Bard’s grandson was born in Berwick
A GRANDSON of Robert Burns, Scotland’s immortal bard, was born south of the border at Berwick.
The news, revealed to Berwick St Andrew’s Club at its annual supper by local expert Ian Buick, considerably strengthens the links between the town and one of the world’s greatest poets.
Until now, few were aware of his grandson William Thomson but it was well known that Burns visited the town in 1783, wrote some unflattering lines about it, walked around the walls, the town centre then moved on to Eyemouth.
The new link was uncovered when artefacts belonging to the bard’s descendants were left to the Burns World Federation in 2012.
“It is well known that Robert Burns had an intimate relationship with Anna Park in the Globe Inn at Dumfries,” explained Mr Buick. “A daughter, Elizabeth, was the result. She went on to marry a soldier, John Thompson, from the 28th Stirlingshire Militia. His first posting was to the barracks in Berwick.”
When the artefacts were being examined a family bible was among them. There, between the ending of the Old Testament and beginning of the New was a note of John and Elizabeth’s first child.
‘William Thomson, born in Berwick, March 23, 1809’ it read. The ‘p’ had been dropped by the family but it was retained by John in his discharge papers from the army after nearly 12 years service.
Baby William was christened on March 30, 1809 in the Presbyterian Church in Chapel Street, Berwick.
“How much more local to the story of Robert Burns can you get than this,” commented Mr Buick.
William died, aged 46, on May 22, 1855.
There is a footnote to the story. Just two weeks ago Ian Buick was reciting at a Burns supper in the Masonic Hall, Canongate Kilwinning in St John’s Street, Edinburgh, where Burns was named as Poet Laureate of the lodge in 1787. He was toasted as ‘Caledonia’s Bard’.
“Sitting next to me was Roberta Burns-Hyslop who was proposing the immortal memory. Roberta (Robbie) is descended from the same Elizabeth Thomson who gave birth to William in Berwick. What a small world it is,” commented Mr Buick.
At the club’s annual supper last Monday, Jim Barrie of Eyemouth, giving the immortal memory, said that Scotland retains great pride in the works of Robert Burns.
He stressed that Burns’ father would also have been proud of a son he was determined would be well educated and carve a niche for himself.
Diana Higham, president, extended a welcome to all the guests, her husband, the Rev Bob, gave the Selkirk Grace and the haggis, piped in by Pipe Major Andrew Ainslie, was addressed by Mr Buick.
Vice president Michael Baglee proposed the toast to the Queen, the immportal memory was very well presented by Mr Barrie and the high standard was maintained by Peter Reid who gave the toast to the lasses and by Isobel Cheer who replied.
The Lament was played by Pipe Major Ainslie and Mr Buick recited Tam o’ Shanter and The Whistle, a poem with which he recently won a major award.
Songs were sung by Mrs Cheer - who later played violin with her husband Robin on piano - and by Mr Higham and Michael Ross.Accompanist was Mr Baglee who also congratulated the president on a memorable year.
A vote of thanks was given by Mrs Higham who praised speakers and entertainers, Toni Berlino and his staff and secretary Iain Dempster for all their work and co-operation in organising the event.
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Weather for Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 10 C to 19 C
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