David McClure
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I have reason to believe from my own family history research that the David McClure who wrote the letter to Rev. John Ramsay was formerly of Shawwood, Tarbolton and sued William Burnes (father of Robert Burns the Bard) for non payment of rent for Lochlea Farm, Mauchline. Following the Lochlea court case David sold Shawwood about 1787 and moved to Liverpool.  Netta Spencer (nee McClure).(Text below contributed by Netta Spencer.)

Lochlie: The Litigious Years, 1782-4

I once was by Fortune carest,

I once could relieve the distrest,

Now life's poor support, hardly carn'd,

My fate will scarce bestow:

And it's 0, fickle Fortune, O!

The Ruined Farmer

By the time the winter snows had thawed sufficiently for Robert to retrace his steps from Irvine to Lochlie at the end of February or beginning of March 1782 'the clouds of misfortune' were indeed gathering thick and fast round his father's head. There is no doubt that the soil at Lochlie was acidic, probably more than most at that time, for a programme of liming to counteract this was clearly a major part of the verbal agreement with David McClure. It is arguable how much improvement could have been wrought, given the basic geological and pedological conditions,' but from the outset McClure did not keep his side of the bargain. The documentary evidence was not made public till very long after the event, so that for well over a century this wretched business contained many elements that were perplexing and confusing and tended to show William Burnes in an uncharacteristically bad light. Neither Robert in his autobiographical letter to Moore, nor Gilbert in his narrative supplied to Currie via Mrs Dunlop, gave any details of this episode. Robert dismissed the events leading up to the sequestration in half a sentence in which he fancifully speaks of 'three years tossing and whirling in the vortex of Litigation', while Gilbert merely spoke of 'my father's affairs grew near a crisis'. The earliest account of this sorry affair was given by Dr John Mackenzie of Mauchline who said that he had attended William Burnes at Lochlie towards the end of his life and from him received 'a detail of the various causes that had gradually led to the embarrassment of his affairs; these he detailed in such earnest language, and in so simple, candid, and pathetic a manner as to excite both my astonishment and sympathy'.

Mention has already been made of Alexander 'Saunders' Tait, the Tarbolton doggerel-monger. There is no denying that Tait's poetry was very poor stuff, but no better nor worse than the products of other parish and village rhymers of the period. His reputation has suffered, however, solely because he vented his spite against the Burnes family; but he deserves to be charitably remembered for the light he sheds (rightly or wrongly) on the dispute between Burnes and his landlord. Though originally an incomer himself, he had become sufficiently well established in the parish by 1777 to join in on one side of the 'us and them' assessment of the latest arrivals. It would have been well known that Burnes had had troubles with the factor of Dr Fergusson's estate and therefore the newcomers would be treated with caution. The country parish has always a large measure of caution in its reception of the stranger. The process of ticketing, docketing, weighing up the incomer is an endless pursuit and woe betide the stranger who does not wait for this assessment and launches forthwith into local affairs. One can almost imagine the attitudes of many parishioners: on the one hand, a family whose presence only arose from their financial difficulties elsewhere; on the other, here is an argumentative youth rapidly gaining a reputation for his quick wit and ready satire. Instead of keeping a low profile, he flouts convention in dress and hairstyle. He is hardly here five minutes before he is organising a young men's debating society. A country parish will inevitably look askance at this, and herein lies the key to Tait's scurrilous verses.

No doubt Tait's nose was put out of joint by the appearance in the parish of another rhymer to challenge his position as the village bard. At some stage he was a victim of Robert's mordant wit and took his revenge in a poem entitled 'Burns in his Infancy' which was published in his Poems and Songs at Paisley in 1790. The clue to Tait's animus is provided in the opening stanza which begins 'Now I maun trace his pedigree. Because he made a sang on me'. This was followed by a poem entitled 'Burns in Lochly' which, in seven stanzas of Standard Habbie, provides a pithy commentary on the dispute between the Burnes family and their landlord. A few lines from this will suffice to give both the quality of the verse and the salient facts as Tait saw them:

Man! I'm no speakin' out o' spite,

Else Patie wad upo' me flyte,

McClure ye scarcely left a mite

To fill his horn,

You and the Lawyers gi'ed him a skyte,

Sold a' his corn.

