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Robert Burns

Also Known As: "Rabbie", "Robbie (Burness", "changed to Burns 1786) * Burns (3) 1615 (Burness 1615)"
Birthplace: Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland
Death: Died in Dumfries, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
Place of Burial: Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of William Burns (Burnes) and Agnes Jean Burness
Husband of Jean "Bonnie" (Armour) Burns
Fiancé of Mary "Highland Mary" Campbell
Partner of Janet Clow and Ann Greenshields-Burns
Father of Elizabeth Bishop; Thomas Burns; Jean Burns; Robert Burns, Jr.; infant twin (1) Burns and 9 others
Brother of Gilbert Burns; Agnes Burness; Annabella Burness; William Burness; John Burns and 1 other

Occupation: Poet, lyricist, farmer, excise man, Farmer, Exciseman
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Robert Burns

Burness Genealogy and Family History

Robert Burns Family History

' Robert Burns was descended from the Burness family of Kincardineshire, where his ancestors were tenant farmers. His father William moved to Ayrshire in 1750, where Robert was born in 1759. Robert signed his name Robert Burness until March 1786, when he adopted the spelling Burns, which was a common name in Ayrshire. The surnames Burn, Burns, Burnes, and Burness all derive from the word burn, which means a small stream, and originated with an ancestor who lived beside a burn. As there are thousands of burns in Scotland and England, there are many unrelated families named Burns. Robert Burns had a total of twelve children by four women, including nine by his wife Jean Armour. Seven of his children were illegitimate, including the first four by Jean Armour before they were married in 1788, although under Scottish law they were considered legitimate after their parent's marriage. Of Jean's children, six died young and another, William Nicol Burns, had no children. All living descendants of Robert Burns and Jean Armour descend from either their grandaughter Sarah Elizabeth Maitland Tombs Burns (1821-1909), daughter of their fourth son James Glencairn Burns (1794-1865), or their grandaughter Anne Elizabeth Burns (c1820-1889), illegitimate daughter of their eldest son Robert Burns (1786-1857). Most of Robert Burns descendants today are from his two illegitimate daughters: 1. Elizabeth "Bess" Burns (1785-1816), daughter of Elizabeth "Betsey" Paton, who married John Bishop in 1807. 2. Elizabeth "Betty" Burns (1791-1873), daughter of Ann Park, who married John Thomson in 1808. Robert Burns also had an illegitimate son Robert Burns by Janet "Jennie" Clow. He was born in Edinburgh in 1788.

Table of Contents Robert Burns Details of his family and children. Descendants of Robert Burns Family tree of Robert Burns with over 900 descendants, including those of his three illegitimate children. Paternal Ancestors of Robert Burns Walter Burness ( ? - 1670) James Burness (1656-1743) Robert Burness (c1686 - ? ) William Burness (1721-1784) Burness One-Name Study Research on the Burness surname worldwide including family trees of over thirty branches. Paternal Ancestors of Robert Burns Walter Burness, great-great-grandfather of Robert Burns Walter Burness was tenant of the farm of Bogjorgan in parish of Glenbervie, Kincardinehire. He died there in November 1670. Since surviving Glenbervie parish records begin in 1721, and no gravestone remains, the only documented information is his will. See Walter Burness for details of his family. Chart of family tree: Descendants of Walter Burness (This tree gives the first four generations to Walter's great-great grandchildren, including the poet, Robert Burns) James Burness, great-grandfather of Robert Burns James Burness, son of Walter, was born circa 1656. He was tenant of the farm of Brawlinmuir in Glenbervie. He died there on 23 January 1743 and is buried in Glenbervie where his gravestone is now preserved and protected by a special canopy. By his wife Margaret Falconer he had five sons and one or two daughters. His will dated 14 June 1740 left 100 merks to each of his sons: Robert in Clochnahill, William in Brawlinmuir, James in Hawkhill, and George in Elfhill. His fifth son Thomas had died in 1734. The fact that all four of his sons were tenants of their own farms indicates that the Burness family were successful farmers at this time. See James Burness for details of his family. Robert Burness, grandfather of Robert Burns Robert Burness was eldest son of James. His exact date of birth and death are unknown since Glenbervie parish records started in 1721 and no gravestone has survived. By his wife Isabella Keith he had four sons and four daughters. Robert was originally tenant of the farm of Upper Kinmonth in Glenbervie. Around 1724 he became tenant of Clochnahill in the neighbouring parish of Dunnottar. In May 1745 he took a seven-year lease of the smaller farm of Falside in the parish of Kinneff, but financial difficulties forced him to give up farming in September 1747. He likely retired to a cottage at Denside with three unmarried daughters. See Robert Burness for details of his family. Chart of family tree: Descendants of James Burness (James was the eldest son of Robert Burness and Isabella Keith) Chart of family tree: Descendants of Robert Burness (Robert was the second son of Robert Burness and Isabella Keith) Chart of family tree: Descendants of Elspet Burness (Elspet was the daughter of Robert Burness and Isabella Keith) William Burness, father of Robert Burns William Burness was born 11 November 1721 in Glenbervie, shortly before his father moved to Clochnahill in Dunnottar. Since financial difficulties had forced his father to give up farming in fall of 1747, William and his elder brother Robert left Kincardineshire in 1748 to seek work elsewhere. William went initially to Edinburgh where he worked for two years landscaping the gardens now known as the Meadows. In 1750 he moved to Ayrshire where for two years he worked as gardener to the laird of Fairlie in Dundonald. From 1752 to 1754 he worked as a gardener near Maybole. In 1754 he became gardener to John Crawford at Doonside near the hamlet of Alloway. In 1786 he became head gardener to William Ferguson at nearby Doonholm. At the same time William had ambitions to become a market gardener, so he leased seven acres of land at Alloway. Here he laid out a market garden and built his own cottage, which was later the birthplace of his son Robert Burns. On 15 December 1757 he married Agnes Brown, and they had four sons and three daughters. In 1765 he decided to become a tenant farmer and took a twelve-year lease of Mount Oliphant, a ninety-acre farm about two miles from Alloway. The family moved there in May 1766. When the lease at Mount Oliphant expired in 1777, William obtained a seven-year lease of the farm of Lochlea in the parish of Tarbolton. By 1782 disputes arose with his landlord over payment of rent and other debts. It was not a simple matter of William not being able to pay his rent since there was dispute over how much rent was due and whether the landlord had made the improvements agreed to. Eventually the courts decided in William's favour on 27 January 1784, but he died soon after on 13 February 1784. See William Burness for details of his family. Chart of family tree: Descendants of Gilbert Burns (Gilbert was the younger brother of Robert Burns) Chart of family tree: Descendants of Isabella Burness (Isabella was the sister of Robert Burns)


Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796) (also known as Rabbie Burns, Scotland's favourite son, the Ploughman Poet, Robden of Solway Firth, the Bard of Ayrshire and in Scotland as simply The Bard) was a Scottish poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a "light" Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland. He also wrote in standard English, and in these his political or civil commentary is often at its most blunt.

He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement, and after his death he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism. A cultural icon in Scotland and among the Scottish Diaspora around the world, celebration of his life and work became almost a national charismatic cult during the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has long been strong on Scottish literature. In 2009 he was voted by the Scottish public as being the Greatest Scot, through a vote run by Scottish television channel STV.

As well as making original compositions, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them. His poem (and song) Auld Lang Syne is often sung at Hogmanay (the last day of the year), and Scots Wha Hae served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of the country. Other poems and songs of Burns that remain well-known across the world today include A Red, Red Rose; A Man's A Man for A' That; To a Louse; To a Mouse; The Battle of Sherramuir; Tam o' Shanter, and Ae Fond Kiss.


' Robert Burns was born on 25 January 1759 in Alloway, Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland. He was the son of William Burness and Agnes Brown. He married Jean Armour, daughter of James Armour and Mary Smith, in 1788 in Mauchline, Ayrshire, Scotland. He died on 21 July 1796 in Dumfries, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, at age 37. He was buried on 25 July 1796 in St Michael's Kirkyard, Dumfries, Dumfriesshire, Scotland.

Freemason: St. David's Lodge No. 174, Tarbolton


   Descendants of Walter Burness
   Descendants of Robert Burns

Children of Robert Burns and Jean Armour

   * Robert Burns+ b. 3 Sep 1786, d. 14 May 1857
   * Jean Burns b. 3 Sep 1786, d. 20 Oct 1787
   * Unnamed Burns b. 9 Mar 1788, d. 10 Mar 1788
   * Unnamed Burns b. 9 Mar 1788, d. 22 Mar 1788
   * Francis Wallace Burns b. 18 Aug 1789, d. 9 Jul 1803
   * William Nicol Burns b. 9 Apr 1791, d. 21 Feb 1872
   * Elizabeth Riddell Burns b. 21 Nov 1792, d. Sep 1795
   * James Glencairn Burns+ b. 12 Aug 1794, d. 18 Nov 1865
   * Maxwell Burns b. 25 Jul 1796, d. 25 Apr 1799

Child of Robert Burns and Elizabeth Paton

   * Elizabeth Burns+ b. 22 May 1785, d. 8 Jan 1817

Child of Robert Burns and Janet Clow

   * Robert Burns+ b. Nov 1788

Child of Robert Burns and Ann Park

   * Elizabeth Burns+ b. 31 Mar 1791, d. 13 Jun 1873

Scotlands National Bard.


