Burns and Glasgow


Curator of Scottish History
St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, 2 Castle Street, Glasgow G4 0RH
0141 276 1625
Text Phone:  0141 276 1629
Fax: 0141 276 1626

Burns and Glasgow

Distributed National Burns Collections Project

In 1759, Robert Burns’ father William Burnes was rebuilding his cottage.  At the same time the Black Bull Inn was being erected in the Tron Gate in Glasgow’s Argyle Street to face the Stock Well at the present-day Glassford Street.

Burns is known to have stayed there on at least two of his five known visits to Glasgow between 1787 and 1791. It was here he wrote one of his famous letters to Clarinda (Nancy McLehose, a Glasgow woman).  

It is where he also met with his old sea-faring friend from Irvine, Richard Brown. It was Brown who first put into the head of young Burns the idea of being poet in print.  It appears the two men had quite a night in Glasgow. 'One of the happiest occasions of my life', Burns later recalled.  The site is now the premises of one of Marks and Spencer's stores.

It is also reputed that Burns took rooms at the Saracen's Head Inn at the Gallow's Gate, a noted tavern on the eastern approach to the city.

One of the friends Burns made there include William Reid.  He was a printer in the firm of Brash and Reid.  It is reputed that Burns first offered his poems to Brash and Reid, but Reid refused to publish such frivolities.


Visit the Collections Navigator
Find out how to Get Involved in Glasgow Museums
Glasgow Life Logo