McClure he put you in a farm,

And coft you coals your arse to warm,

And meal and maut - Ye did get barm,

And then it wrought,

For his destruction and his harm,

It is my thought.

He likewise did the mailing stock,

And built you barns, the doors did lock,

His ain gun ye did at him cock,


And never spar'd,

Wi't owre his head came a clean knock,

Maist kill'd the Laird.


The horse, corn, pets, kail, kye and lures,

Cheese, pease, beans, rye, wool, house and flours, Pots, pans, crans, tongs, brace-spits and skeurs,

The milk and barm,

Each thing they had was a' McClure's, He stock'd the farm.

'Patie' in the first stanza was the Rev. Patrick Wodrow. Elsewhere occurs the line 'Five hundred pounds they were behind', is obvious reference to the arrears accumulated by William Burnes. The silence of Robert on the matter in his otherwise frank and candid letter to Moore was taken as proof that the Burnes family were in the wrong. This was the view expressed by W. E. Henley' and others, and although it has since been refuted the notion lingers to this day that McClure was hard done by. The Henley-Henderson edition of 1896 was already in the press when the Centenary Exhibition was held in Glasgow. Among the exhibits on display were several documents bearing on the Lochlie sequestration, lent by a descendant of Gilbert Burns. These were first published (though inaccurately) in 1904 by David Lowe and reprinted in the Burns Chronicle six years later.

The first document consisted of the service copy of the Petition by David McClure, merchant in Ayr against William Burns in Lochill (sic), part of the barony of Halfmark in the parish of Tarbolton, at the rent of £130 Sterling yearly by Set from the Petitioner, alleging that William Burns owed him upwards of £500, besides the current year's rent, wherefore warrant of sequestration was asked for and interim warrant granted on 17 May 1783, the date of the service. To this were appended Replies for David McClure to the Answers of William Burns. From McClure's petition it is known that the dispute between landlord and tenant regarding the rent due for Lochlie had been 'submitted to arbiters and then laid before Mr Hamilton of Sundrum as Oversman'; but Hamilton's award was not included in the bundle, so that only McClure's side of the dispute was available. By inference, however, it was clear that William Burnes denied that he was owing over £500 as McClure alleged.

In the meantime William Burnes had to suffer the trauma of having his goods and chattels pried over by the Sheriff's officer and his men, and the intense humiliation of hearing the Tarbolton town-crier going through the parish at tuck of drum warning everyone against buying any of the sequestrated property. Saunders Tait put it pithily in his poem, already quoted:

He sent the drum Tarbolton through

That no man was to buy frae you;

At the Kirk door he cry'd it too;

I heard the yell;

The vera thing I write 'tis true,

Ye'fl ken yersel.

Hamilton's Decreet Arbitral, which all along had lain undisturbed in the Sheriff Court books of Ayrshire under date 18 August 1783, was not turned up by researchers until 1934 and was subsequently transcribed in full.' From the various documents it is therefore possible to piece together an accurate account of the dispute. David McClure of Shawwood came of a line of minor landowners and merchants who, earlier in the century, had prospered; but he was among those who had lost heavily in the crash of the ill-fated Douglas, Heron and Company Bank in 1772. Although he managed for some time to extricate himself from that debacle, unlike many others who were bankrupted and ruined immediately, McClure was in no position to adopt an indulgent attitude towards his tenants, as the late Dr Fergusson of Doonholm had done. McClure's petition alleged that William 'having upon frivolous Pretences refused payment of the rent, his claims of Retention came at last to be submitted to arbiters and then laid before Mr Hamilton of Sundrum as oversman', but as there was no written 'Tacks or minute of bargain' between them William Burnes was preparing to quit the farm and sell his stock and crops 'to disappoint the petitioner of his fund of payment'.

