Robert Burns junior and William Nicol Burns

An early monochrome photographic print, from a calotype negative, of a grouped studio portrait of two of the sons of Robert Burns.   Robert Burns first met his wife, Jean Armour in Mauchline in 1784. The date of their marriage is unclear and their relationship was opposed by her parents, but on the third of September 1776 she gave birth to twins, Robert and Jean. His twin sister died in infancy and by the time of his father's death in 1796 Robert Burns junior was the eldest of a family of five surviving children. He was educated at Dumfries Grammar School and at Glasgow and Edinburgh University. He obtained a position in the Stamp Office in London offered to him by the Prime Minister and retired to Dumfries in 1833. He tried his hand at writing verse but did not demonstrate his father's genius. In some accounts of his life he is presented as a rather dissipate figure, trading on his father's memory.   William Nicol Burns was the sixth child of Robert Burns and Jean Armour Burns and one of three sons to survive into adulthood. He made a distinguished career in the East India Company and retired to Cheltenham. In 1851 he purchased the family's last home in Mill Street Dumfries in order to preserve the house in which his father had died.   This early photograph may be a montage of two separate photographic portraits of the sons of Robert Burns. Each has been carefully posed in a photographer's studio. The time required to expose a photograph could be several minutes so subjects were required to sit still for an extended period.
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width: 390 mm, length: 340 mm
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Dumfries & Galloway Council
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