As celebrations for Burns Night approached, Registers of Scotland (RoS) decided to delve into its archives to see what could be discovered about Scotland’s national bard.
In a blog post, Laura Brown, social media manager at RoS, explained: “This might seem like a random task for us at to be ticking off during the work day, but you’d be mistaken.
“Because this year, we’re celebrating a mammoth 400 years since the birth of the world’s oldest national land register, the General Register of Sasines.
“And, in this spirit, we’re running a campaign on social media – #RoS400 – which aims to underline the best bits of our rich history and our current missions.”
Laura and a colleague set off on the trail of the oldest online record referring to Burns Cottage.
After a week of searching, and thanks to an eagle-eye, their efforts would ultimately land something of a scoop; not just the oldest reference to Burns Cottage, but a record of the family’s ownership.
“On the very left hand side of the search sheet,” writes Laura, “in the smallest scrawl you could dream up, there was a date. 1756. I looked closer, straining my eyes on the computer screen:
“How had I not noticed before? This was history right in front of me and finally, an actual mention of a Burns!
“This search sheet chronology was proof of William, Robert’s father, renting (‘feu’) the land that Burns Cottage was subsequently built on back in the 1750s.
“Then, a few years later, one of Scotland’s most famous sons was born.”