I have stated it at 20d per rood, as in fact, even at that, they have not the wages they ought to have had, and I cannot for the soul of me see a poor devil a loser at my hand. Humanity, I hope, as well as Charity, will cover a multitude of sins, a mantle, of which — between you and me — I have some little need.'

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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...