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Robert Burns was descended from the Burness family of Kincardineshire,where his ancestors were tenant farmers. His father William moved toAyrshire in 1750, where Robert was born in 1759. Robert signed his nameRobert Burness until March 1786, when he adopted the spelling Burns, which was a common name in Ayrshire. The surnames Burn, Burns, Burnes, and Burness all derive from the word burn, which means a small stream, and originated with an ancestor who lived beside a burn. As there are thousands of burns in Scotland and England, there are many unrelated families named Burns.Robert Burns had a total of twelve children by four women, including nine by his wife Jean Armour.Seven of his children were illegitimate, including the first four byJean Armour before they were married in 1788, although under Scottishlaw they were considered legitimate after their parent's marriage. OfJean's children, six died young and another, William Nicol Burns, had no children. All living descendants of Robert Burns and Jean Armour descend from either their grandaughter Sarah Elizabeth Maitland Tombs Burns (1821-1909), daughter of their fourth son James Glencairn Burns (1794-1865), or their grandaughter Anne Elizabeth Burns (c1820-1889), illegitimate daughter of their eldest son Robert Burns (1786-1857).

Most of Robert Burns descendants today are from his two illegitimate daughters:

1. Elizabeth "Bess" Burns (1785-1816), daughter of Elizabeth "Betsey" Paton, who married John Bishop in 1807.

2. Elizabeth "Betty" Burns (1791-1873), daughter of Ann Park, who married John Thomson in 1808.

Robert Burns also had an illegitimate son Robert Burns by Janet "Jennie" Clow. He was born in Edinburgh in 1788 and later became a merchant in London.


January 4, 2010 at 7:38 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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