Robert Burns is William Browne De Bruin's 16th great grandson. William Browne De Bruin

  →  Sir John Browne 

his son → Sir John Brown, of Montague his son → Sir John Browne, I his son → Sir John Browne, Lord Mayor of London his son → Sir John Brown, VI his son → Sir John Brown 19GG 1368 – 1410 his son → George Broun 1410 – 1450 his son → Richard Brown 1440 – 1500 his son → Robert Brown 1480 – 1540 his son → Sir John Brown 13 1530 – 1558 his son → Johnne Brown 1553 – 1610 his son → John I Priesthill Brown 1576 – 1630 his son → Thomas Brown 1600 – 1655 his son → John Brown 1626 – 1685 his son → John Brown his son → Gilbert Broun his son → Agnes Jean Burness his daughter → Robert Burns her son


Birth: Jan. 25, 1759 Death: Jul. 21, 1796

Poet. Born the eldest of seven children at Alloway, near Ayr, the son of William Burnes, a small farmer and gardener for the Provost of Ayr. Burns was educated briefly at John Murdoch's school in Alloway but received most of his schooling at home. His first love, Nelly Kirkpatrick inspired him to try his hand at poetry, and he wrote a song entitled "O, once I lov'd a bonnie lass", and set it to the tune of a traditional reel. In 1783 he started composing poetry in a traditional style using the Ayrshire dialect of Lowland Scots. When his father died in 1784, Burns and his brother Gilbert rented a farm near Mauchline where they struggled to make a living. During the first decade of his career as a poet, Burns reputedly fathered eight illegitimate children born to five different women. One, Jean Armour, became Mrs. Burns in 1788, two years after the first published work of poetry by Robert Burns "Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect" was published in July 1786. The Scots dialect had largely fallen into disuse for formal writing but Burns' revival created a national tradition, and he became most uniquely the poet of his people. Burns moved to Edinburgh in order to dedicate himself to his poetry. A publisher there gave him work editing a collection of Scottish folk songs. The collection, "The Scots Musical Museum", was published in five volumes. Burns contributed over 150 songs, including "Ae Fond Kiss", "A Red, Red Rose" and "Auld Lang Syne". In 1790 he produced what many call his greatest poem, "Tam o' Shanter" about country folk and their lives. He was asked to furnish contributions for "A Select Collection Of Scottish Airs" by George Thomson. He responded by contributing over 100 songs. In 1795, Burns was inspired by the events of the French Revolution to write "For a' that and a' that". He alienated many of his friends by his enthusiastic support of the French Revolution. His health began to fail, and fell into depression; drinking heavily. Burns died in 1796 of rheumatic fever. He was buried in the churchyard of St. Michael's in Dumfries, shortly before his wife, Jean, gave birth to their ninth child. Within a short time of his death, money was sent in from all over Scotland in support of his widow and children. Many of Burns' songs and poems have become international favorites – rare is the year that goes by when "Auld Lang Syne," for instance, is not heard at least once. (bio by: Iola)

Family links:

 William Burns (1721 - 1784)
 Agnes Brown Burns (1731 - 1820)

 William Nicol Burns (1791 - 1872)*
  • Calculated relationship

Burial: St Michael's Cemetery Dumfries Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

Edit Virtual Cemetery info [?]

Maintained by: Find A Grave Record added: Jan 01, 2001 Find A Grave Memorial# 1853

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Robert Burns's Timeline

January 25, 1759
Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland

Robert Burns in the Dictionary of National Biography, Volumes 1-20, 22
Name: Robert Burns
Birth Date: 1759
Birth Place: Alloway
Death Date: 1796
Source Information Dictionary of National Biography, Volumes 1-20, 22 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.
Original data: Stephen, Sir Leslie, ed. Dictionary of National Biography, 1921–1922. Volumes 1–20, 22. London, England: Oxford University Press, 1921–1922.
This database contains Volumes 1–20 (21 is missing), and 22 of The Dictionary of National Biography, 1921–1922. Inside you can expect to find biographies of “notable” individuals including surname, birth place, parents’ names, residence, job history, schools attended, etc. Learn more...
© 2015,

January 26, 1759
Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland

Robert Burns in the Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950
Name: Robert Burns
Gender: Male
Birth Date: 25 Jan 1759
Baptism Date: 28 Jan 1759
Baptism Place: Ayr,Ayr,Scotland
Father: William Burns
Mother: Agnes Brown
FHL Film Number: 1041330
Source Information Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.
This collection includes birth and baptism records from Scotland. Learn more...
© 2015,

August 14, 1780
Age 21
Edinburgh, Scotland
Age 23

Nelly Kirkpatrick was Roberts first love inspiring him to try his hand at poetry writing ( I Lov d a Bonnie Las.)

Age 24

The first decade of Robert Burnes poetry was a time of struggling to make a living.

Age 24
Alloway, South Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom

During the first decade of Robert Burnes poetry he reputedly fathered eight illagidamate children born to five women.

May 22, 1785
Age 26
Tarbolton, Ayrshire, Scotland
September 3, 1786
Age 27
Mossgiel, Mauchline,, Ayrshire, Scotland
September 3, 1786
Age 27
Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Age 26

Robert Burnes became a national tradition as a poet.He became a poet of the people. Robert Burnes then moved to Edinburgh, Scottland.