Established 1885

Our Motto

" A man's a man for a' that"


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We think na on the long Scots miles,
The moses, waters, slaps, and styles,
That lie between us and our hame,
Whare sits our sulky, sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.


The Federation History

In the summer of 1884 prominent Burnsians were attending the unveiling of a bust of Robert Burns in Poet's corner of Westminster Abbey. A casual remark of David Mackay to David Sneddon and Colin Rae Brown led to a preliminary meeting in London and to an inaugural meeting in Kilmarnock on 17th July 1885 to form the Burns Federation. Seventeen gentlemen sat at the meeting, fourteen from Kilmarnock Burns Club, two from Glasgow and one though originally from Greenock now resident in London.Following the institution at Kilmarnock a circular was sent out to the secretaries of all known Burns clubs and Scottish societies throughout the world:

Dear Sir,
As you may have already observed from the Public Press, an important Meeting of the Kilmarnock Burns Club was held here in July last; at which were present, personally or by deputy, the Presidents of a number of Metropolitan and District Clubs; when it was unanimously resolved that an Incorporating Union of the Burns Clubs and Scottish Societies throughout the world be formed, under the designation "The Burns Federation".
The nucleus of an executive council was at the same time appointed to frame a Constitution, and bring the movement under the notice of every known Burns Club and Scottish Society. In pursuance of these instructions, the said interim Executive Council (whose names are herewith submitted) beg to lay before your club the following abstract of the Constitution, in order that the general scope and aims of the Federation may be easily comprehended. They have the utmost confidence that these will so commend themselves that every admirer of the Immortal Bard will see it to be his duty and interest to affiliate at an early date, and so help to establish that wide and comprehensive Brotherhood which is the primary object of the movement and which is the most intense aspiration of the Poet's heart.

The object of the Federation shall be to strengthen and consolidate the bond of fellowship currently existing among the members of Burns Clubs, by universal affiliation; its motto being- "A man's a man for a' that"

The members of every Burns Club registered as belonging to the Federation shall be granted a diploma admitting them to a meeting of all the clubs connected with the Federation, they being subject to the rules of the Club visited, but having no voice in its management, unless admitted a member of the Club visited according to local form. The Affiliation fee for each Club shall be One Guinea and for each Member's Diploma One shilling, these payments being final and not annual.

The Funds of the Federation, so accruing, shall be vested in the Executive Council for the purpose of acquiring and preserving Holograph Manuscripts and other interesting Relics connected with the life and works of the Poet, and for other purposes of a like nature, as the said council may determine.

The headquarters of the Federation shall be at Kilmarnock, the premier club in the movement, the town in which the first edition of the Poet's works was published and which contains the only properly organised Burns Museum in the United Kingdom.

The election of an Honorary Council comprising:-All the Presidents of the Affiliated Clubs, and other Gentlemen of eminence nominated by the Executive.

The election of an Executive Council to consist of the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the leading Affiliated Clubs, and other eligible gentlemen, with power to add to their number.

Colin Rae Brown suggested that as the idea of a Federation had originated in London, London Burns Club should have the distinction of being No.1 on the Federation roll.

Discussion took place and Captain Sneddon persuaded Provost David McKay to allow Colin Rae Brown his wish.Captain Sneddon at that time held responsible positions within Masonic circles and was conscious of the system of Lodge numbering. When called on to read the Roll of Clubs Captain Sneddon announced London Burns Club as No. 1 and Kilmarnock Burns Club
as No. 0.The progress of the Burns Federation was slow at the start but soon picked up and gained many new members. As the Federation grew so did their influence within the Burns world and over the years they have involved themselves in many notable projects and iniatives. Further reading of the Federation's history and activities is to be had in the volume The Burns Federation by James Mackay.

Over the years the constitution of the Federation has changed. As the times have changed so have circumstances, priorities, attitudes and requirements and the constitution has consequently been revised on several occasions.

The current aims and objectives are as follows:-

The main objectives of The Robert Burns World Federation Limited are to advance the education of the public, without distinction of sex or political, or religious opinions about the life, poetry and works of Robert Burns and in furtherance thereof:-

I. To encourage and arrange competitions among the general public, students and/or school children and to stimulate the teaching and studying of Scottish literature, history, art, music and language.

II. To stimulate the development of Scottish literature, art, music and language.

III. To conserve buildings and places associated with Robert Burns and his contemporaries.

IV. To strengthen the bond of the fellowship amongst members of Burns clubs and kindred societies throughout the world by encouraging Burns clubs and kindred societies to honour the memory of Robert Burns and his works.

The Federation currently boasts many clubs, societies and individual members as part of their great Worldwide Burns Club and offer an invitation to those who appreciate and love the ethos, sentiments and philosophy of Burns to join this unique Federation.

In 1998 the Federation adopted a new structure and became known as
The Robert Burns World Federation Limited. Many exciting advances are being made as we move into the 21st Century including the ability to reach a growing worldwide audience through the development of new technologies.

Membership of The Robert Burns World Federation Ltd

2008 The Robert Burns World Federation