Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dunlop, Frances Anne Walker

DUNLOP, FRANCES ANNE WALKER (1730–1815), of Dunlop, friend of Robert Burns, descended from a brother of William Wallace, the Scottish patriot, was the last surviving daughter of Sir Thomas Wallace of Craigie, by his wife Eleonora Agnew, daughter of Colonel Agnew of Lochryan. She was born on 16 April 1730. Her only brother died before her father, and on her father's death in 1760 she inherited the property. Previous to this she had, at the age of seventeen, become the wife of Mr. John Dunlop of Dunlop, Ayrshire. She made the acquaintance of Burns in the winter of 1786, shortly after the publication of his first Kilmarnock volume. Having read the ‘Cottar's Saturday Night’ in a friend's copy while recovering from a severe illness, she was so delighted with it that she immediately sent off a messenger to Mossgiel, fifteen or sixteen miles distant, for half a dozen copies, and with a friendly invitation for Burns to call at Dunlop House. Her relationship to Wallace was also mentioned, and Burns in his reply warmly expressed his gratification at her noticing his attempts to celebrate her illustrious ancestor. From this time they became fast friends and frequent correspondents, Burns's letters to her being often on the more serious themes. He was also in the habit of enclosing poems to her, among the more remarkable sent her being ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ ‘Gae fetch to me a pint of wine,’ and ‘Farewell, thou fair day.’ In his last years she deserted him, and he sent her several letters without ever receiving any explanation. In his last written to her, 12 July 1796, he says that having written so often without obtaining an answer, he would not have written her again but for the fact that he would soon be ‘beyond that bourne whence no traveller returns.’ When Currie proposed to write the ‘Life of Burns,’ Mrs. Dunlop refused to permit her letters to Burns to see the light, but agreed to give a letter of Burns for every one of hers returned. As Burns wrote several to her without obtaining an answer, these were not recovered. She died on 24 May 1815. She had seven sons and six daughters. Burns, in her honour, named his second son Francis Wallace.

[Robertson's Account of the Families in Ayr; Paterson's History of Ayr; Works of Robert Burns.]

T. F. H.