John Anderson

John Anderson, with wife, cat and dog

Parian Ware, a development of earlier biscuit porcelain, looked like marble, was less expensive than bronze and more durable than plaster. 

Souter Johnny

Tam o' Shanter and Souter Johnny

From its first production in 1842, Parian Ware allowed those of modest means to possess articles of high quality. The term ‘Parian’ was coined by Minton to suggest the quality of ancient Greek marble sculpture. Its popularity peaked in the 1870s and faded from the 1880s.

coat of arms

The coat of arms Burns might have had !

(artwork by Ross Bennie)

When the Lord Lyon, Dr Joseph John Morrow, CBE, QC, LLD, visited ‘Wellwood’ in 2019, he offered to prepare a coat of arms to the specification detailed by Burns in a letter to jeweller Alexander Cunningham in 1794 requesting a seal - though in this form, it could not have been approved by the Lord Lyon as a coat of arms! The result, the artwork of Ross Bennie, was formally presented at the 2020 Annual Celebration.

Six window panels from David Lauder's Tearoom, Kilmarnock

The baker's shop and upper floor restaurant/tearoom of David Lauder & Son, in King Street, Kilmarnock, was established in 1896 and demolished during 1970s redevelopment. These panels were rescued and now feature in the centre window of the Wellwood Music Room.

Alloway birthplace

Alloway cottage

Brig o' Ayr

Brig o' Ayr

Robert Burns

Robert Burns

Jean Armour

Jean Armour

Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark


Ayr Monument

Six small objects which you might easily miss

Enjoy the wonderfully charming carving on the lid of a wooden box, or other small exhibits with a connection to Robert Burns

carved box

Tam o' Shanter box-lid

Tam o' Shanter, with cronies, fiddler and dogs, before his journey home


Miniature gavels

fashioned from a piece of rafter of Burns Cottage

oak rafter

Section of oak rafter

of Burns Cottage, presented to the Club by James D Sloan

jewel box

Jewel box

made from the 'bed stock' (front bar) of the bed where Robert Burns and 'Bonnie Jean' spent their first night of married life

toddy ladles

Burns' toddy ladles

exhibited in the 1896 Burns Centenary Exhibition in Glasgow, belonging at that time to Charles Murchland, Club President in 1879

snuff box and glass

William Templeton's snuff box and whisky glass

presented to Irvine Burns Club by his descendants, the Gilroy family, in 1949

The jewel box was originally presented to another Burns Club in 1888 by Maggie M Miller when she was for some reason unable to attend that club's annual dinner; her letter is inside the box..

friendly chat

A symbol of friendship

Used at the Club's Annual Celebration, this Loving Cup was given to the Club in 1870 by Mr John Rhodes, following the purchase of the house where James Montgomery, the 'Christian Poet', was born in 1771. The inscription on the base reads: 
PRESENTED TO THE IRVIN BURNS CLUB BY Mr John Rhodes OF SHEFFIELD THROUGH Mr Robert McTear GLASGOW TO COMMEMORATE THE PURCHASE BY THE CLUB OF THE HOUSE IN IRVIN IN WHICH James Montgomerie THE CHRISTIAN POET WAS BORN - 1869 (the inscription, slightly inaccurate in McJannet's "Royal Burgh of Irvine", mis-spells the town name). Montgomery lived only five years in Irvine; the family moved, via Ireland, to Yorkshire. Montgomery became, in 1828, the first Honorary Member of Irvine Burns Club.

John Rhodes was probably the eldest son of Sheffield Master Cutler Ebenezer Rhodes (1762-1839), a conspicuous member of a debating society named the Society of Friends of Literature. It met in a Sheffield pub and, like other such societies, was later proscribed - regarded as a hotbed of sedition. Ebenezer Rhodes was an intelligent and fluent participant, and something of a poet. James Montgomery was one of its other prominent members. Rhodes made many excursions to the Derbyshire Dales with Montgomery, and published books on scenery, including a four-part work on the Peak District. When his business failed in 1827, his remaining years were made comfortable through the help of his friends, including Montgomery (who subscribed £100 to a fund for his support), so the Cup represents a son's appreciation of the help given to his father by a good friend.
Robert McTear presented the Cup on John Rhodes' behalf at the close of a lecture given in Irvine on 4 March 1870 on the subject of "A Continental Trip and a visit to the Italian Hero General Garibaldi at Caprera". The "handsome Loving Cup of silver plate" was "a mark of his [Rhodes'] appreciation of the honour done to the Memory of James Montgomery, the Christian Poet, by several Members of the Club who had recently purchased the house in Halfway in which the Poet was born". Rhodes and McTear were later entertained to supper in the Kings Arms in 1870 (date unknown). The property transaction mentioned is obscure, for the house was not purchased by the Club, but (in the 1869 minutes) by Maxwell Dick, who retained a half-interest, and a group of other members. (Robert McTear, the Glasgow auctioneer, also enabled Garibaldi's acceptance of honorary membership.)

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Sillar crest

The Sillar family Loving Cup

Only one of David Sillar's children survived to have family - his son Dr Zachariah Sillar, who graduated at Edinburgh, served as Club President in 1830, and settled in Liverpool. This silver tankard was the Hansel gift of David Sillar to his grandson Wm Cameron Sillar.

