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 The Birth of Burns - (Facts 1-4)

1.  Robert Burns was born on 25 January 1759, a fact clearly stated in his poem "Rantin, Rovin Robin" (CW 267-8):-

Our monarch's hindmost year but ane
Was five-and-twenty days begun,

The monarch referred to being King George II (1727-60).

2.  Despite this, Dr James Currie, in the first major biography (1800), gave the date of birth as 29 January, a fact which misled the earliest Burns Clubs who held their "suppers" on what they believed to be his birthday...until someone checked the Ayr Parish Register, and found the correct date.

3.  The poem "Rantin, Rovin Robin" was also responsible for the myth that William Burnes, when going to fetch a doctor to assist at Robert's birth, helped an old gipsy woman to cross a flooded stream, and that in gratitude she visited the newborn baby, gave her blessing and predicted his fame. In fact, the prophecy in the last four verses of the poem, was the poet's own invention !

4.  The baby Robert was actually delivered by the village midwife, the wife of the Alloway blacksmith John Tennant who was one of the two witnesses of the baptism, and a cousin of John Tennant of Glenconnar - 'guid auld Glen' 
(CW 201)


2008 The Robert Burns World Federation