The Burns Federation

The origins of Dumfries Burns Club,the first local Burns club can be traced to an entry in the Mausoleum Committee minute book for 11th. January 1817 when arrangements were made "for the proposed dinner in celebration of Burns’ birthday." A punchbowl was purchased in 1819 and the club was formally instituted on 17th January 1820.

Photograph of Minute Book
First minute book of Dumfries Burns Club

Dumfries, however, did not have the first Burns Club. Greenock enthusiasts founded the earliest on 21st July 1801 and had their first supper on 29th. January 1802 which at that time was mistakenly thought to be the anniversary of his birth.

Following close on their heels were clubs at Paisley, Kilmarnock and Dunfermline. Throughout the century more and more clubs sprang up either in Scotland or wherever Scots met.

Photograph of crest
"Better a Wee Bush than Nae Bield"

One of the earliest in England was the Bristol Caledonian Society founded in 1820.

By 1885 there were so many Burns’ Clubs in existence that an international Federation of clubs was instituted. Many of the clubs are purely social in their function, but the Burns Federation has attempted to encourage Scottish literature and a knowledge of Burns with annual competitions in schools.

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