MS: 'The Dumfries Volunteers'

Robert Burns, Author 
Object Number:


Robert Burns’s political views were often at odds with his professional expectations as an employee of the British government. The 1790s were a time of widespread political unrest. The recent French Revolution and American War for Independence had made the British government especially wary of any revolutionist sympathies.

Burns personally supported Republicanism and vocalised his controversial opinions to other like-minded compatriots around Dumfries. Unfortunately his behaviour did not go unnoticed by his superiors at the Excise.

Robert wrote this song in spring 1795 to prove his loyalty to the British Crown and to save his job after rumours spread that he had sympathies with the French Revolutionists.

It is written in support of the recently formed Royal Dumfries Volunteers, whose aim was to defend the nation from a possible French attack. To prove his allegiance to Britain, Burns joined the Volunteers in March of the same year. Meanwhile, he secretly continued to write poems and letters in support of revolutionary cause.

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