It is likely that the name comes from one of the
places in Scotland with a similar spelling or sound. Robert Burns, a farmer in
Kincardineshire, had three sons. His elder son, Robert (1759-96) dropped the 'e' from his
name, and overcame the handicap of a disadvantaged childhood to become the most famous,
and many argue the finest, of all Scottish poets. He wrote equally well in English and in
Scots and within a comparatively short period of a life composed numerous technically
gifted love songs, satires, nature poems and depictions of rustic life as well as Tam o'
Shanter, his version of a scary folk tale which is today recited all over the world on his
Thanks to James
Pringle Weavers for the following information
BURNS: Perhaps the best known ever to bear this name was Scotland's National poet, Robert Burns. However, the surname is well known and used throughout Scotland by persons who have no blood affiliation with the poet. Earlier forms of the name included Burn, Burness, Bernis and Bernes and were found from an early date distributed from Cumberland in northern England to various localities in Scotland, ranging from Kincardinshire to Ayrshire. The territorial name Burnhouse is also a source and was the name of lands held by Walter Campbell, a minor laird from near Taynuilt in Argyll. For his part in the Civil Wars of the 17th century he was obliged to re-locate to Kincardineshire where he took the name of his former lands to conceal his identity. The association of the Burns' with the Campbells is undoubtedly through this circumstance for no large representation of the name can be found in Campbell lands, other than a few in Ayrshire whose superior may well have been the Campbell Earl of Loudoun. The family of the poet were originally Burness' who farmed in Kincardineshire, and from thence they migrated to Ayrshire, where about 1786 they assumed the form Burns. As the source forms of the name are diverse it would be necessary to compile a personal ancestry to determine one's 'homelands', and thus clan affiliation. If an ancestry can be traced to Kincardine or Angus, or to around Taynuilt at the head of Loch Awe, then there is an undoubted Campbell link. In recent times a 'Robert Burns check' was devised, but such was at the expense of an already known, but poorly publicised, Burns tartan. Although itself of no great antiquity, it is a pattern worthy of use by those named Burns. Various persons named Burns have been granted arms by the Lord Lyon but none have been recognised in the Chiefship.