Robert Burns and Highland Mary

This statue, by local Eaglesham artist William Gemmell, is of the Scottish poet Robert Burns and his partner Mary Campbell.

Mary Campbell was born in 1763, the daughter of Archibald and Agnes Campbell of Cowel in Argyle. She worked first as a nursemaid in the home of Gavin Hamilton, a lawyer in Mauchline, and then as a dairyman at Coilsfiled, near Mauchline.

Robert Burns met Mary in 1786, shortly after his enforced separation from Jean Armour. Their relationship was brief but intense, lasting from 23rd April to 14th May. Mary and Robert exchanged matrimonial vows according to Scottish Law (marriage was legal at that time providing vows had been exchanged and the relationship consummated) and parted to make arrangements to emigrate to Jamaica. Burns, however, postponed his plans and unfortunately Mary died in Greenock in October 1786, possibly in premature childbirth, induced by typhus.

Burns wrote four poems about her:

  • My Highland Lassie, c.1786
  • Thou Lingering Star, 1789
  • Will Ye Go To The Indies, My Mary, 1792
  • Highland Mary, c.1792