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The Scottish Nation

BURRELL, or BUREL, JOHN, a minor poet who wrote a description in verse of the entry of Anne of Denmark, the queen of James the Sixth, into Edinburgh in 1590, preserved in Watson’s Collection of Scots poems, was a burgess of Edinburgh, and is supposed to have been a goldsmith, and one of the printers at the king’s mint. This conjecture is strengthened by the minuteness with which he dwells on the jewellery displayed on that occasion, when the citizens of Edinburgh put on all their finery, and had recourse to all the usual devices and allegories of the age, to welcome home their queen. The name of his poem, which though quaintly enough expressed, is interesting and curious as a record of the manners and rejoicings of the period, is ‘The Description of the Qveenis Maiesties maist honourable entry into the tovn of Edinbvrgh.’ The display made by the citizens on this occasion is thus referred to:

                        “To recreat hir hie renoun,
                        Of curious things thair wes all sort,
                        The stairs and houses of the toun
                        With tapestries were spred athort,
                        Quhair Histories men micht behauld,
                        With Images and Anticks auld.”

And again,

                        “All curious pastimes and consaits,
                        Cud be imaginat be man,
                        Wes to be seen on Edinburgh gaits,
                        Fra time that brauitie began;
                        Ye might half hard on euerie streit,
                        Trim melodie and musick sweit.”

He sums up the inventory of jewellery exhibited on the occasion by this expressive verse:

                        “All predius stains micht thair be sene,
                              Quhilk in the warld had ony name,
                        Save that quhilk Cleopatra Queene
                              Did swallow ore into hir wame!”

      In Sibbald’s Chronicle of Scottish Poetry, vol. viii. p. 465, this poem was reprinted. Burrel was also author of another poem, entitled ‘The Passage of the Pilgrims,’ inserted in Watson’s Collection. Dr. Irving describes both poems as “insipid.”

      Little is known of Burrel’s personal history. Among the title-deeds of part of the old property at the foot of Todrick’s Wynd, Edinburgh, was found a disposition of a house by “John Burrell, Goldsmith, yane of the printer’s in his majestie’s cunzie-house,” 1628, and he is supposed to be the same person. – Wilson’s Memorials of Edinburgh.

Entries for this name in the Dictionary of National Biography

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