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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Jaffray, Jean (1773 — 1850)

Only daughter of the Rev Andrew Jaffray of Ruthwell and later Lochmaben, she was the 'Blue-Eyed Lassie' of the song 'I gaed a waefu' gate yestreen', which Burns wrote for her when she was about 15 and which was published in the Scots Musical Museum, 1790. Unfortunately it was set to an air by Robert Riddell which spans two octaves, and is very nearly unsingable. She later spoke to George Thomson of Burns's 'manly, luminous observations and artless manners' when he visited the manse on his Excise rides. She married a Liverpool merchant, William Renwick, and settled with him in New York, where she enjoyed the friendship of the literati, including Washington Irving. A son of George Thomson visited her in 1822 by which time she was a widow. Her visitor recorded: 'She has told me that she often looks back with a melancholy satisfactoin on the many evenings she spent in the company of the great bard, in the social circle of her father's fireside, listening to the brilliant sallies of his imagination and to his delightful conversation. 'Many times', said she, 'have I seen Burns enter my father's dwelling in a cold rainy night, after a long ride over the dreary moors. On such occasions, one of the family would help to disencumber him of his dreadnought and boots, while others brought him a pair of slippers and made him a warm dish of tea. It was during these visits that he felt himself perfectly happy, and opened his whole soul to us, repeated and even sang, many of his admirable songs, and enchanted all who had the good fortune to be present with his manly, luminous observations and artless manners. I never... could fancy that Burns had ever followed the rustic occupation of the plough, because everything he said or did had a gracefulness and charm that was in an extraordinary degree engaging.'

A collected volume of her writings were published after her death. Her son, James Renwick, LLD became Professor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry in Columbia College.

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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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