The Sillar family crest shows a swan's head between two wings, with the motto TOUJOURS FIDELE ('always faithful').

The tankard was presented to the Club on 24 January 1964 by his great-great-grandson Frederick C Sillar, thereafter elected an Honorary Member of Irvine Burns Club in 1967.

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Planter cup

The 'Planter' Cup 1799

The 'Planter' Cup, the McClure Cup, was gifted to the safe-keeping of Irvine Burns Club in May 1979 by Mr F D McJannet. It links Irvine with a time of attacks on merchant ships, when every successful defence was rewarded with either or both of silver plate and cash. The engraving on the cup represents a naval engagement.

Capt. David McClure (b. 1768; older family spelling 'Maclure') was a native of Ayr, the son of the lawyer whose excessive claims against his tenants, such as Robert Burns' father at Lochlie, caused much litigation. In 1799, his American ship, the "Planter", was attacked by a privateer, a privately-owned armed vessel commissioned by the French government, during the undeclared war with France 1798-1800, to capture merchant shipping. Captain McClure successfully fought off the attackers - his account is in the link below - and a grateful Lloyds of London presented him with the one-gallon cup (along with a pair of one-quart cups and a ladle), hallmarked in London in 1796. The inscription records the captain's name, the ship name, and the event date. For reasons which are still a mystery, the captain's name on the Lloyd's list, in the "Times" report, in the "Naval Chronicle 1799", and subsequently in the "History of the Liverpool Privateers" (1897), The Dictionary of American Fighting Ships and a Wikipedia entry, is given as John Watts (after whom a 20th c. US destroyer was named) - why is David Maclure praised on the cup and John Watts in those sources?

The cups passed to his spinster sister Anne Maclure of New Harmony(*), Indiana, who, in 1841, sent them back across the Atlantic to her nephew William McJannet (1806-1891, son of Anne's sister Jane and James McJannet), later to be our 1845 Club President. A banker of the British Linen Co., he resided at Longford, the home farm, managed by his father James McJannet (d.1839), of the Eglinton estate; his aunt Helen lived in Ayr and was blind. Two days after the cups reached Irvine, William's second son was born, so the new arrival was named William David Maclure McJannet "in memory of your generous brother and my brave uncle" and later christened out of the cup. The cup then passed to him (1841-1926), a solicitor, our Club President in 1870, then purchased from him by his brother Archibald Crawford McJannet (1845-1922), also a solicitor, our Club President in 1878. It then passed to his son Arnold Franz McJannet (whose mother was German) (1876-1953), a solicitor, our Club President in 1929 and the author of "The Royal Burgh of Irvine" (1938). On his death it passed to his spinster cousin Mary McJannet. On her death in 1976, Douglas & Diane McJannet, having no issue of their own, so being the last of the line, and living in Suffolk, decided that the cup should be kept in the town where so many of the family had enjoyed its possession, and this was arranged through Irvine Burns Club Past President Dr J Montgomery. The two smaller cups passed to his brother William (1878-1952), whose widow unfortunately passed them to a silver dealer who melted them down. The whereabouts of the ladle is unknown. (A connection may exist between W D M McJannet's second wife Jessie Goudie and the 1866 Club President James Goudie, but that has not (yet) been investigated.)

We are indebted to Rhona Munro, and her Canadian cousin Andree Rinella (née Stevens), both great-great-grand-daughters of William McJannet (nephew of the captain), who visited 'Wellwood' to view and hold the cup in 2013. They supplied a copy of the full account of the action, and we were able to supply them with a copy of a helpful (but with some inaccuracies) family letter of 1942 from A F McJannet in Irvine to his cousin C V Stevens, the grandfather of our visitors, in Glasgow. Their visit prompted us to document this incredible story of the privateer attack, of the cup's travels, and of the puzzling elements in the story.

The first puzzle is that exactly the same story of the 'Planter' action is credited to Captain John Watts, the ship's recorded captain when the ship proceeded to Dover. The second puzzle centres on Whitehaven, where the two lady passengers subsequently visited the parents of "William Aicken [sic] who was killed in the action", though the account does not include him as dead or wounded; the ladies had helped all they could, but he had expired after requesting them to tell his parents that "he died in a good cause". The third puzzle concerns when the latter part of the letter, detailing the rewards, was written - nowadays, five days would not be long enough for the ship to dock and for the underwriters to inscribe and send the cup, though perhaps, in those heady days of many such actions, the reward may have been quickly organised.

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* Footnote: David McClure's brother William (1763-1840), visited New York in 1782, made his fortune in London, and emigrated to USA in 1796. He has a Wikipedia entry as the 'father of American geology' and as a social experimenter on new types of community life; in 1824 he collaborated with British social reformer Robert Owen in the development of the community of New Harmony. Perhaps his emigration prompted that of his brother David and sister Anne. None seem to have had issue, prompting Anne to send the cup to the family in Scotland.

  • Wellwood Burns Centre & Museum
  • 28 Eglinton Street,
  • Irvine, Ayrshire, KA12 8AS