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Walter Burness, great-great-grandfather of Robert Burns
Walter Burness was tenant of the farm of Bogjorgan inparish of Glenbervie, Kincardinehire. He died there in November 1670.Since surviving Glenbervie parish records begin in 1721, and nogravestone remains, the only documented information is his will.See Walter Burness for details of his family.
Chart of family tree: Descendants of Walter Burness (This tree gives the first four generations to Walter's great-great grandchildren, including the poet, Robert Burns)
James Burness, great-grandfather of Robert Burns
James Burness, son of Walter, was born circa 1656. He wastenant of the farm of Brawlinmuir in Glenbervie. He died there on 23January 1743 and is buried in Glenbervie where his gravestone is nowpreserved and protected by a special canopy. By his wife MargaretFalconer he had five sons and one or two daughters. His will dated 14June 1740 left 100 merks to each of his sons: Robert in Clochnahill,William in Brawlinmuir, James in Hawkhill, and George in Elfhill. Hisfifth son Thomas had died in 1734. The fact that all four of his sonswere tenants of their own farms indicates that the Burness family weresuccessful farmers at this time.See James Burness for details of his family.
Robert Burness, grandfather of Robert Burns
Robert Burness was eldest son of James. His exact date ofbirth and death are unknown since Glenbervie parish records started in1721 and no gravestone has survived. By his wife Isabella Keith he hadfour sons and four daughters. Robert was originally tenant of the farmof Upper Kinmonth in Glenbervie. Around 1724 he became tenant ofClochnahill in the neighbouring parish of Dunnottar. In May 1745 hetook a seven-year lease of the smaller farm of Falside in the parish ofKinneff, but financial difficulties forced him to give up farming inSeptember 1747. He likely retired to a cottage at Denside with threeunmarried daughters.See Robert Burness for details of his family.
Chart of family tree: Descendants of James Burness (James was the eldest son of Robert Burness and Isabella Keith)
Chart of family tree: Descendants of Robert Burness (Robert was the second son of Robert Burness and Isabella Keith)
Chart of family tree: Descendants of Elspet Burness (Elspet was the daughter of Robert Burness and Isabella Keith)
William Burness, father of Robert Burns
William Burness was born 11 November 1721 in Glenbervie,shortly before his father moved to Clochnahill in Dunnottar. Sincefinancial difficulties had forced his father to give up farming in fallof 1747, William and his elder brother Robert left Kincardineshire in1748 to seek work elsewhere. William went initially to Edinburgh wherehe worked for two years landscaping the gardens now known as theMeadows. In 1750 he moved to Ayrshire where for two years he worked asgardener to the laird of Fairlie in Dundonald. From 1752 to 1754 heworked as a gardener near Maybole. In 1754 he became gardener to JohnCrawford at Doonside near the hamlet of Alloway. In 1786 he became headgardener to William Ferguson at nearby Doonholm. At the same timeWilliam had ambitions to become a market gardener, so he leased sevenacres of land at Alloway. Here he laid out a market garden and builthis own cottage, which was later the birthplace of his son RobertBurns. On 15 December 1757 he married Agnes Brown, and they had foursons and three daughters. In 1765 he decided to become a tenant farmerand took a twelve-year lease of Mount Oliphant, a ninety-acre farmabout two miles from Alloway. The family moved there in May 1766. Whenthe lease at Mount Oliphant expired in 1777, William obtained aseven-year lease of the farm of Lochlea in the parish of Tarbolton. By1782 disputes arose with his landlord over payment of rent and otherdebts. It was not a simple matter of William not being able to pay hisrent since there was dispute over how much rent was due and whether thelandlord had made the improvements agreed to. Eventually the courtsdecided in William's favour on 27 January 1784, but he died soon afteron 13 February 1784.