completion of the Farmhouse at Ellisland he was pressed by
the builder Thomas Boyd for payment of £20.00. In June
1791 he wrote to Boyd to settle accounts by taking a bill
of Alexander Crombie's for £20.00 in lieu of cash, "Mr
Crombie cannot take it amiss that I endeavour to get myself
clear of his bill in this manner, as you owe him and I owe
He met the Rev. William Inglis while at Ellisland and attended
his Church in Dumfries. When asked why, he replied "I
go to hear Mr Inglis because he preaches what he believes
and practices what he preaches".
OF INTERNATIONAL EVENTS:
On 14 October 1788 his landlord Patrick Miller of Dalswinton
had a test sailing of his pioneer paddle steamer on Dalswinton
Loch on the east side of the River Nth. Many watched from
the bank, among them Robert Burns. This was the first use
of power from an engine being used for human transportation
anywhere in the world. The age of transport took its first
step and he was there.
A drinking contest took place on 16th October 1789 at Friars
Carse, a truly mighty contest where the participants set out
to drink one another under the table. The winner was to have
the Whistle as the trophy. Burns was there as an observer
and records the event in the poem The Whistle.
OF THE LADIES:
The saying that his life was 'a story of barren ground and
fertile lassies' has truth. In brief, his situation at Ellisland
Marriage to Jean Armour acknowledged and solemnly bound before
the Kirk Session of Mauchline on 5th August 1788.
Correspondence with Agnes McLehose, Clarinda, throughout his
stay at Ellisland.
Jenny Clowe, Mrs McLehose' maid servant, becomes pregnant
and has a baby.
Anna Park, an employee of the Globe Inn, Dumfries becomes
pregnant in the summer of 1790 and gives birth to Elizabeth
on 31st March 1791.
Jean Armour Burns gives birth to William Nichol on 9th April
The baby Elizabeth was sent to Mossgiel and later came to
join the family at Ellisland, to be brought up by Jean Armour
Burns meets Jean Lorimer, Chloris, whose father William took
over the lease of Kemys Hall in 1790. Jean Lorimer was then
about 15 and there is no suggestion that Robert Burns did
anything more than admire her fine looks at this time.
Suffice that Jean Armour Burns is reported as saying, "our
Rab should habe had twa wives".
POET AND LETTER WRITER:
During his stay at Ellisland he produced some 130 ~ about
a quarter ~ of his songs and poems, and 230 of his 700 letters.
POLLUTER OF RIVERS:
In the Elegy on Willie Nichol's Mare it is quite clear that
the dead horse was put into the River Nith:
'But now she's floating down the Nith,
For Solway fish a feast'
Times have changed and prosecution would follow if this was
'Willie Brewed a Peck o' Maut' says it all
To create a farm virtually from scratch whilst carrying out
the duties of an Excise Officer was hard work. To find time
to write so many letters, poems and songs was amazing.
BUILDER'S DISATISFIED CLIENT:
Having written to Mr Boyd on 8th February 1789 complaining of
lack of progress he wrote again on 1st March 1789: "...
was a good deal surprised to find my house still lying like
Babylon in the prophecies of Isiah ..."
Ref, Isiah 13: vs 19-20: 'Babylonia is the most beautiful kingdom
of all, it is the pride of its people. But I, the Lord will
overthrow Babylon as I did Soddom and Gomorrah. No one will
ever live there again. No wandering shepherd will ever pitch
his tent there, and no shepherd will ever pasture his flock