William Burnes and Agnes Broun Market Fair Reenactment
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Gala 2007More Photos 1Photos 2Market FairBurns visits MayboleCrossraguel Service Where it Began

Some photos from Maybole's Market Fair reenactment of the meeting of Robert Burns parents in Maybole 250 years ago. Full story below. Click on the images to view full size.

Robert Burns - where it began


It was a day that Scotland’s National Poet, Robert Burns, himself would have been proud of. It was a day of glorious sunshine when thousands of people turned up to witness the recreation of the first meeting of Burns’ parents in Maybole. Hundreds entered into the spirit of the occasion by dressing up in 18th century costume to make the day so memorable.


The High Street was closed to traffic for a short time as Agnes Broun took her place at a booth at the foot of the street and William Burnes slowly meandered towards her for that historic first occasion. Early in the 18th century, a William Rennie or Rainie, who was a baker in Ayr, decided to start a business in Maybole and he and his wife set up a small bakery in the town.


Their daughter Agnes married Gilbert Brown, and the couple set up house at Whitestone Cottage at Culzean where their daughter Agnes Broun was born on 17th March, 1732. Shortly afterwards the family moved to Craigenton Farm and young Agnes lived there until she was about 12 years of age. Agnes was the eldest of the family and only 10 when her mother died in 1742. For two years she took over the running of her father's house until her father married again. Agnes was sent off to stay with her grandmother, Mrs. Rennie, in Maybole, where she lived for the next thirteen years.


Her granny was a hard taskmaster and soon had Agnes spinning and ploughing. When she was older Agnes became friendly with a William Nelson and they became engaged to be married. The engagement dragged on for seven years, which proved too much of a strain on William and in 1756 he became involved with another local girl and Agnes broke off her engagement.


So she was unattached when she attended the Market Fair in Maybole. William Burnes, born in 1721 in Kincardineshire, trained as a gardener before moving to Edinburgh. He moved to Ayrshire, working first for the Laird of Fairlie, then to Carrick for employment near Maybole before moving back to the Ayr/Alloway area.


William had been courting a girl at Alloway Mill and it is believed he had written a letter to her proposing marriage but had not plucked up enough courage to send it to her.


Then, one day in the summer of 1756, he visited Maybole to attend the Market Fair and met a girl who lived in the town. It is that day that the people of Maybole were remembering last Saturday. After meeting Agnes, William got rid off the letter to the Alloway Mill lass, and after a few months' courtship the couple became engaged and were married on the 15th December, 1757.

William and Agnes were not to know their chance meeting at the foot of Maybole High Street was the real beginning of the immortal story of Robert Burns.


Young piper Scott Barrie then played as the couple made their way to the Market Cross in the middle of the High Street. Pupils of St Cuthbert’s Primary had made arches of roses and they accompanied Agnes and William up the street.


The Charter of 14th November 1516 granted the right to the townspeople of Maybole to hold a town market each Thursday and public fairs at Lammas and to have a Market Cross set up forever. The old town cross, erected about this time, stood in the centre of the High Street until it was removed in 1773 as it was causing obstruction to traffic which had increased considerably in the second part of the eighteenth century.


The procession then made its way to the Town Hall where Angus Middleton, President of the Robert Burns World Federation paid tribute to everyone involved in ensuring the event happened. He also said he, too, like Rabbie, had an eye for a pretty woman and handed a red rose to Agnes.


Around the Town Hall there were a number of stall including, lace making, weaving, flowers, herbs and potions, jams and baskets, fruit and vegetables, yarns and wool, quilting, wood burning, calligraphy, knitting, jewellery, home baking, old books, face painting.


In the Town Hall garden there were old style children’s games and 18th century school lessons. As well as entertainment in the hall, the Greenside was a busy place and between the two venues there were singers, fiddlers, buskers, storytellers, Scottish country dancing, maypole dancing, and smugglers all adding to what was a brilliant day.


In addition Maybole Castle was open and over 200 people took the opportunity to visit a historical display there. The day was brought to a close with Angus Middleton, William and Agnes leading everyone in singing “Auld Lang Syne” accompanied by Scott Barrie on the pipes.


The event was organised by a partnership of May-Tag Ltd, Maybole Community Council, Maybole Community Association and Maybole Historical Society. The organisers are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for their support and would like to thank everyone who helped in any way.


Special thanks to project co-ordinator Ellen Hawkes and her team of workers, June Dunlop for her tremendous support in making so many costumes, May-Tag staff, Angus Middleton, Sgt William Gilmour and his staff, Transport Scotland, local businesses, stall holders, artistes, and those who entered into the spirit of the project by dressing up.

Gala 2007More Photos 1Photos 2Market FairBurns visits MayboleCrossraguel Service Where it Began