Other letters and documents

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Original letters of Robert Burns

The Club possesses two original letters from Robert Burns to his friend David Sillar (purchased in 1975 from the Rev. David Sillar, Wetherby, Yorkshire, a great-great-grandson of Sillar).

Both letters were written from the poet's farm, Ellisland, Dumfriesshire, and are dated 5th August, 1789, and 22nd January, 1790. They are warm friendly letters and deal with Burns obtaining eleven subscribers for Sillar's own book of poems published in 1789.

. . . more information still to be added . . .

Burns family letters

A letter to Robert Burns from his brother Gilbert Burns dated Mossgiel, Mauchline, 4th September, 1790, dealing with family and farming matters.

A letter from Robert Burns, eldest son of the poet to his sister Betty, dated 29th March, 1834, recounting the death of their mother Jean Armour Burns.

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Other letters of interest

A letter of 1793 from The Hon'le Patrick Boyle Esq. of Shewalton to The Revd Dr George Lawrie ('otherwise Laurie'), a friend of Robert Burns, minister of Loudoun parish, and living at Newmilns (Newmills on this letter). Dr Lawrie, in 1786, sent a copy of the Kilmarnock Edition to his friend Dr Blacklock in Edinburgh, and is credited with changing Burns' plans for emigration. Patrick Boyle's 4th son was David Boyle (born in 'Boyle's Parterre' opposite the Town House), Lord Justice-General of Scotland and Lord President of the Court Session, commemorated by the 1867 statue in Castle Street, Irvine.) This 1793 letter was donated to Irvine Burns Club in 2022 by Stuart Reid, a collector of postal memorabilia (formerly of Irvine; his mother was the first lady burgess, being honoured in 1969 for twenty-seven years service with the Girl Guides, and his father ran the local 1195 Sqdn ATC) .

Text: Revd Sir,
I had the good luck to meet with Lady Loudoun and the Dumfries family at Rosemount, and took occasion to mention the setlement [sic] of your son, as your Colleague and Successor, which I find will be very agreeable to your Patroness Lord Dumfries &c so I wish you and Mrs Laurie, and your son much joy and satisfaction thereon. You will probably hear of this from herself when at Ed'br in her way to London. My wife joins in congratulations to all your good family and am with great regard   Dr Sir   yours most sincerely   Pat: Boyle   Irvine April 7th 1793
[Rev. George Lawrie (1722-99) was minister at Loudoun 1763-1793, and his son Archibald (1768-1837) was ordained as his assistant and successor on 1st August 1793.
'Lady Loudoun' - perhaps Flora Mure Campbell, b.1780, Countess of Loudoun from 1786, and in the care of the Earl & Countess of Dumfries till 1803.]

Testimony of Mary Lapraik, daughter of John Lapraik (1727-1807), farmer, Dalfram, Muirkirk, Ayrshire. Burns wrote two very fine verse epistles to Lapraik as "An Old Scottish Bard". The testimony details her personal knowledge of the Poet and was given before a panel of club members in 1840. It is signed Mary Lapraik.

Text: "The following certificate regarding the striking resemblance which Mr Dick's plate bears to the illustrious Bard is from Mrs McMinn, Wellwood, Muirkirk & dated July 25, 1840:

I well remember Burns giving my father his long promised visit, and I do well remember the fascinating deportment of the Bard on that occasion & when viewing the picture, it strikes me as being an exact likeness, any alteration tbat I can discern is in the dress, he appears to be in his church dress, whereas, when he visited my father, he seemed to have been just hauding the plough, although he was clean and respectable. [signed] Mary Lapraik."

A copy of a speech partly in poetical form given by David Sillar, as Vice-President of Irvine Burns Club at the inaugural celebration dinner in January, 1828. The manuscript is in Sillar's handwriting and was presented to the Club by his son Dr Zachariah Sillar, M.D., President of the Club 1830-31

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  • Irvine, Ayrshire, KA12 8AS