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Robert Burns Family Tree

Short Background

Robert Burns was a descendant of the Kincardineshire Burness family, who were farmers. In 1750, Robert’s father, William, relocated to Ayrshire, where Robert was born in 1759. He switched to the Ayrshire surname Burns in the year March 1786, but before that he used to sign his name as Robert Burness.

The Burns Family: Robert Burns & Children

Twelve children in total, including his wife Jean Armour, was born to Robert Burns, and four other women. Under the law of Scotland, seven of Robert Burns’s children were thought to be illegitimate. However, after their parent’s marriage, Scots law did not consider these children to be illegitimate.

Six of Jean’s children passed away when they were young and William Nicol Burns had no offspring after that. All of Robert Burns and Jean Armor’s living descendants are descended either from their granddaughter Anne Elizabeth Burns (c.  1820-1889) who was the illegitimate daughter of their eldest son Robert Burns, or Sarah Elizabeth Maitland Tombs (1821-1909), daughter of their fourth son James Glencairn Burns (1794-1865).

The Burns Family: Paternal Ancestors

Walter Burness, great-great-grandfather of Robert Burns

Walter Burness was a tenant at the Bogjorgan farm in the Kincardineshire parish of Glenbervie. He perished in November 1670. He can only be traced from his will because no headstone exists and the earliest extant Glenbervie parish records date from 1721.

James Burness, great-grandfather of Robert Burns

In or around 1656, Walter Burness’ son James was born. He was a tenant on Brawlinmuir’s farm in Glenbervie. He passed away there on 23rd January 1743 and was laid to rest in Glenbervie, where a special canopy presently preserves and guards his gravestone.

He was married to Margaret Falconer and he had five sons and two daughters with her. The date of James’s will was 14th June 1740 where it was bequeathed to each of his sons: William in Brawlinmuir, James in Hawkhill, Robert in Clochnahill, and George in Elfhill.

It was evident that the Burness family’s farming operation was prosperous by the fact that all four of the sons were tenants on their farms.

Robert Burness, grandfather of Robert Burns

Robert was the oldest son of James Burness. Since Glenbervie’s parish records began in 1721 and no gravestone has remained, therefore it is unknown exactly when he was born and when he passed away.

Keith has four boys and four daughters with his wife Isabella. Initially, Robert was a tenant at the upper Kinmoth farm in Glenbervie. Around 1724, he moved into the neighbouring parish of Clochnahill.

He leased the smaller farm of Falside in the parish of Kinneff for seven years in May 1745, but due to financial issues, he had to stop farming in September 1747. With his three daughters who are not married, he probably retired to a cottage near Denside.

William Burness, Father of Robert Burns

On November 11, 1721, William Burness was born in Glenbervie, just before his father moved to Clochnahill in Dunnottar. William and his elder brother Robert left the place called Kincardineshire in 1748 in search of employment because their father had to stop farming due to financial issues in the fall of 1747. William initially relocated to Edinburgh, where he spent two years enhancing the Meadows gardens. He relocated to Ayrshire around the year 1750 and served as the Fairlie laird in Dundonald’s gardener for two years.

Until 1754 he worked as a gardener close to Maybole and started working for John Crawford as a gardener in 1754 in Doonside, which was a village close to Alloway. He was William Ferguson’s head gardener at adjacent Doonholm in 1756. To pursue his goal of becoming a market gardener, William rented seven acres of land in Alloway at the same time.
In this location, where his son Robert Burns was later born, he also constructed his cottage and planted a market garden.

He married Agnes Brown on December 15, 1757, and the couple had three daughters and four sons. He took a twelve-year lease on Mount Oliphant, which was a 90-acre property located approximately two miles from Alloway, in 1765 after deciding to become a tenant farmer. In May 1766, the family moved there.

When the lease at Mount Oliphant ran out in 1777, William was able to lease the Lochlea farm in the Tarbolton parish for seven years. By 1782, disagreements over the payment of his rent and other arrears emerged with his landlord.

Since there was a disagreement over the amount of rent owed and whether the landlord had completed the agreed-upon charges, William’s inability to pay his rent was more complicated than it first appeared. Eventually, William won his case in court on January 27, 1784, but he passed away on February 13, 1784, not long after.


Does Robert Burns have any living relatives?

Robert Burns is estimated to have around 900 living relations as a result of having so many children himself.

 How many siblings did Robert Burns have?

Robert Burns was a descendant of the Kincardineshire Burness family, who were tenant farmers. Robert was born in Ayrshire in 1759 after his father William relocated there in 1750.

 What type of family did Robert Burns come from?

Robert Burns was a descendant of the Kincardineshire Burness Family, who was a tenant farmer. Robert Burns was born in Ayrshire in 1759 after his father William relocated there in 1750.

Are there burn clans?

It is best to start by proving that the family name Burns is a Clan and not a Sept of the Campbell Clan. The Burns Clan had landed in Scotland’s East Teviotdale, along the eastern Border marches, according to a Roll of the Chiefs and Clan from 1597. They were characterized as a wild Clan.

How many descendants does Robert Burns have?

It has already been confirmed that Robert Burns has more than 900 descendants. It is fascinating that a lot of genealogical research has been done to identify more than 900 relatives.

Did Robert Burns speak Gaelic?

Even during his brief lifetime, Robert Burns would hear Gaelic spoken, and by the time he was born, the ancient language of Scotland, including his native Ayrshire was on the verge of extinction. However, Burns was not a Gaelic speaker.

What is Robert Burns’s most famous piece of work?

The 1791 publication of Robert Burns’ mock-heroic ballad “Tam O Shanter” is one of his most well-known works. Additionally, he is well renowned for his involvement in over 300 songs that like “Auld Lang Syne” celebrate friendship, love, work, and alcohol with humour and tenderness.