Registers of Scotland lands a scoop on Burns Night

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:

search-edit‘Feu. William Burns, 25 June 1756. Disp. by … to Shoemakers Incorp 8 Sept. 1781.’

“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.”