A silver cased pocket watch, once owned by Robert Burns is to sold at Auction for the first time with an estimate of £1,500 – 2,500.
The pocket watch is marked London 1780, and the rear cover is pricked ‘RobT Burns Mauchline 1786′ with a cut paper insert.
Jean Armour or the Belle of Mauchline as she was once known, was Burns’ wife and their initials are underneath two love birds in the hand pierced paper decoration found in the back of the watch case.
The famous love story between Burns’ and Armour lasted throughout his life, despite his well documented philandering. Jean Armour stayed loyal to him and had a remarkable memory for quoting verse. She often read his work and gave her opinion which he is said to have valued greatly.
Paper insert in pocket watch
Jean Armour was born in Mauchline, Ayrshire in 1765 and after meeting Burns in 1784, fell pregnant by him in 1785. They were not yet married and Jean was removed to Paisley by her horrified father despite an offer of marriage by Burns. Thinking he had been forsaken by Jean, he considered moving to Jamaica and declared himself single. Jean’s father hearing of Burns’ intentions issued a warrant for his arrant and forced him into hiding.
It was during this period that Burns wrote the Kilmarnock Edition and that Jean gave birth to twins. She soon fell pregnant by Burns again, and by 1788 was destitute, disowned by her family and soon due to deliver another set of twins. Burns made a second attempt at marrying Jean that year, and now that he was a relatively famous and successful poet, Jean’s father quickly changed his mind and agreed to the union. The pair were married, and she gave him nine children, the last of which was born on the day of his funeral in July 1796.
Jean outlived him by well over thirty years, long enough to see his reputation become one of national acclaim. His love for her is the subject of many of his poems; ‘There’s not a bony flower that springs; By fountain, shaw or green; There’s not a bony bird that sings, but reminds me ‘o my Jean.’
The watch is Lot 206 in the ‘Select Jewellery & Watches’ Sale at Lyon & Turnbull on the 27th November 2013 in Edinburgh.