Campbell, Mary

BORN 1763, Dunoon, Argyll and Bute: Auchnamore - DIED c.20 Oct 1786, Greenock, Renfrewshire
BIRTH NAME Campbell, Margaret
CAUSE OF DEATH typhus (probably)
GRAVE LOCATION Greenock, Renfrewshire: Greenock Cemetery, South Street

Mary Campbell was the daughter of the sailor Archibald Campbell of Daling. She lived near her birthplace Danoon until the family moved to Campbeltown in 1768 and after that to Greenock. She worked as a nursemaid in 1785 and also as a dairymaid. She might have been the mistress of Captain James Montgomerie of Coilsfield, the brother of the Earl of Eglinton.

It is unclear how she met the poet Robert Burns, it may have been in church. A brief love affair developed in April 1786. Their last meeting was on 14 May 1786 and at that occasion they probably exchanged bibles. There is no trace of the bible Burns received, but the bible he gave to her survived. Mary died around 20 October of the same year, probably from typhus that she contracted when nursing her brother Robert. She was dead before Burns knew she was ill.

Mary was buried in the old West Kirk churchyard in Greenock. In 1842 John Mossman (1817-1890) designed a monument for her. At the time it was stated by older inhabitants that the monument stood on the wrong spot and that she had been buried closer to the church. However, in 1920 the monument was moved from the old Kirkyard to Greenock Cemetery and her remains were re-interred under it on 13 November 1920. On the third anniverssary of her death Burns wrote the poem "To Mary in Heaven" and he still thought about her many years later with sadness.


The grave of Mary Campbell ('Highland Mary') at Greenock Cemetery in Greenock, Renfrewshire.
Picture by Androom (03 Jul 2023)


Mary Campbell (Highland Mary) - Wikipedia

Campe, Julius

Published: 25 Dec 2023
Last update: 25 Dec 2023