Robert Tannahill (1774-1810) Founder & First Secretary:
Robert Tannahill, Paisley’s world famous poet and songwriter, was the founder and first secretary of the Paisley Burns Club. He was born on 3 June 1774 at Castle Street, Paisley, son of a well-respected ‘bien’ weaver to whom Robert was apprenticed in 1786. Described by a contemporary as the ‘prettiest shuttler’ he had ever seen, Robert had a wee box on his loom-post for jotting down his ideas. At his cottage in Queen Street he composed most of his best-known songs. An admirer of Burns, Robert Tannahill founded a Burns Club in Paisley in 1805 at the Sun Tavern in the High Street Paisley, the world’s first Burns club. In 1807, encouraged by friends, he published “The Soldier’s Return” with poems and songs which made him famous. When an Edinburgh publisher (Archibald Constable) rejected a group of poems he burned many of his writings. He was often prone to bouts of depression and he drowned himself in a culvert of the Candren Burn, a canal in Paisley on 17 May 1810. Robert Tannahill is buried in the United Presbyterian Church Canal Street. A monument was erected on the site of lair no.366 in 1866. Tannahill’s poems and songs are still popular today:
‘Jessie the Flower o’ Dunblane’, ‘ Will ye go Lassie go’, ‘ Thou Bonnie Wood o’ Craigielea’.