To pre-empt Burnes, therefore, McClure had applied for the warrant of sequestration, and this was duly served on 17 May by the Sheriff's officer, James Gordon, who promptly made an inventory of the farm in the presence of Robert Doak (McClure's servant) and John Lees, a Tarbolton shoemaker. In the Replies to the Answers submitted by William Burnes, McClure denied that there was any missive of agreement as Burnes apparently was alleging. He went on to state, however, that Burnes had some time previously made out an account in his own handwriting, 'which he called an account of Charge and Discharge betwixt him and the petitioner'. McClure conceded that Burnes had ploughed and sown part of the land, 'but whither so much as ought to have been done he cannot say'. He queried William's account regarding the number of cattle he was raising, and accused him of surreptitiously selling off part of his stock. In particular, McClure contested William's claim to have paid up all arrears of rent to Martinmas last (i.e. November 1782), as 'a mere allegation without the smallest foundation'.

From this we glean that McClure claimed £500 of back rent, whereas Burnes denied the charge and asked that the warrant of sequestration be recalled. It was speculated that Robert held the pen for his ailing father in framing his Replies, 'perhaps with the help of his legal friends in Ayr'

The Decree Arbitral gives the oversman's award first, followed by the text of the Submission and the minutes of the arbiters. In the interests of clarity, the following summary of the affair deals with the Submission first. The arbiters were named as James Grieve in Boghead and Charles Norval, gardener at Coilsfield, 'mutually elected and chosen by the said parties' to the dispute. Grieve was a friend of McClure, while Burnes was probably drawn to Norval by virtue of shared interests in gardening. The text of this legal document was written by William Chalmer, a lawyer in Ayr, and dated there on 24 September 1782. It was signed by McClure and Burnes in the presence of Chalmer and John Simson.

The minutes of the arbiters were written by William Humphrey at Tarbolton on various dates from 7 October 1782 onwards (the clerk being brother of James Humphrey, of whom more anon). The first meeting was brief, and was adjourned because it was 'the throng of Hervist' (the busiest part of harvest-time). When they met again on 19 November they decided that proof would be required of statements made by both parties, and promptly adjourned till 4 December when the depositions of sundry witnesses were considered. A date of 18 December was fixed for both parties to lodge their claims. In due course this was followed by a meeting on 26 December at which petitioner and respondent were to give in their answers to each other's claims. The matter dragged on until 9 April 1783 when the arbiters concluded that they were unable to agree, and therefore referred the matter to the umpire or oversman, John Hamilton.

Over the ensuing months Hamilton studied the dispute and gave his decree on 18 August in the presence of William Wallace (the countv sheriff) and James Neill and Robert Miller, solicitors in Ayr, who appeared for McClure and Burnes. Hamilton found that, sometime in 1776, bargains involving a thirty-eight-year lease had been struck on two separate occasions 'in the presence of Dr John Campbell of Ayr (sic)'. Under the first agreement Burnes was to take possession at Martinmas 1777 and the rental was to be fifteen shillings an acre for the first eight years and twenty shillings for the remaining thirty years. Under a second agreement, however, Burnes was to enter at Martinmas 1776 and pay twenty shillings per acre from the outset. The farm was to be enclosed, sub-divided and limed by McClure at the rate of 100 bolls of lime per acre, 'and also the said William Burnes was to be allowed 12 tons of limestone at Cairnhill lime quarry for each acre of said farm as a second dressing, and one shilling per ton for coals to burn the same'. Such precise terms reveal Burnes as a canny negotiator, but the fact that he never had anything in writing tells against him. Moreover, the actual rental of £130 was almost three times what had been expected at Mount Oliphant, and Burnes must have been exceedingly rash (or recklessly desperate) to take on such a commitment. Fowler speculates that McClure evaded a written lease 'because he felt, or knew, that his title to the land was far from clear', and, indeed, there is circumstantial evidence in support of this interesting theory, discussed later.

