The Globe, 15 Nov 1920 page 1


Ashes of Highland Mary moved to a new grave

Old burial ground at Greenock Taken in by Industrial Expansion – Burns Societies at Ceremony

Greenock, Scotland, Nov 14 – The ashes of Burns’ Highland Mary were reinterred in Greenock cemetery yesterday. Mary Campbell, the Highland girl whom the poet loved, was buried in Greenock old West Kirk burying ground, but the old church is being removed, and the burying ground taken in as part of large extensions which the well-known firm of Harland & Wolff are making their shipyard on the lower reaches of the Clyde.

Accordingly the remains of Burns’ sweetheart were reverently exhumed and yesterday in the presence of a large assembly, which included representatives from Burns’ clubs throughout Scotland, the reburial took place.  The coffin was carried to the grave on the shoulders of members of Burns’ clubs, and impressive service was conducted.

The love of Burns for Highland Mary was the deepest emotion in the poet’s life.  She inspired his sweetest and saddest song, “To Mary in Heaven.” Mary Campbell was born at Campbelton in Argyllshire.  Burns met her when she was a dairymaid in the service of Colonel Montgomery of Colisfield, Ayrshire.  They fell deeply in love with each other and became engaged to be married.  It was arranged that Mary should return to her home to prepare for the union, but before parting they met on the banks of the Ayr and solemnly plighted their troth.  Standing on either side of the little stream and holding Bible between them, they exchange vows of eternal fidelity.  Mary presented the poet with her Bible and he gave his in exchange.

The lovers never met again.  Mary after spending some time at home paid a visit to her uncle, Peter Macpherson, ship carpenter in Greenock.  There, while nursing her brother, she contracted a fever and died in October 1786.  Admirers of the poet erected a monument over her grave in the old burying ground in 1843 and this monument has also been removed to the new grave in Greenock cemetery.