11 - 13 July 2000
BURNS, Robert (1759-1796). Autograph manuscript, an excerpt of his journal as Excise Officer, giving the names of offenders and witnesses, and the dates and nature of the offences, written in columns ruled in ink, 3 pages, folio, stitched (the first leaf mounted, worn, frayed at outer edge affecting several lines; the second leaf worn, tears and holes causing loss of letters in 7 entries, repaired), with a signed annotation by Joseph Train (1779-1852) reading: 'The following scraps in the handwriting of Burns were found in the Excise Store Chest at Thornhill where he was officer from 1789-1792'. Burns lists offences relating to unlicensed sales and manufacture, mostly of spirits: 'Retail[in]g for[eig]n spir[i]ts with[ou]t license' -- 'Brewing and selling ale without entry and retailing foreign spirits without license' -- 'Selling tea without license' -- 'Not marking his tobacco book.'
Following his marriage to Jean Armour in 1788, Burns lived at Ellisland, and for a time at Auchline. In August 1789, while his wife managed his farm holding, he took the post of exciseman, with a salary of £40 a year. Joseph Train, antiquary and correspondent of Sir Walter Scott, supplied Lockhart with material for his Life of Burns. He was an excise officer in Ayrshire 1800-07, and probably discovered the manuscript at this period.
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