Robbie Burns Day – Pursuing Family Legend
Over the years my husband and I have traced our Scottish roots with varying success. Don and ‘the lads’ have had ‘Duncan’ tartan ties, we have worked at the local ‘Highland’ Games and participated in Robbie Burns nights in our small eastern Ontario community. In 2000, our millenium project was a family trip to Scotland that provided context for our research – and new information. I decided today to see if any new info appears on the web as later this year we will once again pick up our genealogy research. I first checked and yes there was info that I had not seen before. The tartan’s for the Duncans are quite attractive.
There seems to be lots on the Duncan family but I’m having a little trouble searching for info on my own family the ‘Millers’. As family lore has it, I am descended from William Miller (Millar) who married a Mary (or Margaret) Burns at Kilmarnock Scotland on 13 June 1807. The family records indicate (widowed – before or after marriage?). Baptismal records sometimes use Mary, and sometimes Margaret, but never the two together. Maybe they should read Mary Margaret Burns or was Mary an familiar name for ‘Margarets’ at the time? Anyway it has always been rumoured that she was a sister of Robbie Burns, the poet, but no one has yet verified this.
I suspect that at the most she may have been a cousin??? as Burns and Burness were common Scottish names often referring to families who live beside a burn or a small stream! Especially when you consider that Robbie Burns was born Robert Burness, son of William Burness and Agnes (Broun) Brown and the remainder of the family seems to have continued to use the name Burness. Robbie married Jean Armour and it’s interesting that the names ‘William’, ‘Agnes’, Ferrier, Park and ‘Armour’ intertwine with the family history in Canada.
Another site gives different spelling and different info! On this site his childhood name is spelled Burnes and his mother’s maiden name is given as Agnes Broun (Brown).
William and Mary (Margaret)’s family included Thomas, born 10 September 1809; Robert, born 19 April 1810; William, born 31 July, 1812; Janet, born 4 March 1813; George, born 14 Jan 1814; Peter, born 29 July 1816; Margaret A., born 4 July 1817; and Mary, born 24 October, 1819. This information was taken from microfilms of Dumbarton Parish researched by my father and his peers. They left Scotland from Greenock in 1821 and settled in Upper Canada in the Township of Lanark in what later became Lanark County in Eastern Ontario. They settled on Lot 15 Concession 1 and Williams brother Andrew settled across the road in Dalhousie Township. All seem to have survived the sailing across the Atlantic, including the 3 year old!
Do I have a family link to the Bard? Who cares! It’s a day to celebrate a notorious rake and much loved poet from the past and my Scottish heritage!