Hamilton's decree mentions a verbal agreement between Burnes and McClure whereby William undertook to pay rent on 'the miln dam' presumably the lochan which gave the farm its name - as and when McClure got around to draining this portion of the land. Furthermore, for agreeing to the higher rental set out in the second bargain, William was 'to receive a compensation' although what precisely this meant was not specified. David Scott, accountant to the banking-house of Hunter and Company, (which was in the course of salvaging the wreckage from the Douglas, Heron fiasco), determined that the amount which Burnes was entitled to hold back in respect of 'the advance rent' was £210 Is 6d. In addition to this sum, Hamilton found that, because McClure had not kept his end of the agreement regarding the liming of the ground, Burnes was entitled to an allowance for the work which he had himself undertaken in this regard. 'I allow the said William Burns to retain out of the rents of said farm the sum of £86 13s 4d Sterling as the value of 2600 bolls of lime at eight pence per boll for liming said 26 acres' but as William had limed these acres out of 726 tons of limestone delivered to him, and coals at a shilling a ton, 'being part of what has been furnished by the said David McClure for the second dressing', Hamilton decreed that William would have to lay on a further 2,600 bolls of lime at his own expense by Lammas 1784 and produce vouchers to support this. William was also entitled to £18 10s in respect of some dykes which he had made. House-building and grass sowing of ten acres undertaken by Burnes entitled him to a further rebate of £80 18s 6d. No rent was chargeable for the mill dam, as it had not yet been drained. As a result, the colossal sum of £775 (five and a half years' back rent) which McClure had been claiming was reduced by the amount actually paid out by Burnes on improvements, together with the aforementioned sums. The net result, therefore, was that Burnes was deemed to be owing no more than £231 2s 8d, which William was ordered to pay 'together with the interest thereof from the said term of Whitsunday 1782 and in time coming until payment'. An account of the sum awarded to McClure, less the credit allowed to Burnes, was appended to the decree showing how the due amount was reached.

The sum of £231 was a vast improvement over the £775 originally claimed and William was anxious to settle the matter. But now another action was raised, over which Burnes had no control but in which he was implicated. It transpired that David McClure was in financial difficulties and had mortgaged his estates to John McAdam of Craigengillan. The rents due on these estates amounted to £8,000 and in pursuing this sum McAdam brought legal action against all the debtor tenants, including William Burnes. Within nine days of Hamilton's decree, Burnes took the case to the Court of Session and applied for a suspension of the charge, but his appeal was rejected on a technicality. From the text of William's petition for suspension it appears that he continued to nurse a grievance against his landlord who had acted 'under the pain of poinding and most wrongously and unjustly' ' " Because of McAdam's intervention, however, Burnes felt that he could not pay the sum he still owed, without McAdam's consent, 'And therefore the foresaid Charge ought to be Simpliciter Suspended'. John Swinton, clerk of the court, added that the Lord Ordinary had considered this petition but it was refused because 'In respect the complainer has not specially stated before what Court he is sued at Craigengillan's instance nor has produced any evidence of such action, nor has raised any multiplepoinding'.

McAdam was not McClure's only creditor who tried to get hold of the sum awarded in Hamilton's decreet, and once more William Burnes was obliged to take the matter to the Court of Session. On this occasion an action of Multiplepoinding (a suit brought by the holder of money, goods and chattels claimed by different parties) was raised at the instance of William Burns, Tenant in Lochlie, against John McCulloch, Merchant in Ayr, David Ewen, Merchant there, Jas. Hume, Writer there, Douglas, Heron & Co., late Bankers there, and George Home of Branxton, their factor and manager, John Campbell of Wellwood, David McClure of Shawwood, and George McCree of Pitcon, mentioning that where the pursuer is daily), charged, troubled, molested and pursued by the persons before named, defenders, for payment making to them of the rents due by the pursuer for the said farm of Lochlie belonging in joint property to the said John Campbell, David McClure and George McCree, most wrongously, considering that the pursuer can only be liable in once and single payment of the rents of the said farm and that to the person or persons who shall be found by the Lords of Council and Session to have best right thereto, and therefore the said John McCulloch, David Ewen and Jas. Hume, Douglas, Heron & Co. and their said factor and manager, John Campbell, David McClure and George McCree, ought and should exhibit and produce before the said Lords the several rights and grounds of debt by which they claim right to the foresaid rents and should discuss the same before the said Lords, to the end that the party having the best right thereto may be preferred to the said rents after deduction and allowance to the pursuer of the expense of this process, and the remanent persons should be by Decreet foresaid discharged from further molesting and pursuing the said pursuer thereafter in time coming.'

