Lesley Baillie (1768 – 1843) born at Mayville and described by Robert Burns as “the most beautiful, elegant woman in the world”.

Lesley Baillie was a woman that Robert Burns described as “the most beautiful, elegant woman in the world,” and immortalised in his poem “Saw Ye Bonie Lesley”, “one of the finest songs I ever made in my life.” Lesley, was born at Mayville on 6th March 1768. In a letter dated 1792 he remarks that, when the Baillie family were passing through Dumfries, they called upon him and he “accompanied her and her father’s family fifteen miles on their journey out of pure devotion to admire the loveliness of the works of God, in such an unequalled display of them.”

Lesley is mentioned in four letters written by Robert Burns and in two songs. However, a romance between Robert Burns and Lesley Baillie was not to be, as they never saw each other again although he did write to her enclosing “Blythe hae I been on yon hill”, a song he composed for her.

Lesley went on to marry Robert Cumming of Logie, Morayshire, in 1799. Lesley died on 19th July 1843 and is buried in the graveyard of St John’s on Princes Street, Edinburgh, alongside her sister, Grace.

Further Reading

Lesley Baillie at RobertBurns.org