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News and Media
The Robbie Burns Connection

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An old monument belonging to the MacKenzie family (similar to above) is the resting place of Isabella Ferguson Brown.
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An old monument belonging to the MacKenzie family (similar to above) is the resting place of Isabella Ferguson Brown.


Friday January 4, 2008
From: Woodlawn Memorial Park

How is Woodlawn Memorial Park connected to the great Robbie Burns? Read on to find out...

Isabella Ferguson Brown, great-granddaughter of the famous Scots poet Robbie Burns, died in 1870 at the age of 10.  Her remains lay in the plot of a family friend, Alex MacKenzie. Named after his celebrated father, Col. Robert Burns, eldest son of Jean Armour and the famous Scots bard, Robbie Burns, was born in 1789 at Ellisland, Scotland.  As a young man he went to London to work for the excise office.  His daughter, Jane Emma Burns, was born there in 1831.  In 1833, Robert returned with his family to Dumfries, Scotland, his father’s home. Raised and educated in Dumfries, Jane Emma married Thomas Brown, a foreman carder in the tweed mills there.  They had two daughters, Isabella Ferguson brown and Jean Armour Burns Brown. The bard’s grand-daughter, Jane, her husband and their two daughters came to Canada about 1870.  The family settled in Guelph.  They attended Chalmers Church.  Friends of her father’s family, the Mackenzie’s, from Dumfries, had come to Guelph in 1851.  MacKenzie was a clerk of the surrogate court here.  The new immigrants and the MacKenzies became close friends. Thomas worked at the McCrae Woolen Mills.  Soon after their arrival in Guelph, and while they were still getting settled, their daughter Isabella, fell ill and died of a heart disease.  She was ten years old.   Alexander MacKenzie allowed them to use a grave in his family plot in the Union (Woodlawn) cemetery.  The child was buried there on May 10, 1870.   Several years later the Brown family returned to Scotland.  Jean Armour Burns Brown, young Isabella’s surviving sister, lived for many years in her great-grandfather’s original home.  She took part in all notable events in Scotland honoring him.  Jean was the curator of the museum built at Ayr to honor Robbie Burns.  Jean was his last legitimate descendent.  Young Isabella’s grave remained unmarked until May 25, 1958 when the Jane Kennedy auxiliary, Order of the Scottish Clans, had the MacKenzie family monument inscribed to read: ISABELLA F. BROWN, GREAT-GRANDDAUGHTER OF ROBERT BURNS, POET The information about the history of this inscription was placed in the archives maintained at Burn’s cottage in Alloway, Dumfrieshire, Scotland. The Robbie Burns Society of London, Ontario erected a bronze plaque at roadside in the cemetery to indicate the location of the child’s grave. (take the first road to your left after circling the fountain going towards the Mausoleum) “If there is another world, he lives in bliss.  If there is none, he made the best of this.” –R.Burns This information and more can be obtained from:  Guelph Mercury, June 9, 1973, December 18, 1978 and January 29, 1988 and from the Golden Triangle Weekly, January 24, 1986. 

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For more information, contact:
Vicki or Ceska
info@woodlawnmemorialpark.ca
519-822-1271

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