All the defenders were cited personally or at their dwelling places with the exception of George McCree who was cited 'by affixing and leaving for him the like just copy of citation at and upon each of the Mercat Cross of Edinburgh and the Pier and Shore of Leith, as being furth of Scotland at the time'. William Burnes was represented by the advocate Robert Blair who appeared also for Douglas, Heron and their factor, The other defenders failed to appear. On behalf of the faded bank a number of documents was produced to the court. The first of these was an Extract Heritable Bond and Disposition of 2 August 1773 (registered in the Books of Council and Session on 17 June 1779), by John Campbell, David McClure and George McCree, whereby they disposed to trustees for the bank 'the five merk land of Easter and Wester Douries and others', in security of the principal sum of £8,600, and £1,720 of penalty and interest. This was supported by an Extract Instrument of Sasine, recorded in the General Register of Sasines at Edinburgh on 17 September 1773. An Extract Bond and Assignation of 18 October 1774 (registered 7 March 1777) by Campbell, McClure and McCree corroborated the sums of £8,600 and £1,720. The last productions in this bundle were the Instrument of Intimation of the writs before narrated by George flume to William Burnes, dated 18 September 1783, and a copy of the Decreet Arbitral by Hamilton of Sundrum showing the balance due to McClure as £231 2s 8d.

The case ultimately came before Lord Braxfield, the Lord Ordinary, who found 'that the sums in the hands of the raiser of the Multiplepoinding amounted at Whitsunday 1782 to the foresaid sum of £231 2s 8d, besides the sum of £130, both sterling, as another year's rent fallen due since, and therefore preferred the said Messrs. Douglas, Heron & Co. to the foresaid two sums, for payment to them pro tanto of the sums contained in their interest produced'. The Lord Ordinary was that Robert Macqueen of Braxfield in Lanarkshire (1722-99) who is nowadays remembered for the savage sentences pronounced on the Friends of the People in the notorious treason trials of 1793-4. William Burnes won his case, but at what a cost. McClure's sequestration order was quashed but William's legal costs exceeded the cash he could raise, while even the elements seemed to conspire against him. The summer of 1782 had been the worst in recorded memory, but the season of 1783 was almost as bad. All over Scotland crops failed and the harvest was disastrous. As Robert said ruefully to Moore of his father's experience, 'his all went among the -rapacious hell-hounds that growl in the kennel of justice'. To crown all, the successful litigant was now in the last throes of tuberculosis. Braxfield's decision was no sooner handed down than William Burnes died on 13 February 1784.

Summarising this unfortunate episode, it can be seen that the traditional views expressed by nineteenth and early twentieth-century biographers, that the Burnes family tried to swindle their landlord, and that William only escaped the horrors of jail by his untimely death, are utterly unfounded." On the contrary, the foregoing documents show that McClure claimed more than twice the rent to which he was entitled, and also reneged on his original agreement in regard to the draining and liming of the ground. More importantly, the documents now preserved in Register House, Edinburgh, show beyond any shadow of doubt that William Burnes was not only able to pay the balance actually due, but was perfectly willing to do so once the dispute was fairly settled. In light of this, McClure's action in pursuing an action for sequestration was invalid and uncalled for. It should also be pointed out that McClure overstepped the mark when he attempted to seize grain in respect of bygone rent for years of which it was not the crop. This action was contrary to Scots law which laid down that the produce of a farm could only be hypothecated for the rent of the year in which it had been harvested. This point was not overlooked by Sheriff Wallace who granted interim warrant to sequestrate only for payment of the current year's rent and also the 'crop in the barn and barnyard for payment of the year's rent whereof it is the growth'.

