THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Death of the son of the poet Robert Burns

From the News Letter, February 26, 1872

The Robert Burns's Mausoleum, St Michael's Cemetery, Dumfries, Scotland. Picture: Rosser1954/Wikipedia
The Robert Burns's Mausoleum, St Michael's Cemetery, Dumfries, Scotland. Picture: Rosser1954/Wikipedia

Colonel William Nichol Burns, the second son of three sons born to the poet Robert Burns had died at his residence in Cheltenham the previous Wednesday aged 92, reported the News Letter on this day in 1872.

It was noted that Colonel Burns had been named after his father’s friend, the master of the High School in Edinburgh and one of the trio celebrated in Willie brewed a peck o’ maut. Like his younger brother James, who had died in November 1865, William had been an officer in the East Indies Company service from which he had retired some 30 years prior to his death after “fulfilling his due term of service”.

The late Colonel Burns’ other brother, Robert, had died some 10 years previously at Dumfries. It was noted that of the three Burns brothers only one left children.

The second son, James, had two daughters, the eldest of which had married an Irish physician named Dr Hutchison and that the eldest surviving child of this marriage, Robert Burns Hutchison, had lately finished his education at Christ Church Hospital in London.

Of the late Colonel Burns the News Letter noted that: “He was a kindly, mild-tempered, quiet, but genial and gentlemanly ‘old Indian’ with none of the fiery characteristics of his father, and with little or none of his literary genius.”

Colonel Burns was buried in the family mausoleum in Dumfries beside his illustrious father alongside his mother “the immortal” Jean Armour and his two brothers, Robert and James.