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The Burns Encyclopedia
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York, Frederick Augustus, Duke of (1763 — 1827)

The second son of George III. As an infant of seven months, he was in 1764 elected by his father titular bishop of Osnaburg, in Westphalia. This 'secular dignity with an ecclesiastical designation worth £20,000 a year' was 'a favourite topic of ridicule' according to P. Fitzgerald in The Royal Dukes... of the Family of George III: hence Burns's reference to him as 'right reverend Osnaburg' in 'A Dream'. His character was certainly not 'right reverend', his most famous mistress having been Mary Ann Clarke whose use of him to sell military commissions led to parliamentary inquiry and his resignation as Commander-in-Chief of the army. Although he was to be commemorated by the Duke of York's column in London, he had been also involved in a series of disasters as commander in the field, and even the height of the column was popularly ascribed to the need to put him out of the way of his creditors. He married the Princess Royal of Prussia.

Thirty-two years after 'A Dream' was written, then Duke took the chair at a dinner held in London to raise funds for the erection of a monument to Burns on the Banks of Doon. Three leaves torn from the memoirs of Rush, 'Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary from the USA to Court of St James' in 1817, describe the scene at the dinner, at which he was present. The leaves are in the Public Reference Library in Ayr:

'The leading person was Mr [Alexander] Boswell, son of the biographer of Johnson; and a Member of Parliament. He made a speech on the genius of Burns, and urged the propriety of erecting a monument on the site of the cottage where he was born. A son of the Poet was present. On "Success to the Fame of Burns" being given as a toast, he thanked the company in a modest, feeling manner. The punch-bowl that had belonged to Burns and of which it is known that he was too fond was handed round as a relic. A full band was in the orchestra... Several hundred pounds [five hundred] were collected towards the monument.'

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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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