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Robert Burns

Patrick Miller's steamboat on Dalswinton Loch c 1788

19th Century

A pencil drawing by William Coston Aitken of Dumfries from an earlier painting by Alexander Nasmyth.


Robert Burns took on the lease of Ellisland Farm from Patrick Miller of Dalswinton from Whitsunday 1788 for a rent of £50 per year. It was a small unimproved holding of 170 acres situated on the  bank of the River Nith about 5 miles north of the town of Dumfries. Miller gave Burns £300 with which to build a farmhouse and enclose the fields.


Miller had been a sailor and had an interest in all things to do with navigation. This drawing shows the early prototype of a steam boat which he developed with William Symington being tested on the loch on his estate at Dalswinton. Perhaps Robert Burns observed these trials or even went on board!


William Coston Aitken (1816 - 1875) was born, educated and married in Dumfries before moving to Birmingham around 1850. He sketched places in and around Dumfries from a young age and his work is a record of the built environment of the town and the landmarks of the surrounding countryside in the first part of the 19th century .

width: 270 mm, length: 193 mm
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
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Creation Date:
c 1835 - 1845
Dumfries & Galloway Council