When he raised the action for multiplepoinding, William Burnes paid the £231 2s 8d into the court, apparently without difficulty and without needing to dispose of his stock. That he was able to do so gave the lie to McClure's allegation that sequestration was necessary because of the respondent's inability to pay his arrears. In his Replies McClure insinuated that he had not received any payments on account, when he must have known this to be untrue. Three cash payments, of £60, £ I 1 8s and £40 respectively, had been made by Burnes, and receipts for those amounts were produced accordingly to the oversman who consequently gave William credit for them. In mitigation, it has to be said that McClure's precipitate action was due entirely to the fact that he was in dire financial straits. He himself was sequestrated on 23 November 1783, his debts by that time amounting to the staggering sum of £45,382 19s 6d.

It has been suggested that McClure's evasiveness about giving Burnes a written agreement in the first instance was due to there being some doubt regarding his title to Lochlie. This is, in fact, borne out by the legal position in 1776-7 when the bargain was being struck. The farm of Lochlie, along with other lands, was vested in John Campbell of Wellwood, David McClure of Shawwood and George McCree of Pitcon, by a sasine recorded on 16 March 1771, proceeding on a disposition to them by Thomas Rigg of Morton on 17 December 1770. To judge from the manner in which they juggled with the title, none of the three appears to have been above suspicion, and one of them, McCree, seems to have absconded."

When Douglas, Heron failed, the position of George Home of Branxton, their factor and general manager, must have been anything but enviable; but the hundreds of actions to be found in the Minute Book of the Court of Session are eloquent testimony to his assiduity in chasing up the debts due to the bank. One of these actions was a 'Process of Ranking of the Creditors and Sale of the estates of John Campbell, David McClure and George McCree, all merchants in Ayr, raised at the instance of Douglas, Heron & Co., late Bankers in Ayr'. On 26 July 1786 these estates, in various parcels, were exposed to public judicial sale. The first lot, comprising the lands of Halfmark (including Lochlie), was knocked down to David Erskine, Clerk of the Signet, who made the purchase on behalf of Miss Henrietta Scott of Scotstarvet.'

If the Court were satisfied that Lochlie was the joint property of Messrs Campbell, McClure and McCree (which none of them ever denied), then Campbell and McCree ought to have concurred both in the granting of the lease and in the petition for sequestration. In the oversman's decree Hamilton mentioned Dr John Campbell of Ayr as a witness to the bargain; was he the same person as John Campbell of Wellwood? But neither Campbell nor McCree was party to the sequestration of William Burnes, and thus McClure's petition was invalid. It is small wonder, therefore, that Robert formed a bad opinion of factors, landlords and lawyers as a result of this episode.

If the winter of 1781-2 had been a terrible period for Robert, the winter of 1783-4 must have been infinitely worse for the whole family. Until Braxfield's judgment on 27 January 1784, the fear of ruin and the cruel ,absorption in a jail' stared William in the face. The stress probably accelerated the final stage of that 'phthisical consumption, which after two years promises, kindly stept in and snatch'd him away' as Robert later expressed it to Moore. If, as Robert states, this tubercular illness had been going on for two years, William's physical condition towards the conclusion of the litigation must have been pretty poor indeed. In the light of this, we cannot but admire the indomitable spirit he showed in resisting the bitter and unwarranted claims of a devious and unscrupulous landlord. Until these legal documents were discovered barely half a century ago, William Burnes was always characterised only as the upright, high-principled 'saint, father and husband' immortalised in the verses of 'The Cotter's Saturday Night'. In pursuing this litigation all the way to the Court of Session, however, Burnes exhibited a dour, unrelenting streak; though it cost him life itself, he refused to be beaten. To his previous attributes there now fell to be added, as John McVie put it, 'that of a keen, hard-headed businessman, who did not suffer fools gladly and was prepared to fight for his rights to the last ditch'.

