The Earl of Glencairn

Among many Kilmarnock characters associated with him, there were many men to whom Burns owed a debt of gratitude for bringing his work to the attention of the great and the good, none however as important as his first patron, James Cunningham, 14th Earl of Glencairn.

The Earl of Glencairn was the main landowner within the Kilmarnock Parish, a friend of the disgraced Boyd family, he had bought the Dean Estate (and ruined castle), from them to alleviate their debt. After being introduced to Burns' work, Glencairn was so taken by it that it was he who encouraged Burns to try for a second Edinburgh edition of his works and helped the poet integrate himself into Edinburgh society. He was also responsible for giving Burns a diamond tipped pen which Burns used to scratch verse into window panes, some of which still exist. He was so influential to Burns' career that upon his death, Burns wrote:

"God knows what I have suffered at the loss of my best friend, my first, my dearest Patron and benefactor; the man to whom I owe all that I am and have!"

You must enable javascript to view this website