Robert Burns - His early life  

Robert Burns - His life and times


Robert Burns:
Who was he?

Short biography:
Early life
Farm Life
Later life

Background to the man:
His poetry
His women
His politics
His Freemasonry

His celebration:
Burns Night
Celebration running order
Auld lang syne

Burns home page

Robert Burns: His Early Life

"You shall write whatever comes first"

Robert Burns was born in 1759 in Scotland, in a village called Alloway in Ayrshire.

His father, William Burnes (pronounced Burn-iss, it was Robert who changed his own name), was a impoverished farmer who had moved, reluctantly it seems, to rural Ayrshire from Kincardineshire where he had been a gardener.

At first William became a gardener on the estate of a wealthy Doctor and it was here that he met and married a local farmer’s daughter, Agnes Broun (pronounced Broon and being the equivalent of Brown).

For some reason that may never be known William left the employ of the Doctor and leased the farm of Mount Oliphant at an extortionate rent. William claimed that the reason was that he wanted to keep an eye on his children, but it seems strange to leave the the security of a steady income for the insecurity of farm life. Robert was 6 years old when this happened.

Despite the problems that beset them as the family struggled to make the rent William arranged for his children to receive a very good education in English literature. And Agnes, though barely literate, was able to instil a love of Scottish songs in her son, Robert. In later life Robert commented on her vast store of songs and stories in a letter to a friend.