Saunders Tait had a side-swipe at Burns in another of his poems entitled 'A Compliment', the recipient being the James Grieve in Boghead who had been McClure's arbiter in the dispute. Grieve was unofficial provost of Tarbolton, and tenant of a small farm not far from Lochlie. Tait apostrophises Grieve:

Sir, for McClure he fought so fair

'Gainst Burns and Lawyers in Air,

He trimm'd their jacket to a hair

So wantonlie,

No toil nor travel he did spare

To win the plea.

Robert singled out James Grieve as the butt of one of his Tarbolton epitaphs, written in April 1784, two months after William's death:

Here lies Boghead amang the dead

In hopes to get salvation;

But if such as he in Heav'n may be,

Then welcome - hail damnation.


Taken from the book “Burns, A Biography of Robert Burns” by James Mackay.

Book available for reference at the Baird Institute, Cumnock

Family of David McClure and Ann Kennedy

Ayr 10th July 1759 Quo Die. David McClure, merchant in Ayr and Ann Kennedy, milliner, gave in their names to be proclaimed in order for marriage and after proclamation were married accordingly in the Parish of Dalmellington.

William McClure, son, lawful, of David McClure and Ann Kennedy his spouse was born on 10th June 1762 and baptised same day by William Dalrymple.

James McClure, son, lawful, of David McClure and Ann Kennedy his spouse was born on 27th October 1763 and baptised 18th by William McGill

Margaret McClure, son, lawful, of David McClure and Ann Kennedy his spouse was born on 21st May 1765 and baptised 22nd by William McGill

Ann McClure, son, lawful, of David McClure and Ann Kennedy his spouse was born on 20th October 1766 and baptised 21st by William McGill

David McClure, son, lawful, of David McClure and Ann Kennedy his spouse was born on 26th May 1768 and baptised 27th by William McGill.

John McClure, son, lawful, of David McClure and Ann Kennedy his spouse was born on at Shawwood 26th September 1769 and baptised 28th by Patrick Woodrow, minister in Tarbolton. Ayr OPR Vol 2

Helen McClure, son, lawful, of David McClure and Ann Kennedy his spouse was born on the 12th day of March 1771 and baptised 12th by William McGill. Ayr OPR Vol 2

David and William McClure

David McClure Shawwod, Tarbolton. Ayr Mechant Laird of Shawwood (QV) owner of Lochlea reduced by Ayr bank crash. Later moved to Liverpool. Struck of electorial Roll at Michaelmas 1788

David McLure, Ayr Merchant, Commended by Wright (1771) owner of Lochlea and involved in a lawsuit with tenant William Burnes. In financial difficulties as a result of Ayr Bank Crash. Estate sold by 1788.

Above data obtained from “Ayrshire at the time of Burns”, Ayrshire Archives & National History printed by Kilmarnock Standard.

William Burnes leased Lochlea 1777-1784 at £130 per annum.

William McClure born Ayr (1763-1840). At 14 he emigrated to America but returned to Britain after a few years and amassed a fortune as a partner in a London Import/Export firm. He returned to America aged 33 and became a naturalised citizen. While still in his 30s he retired from business and travelled extensively in Europe collecting books and geological specimens. Self taught in geology he drew the first geological map of North America and in 1809 published a book “Observations of the Geology of the United States.” A radical thinker and philanthropist he helped found the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Science. Endowing it with a large sum of money and his collection of 3300 books. Burns enthusiasts may be interested to know that William was the son of David McClure, landlord of Lochlea, whose dispute with the poet’s father over the rent of the farm led to bitter litigation.

Data obtained from “Ayrshire Heritage” by Andrew Boyle

Lochlea 130 swampy acres. 29 September 1782 dispute McClure/Burns referred to arbiters.

Warrant of Sequestration – May 1783

All above mentioned books available for reference at Carnegie Library, Ayr