My Research  

The Burns Connection.

So family tradition said we were connected to Robert Burns. My brain was stimulated by this and I remembered mother saying we we were connected to Burns via a Rankine who was an Excise officer so of I went.

As I had already started on the Rankines I did a search for ??History of Ayr??? and found HISTORY of the COUNTY OF AYR V2 by James Paterson Vol 2 and on page 392 we have
IV. John Campbell of Middle Wellwood, who
was in possession of his paternal estate soon after
the Revolution. Whom he married does not
appear. He had issue one son, who succeeded
him, and three daughters
1. Anne, married John Ranken of Adamhill, (Burns'
friend.) and had issue.
2. Jean, married Mr Sutherland, u merchant, and had
issue.
3. Mary, married Dr Wilson of Cumnock.

The references quoted in my neice's email were also contained in HISTORY of the COUNTY OF AYR V2 by James Paterson Vol 2 so this seemed to fit and in my eagerness to fill my tree I went charging off and added the information from this book into my tree. Once it appeared on line I started to get hits from other trees which followed this line, magic, my tree grew and grew.

But later I sat and thought about this and I started to have doubts. Then I realised it didn't make sense, I had already decided that Adam's father was John McRinkine and here we were saying his father was John Rankine of Adamhill whose line were all Rankines or Rankens, this didn't make sense. Of course it's well known that some Scots families changed their names in Jacobite times but to change from Rankine to McRinkine and back to Rankine in a couple of generations also seemed odd.

Several email exchanges between Kaye and myself took place, each one exploring one aspect of the possible relationship between the Rankines and Robert Burns. Then the bombshell (as far as I was concerned). This came from Kaye's mother who had visited Dumfries Museum, 'The first time they visited Dumfries they were told by a very old gentleman that Adam was definitely the son of Ann and Robbie...ie it  was common local knowledge but had been hushed up because of the legalities' . By this she meant that Ann, John Rankine/McRinkine's eldest daughter was Adams's mother, ouch!. Not only that but a quick calculation showed that Anne would have been 13 when she became pregnant.

Further frantic research on the internet showed that Burns was friendly with John Rankine of Adamhill and his daughter Anne when he, Burns, lived at Lochlea. Ok the Burns family moved to Lochlea in 1776, this fits as regards the timeline.

Then I came across a McRinkine family tree in Maybole, Ayrshire, this shows a John McRinkine being born in 1727 to James McRinkine and Bethia Rinnie. I have been unable to contact the writer of this tree but a dive into the Maybole OPRs and I found that James and Bethia had 7 children
James 05 Oct 1712
Jennet 16 Jan 1715
Hendrie 13 Apr 1718
William 05 Mar 1724
Agness 29 Mar 1724
John 21 May 1727
Adam 1731

The date of 1727 matches the date that John McRinkine gives as his birth year in the family bible and so far I haven't come across any other documented McRinkines so it seems highly likely that this is my GGGGG grandfather. If so this contradicts the info gleaned from James Paterson and the information my cousin sent which I found was also in Vol.2 of James Paterson's History of the County of Ayr.

In addition in John Warrick's ' History of Old Cumnock' p234 we find ' Annie Rankine was sometimes escorted by Burns to her father's house, from festive gatherings in the neighbourhood.' But ALL John McRinkine's children were born in New Galloway 50 odd miles away. Therefore if both statements are true then John McRinkine is either not John of Adamhill or he was a magician !!

At about this time another distant Rankine relative, Geoff, contacted us and among other things he had Ann Aitkin's will written in 1804. In it she leaves the liferent of all of her possessions to her daughter Elizabeth who was unmarried. Anne names her sons Henry, James, Roger and Adam but none of the others. To me this means that Ann, Margaret and John were not living at this time, so her daughter Ann could not be John of Adamhill's daughter.
Geoff also stated that from Customs records John McRinkine died in harness in n1789. As John of Adamhill is supposed to have died in 1810, this is further proof of two John Rankine's.

So if John of Adamhill was not a relative what was our connection with Burns.

It's clear that Adam, son of John, and my GGG grandfather was an admirer of Burn's and collected several items Burn's memorabelia as shown in the Catalogue of The Burns Exhibition of 1896 where the following are listed as loaned by my G Grandfather.
897. Chair which belonged to Burns.
       Given by the Poet's friend John Syme to Adam Rankine, Dumfries.
796. Bone Snuff Box, with circular inscriptions on the lid, " Robert Burns" and " Ellisland, 1787."
The Dumfries Burns Howff Club named Adam as a Contemporary of Burns and says 'Rankine was described as an active, bustling, enterprising and warm-hearted gentleman who was Governor of the local Savings Bank. He also formed a Volunteer Artillery Corps, of which he was made chief officer.' I must say that calling him a contemporary is a bit odd, Burns died in 1796 and as far as I can ascertain Adam only moved to Dumfries in 1798, in addition at the time of Burn's death Adam was only 18.
Adam was a founding committee member of the The Burns Club of Dumfries in 1820 however.

Once again there seems to be little in the way of truth in a Family Tradition as I think it's unlikely that Adam and Burns knew each other although is certain that Adam and Burns' son Robert knew each other as they were both members of The Old Lodge of Dumfries.

Or is there?

Sometime after I figured out the above, I was trying to trace the above named artifacts and discovered that the family had donated some of the items to the Dumfries Museum so I emailed the Museum for further info and got a surprise in the answer they sent me.

They refered me to Two Toddy Ladles owned by Burns. Although the site says 'These were given to Mrs Allan Rankine by Jean Armour, the poet's widow, shortly after his death in 1796'.
a label inside the box says
BURNS' TODDY DIVIDER part of the collection of W G Gibson, got from his
grandmother, wife of Adam Rankin, and given to her by Mrs Burns soon after
the poet's death. Mrs Rankin was a kind friend in her time of need. Resided in
large house foot of Southern Gate
LADIES TODDY DIVIDER was the property of Robert Burns, Poet, and was given by
his widow to Mrs Rankin who was a kind friend to her when the poet died in
Dumfries. Part of Gibson's collection.

This would mean that Sarah McKenzie, Adam's wife was the link to Burns not Adam or his father, but there is a link never the less so mayve Traditions do have someting in them after all.