The birth of Robert Burns on 25 January 1759 and his baptism the next day by the Reverend William Dalrymple are recorded in the parish register of Alloway, Ayrshire. This is just one of thousands of remarkable Old Parish Registers available to search on ScotlandsPeople.

The future poet was the eldest of seven children of William Burnes, a gardener and tenant farmer from Kincardineshire, and his wife, Agnes Brown. In 1756 William met Agnes at the fair in the parish of Maybole, where she lived, and they married in December 1757.

The baptism entry records Robert’s surname as ‘Burns’ rather than ‘Burnes’ or 'Burness' as it is also spelled. Those living in Ayrshire pronounced the name as a monosyllable, dropping the second vowel. Although William continued to spell his name as he had always done, Robert preferred the Ayrshire spelling and kept this variation all of his life.


Baptism entry of Robert Burns

National Records of Scotland OPR 578/4/34

Learn more about our fascinating records relating to Burns in the National Records of Scotland