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Photographs of three sons of Robert Burns, c 1850

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James Glencairn Burns, Robert Burns junior and William Nicol Burns, c 1850

Introduction:
Robert Burns first met his wife, Jean Armour in Mauchline in 1784. The date of their marriage is unclear and their relationship was opposed by her parents, but on the third of September 1776 she gave birth to twins, Robert and Jean. His twin sister died in infancy and by the time of his father's death in 1796 Robert Burns junior was the eldest of a family of five surviving children. He was educated at Dumfries Grammar School and at Glasgow and Edinburgh University. He obtained a position in the Stamp Office in London offered to him by the Prime Minister and retired to Dumfries in 1833. He tried his hand at writing verse but did not demonstrate his father's genius. In some accounts of his life he is presented as a rather dissipate figure, trading on his father's memory.
Image Rights Holder:
Dumfries & Galloway Museums Service
Ref:
230
Project:
241:Robert Burns - People and Places
Material:
Paper; wood (frame)
Dimensions:
Whole - length: 250 mm, width: 445 mm
What:
Photographs of three sons of Robert Burns, c 1850
Subject:
These cabinet cards were probably made from earlier calotype negatives of portraits. Cabinet cards were almost always studio portraits, they were produced to be sold or exchanged and were collected in elaborate albums, specially made for the purpose, often with window mounts to display the cards. This cabinet card dates from the 1860s or 1870s when they were at the height of their popularity.
Who:
Robert Burns (1759-1796) (his sons)
Jean Armour Burns (1767-1834) (wife of the poet, Robert Burns) (her sons)
James White (Dumfries) (photographer)
William Nicol Burns (1791-1872) (son of the poet, Robert Burns) (representation)
Robert Burns (1786-1857) (son of the poet, Robert Burns) (representation)
James Glencairn Burns (1794-1865) (son of the poet, Robert Burns) (representation)
When:
c 1850 (original image)
Where:
Dumfries Museum, Dumfries & Galloway
Background:
These cabinet cards were probably made from earlier calotype negatives of portraits. Cabinet cards were almost always studio portraits, they were produced to be sold or exchanged and were collected in elaborate albums, specially made for the purpose, often with window mounts to display the cards. This cabinet card dates from the 1860s or 1870s when they were at the height of their popularity.
Description:
William Nicol Burns was the sixth child of Robert Burns and Jean Armour Burns and one of three sons to survive into adulthood. He made a distinguished career in the East India Company and retired to Cheltenham. In 1851 he purchased the family's last home in Mill Street Dumfries in order to preserve the house in which his father had died. His brother, James Glencairn Burns, was their eighth child and also saw service overseas in the East India Company where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was appointed Judge and Collector at Cahar. On his retiral he lived in London and Cheltenham.