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The Royal Burgh of Dumfries

Burgess Casket of Lieutenant William Robertson

20th Century

Burgess Casket of Lieutenant William Robertson, presented 24 December 1900.


Only a burgess could run a business or carry out trade in the town.  People paid a fee in order to become a burgess and also agreed to defend the town when it was attacked.  Other people such as servants, labourers and the poor were regarded as "unfree men" and did not have the same rights.  Dumfries Town Council records are full of prosecutions against "unfree men" trading illegally.  By the 19th century, however, the title of Burgess had become honorary, with the same sort of status as "freemen of the city".  Burgess Tickets were presented to local dignitaries in ornamental silver caskets.


William Robertson joined the army on 1 December 1884.  He served in India for several years, before moving to South Africa where he won the Victoria Cross in the battle of Elandslaagte.  On his return from South Africa, the Freedom of the Royal Burgh of Dumfries was bestowed upon him.

metal, silver, textile, satin
height 177mm, width 286mm, length 185mm
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
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Dumfries & Galloway Council