Horsham’s charitable link with Burns Night

While many people in Horsham district were celebrating Burns Night this week there was a strong link with the town.

Christ’s Hospital school, Horsham, unearthed the original admission papers for ‘Rabbie’ Burns’ fourth son, James Glencairn Burns, who was educated there from 1802-1809.

He began his education at Dumfries Grammar School but then he went to Christ’s Hospital.

His admission papers reveal the reason being ‘because his father had died about three years before James went to Christ’s Hospital, his mother was left with a family of four children and without sufficient means for their support’.

His mother asked that her youngest son, James, eight, could be educated at Christ’s Hospital and brought up with other children in the charity school.

The admission papers had to be certified by a minister, with a completed petition by the parent and a copy of the baptism entry and marriage entry of the parents.

Once they had completed their education at Christ’s Hospital, children had to be formally discharged and in James’ case this was carried out by a Sir James Shaw, who was a relative of Burns and a successful merchant from humble beginnings.

He used his new found wealth to support Burns’ orphaned children. He later became Lord Mayor of London in 1806.

After James’ education at Christ’s Hospital, he did not follow in the footsteps of his famous father but served as a cadet in the East India Company where he rose to the rank of Major. He retired in 1839 having returned home to live in London following an outstanding career in the army and having been appointed Judge and Collector at Cahar in 1833. He became a Lieut. Colonel in 1855.His father, Robert Burns, was born 1759 and died in 1796.

Pictured are brothers William Nicol Burns and James Glencairn Burns about 1860 courtesy of the National Trust for Scotland.

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