Robert Burns, the Lover and Author of Love Songs & Poems

Robert Burns And Highland Mary

Robert Burns and Highland Mary

Because Robert Burns was a philander and had many ill-advised sexual affairs and fathered many illegitimate children, much about his romantic history is unknown.

Elizabeth Paton

In 1784, Burns had a brief relationship with the servant girl Elizabeth Paton and fathered an illegitimate child with her. The child’s name was also Elizabeth Paton.

Jean Armour (Jean Armour Burns)

Many believe that Burn met Jean Armour in 1785 and soon thereafter, she became pregnant. Burns did offer Armour a letter of intent to marry her, but Armour’s father went to great lengths to destroy his daughter’s relationship with Burns. In 1786, Armour bore Burns’s illegitimate twins. In 1788, she bore another set of Burns’s twins, and the couple married. Of the first four children from this union, only one survived. Elizabeth Armour bore 5 more of Burns’s children, and the last one was born in 1796.

‘Highland Mary’ – Mary Campbell

It is believed that Robert Burns began his affair with Highland Mary in 1786, while his wife was pregnant. Little is known about Mary, but Burns wrote many several songs and poems about her.

Highland Mary

My Highland Lassie O

To Mary in Heaven

Framed Engraving of Clarinda

‘Clarinda’ – Agnes McLehose

At the time that Burns began his affair Agnes McLehose, she was a married but separated woman. For propriety’s sake, Agnes suggested that she and Robert assume the pseudonyms of Clarinda and Sylvander. The corresponded passionately between the years of 1787 and 1788, but Agnes left Scotland to rejoin her estranged husband in 1788. Upon hearing of Clarinda’s plan to leave, Burns sent her the poem Ae Fond Kiss.

Karen Matheson’s singing of Ae Fond Kiss is one of the most beautiful things that I have ever heard.

Eddi Reader always amazes me.

The amazing thing is that in spite of Burns’s apparent angst at losing Agnes [Nancy], he wasted no time moving on to other romantic interests. When Agnes [Clarinda, Nancy] left, Burns reunited with Jean Armour, but he also began an affair with Agnes’s maid Jennie Clow.

May (or Meg) Cameron & Jennie Clow

In 1787, Burns accepted the claim that he had sired a baby by May or Meg Cameron. In 1788, he fathered a child by Jennie Clow, the former maid of Clarinda.

Ann Park

It is believed that Burns illegitimately fathered a daughter by Ann Park, and at about the same time, he fathered a son by his wife Jean Armour. Apparently, Jean Armour raised Park’s child as her own.

You can register for the free Robert Burns class Here.




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