The Holy Bible belonging to 'Highland' Mary Campbell. Contains a lock of hair.

Date:
1786 
Object Number:
3.3156.a-c

Summary

Around the same time as he was gathering subscriptions to support his first volume of poetry, Robert was involved in a short but intense love affair with Margaret ‘Highland Mary’ Campbell in spring and summer of 1786.

Very little evidence survives regarding her identity or the details of their relationship, but ‘Highland Mary’ is believed to have been a young servant girl from Campbeltown whom Burns met while she was working in Ayrshire.

It is thought that the two lovers would rendezvous on the banks of the river Ayr. During one of these meetings, Robert gave her this two volume bible which suggests he was making a solemn oath, perhaps even a pledge of marriage.

The inside pages of the bible contain Burns’s Masonic mark and the words 'Robert Burns Mossgavill', as well as biblical verses in Burns’s handwriting. The bible also contains a lock of hair said to have belonged to ‘Highland Mary’

Their happiness was not to last, however. Margaret soon returned to Greenock to visit her family and died there later that same year.

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