My father was a farmer upon the Carrick border, O,
And carefully he bred me in decency and order, O

This is the timeline of Robert Burns short life highlighting some of his greatest achievements. We put it into historical context by adding the major events in World and Scottish history that were in occurrence at the same time.

World events highlighted in Red
Scottish events highlighted in Blue
Robert Burns events highlighted in Yellow

PRE ROBERT BURNS
1759

Nor’ Loch in Edinburgh drained – now site of Princes Street Gardens.

1759

Robert Burns born in Alloway, the first child of William and Agnes Burnes.

1760

Death of George II.
Sheep introduced into The Highlands.

1762

Catherine the Great becomes Empress of Russia.

1763

End of 7 years war. France loses her North American colonies.

1765

The Carron Ironworks are opened.

1765

A young Burns attended school at Alloway Mill for a few weeks then taught by John Murdoch in Alloway Village.

1766

James Watt develops the Steam Engine.

1766

The family move to Mount Oliphant Farm by Alloway.

1767

The Old Pretender – James Francis Stewart dies.

1768

The first Encyclopaedia Brittanica published in Edinburgh.

1769

Spanish missionaries establish first mission in California.

1770

James Cook claims New Zealand and New Souh Wales for the British Crown.
Bengal famine – a third of the population dies.
The height of Glasgow’s tobacco trade with the American colonies.

1771

James Arkwright builds the first water-powered mill.
Walter Scott born.
First recorded ascent of Ben Nevis.

1772

Oxygen discovered in Sweden by Carl Wilhelm Scheele.
North Bridge, Edinburgh completed.

1773

The Boston Tea Party.

1774

Robert writes his first song “O once I lov’d (a bonie lass)”.

1776

Declaration of American Independence.
Adam Smith publishes “Wealth of Nations”.

1777

The family move to Lochlea Farm by Tarbolton.

1778

France is the first nation to recognise the USA.

1779

James Cook killed in Hawaii.
Luanda is the major slave port in West Africa.
First iron bridge built at Ironbridge in Shropshire.

1780

Glasgow’s population reaches 40,000.

1780

Bachelors Club in Tarbolton founded.

1781

Robert becomes a Freemason.
Robert works as a flax-dresser in Irvine.

1783

Famine in Iceland because of a volcanic eruption.

1784

The family move to Mossgiel Farm by Mauchline.
Death of William Burnes, buried in the Auld Kirk in Alloway.
The family changes the name to Burns.
Robert makes the acquaintance of Jean Armour.
Robert Burns elected Depute Master of St James Lodge, Tarbolton.

1785

Birth of Elizabeth Burns, daughter of Elizabeth Paton, a maidservant.
Robert writes “To a Mouse”.

1786

Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” performed for the first time.

1786

Betrothal to Margaret Campbell “Highland Mary”.
Death of Margaret Campbell.
The Kilmarnock Edition published.
Twins, Robert and Jean, born to Jean Armour with whom undertakes a form of wedlock.
Robert visits Edinburgh.

1787

Freed slaves from London establish Freetown in Sierra Leone.

1787

Naismith portrait painted.
The Edinburgh Edition published.
Members of the Grand Lodge of Scotland toast Robert Burns as Caledonia’s Bard.
Robert fathers a child to an Edinburgh servant girl, May Cameron.
Robert visits The Borders, The Highlands, and Stirlingshire/Perthshire.
Robert meets Agnes McLehose.
Robert meets James Johnson and agrees to contribute to “The Scots Musical Museum”.

1788

First British convicts sent to Sydney, Australia.
Unrest in France.
The Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie, dies in Rome.

1788

Marriage of Robert Burns and Jean Armour in Mauchline.
Twin daughters are born to Jean.
Robert fathers son, Robert, born to Edinburgh servant girl, Jenny Clow.
Robert’s family moves to Ellisland Farm, Dumfriesshire.
Robert writes “Auld Lang Syne”.

1789

George Washington becomes the first President of the USA.

1789

Robert begins work as an excise officer.
Francis Wallace Burns born to Jean.

1790

Burning women at the stake for treason is abolished in England.
Flora MacDonald dies and is buried at Kilmuir in Skye.

1790

Robert writes “Tam o’ Shanter”.
Robert Burns is an inaugural subscriber to Dumfries Theatre.

1791

First American ship docks in Japan.

1791

William Nicol Burns born to Jean.
Robert takes leave of Agnes McLehose.
Elizabeth born to Anna Park, barmaid at the Globe Inn.
Formal renunciation of Ellisland Farm lease.
Robert’s family moves to Dumfries.
Robert writes “Ae Fond Kiss”.

1792

Prussia and Austria declare war on France.
Gustav III of Sweden assassinated.
Alexander MacKenzie travels across Canada.

1792

Elizabeth Riddell Burns born to Jean.
Burns is made an honorary member of The Royal Company of Archers.

1793

Louis XVI guillotined in Paris.

1793

Second Edinburgh Edition published.
Robert visits Galloway and Wigton (England).

1794

James Glencairn Burns born to Jean.

1795

First graphite pencil produced.

1795

Robert is a founder member of the Dumfries Volunteers.

1796

Napoleon occupies Venice.
Catherine the Great of Russia dies.
Jenner developing a smallpox vaccine.
Scottish missionary/explorer, Mungo Park, is the first European to see the River Niger.

1796

Death of Robert Burns and burial in St Michael’s Churchyard in Dumfries.
Birth of Maxwell Burns.

1908 › ALLOWAY BURNS CLUB INSTITUTED
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