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Jenny or "Jessie"?

CD vol 1

For three years Robert walked out with Jenny Tennant who lived near Queen Street but she married someone else. Jenny, who may have provided the inspiration for "Jessie the Flower o' Dunblane", seems to have had a profound effect upon him; we don't know why the courtship with Robert ended but the later poem, "Fareweel" shows his feelings of being slighted:

"Accuse me not, inconstant fair,
Of being false to thee,
For I was true, would still been so,
Hadst thou been true to me."

There may have been other women he was fond of but the accounts are tenuous and no-one seems to have replaced Jenny Tennant in his affections.

To England and back

Paisley had grown rapidly since his father and uncle had arrived in 1757. From a little over 4000 the population had risen almost eight-fold to 23881 by 1801. When the slump in trade hit the town at the end of the century, Robert and his brother Hugh decided to seek work in England; of course, Jenny's marriage in 1798 may also have played its part. But on arriving in Bolton, they found the distress in Lancashire was as great as back home. Luckily, they met another Paisley-born weaver who allowed them to stay at his house overnight and they were able to find work the following day, although Hugh moved to Preston after a while. However, both brothers received letters in 1801 saying that their father was seriously ill; they set off home in the depths of winter, arriving either in December or in January 1802. On his father's death, Robert remained at Queen Street with his mother, weaving at home, while Hugh married in the summer of 1802.

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