Fonds BURN - Papers of Robert Burn

Identity area

Reference code

BURN

Title

Papers of Robert Burn

Date(s)

  • 1862–1901 (Creation)

Level of description

Fonds

Extent and medium

3 boxes; paper. Printed flysheets, Senate papers, House of Commons bills etc., some with manuscript annotations and corrections; correspondence; mark books for the Classical Tripos; accounts; ephemera; and maps, including one in photographic reproduction.

Context area

Name of creator

(1829–1904)

Biographical history

Robert Burn was born on 22 October 1829, the second son of Andrew Burn (1790/91–1874), rector of Kynnersley, Shropshire, and his second wife, Mary Harris (c 1792-1843). He attended Shrewsbury School under Benjamin Hall Kennedy and was admitted to Trinity in 1848, graduating Senior Classic in 1852. He was elected a Fellow of Trinity in 1854, and for many years he lectured on classical subjects; from 1856 to 1872 he was a tutor and Dean from 1861 to 1863. He vacated his fellowship on his marriage in 1873 to Augusta Sophia Prescott (1835–1915). Re-elected a fellow of Trinity in 1874, he was also praelector in Roman archaeology from 1873 to 1885. He was ordained deacon in 1860 and priest in 1862, and received an honorary LL.D from Glasgow University in 1883.

Burn was one of the first Englishmen to study the archaeology of the Rome and the Campagna, which he frequently visited during vacations. His publications included Rome and the Campagna (1871), Old Rome (1880), Roman Literature in Relation to Roman Art (1888), and Ancient Rome and its Neighbourhood (1895). He was an original member of the Governing Body of Winchester College in 1871. In 1881 he was president of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society.

Burn was a member of the Alpine Club from 1860 to 1867, one of the first captains of the Cambridge University rifle corps, and among the committee of Trinity men who drew up the Cambridge University rules for football in 1863. During the last twenty years of his life, however, he was an invalid confined to a bath chair. He died on 30 April 1904 at his home and was buried in St Giles's cemetery at Cambridge. There is a brass to his memory in the ante-chapel of Trinity College.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The provenance of this collection is unknown.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The majority of the papers in this collection are flysheets (A) dealing with issues debated before the Senate, and as such form a valuable insight into subjects and opinions considered important in late nineteenth century Cambridge. Many of these, such as the accounts of various graces on compulsory Greek or reforms to the Classical Tripos, are concerned with Burn's personal academic preoccupations, but it is a measure of his versatility and dedication to the University as a whole that this collection also contains papers written by him on such questions as the plausibility of introducing degrees in Science and the necessity of widening the Cam to facilitate rowing. Also included are papers on matters of national importance, such as the University Tests Bill and the Oxford Declaration, both of which caused heated debate in the Senate and were of particular interest to Burn as a clergyman.

Another interesting feature of this collection is that the authors of many of the flysheets to be found within it are such important University figures of the last century. Jebb, Jackson and Sidgwick, amongst many others, were concerned with fighting their corner on various issues that came before the Senate, and it is through their opinions that it is possible to glimpse the origins of many events and practices (the building of the New Museums or the establishment of the Historical Tripos, to name just two) that became a reality.

The remainder of this collection consists of mark books (B) for the Classical Tripos 1862, when Burn was an examiner, and miscellaneous items (C) preserved along with the collection. The mark books are of particular importance for those interested in the history of Classics at Cambridge, as well as in its main figures: Jebb, for example, is described in a note by Burn as being better at historical prose than philosophical. Amongst the miscellanea are also items which betray the interests of Burn, but also have a much wider appeal, such as architectural plans of excavations at Rome, and accounts of lectures on Roman Art given at Rugby School.

See the attached finding aid for a more detailed description.

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Item level description of the papers.

Uploaded finding aid

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Related units of description

Robert Burn's photograph albums of Rome are catalogued as 307.bb.85.34 and 307.a.85.15-16

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Archivist's note

Collection level record created by Rebecca Hughes in May 2019, using the printed finding aid, c 2009, of unknown authorship.

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